Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dissenting from Dissent

There's a certain branch of liberalism - many of my friends are members - that has a huge problem with the fact that Osama bin Laden was shot dead while unarmed, especially any celebrations of same. The magazine Dissent has a symposium on the death of bin Laden which illustrates this phenomenon.

The first piece is by Michael Walzer, a co-editor of Dissent and apparently a Great Man of the Humanities (the counterpart of the Great Man of the Arts) who is revered in some circles - a commenter on Facebook took great offense to my criticizing Walzer's piece. But it is a ridiculous piece. It really irks these liberal-guilt types that a bunch of kids came together in a spontaneous celebration of the death of bin Laden. They just can't let it go. It's just so distasteful. Only "quiet relief" is OK in Walzer's opinion.

As if whether a bunch of kids celebrating bin Laden's death has any impact on the War on Terror, or the Police Action against Terror, or whatever it's called. It's so nit-picking and pointless.

But it's this bit at the beginning of Walzer's piece that really irritates me:

It was, as everyone said, a famous (symbolic) victory. What was wrong, then, with the celebrations in front of the White House? There is an old Jewish commentary on the book of Exodus, which says that when Pharaoh’s army drowned in the sea, the angels in heaven began to celebrate, and God rebuked them: how can you rejoice when my creatures are drowning? There must be a secular equivalent to that story. It would say that we should celebrate the ending of wars but not the killing of our enemies. And the war against Islamist terrorism isn’t over.

If Dissent was a magazine aimed at religious Jews and/or Christians I would have let it go. But it claims to be a straight-up leftist publication. Well who outside of a devout Jew/Christian wouldn't laugh out loud at the idea of somebody wishing there was a "secular equivalent" of Jehovah tut-tutting at the angels for celebrating the drowning of Pharoah's army? Is there anything more preposterously hypocritical? Jehovah commits mass-murder throughout the Old Testament, having no qualms about destroying innocent men, women and children for any reason - and sometimes the most absurd reasons. The web site helpfully includes a list of God's Murders for Stupid Reasons including this gem:
From there Elisha went up to Bethel. While he was on his way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him. "Go up baldhead," they shouted, "go up baldhead!" The prophet turned and saw them, and he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two shebears came out of the woods and tore forty two of the children to pieces. (2 Kings 2:23-24 NAB)

Got that? In the name of the Lord, bears killed 42 children for taunting a bald guy.

And then this evil freak of a deity has the audacity to scold angels for celebrating the slaughter of Pharoah's army.

And Michael Walzer wants a secular version of this.

I've argued with too many people on Facebook about why it was justified to take Bin Laden out immediately without a trial. And how it doesn't make the US a country of murder-loving monsters.

I find the quickest way to find out where they are coming from is to ask them if they would have had any problem with taking Adolph Hitler out in the same way. Because either they think even Hitler should get a trial - which is almost nobody, or they don't think that Bin Laden was as bad as Hitler (in spite having pretty much the same opinion of Jews) - or most often they avoid the question because they don't want to have to admit to either of those. Because it's too much effort to work through the moral issues. They'd rather just think of themselves as Jehovahs who need to scold us lesser beings for stepping outside the bounds of "quiet relief."