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    Root causes

    Rondi gets letters and finds that the ability to spell does not necessarily vary directly with the ability to think. She and I may disagree over the relative merits of Madonna (yay!) and The Sound of Music (KILL. ME. NOW.), but she’s absolutely right about this:

    It turns out that students in a Toronto-area high school class were asked to pick a newspaper column they disagreed with. At least 12 students picked mine. In groups of two or three, they explained why.

    Explain they did … and all I can say is, out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained defeatism. Rather than the adorable youthful conviction that war is not the answer, these teens seemed sure of two things: 1) The United States is to blame for the anger and actions of Islamofascists, for “creating more enemies,” and 2) War may be the answer, but since Islamofascists will always be two steps ahead of us, we’re bound to lose.

    More student optimism: “As our technology becomes more advanced, so does Al Qaeda’s. An example of this would be the liquid explosives disguised as Gatorade found in an airport in Great Britain this summer … no matter how much we spend on precautions … our lives will always be endangered….”

    Ah, blithe spirits! Did your teacher happen to tell you about fighting on the beaches and landing grounds and never surrendering? Or did he at least, say, mention the intelligence that uncovered the liquid explosives plot and other information? If so, I’d be curious to know the spin he put on it, given these words from a pupil: “Our intelligence is useless today because they are always two steps ahead of us.” Where can I order my burqa?

    Of course, you don’t have to go to Canada to hear such arguments made. Besides frequently being wrong in the particulars–if al-Qaeda were really always two steps ahead of us, life would have looked a lot different over the last five years–they seem to me to betray a more general misunderstanding of the way life works. Civilization doesn’t just happen; human progress is produced by warring against other people’s malevolence and nature’s indifference. Societies that just kind of accept their surroundings and harmonize with them as a first principle tend not to get anywhere. Not every project the human imagination can dream up is practicable, no, but history certainly indicates that wars can be won. Of course, if you’re not convinced that we deserve to win anyway, I suppose that doesn’t make much difference.

    4 Responses to “Root causes”

    1. Rondi says:

      You don’t like the Sound of Music!!!?

      Well, you will obviously never be a member of this group (I’m on the board of directors).

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Cute, Rondi. I do like plenty of undemanding, entertaining kitsch, trust me. Just not that particular item. (And, of course, a lot of people regard it as your gay civic duty to like The Sound of Music, which only makes it worse.)

    3. Rondi says:

      But don’t gay men like “The Sound of Music” as an object of mockery? Whereas I love it because I think it’s an inspiring movie that I take totally seriously. (o:

    4. Sean Kinsell says:

      I don’t know. When The Sound of Music DVD goes into the player, I take my glass of wine and find a cute guy on the balcony to talk to.

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