Friday, November 13, 2009
Had Nidal Malik Hasan been launched from a remotely-piloted Predator drone into a Pakistani funeral procession, it would have been a bold victory in the War on Terror; had the major been dropped onto a village in Waziristan or fired into an Afghan wedding party, it would have represented an efficient and effective display of tactical military superiority; had he exploded in a shower of cluster bomblets over a Gaza refugee camp or been dispersed in a cloud of corrosive gas through an Iraqi city, we could all celebrate this triumph of American technical ingenuity over the forces of barbarism. Instead, Major Hasan will be tragically remembered as a piece of prematurely detonated ordnance, accidentally claiming the lives of people rather than those of numbers.
Modern metaphysics teaches us that the human soul, curiously enough, exists only within the arbitrarily-defined borders of certain political entities. South of the 49th parallel, north of the Rio Grande, west of the Urals, north of the Mediterranean - these, we can be sure, are the domains of real people, capable of self-awareness and the perception of pain. The hordes beyond, however - science tells us nothing of them, and that's probably for the best. Thousands of Afghans have been killed to date, and thousands more may be killed before we tire of killing them. But who's counting?
posted by the Medium Lobster at 8:34 AM
... Incidentally, "thousands" is without question an understatement. As Lenin's Tomb points out, "There was one cluster survey carried out for the first nine months of the invasion and occupation, which estimated that 10,000 civilians had been killed, the majority from air attacks. A similar survey today would be reporting the effects of a far more intense aerial campaign, in a war lasting for eight years now." So most likely one's looking at deaths on the scale of Iraq - in the millions, not the thousands.
Bringing what we learned in Iraq to the streets of Las Vegas :
if you really look at it, not all of those people were killed directly by our missiles. for instance, many die from falling debris. it's no more right to say a missile killed them than it is to say a house did. there are some who have other health conditions that may have been exacerbated by a drone attack, but, come on, really? then there are those would be martyrs that suicidally hang around known terrorist strongholds. should we really reward their perverse desire to increase the body count just to make us look homicidal?
I really confused someone by pointing out that over 1 million people have died in Iraq. He didn't realize we had so many soldiers over there.
Fafblog is intended as entertainment, of course, and any resemblance unintentional blah blah blah - so I run the risk of seeming slightly ridiculous by disagreeing with ML's contention that "the human soul, curiously enough, exists only within the arbitrarily-defined borders of certain political entities."
However, I wish to state the contrasting view of one of the most important applied philosophy collectives of the late 20th century - Monty Python, in the scene at The Very Big Corporation of America, where Harry reports to the board about “Item 6 on the Agenda, the Meaning of Life”:
What we've come up with can be reduced to two fundamental concepts.... One...people are not wearing enough hats. Two... matter is energy; in the Universe there are many energy fields which we cannot normally perceive. Some energies have a spiritual source which act upon a person's soul. However, this soul does not exist ab initio, as orthodox Christianity teaches; it has to be brought into existence by a process of guided self-observation. However, this is rarely achieved owing to man's unique ability to be distracted from spiritual matters by everyday trivia.
The board responds by asking “What was that about hats again?” Harry answers, “people are not wearing enough.” The Chairman is aghast. Another member of the board asks, “When you say 'enough', enough for what purpose?” After a few more exchanges, the Crimson Permanent Assurance accounting firm makes its hostile take-over bid.
The above passage is quoted from Pete Porter's very interesting essay, “The Case for Menippeanism: The Meaning of Life”, which begins:
Menippean movies and their literary kin are welcome friends known singly without recognizing the family resemblance. Those who have delighted in the books Gulliver's Travels, Candide, and Alice in Wonderland, or in the movies Duck Soup (McCarey, 1934), Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (Jones and Gilliam, 1983), and The Big Lebowski (Coen, 1998) have appreciated the peculiar charms of Menippeanism. These and other Menippean works set out spectacular banquets of incongruous elements that suggest the incompetence (or whimsy) of the author as their lone constructive principle. Further scrutiny, however, reveals a commodious form that encourages such oddities: an aesthetic of parody and violating decorum, storytellers who are ridiculous, burlesques of language and learning, a fantastic setting, and the theme of the wisdom of common sense.
That was the way they prepared things for the landing. They sent four people. A mother and a father and two kids who looked just like humans...but they weren't.
Drifty, you're wrong! It's the Second Variety we gotta watch out for, the sexy Russian woman who loves cigarettes. Thems the ones (or should I say twos) the robots send to take us out.
Exactly what other people in the world are you talking about?
There are no Non-White-Christian people, duh. That would be a contradiction in terms.
White Christians: 1
Rest of the World: 0
"accidentally claiming the lives of people rather than those of numbers."
I hate that. numbers are easy to add up and to count, and they don't bleed they just get smushed into bigger numbers.
People are messy and hard to erase so numbers are best when they are written with chalk on a blackboard. Then when we get bored we can just erase them like it never happened.