Why brought he us from bondage?

There is a legend in Portugal, a just-so story to explain a place name.

The place is called Mira Gaia and is a place on the river shore, across which is Gaia. I say it’s a just-so story because I suspect the name comes from Roman times, when the place across the river was farms and the name is something like “farm look out point.” The Romans were known for imaginative and poetic names like that.

However, the legend goes to another time altogether. The Douro River used to separate Christian and Moor for a long time. (I don’t know how long the time was. Portuguese history is told in generalities. It’s a cultural thing.) Long enough that raids across the river were common, to capture slaves, at least from the Muslim side. (The Christians might have captured slaves too. There is talk of Moorish slaves, but again everything is fuzzy. The one thing I know for sure, because immortalized in oral history, tradition, storytelling and first person accounts, is that the Moors sent parties across the river to raid for slaves. There were admonitions specially for parties of pilgrims, never to be unprotected in certain locations.)

Before we go any further, much has been said about Islam in the “golden age” when they occupied the peninsula. It might surprise you to know that it’s been incredibly burnished. I.e. they might have allowed a little more learning and discussion of things-not-in-the-Koran mostly because these were the provinces, things were spread out and control was harder. But this was after they burned the library at Alexandria (This was the latest I heard, but in comments I’m informed it ain’t so, so we’ll simply say they burned more books than they preserved, even if they’re given credit for the later) and their general treatment of women was about the same it is today. A female pilgrim – we are to understand, not just from poems and traditions, but from first hand diaries and accounts – could be expected to be treated like the girls taken by Boko Haram. I.e., multiple rape followed by being given away in a marriage that was nothing short of slavery.

In the same way, it will shock you to know that early Medieval Christianity has been much maligned. Oh, sure, a lot of it had adapted to local customs, both in worship (which often entailed giving the local god a saint’s name) and in treatment of women (and men.) But such as it was Christianity had one revolutionary belief (gotten from Judaism, of course) in the fact that women had souls. This means that, yeah, sure, women could be coerced into marriage (they still can, given a crazy enough family and enough pressure) but not with the knowledge of the cleric performing the ceremony. I suspect 1/3 of the “she was so pious she sought refuge in a convent” were women escaping from unbearable marriages they didn’t have the strength to refuse. The convent, too, provided women not just a safe place, but a place from which to make a contribution to society. Contrary to all the films about salacious sexual exploits in convents (if those went on, they were really, really stealthy, considering that communal life in those days was VERY communal) nuns made contributions not just in arts like culinary (most sweets recipes in Portugal come from “conventual recipes”) and lace-making, but also in reading, teaching, music, and even less gentle arts like agriculture. If Feminists had an ounce of shame or knowledge of history, they’d trace their origins to convents, where women proved they could support themselves, lead decent lives and contribute to society without men.

Now, was it all roses and wine? Oh, heck no. For one, in the middle ages, and in an area where wars were ongoing, to push back the invaders to North Africa, no one’s life was roses and wine. And for another, it was a time of might not only makes right, but might has to be respected because it can protect us. So a strong knight could certainly mistreat/lead his wife a dance. Male infidelity was absolutely accepted, while female infidelity, if you were lucky, got you sent back to your parents naked and mounted backwards on a mule.

(I will here remind idiots who have studied no history that this was not because men were uniquely evil and women uniquely victimized, but because – by the dictates of biology – men needed to ensure female fidelity if they were to be sure that the child they were raising, the one who would inherit everything, was actually theirs. Women OTOH might be materially harmed by their husband’s infidelity, but not to the point of not knowing who their children were.)

Still and all, from what I can determine from having read a lot of chronicles and biographies, a Christian woman’s life was still preferable to living with the Moors, particularly living with the moors as a captive.

Also, again, I paint with a broad brush. I’m sure individuals and circumstances varied. When I was young, my dad and I were fond of exploring castle ruins (all sorts of ruins, really) which were abandoned centuries ago and had neither been archeologically studied (there’s a treasure throve waiting in Portugal if you can get to them before these sites are obliterated to put up the newest stack-a-prol apartment.

In a castle, overlooking the Douro, a castle so overgrown that you could only tell it had been there by the foundations, we tripped on a tiny tomb – enough, say, for a toddler – with both the cross and the crescent inexpertly engraved on it.

Whose it was and what it might mean who knows. It could be the child of a Moorish captive and the local Lord and the mother have demanded that both symbols be on the tombstone. It is equally easy to conjure up the idea of a pair of star crossed lovers, burying their child and for good measure protecting him with both symbols.

Suffice it to say that as everywhere where two populations are at war and separated by a narrow natural barrier (the Douro is very hard to navigate, partly because it’s shallow in places. However, for a while, in Porto, it was forded by a bridge of boats. That bridge collapsed under the weight of people fleeing Gaia during the Napoleonic invasions. There is a plaque on the side, which propagates the legend that on the anniversary you can hear the screams and cries of people drowning as the bridge collapsed. No, I’ve never been brave enough to verify it.) some humans found their own private truces, and some humans found a hell worse than the general war. The thing about humans is that they are so human and religion or culture alone is not enough to dehumanize them.

At any rate, returning to the legend about Mira Gaia, which I’m telling you, because I dreamed of it, over and over and over again last night, and I am not sure what it means, exactly.

The legend goes that on their way from their wedding fist the Lord and Lady of X were assaulted by a party of raiding moors. It is understood, though never said, that the Lord was a bit the worse for the extensive celebrations, and so the moors stole his affianced wife.

He couldn’t rest, because he loved her truly (and blah blah blah) and night and day he thought about her. So, he got word she was living in Gaia, in the palace of a Moor prince who had silken blah blah blah.

Our brave knight, upon his horse which, I doubt me not, ran more swiftly than the moonlight, made to Gaia, scaled the walls of the prince’s palace, somehow without raising alarm fought many of the guards, then finally got into the chamber where the prince was sleeping the Knight’s wife, which according to legend, had been made part of the seraglio.

The knight fights and kills the prince (and btw the area wasn’t called Gaia yet at the time, according to legend, but the knight’s wife was) and takes his wife Gaia, and bundles her onto his horse, then bundles her onto a boat.

When they’re halfway crossing the Douro, the knight notices his wife is standing at the wrong end of boat (not the prow. Name is not coming) and looking towards the place she just left, crying and sighing.

He thinks she’s sorry for having been despoiled, etc, and tells her, “Gaia, come away from there. You don’t need to remember anymore. We’ll never speak of this.”

And she says amid sighs “I am looking one last time at the place where I was so happy with the man I loved whom you cowardly killed.”

At which point the knight is supposed to have said, “Then Mira, Gaia!” (mira, meaning look in the speech of the time and I believe still in Spanish.) And he drew his sword and cut her head off in a single stroke, burying her in the river by that portion on the shore now called Mira Gaia.

Why on Earth I spent the night dreaming of this, I don’t know. Again it is almost certainly a just-so story to explain a place name after the area and the lingo changed. So why should it haunt me?

Perhaps because I’ve lately been thinking – in the context of other countries and whether it is our right or even our duty to bring them closer to liberty – about liberty and captivity and the human attraction to both in different measures.

Perhaps my subconscious was trying to communicate something – who knows?

As most of you know I’m not pro-war save in the sense of defensive wars. OTOH I know enough history to know that a situation and culture which is possessed of animus against us, and drawers at looking after its own people, might not be a danger to us now, but will be a danger to us eventually. ICBM missiles go everywhere and judging by the efforts of North Korea and Iran, they will eventually be made even by people who can’t muster making a decent car.

We live in a world that the founding fathers couldn’t fully anticipate, and the shortness of our travel times might very well make – one day – imperative that we intervene before places become a danger to us. It’s sort of like living in a neighborhood with someone who kills small animals. Are you going to sit there and do nothing as he escalates to children?

I’m an agnostic on this. I say we leave them alone (not the people who kill small animals. I’d go nuts on them. I like animals) until they’ve proven they’re a material danger to us, and then we go in and we “pacify” them. But “pacification by bombing them into the 7th century” is one thing, and does one thing – it stops them for now. It might not stop them forever.

And they are humans too, like us, and at some point one starts thinking “What if they could be made like us? Isn’t just killing them an affront to all human kind?”

Here I must take a breath. You see, I like humans. And given the choice in any situation I’ll choose life.

But the human impulse to captivity is one that can’t be ignored. It’s not really an impulse to/liking of captivity, btw. It’s a liking for security.

Once you’ve been hemmed in and confined very long, but had your food and drink on time and aren’t’ randomly terrorized every day, you equate confinement with security. You’d rather not be free, if it’s going to make you insecure. That type of culture, be it in the middle East where it’s enforced by religion, or in our inner cities where it’s enforced by culture, is hard as heck to break. Not one generation, not two.   You probably need three generations to get people to internalize that liberty doesn’t mean destruction.

In the desert, after all, the Israelites asked Moses why he’d brought them from the fleshpots of Egypt, having forgotten back breaking labor and – hard to believe – the mass murder of male infants.

IOW like Gaia in the legend, who had been captive for years, and had had status and security with her captor, this new thing, and being stolen back even if (technically, probably) to greater freedom was very scary. What if her husband didn’t really forgive her? What if he found she’d enthusiastically cooperated with her captor? That she had children by him?

One of the things of any captive people is that everyone is tainted.

It amuses me when someone traces someone in a country like Russia or China and discerns tenuous tendrils to the old hierarchy. Well, duh. The effect of tyranny is to corrupt everything it touches and society at every level.

So when we free a country, a lot of the middle class are going to be thinking “what if they find out about—” That plus the penchant for security means it’s not only a long time till liberty takes hold, it’s a tough road for the holding power.

A lot of other powers became imperial in these circumstances, occupying and taking the fruits of the land to pay for their trouble.

Americans don’t do that. They are terrible imperialists. All they want to do is go home.

This means, ultimately, that it’s a costly endeavor for someone’s benefit, as the someone is kicking and screaming and telling you they don’t want it.

The Gaia solution (which sounds like a science fiction title, doesn’t it?) is very tempting then. It also, of course, renders everything else pointless.

If one rides upon a horse swifter than moonlight (and what the heck is up with that. Since when is moonlight swift?) to rescue a people, be it abroad or in our inner cities, it is reckless stupidity not to have the fortitude of our convictions, and the certainty in our own culture, enough to then set up the conditions for them to be free and showing them freedom is exhilarating, not scary.

Otherwise, perhaps it would be best if we don’t start.

The choice might not be ours, of course. In our rapidly shrinking world isolationism is attractive and probably impossible. (Even the founding fathers had to deal with the Barbary pirates.)

But if we have to go in, then we should stay and make sure that Gaia is brought to understand what is captivity and what is freedom.

Otherwise, it will be all to do all over again.

 

 

334 responses to “Why brought he us from bondage?

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Of course, a “solution” may be workable for one or two generations but because of “change” be unworkable “long term”. Until the Lord Comes or we “develop” a better breed of people, no solution can be permanent.

    • William O. B'Livion

      …no solution can be permanent.

      No *acceptable* solution can be permanent.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Speaking more generally. Yes, we could permanently solve one problem by completely destroying that group of “trouble makers” but that solution would cause problems later on (either internal or external). [Smile]

        • So you get rid of THAT group of trouble makers and so on and so on…

          • The Daughter has suggested, when confronted by particularly irritating bumper sticker philosophy and other such expressions of idiocy, that the easiest path to world peace, population control and an unhindered environment would be to nuke the planet. There will be an environment, albeit not too hospitable, and there should be peace.

            • Graveyards are indeed traditionally know for their peace.

            • There was an episode of *The X Files* where Mulder finds a genie. At one point he wishes for world peace. Quick cut–He’s standing in an empty city on a completely depopulated world, saying “I suppose I should have expected this…”

        • Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

          And my definition of “acceptable” is…evolving…

  2. But if we have to go in, then we should stay and make sure that Gaia is brought to understand what is captivity and what is freedom.

    Otherwise, it will be all to do all over again.

    Huh. Nice summation of the frustration inherent in all the time I spent in Iraq. *bitter grumbling*

    It’s not a lesson I think Americans learn well, too many things stacked against it here in the home provinces.

    But, maybe, someday.

    • I gather that part of the problem with the collapse of the Iraqi army under ISIS’s pressure is that they had reverted to the old ways, with commissions being sold, supplies and equipment and ammunition funds being diverted to the officer’s personal account and so on and so forth.

      Cultures do not change over night, nor in a half a decade. They require constant pressure and constant example of the new mode and even then the change requires decades.

      Once upon a time I would have advocated for reviving the principle of fostering, the bringing the sons and daughters of the “conquered” lands to our own country, here to be raised as are our children, to learn the ways of our society and culture and to put those in place upon their return to their native lands. (Indeed, reports indicate that this has worked, indirectly, with Mexicans who came to America to work, returned and realized that the old ways of taking abuse were a choice, not a necessity.)

      This takes time but is probably the fastest route to the barn … except I look at our schools and universities and shudder …

      • Cultures do not change over night…

        Yep.

        Most of the folks that spent much time on the ground figured this out. Those making the long term decisions were frequently not the ones spending much time on the ground.

        And then we were delivered from our warring ways by an inspired teleprompter.

        Such joy to know how much can be wasted to score some political points.

        😐

  3. A medieval woman whose husband fathered bastard children suffered harm to the extent that her children’s claims to his estate were put at risk.

    This is the essence of Ned’s explorations of Robert’s possible bastards in Game of Thrones.

  4. That’s just crazy talk. I’m sure we could invade some country, take out the current power structure and leave and nothing bad would come in to fill the void.

    People hate unknowns. One of the reason people stay in jobs they hate is they don’t know what the next one will be like. One of the reasons people stay in abusive relationships is they don’t know what the next relationship will be like (and may only be able to function in an abusive one). One of my professors said “People would rather live with a problem they can’t solve than live with a solution they can’t understand.” I think freedom is a solution most people can’t understand.

    • Seriously? Taking out a government and walking away has been tried now on more than one occasion in my lifetime, and the results have not been pleasant. Vietnam is now stable, that is not thanks to us, and it is certainly not free. Most recently we have Iraq. In the words of Samuel Gerard, Tommy Lee Jones’ character in The Fugitive, ‘My, my, my, my, my, what a mess.’

    • William O. B'Livion

      In all fairness “worse that ISIS” couldn’t be *worse* than ISIS, unless reality is more like Monster Hunters International, or the Laundry universe.

      • Oh forbid! The Spouse claims he no longer uses the expression, ‘it couldn’t be worse.’ After years of using it in various situations only to find out that, ‘oh, yes, it could,’ he no longer wishes to tempt the fates. 😉

        • William O. B'Livion

          It’s not impossible that eldritch horrors can leak in from other realities, but it’s a very, very low probability.

        • William O. B'Livion

          Oh, and I should add that IMO “just as bad in a different way” is not worse.

  5. Once you’ve been hemmed in and confined very long, but had your food and drink on time and aren’t’ randomly terrorized every day, you equate confinement with security. You’d rather not be free, if it’s going to make you insecure.

    Two different translations:

    You may proclaim, good sirs, your fine philosophy
    But till you feed us, right and wrong can wait!

    and

    However much you twist, whatever lies you tell
    Food is the first thing, morals follow on.

    It is very hard to think clearly on an empty stomac.

    • Somehow I lost the citation: Threepenny Opera, What Keeps A Man Alive? Bertolt Brecht

      • John Schilling

        Or League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Century:1910, Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill, if you prefer the version where Pirate Jenny aka Janni Nemo actually does have a heavily-armed warship and the well-fed philosophising moralists get a dose of real payback.

    • At that — if you were raising your food, making your own clothing, raising your own home on a desert island, in one sense, you are absolutely free because you can do whatever you please without interference. On the other hand, the number of things you can not do is legion. Prosperity can enable freedom to act.

  6. There is also the issue of the conditioned reflex. Once trained to flinch before the upraised hand it is difficult to shed the habit, to not flinch from a friendly wave.

    We are prisoners of our expectations and our perceptions.

  7. Extraordinarily astute post, Dear Hostess, I can say that because it echoes what I was preaching in 2003. 🙂 I was hollering for a governor for Iraq for at least a generation, as a needed ingredient to baking a republic there.

    One minor nitpick – the Moors didn’t burn down the Alexandrian library. Scholars can’t know for sure, and there may have been several torchings, but the best candidate for the first big conflagration was 48 BC by the Romans, (a fire set by the J. Caesar that accidentally spread from the docks to the library during his civil war) and all other widely recognized possible dates for subsequent fires were well before the founding of Islam.

    • The latest one I heard was Islam — no don’t ask me, though it might be a minor conflagration.

      • The fire set by Islam has been discredited. The record asserting that was written five hundred of years after the supposed fact, and there is no mention of the library in the hundreds of years after the last accepted torching in 391 AD by an Orthodox patriarch.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_of_Alexandria#Destruction

        Quote

        In AD 642, Alexandria was captured by the Muslim army of Amr ibn al `Aas. Several later Arabic sources describe the library’s destruction by the order of Caliph Omar. Bar-Hebraeus, writing in the 13th century, quotes Omar as saying to Yaḥyā al-Naḥwī: “If those books are in agreement with the Quran, we have no need of them; and if these are opposed to the Quran, destroy them.” Later scholars are skeptical of these stories, given the range of time that had passed before they were written down and the political motivations of the various writers.

        End Quote

        This link goes in more detail about “who destroyed the library”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destruction_of_the_Library_of_Alexandria

      • We discussed this, I looked up the book I have on the subject. (don’t remember the title or author now.) Did the Muslims burn what was left of the library? (best guess.) Did the Romans burn it down? Did early Christians burn it down? (The answer Carl Sagan presented as solid fact, on little evidence.) Was there a library in Alexandria at all? or was it a room full of books? or one shelf of books? It’s the most frustrating book I’ve ever read because it just gathers together the many, totally mutually exclusive stories, none of which has much evidence to back it up. Existence of library has the evidence of I think three paragraphs in one old book, the rest of the stories a line or two with no proof.

        • Yes. I think you gave me this book to read when I was recovering from pneumonia, so all I remember are fragments 😉

        • It seems as if this is one of those areas where myth exceeds knowledge, with the fable adapted as a cudgel for exigent needs.

          Ergo I propose, as ultimate answer to any challenges, using the phrase made famous by the good Baron: Vas you dere, Chollie?

          • When the legend has superseded the truth, print the legend. (Words to that effect, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence.)

            “ICBM missiles” is redundant; should just be ICBMs, the M is for Missile. Been there, done that, two different missiles, lo, those many years ago.

            • Concur re: inappropriate albeit common usage of a redundant phrase, but …

              If it is a MIRVed warhead is the redundancy then justified?

  8. Regarding “OTOH I know enough history to know that a situation and culture which is possessed of animus against us, and drawers at looking after its own people,”…huh?

    As for the rest of it, “we are friends of liberty everywhere, but defenders only of our own”. As you say, we’re lousy Imperialists. We could sterilize a country and colonize the depopulated land, but trying to turn *them* into *us*…we’ve lost the knack, and were only ever good at it when they *came* to us and wanted to be converted.

    If we are threatened, I say we go with the Aliens Option: back off and nuke the place from orbit (though kinetic strikes would be cleaner). It’s the only way to be sure.

  9. I’m confuse, Carl Sagan would have me believe that it was the evil “Christians” that “burned the library at Alexandria”?

    • The Library was attacked more than once. It’s final destruction, however, was at the hands of the Caliphate.

      (It’s something to subtly taunt people with, in history+magic settings. When someone wants to talk about lost Alexandria, you can speculate about what seals, curses, or other defenses were prepared at the command of the local Islamic boss after he had the place destroyed.)

      • Existence of more than one library, or a library with what we call branches, would clarify much of this.

  10. Various flavors of Xians are blamed for the burnings after Caesar’s.

  11. Reposting this. I think WP ate the original.

    Extraordinarily astute post, Dear Hostess, I can say that because it echoes what I was preaching in 2003. 🙂 I was hollering for a governor for Iraq for at least a generation, as a needed ingredient to baking a republic there.

    One minor nitpick – the Moors didn’t burn down the Alexandrian library. Scholars can’t know for sure, and there may have been several torchings, but the best candidate for the first big conflagration was 48 BC by the Romans, (a fire set by the J. Caesar that accidentally spread from the docks to the library during his civil war) and all other widely recognized possible dates for subsequent fires were well before the founding of Islam.

  12. One of Anne McCaffery’s “Ship” books has the protagonist (pre-ship) repeatedly make a comment about those Christians who burned the library at Alexandria.

    On another, and more relevant, note…

    I remember making a comment shortly after 9/11 to the effect that the only real way to fix Afghanistan was to pretty much run the country’s educational system for a full generation. The American people would never stand for it, though.

    • I do keep thinking that it would be good to do more to educate the population in these countries. From what I’ve read one of the reasons for the spread of fundamentalist Islam was all of those madrassas that Saudi Arabia funded all over the Mideast. Would be nice to have an alternative for people. Though I suppose that some of those countries wouldn’t allow it.

      • Yes, and those are the antithesis of learning.
        But yes, it would have to be done covertly by people who go in pretending to be Islamic teachers. And who are GOOD.

      • Maybe the Middle East wouldn’t allow it, but in some of the countries farther afield (Central Asia, South East Asia, parts of Africa) you’d have a decent chance, if you could stick with it.

    • William O. B'Livion

      Wouldn’t work. There’s too much that happens *way* back in the mountains.

      Heck it’s take the Progs 3 generations and they still haven’t *completely* fuxored *our* school system.

      The only way to “fix” afghanistan is to realize that it has been a failed state since before that term hand meaning, break it up into its tribal areas and then hand *those* to the surrounding countries that have significant populations of those tribes.

      • Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, China and Pakistan? They might not object, but I doubt that the Afghanis would accept it.

        • The Tajiks would be okay with it, the Uzbeks would be okay with it, and the Turkmen would be okay with it. I’m not sure about the folks who’d end up in Iran, the Pashtuns would want to be their own country, and the ones under China would be constantly rebelling.

          • William O. B'Livion

            Fine, then let the Pashtuns run their own country and hold the others responsible for the behavior of their tribal members.

            The British couldn’t civilize it, the Russians couldn’t even stabilize it, and now we’re getting corrupted by it.

            • What you suggest might work, except you’d need someone else overseeing and ensuring the stability of borders.

              • William O. B'Livion

                Not really.

                As long as they’re fighting each other they ain’t botherin us.

                • Hmm. This is true to an extent. But with the example of IS, and the pushing of Russia into Ukraine as a current events example, also untrue, as it is clear that those bent on expansion conquest will always look outward.

                  It’s easy to blame one’s troubles on a far-away foe to rally an unhappy populace. Hence, border enforcement and no disarmament. I’ve always been against the US disarming itself.

                  • Disarming is an idiot game, unless suddenly the entire world become angels.
                    On the individual, tribal or national level. It’s stupid.

                    • Yes. I’ve always been suspicious of anyone who says that “it’s the other side’s fault because they don’t ‘want’ to be peaceful”.

                      I like Marine Gen. James Mattis, who is the guy who told the Iraqi tribal leaders, “I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I’ll kill you all.”

                      Also, I don’t think one can fix what doesn’t WANT to be fixed. Africa, for all it’s resources and wealth, is one of these, because of the attitudes they espoused as norms. There are exceptions, either as individuals, or as groups, but they’re vastly outnumbered. It has nothing to do with the color of their skin, and everything to do with the selfishness, self-centeredness and sheer savagery of their most violent cultures, which, for some ineffable reason, we’re supposed to somehow hold in the same regard as Judeo-Christian Western culture.

                      …Huh, bonus for the alliteration.

                    • I don’t think one can fix what doesn’t WANT to be fixed.

                      Exactly. Just as you cannot make a addict, no matter how bad things have gotten, change until they are willing to face the fact that they are an addict and that they are not / cannot be in control and are willing to do what it takes to no longer live that way. No, you can’t fix what doesn’t want to be fixed.

        • William O. B'Livion

          You made a big error there.

          Very, very few people in that area thing of themselves as “Afghanis”, and those that do (or claim to) are generally on government Baksheesh.

          God, Family, Tribe. In that order, and stopping there.

          • God, Family, Tribe. In that order, and stopping there.

            This, very much.

            • H*LL Portugal is just a little more “country” than this. I mean, after G-d and family there is maybe “country” or at least history. But “country” is always “my region” not “those damn idiots over there.

              • Yeah, regionalism has a LOT to do with mindset too. *looks sideways at the Philippines, and it’s several languages and I lost count of how many dialects…*

                • Portugal acquired a standard language somewhere in the late nineteenth century. But being Portugal, it only sort of did. the last time I flew on a Portuguese plane, I realized there was no standard formula for stuff like “In the event of” or even “airplane seat.” Depending on which part of the country the people who wrote that stuff came from, it was all the way from “Should it happen that” to “if strangely this” and for seats everywhere from “stool” (equivalent) to “Armchair” to “recliner.” It was… odd realizing that.

                  • The attempt to … shoehorn, for lack of better term… a ‘standardized’ Filipino language has been largely detrimental to the Filipino people. Regionalism was one of the issues, as the language they tried to force on the rest was Tagalog. The arguments against this ranged from population of speakers, to “Are you dumb? We HAVE ENGLISH and that way NO regional language or dialect is favored over the rest” and the practicalities of such were never addressed. We have as a result, a language that never grew beyond social terminology and usage, does not have terms for maths, science, law, medicine, technology, engineering, history, and more, but is considered by the literati of the country as a ‘living language’ because slang use changes very rapidly. There were failed attempts to try translate history books and textbooks into Filipino, but the existing dictionaries were either inadequate, or the wrong words and terminologies were used – I remember all too well the trials of my youngest brother, who HAD to try read a Filipino-translated textbook, and couldn’t make sense of a whole paragraph because of ONE word being mistranslated so badly, the intended meaning of the whole paragraph could not be discerned from the surrounding sentences or paragraphs. I handed him my English language history book, and we discovered it was the one they tried to translate, and found the paragraph in question, and the one in English made sense, and the word that was mistranslated and mis-used had nothing to do with the original paragraph at all.

                    The literati have not been pleased that there are now schools advertising that they are using English as the sole language of teaching, after letting the literati ruin the ability of 20 years worth of students to think.

                    This doesn’t even cover what debates there were in what should be considered part of the official Filipino language. I remember there being debates as to what should be used as a term for ‘chair’ or ‘seat’ – a phrase that translates to ‘place to sit’, or a phrase that translates to ‘ass-catcher.’ There’s a reason why I don’t like SJWs, and it’s because I’ve seen up close and personal what they can do to a country.

                    • What about or what happened with Spanish?

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_language_in_the_Philippines

                      It survives to some extent, in local legal language (at least, going by some of the phrases used in my classes in law back in college), and my mother recounts that it was still used in the houses of the landed families due to traditional use. The use of English as the predominant language of education was more popular post World War II, plus a surge of American pop culture. Personally, I think it really helped that Americans provided education for all regardless of class or wealth distinctions, raising literacy rates throughout the provincial regions.

                      I’d heard of some attempts to try encourage that Spanish be taught again in schools, but I think that’s more likely to happen once they figure out / decide against using Filipino as the primary language of teaching (as noted above, it’s hugely inadequate and simply isn’t able to catch up) revert to English (as a number of schools are doing) and then probably introduce Spanish as one of the languages learned.

                      Interesting note, bale is most commonly used in the phrase bale wala, literally translated to ‘value: none’, or ‘worthless’, and usual phrases involving it have nothing to do with monetary value.

                    • Cool , thanks.

              • William O. B'Livion

                How often do they cut each others heads off?

          • “Afghanis” was, I think, a generic term for the indigenous peoples of that area. Sort of the same way we say “New Yorkers,” “Philadephians,” “Californians” and “Southerners.” Such usage is no more indicative of self-referential identification than would be “Britons” or “The English” when referring to the Scots, Welsh, Irish, Northumbrians, Lancastrians etc. comprising the indigenous peoples of the British Isles.

            As that last term commingles Tennesseans, Virginians, Floridians, Georgians, Texans and more …

          • NO, I used Afghanis for the collective tribes. I don’t think that, anymore than they want to be algined with each other, any of the various tribal groups would wish to be algined elsewhere. There is a mindset of a different era at work in that area, one that did not require being part of a nation.

            • William O. B'Livion

              The “Tribes” exist across national boundaries, and I suspect we’d have less trouble from that region if the boundaries were realigned to the people rather than trying to align the people to the boundaries.

              Call it a humanist approach.

    • ‘The Ship who Searched’, Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey. Used the fake version of the Hypatia of Alexandria legend too, iirc.

  13. So, because of habituation to a stable oppression, plus perhaps some Stockholm Syndrome (or is that the same thing?), a powerful nation that can make choices has only two when credibly attacked:
    1) deal so much pain to the attacking entity that fear, and a cultural memory of it, will keep that entity at bay for multiple generations. Of course, when fear fades, hate will remain, and you will have to do it over again; the grace period depends on how hard you hit them, and how isolated from outside takeover they are. The “nuke ’em from orbit” approach; most Americans wouldn’t go for that short of obviously existential risk.
    2) go ahead and be an empire, occupying and administering for long enough to force an assimilation to your values, i.e. co-opting the previous enemy’s desire to attack you by making them part of “us” rather than “them”. Although many Americans would go for this in theory, it probably needs to be economically break-even and we have to find a way to spin it as something other than “empire”.

  14. Re: Christian and Moorish slaves – Well, there were a lot of weirdnesses in European law. Obviously the Church was against slavery in general, but the Christian emperors never got around to banning slavery and they had more and more of those tax slaves on the latifundia. Obviously your barbarian tribes coming off the steppes weren’t against slavery, either.

    So you got situations where European slavery turned into serfdom (like the Franks) or unfree (like the Irish) but slaves still had rights of some sort. Often there were some weird means of social mobility.

    The Visigoths over in Spain (don’t know about Portugal) had a wacky rule that if you were a slave or of slave heritage, but you could manage not to be called upon for service by your “master” for thirty years, you weren’t a slave anymore. A lot of Visigoth lords tended to lose track of what lands (and people) they owned, because they had lots of little patches all over the place and records got lost sometimes or they didn’t feel like keeping up with/protecting the patches out in the boonies. So if you went and pioneered a farm out in the boonies….

  15. Freedom requires one thing. Accepting that you and only you are responsible for your actions. Unfortunately, this also requires a certain type of morals, truth and respect for your fellows. This country was once great because a man’s (or woman’s) word bound them to the deed. Now we have narratives that excuse actions, cops shoot blacks, guys rape girls… certainly a grain of truth exists in them, but the real truth is destroyed when ‘a sexual micro-aggression’ is the same as rape, or rioting because you don’t like the truth of no true bill.
    It is a condition of humanity to fail. Freedom requires we accept our failure as our own, accept the consequences and carry on. Unfortunately, this was barely managable in colonial times, and with the vested interests of crooked politicians, wealthy race baiters and overpaid Title IX administrators, it is pretty impossible in modern times. Far easier to claim it is ‘the will of Allah’ and continue to indulge your petty lusts and vile lies. It is the situation we are all in, and the discomfort of returning to a moral free society is daunting at best.
    I think America started with the best, bravest and brightest Europe could offer. Now, we breed our own lazy idiots. I once thought that asteroid mining and Darkship societies might be our salvation. I’m not so sure anymore that we have time left to achieve a space based society before our decay. America was founded on liberty. France on equality. I’m afraid the French have won by settling on mediocracy for all.

    • Seriously off topic, but I’ve been wondering since I saw your name. Any relation to the land speed record Campbells?

  16. “Since when is moonlight swift?”

    Well, I assume it’s 186,000 mph, just like most light. So not particularly swift compared to other light; but compared to other horses, lightspeed is pretty good.

  17. Trying to comment again. WP is eating ’em.

    The Visigoths over in Spain (don’t know about Portugal) had a wacky rule that if you were a slave or of slave heritage, but you could manage not to be called upon for service by your “master” for thirty years, you weren’t a slave anymore. A lot of Visigoth lords tended to lose track of what lands (and people) they owned, because they had lots of little patches all over the place and records got lost sometimes or they didn’t feel like keeping up with/protecting the patches out in the boonies. So if you went and pioneered a farm out in the boonies….

  18. The unreality, idiocy and evil of occupying an “uncivilized” people in a purported attempt to civilize them, is that it cannot possibly succeed. Most people on planet Earth are tribal (clannish), have much lower IQs than western europeans on average, have marital inbreeding as a general custom(which means they aren’t going to get smarter), and are quite satisfied with the civilization they have now. Clannishness is the default strategy of humans, and only changed in western europe because of centuries of effort by the Church.
    So picking up “the White man’s burden” is inherently evil, extremely arrogant, and very costly. But some powerful members of your society will make a great deal of money off the resulting disaster….

    • you don’t need to be smart to live well or prosper. That is indeed stupid. And as for “uncivilized” no one said that — most civilizations are oppressive.
      But in the world as is now you can’t ignore people kept in poverty by oppression.
      As for changing a culture, of course we can’t. Japan is imperial and stuck in its ways.

      • can’t change a culture – on purpose. We’ve changed quite a few more or less by accident. E.g. Vietnam seems to have admired and absorbed quite a bit of American small-entrepreneur capitalism – per Michael Totten’s report at http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/blog/michael-j-totten/havana-hanoi

        • I think Vietnam and much of Asia had small entrepreneurs long before we showed up….

        • Yeah, well, I suspect that Vietnam is like it is because

          1.) Americans were there for quite a while in considerable numbers, and got quite involved with the population (in ways that could never happen in our Middle Eastern forays), and
          2.) When Saigon fell, the South Vietnamese got a very quick, and sharp, lesson in why supporting us had been a good idea.

          Plus, I suspect that there’s a cultural element. It often seems as if east Asians have capitalism in their bones. One sometimes gets the impression that if you took everything but the rags on his back away from an Asian, that within a month he’d have a successful business selling rags. And the whole “I don’t need to get ahead so long as I tear down everyone else in front of me” problem that’s so poisonous to a market economy doesn’t seem to be as pronounced among that group. Sure, there’s competitiveness. But it seems to more commonly display itself as an attempt to improve oneself as opposed to tearing everyone else down (not saying that the latter doesn’t exist, mind you).

          • Humans have capitalism in their bones.

            How it manifests depends on the culture and the government, but it’s there nevertheless: every Communist regime has a thriving black market whether it’s the old USSR or modern China, Vietnam (both of which are transitioning to a kind of quasi fascism “soft” capitalism) or North Korea.

            Capitalism is nothing more than trade and barter writ large and formalized, which humans have been doing since before we had economies and nations.

            • Yes… and no.

              Everyone has a little bit of it. But some cultures seem to take to it more readily than others do – at least from what I’ve seen.

          • Sacramento has a large population of Vietnamese “boat people”—those who were so desperate when America withdrew that they set out in barely seaworthy vessels in overwhelming numbers. A lot of them got sent up the river when they were brought in to San Francisco, and they could be the very definition of people with nothing to their names.

            The first generation was mostly strawberry farmers. It’s a job that requires labor and very little startup capital.

            Their kids are mostly dentists.

            That should tell you everything you need to know about improving oneself and one’s circumstances.

            • My wife’s grandparents arrived here from China with pretty much nothing. They ended up raising families, on one side as farmers, the other working at then running then owning grocery stores.

              Their kids, after the first sons took over the family businesses, sent their brothers and sisters to college, resulting in physicians, dentists, pharmacists (and a couple of auto mechanics).

              My wife’s generation turned out to be physicians, stock brokers, dentists, teachers, software engineers, auto mechanics, and a couple in law enforcement/social work.

              *Their* kids are doctors, dentists, IT professionals, military vets (then civilian IT security specialists), …

              Not a lot of slackers in the lot.

      • Really? Name one example of such an un-smart group that prospered by our western standards or showed any noticeable scientific progress. They may “live well” and be happy, that is subjective. You have fallen for egalitarian propaganda which is 100% false.

        • Would you give me the over-under guess on the IQ in Brazil? Scientific discoveries stop under socialism, period. BUT they live much better than the man on the street in Afghanistan.

          • Average IQ in Brazil is 87, say 85-90, http://www.photius.com/rankings/national_iq_scores_country_ranks.html, gdp/capita roughly 12,000. Chile and Argentina, with average IQs in the 90-95 range, have about 50% higher gdp/cap. Afghanistan, in range of 80-85, significantly lower GDP. Singapore, IQ in the 105-110 range, has gdp/capita more than 5 times Brazil’s.
            You are right, of course, that socialism will seriously reduce gdp/cap and growth in any country.

            • And yet Mongolia has an average IQ in the top 10 and gdp/capita well below Chile or Brazil. Oh, and the highest GDP/Capita is Qatar – with an average IQ of 78. They’re certainly prospering over there – but doing so by paying off the locals from their nice fat oil reserves and having foreigners come in and do the real work.

              In short, your choice of measure is utterly useless, and your argument is invalid.

              • If you knew anything about the world, Kate, you would know that Qatar is a few hundred thousand goat herders sitting on top of a mountain of hydrocarbons that western oil companies are paying them royalties to extract. Qatar citizens do literally nothing, and when the hydrocarbons are gone, they will be poor goat herders again. Angola is similar.
                Mongolia has been under the thumb of China for a long time…
                I don’t know if you can do math, but the correlation between IQ and gdp/capita is an enormous .70, despite the Qatars and Angolas of the world.

                • Repeat after me: CORRELATION DOES NOT EQUAL CAUSATION. That said, are you seriously expecting me to believe that you’ve never stopped to consider that little things like the ability of increasing GDP to progressively reduce the impact of chronic malnutrition, lack of hygiene and assorted other poverty/cultural factors on IQ might just have a teensy little bit to do with your correlation? If there was a causation effect there wouldn’t be anywhere near as many outliers as their are and the correlation would be stronger. Not only can I do the math, sir, I understand it. You have demonstrated that you don’t.

                  • William O. B'Livion

                    In this case it pretty much does.

                    ESR (Eric S. Raymond) has gone over this over and over, and he’s not exactly a frothing racist.

                    There is a *strong* correlation between the national/regional average IQ and poverty, and it’s multi-generational. It’s incredibly incendiary, but it’s been measured so many times in so many different ways that it’s *not* controversial inside the psychometric field.

                    You need an certain average level of intelligence to maintain a modern industrial culture. Right now large parts of African and eastern/southern asia *DO NOT HAVE THIS*. This is why we keep pouring aid in there like nobodies business and SHIT KEEPS FAILING.

                    And yes, certain forms of government are more injurious than others. And yes, good childhood nutrition can raise the average somewhat, over generations. However those population groups, when they move to the US, generally gain a few points *and that’s it*.

                    There are *all kinds* of physical characteristics that seem to cluster according to race, from sickle-cell anemia (sub-Saharan african) to cystic-fibrosis (predominately caucasian) to ratios of fast twitch muscle fibers, red blood cell levels (I have a buddy who’s genetics lie in the Andes. He sweats very little and has an *amazing* ability to run at high altitudes).

                    Stating the simple fact that some population groups have *genetically* lower intellectual ability is no different than stating they have genetically *higher* physical abilities, which no one really gets bent out of shape over.

                    IDK who Connor is, or if he’s trolling, but according to research going back generations, he’s correct.

                    This group tends to place a high value on smarts, so to “us” saying someone is unintelligent is MUCH worse than saying they’re a physical wreck, but it’s basically the same thing.

                    It also doesn’t mean that any one individual is more or less intelligent than average, it just means the aggregate is.

                    • Actually, William, the aid is part of the reason it’s failing.
                      Also, IQ changes when kids eat stuff with enough vitamins. Saw it in my own life time in Portugal which, btw, also has a tradition of cousin-marriage.

                    • William O. B'Livion

                      Actually, William, the aid is part of the reason it’s failing.

                      If that was true Germany and Japan would have remained devastated after WWII, but instead within 2 decades of being bombed to Bolivia both were solidly first world industrial nations.

                      Africa’s problems were deeper and more complex than Germany and Japan’s, and yes some of the Aid hindered, but in the particular areas we’re talking about (nutrition and hygiene) it should have helped tremendously.

                      We’ve not only dumped a lot of raw cash into their economies, which has fostered dependence and corruption (well, maybe not “fostered”, more like continued), but we’ve also and decades of bringing their best and brightest over to the US for eduction, most of whom (not all, most) went back for a while[1]. I met a few when I was in Highschool (worked on the local college campus) and in college (at the same school). They took classes in Agronomy, Animal Husbandry, biology etc.

                      And we’ve sent wave after wave of Peace Corps goof balls over there, and yeah, their economic theories are crap, but as far as basic hygiene and nutrition, it SHOULD have stuck.

                      Africa (like India) is not resource poor. Especially when it comes to the sorts of resources required to produce food.

                      But decade after decade “we” go over there, set up a program, teach them how to $FOO and then leave. And then $FOO stops working and they go back to starving.

                      IQ changes when kids eat stuff with enough vitamins.

                      Yes, poor nutrition will prevent full development, but it only goes so far. Maybe 15-20 points, and that’s from *horrible* malnutrition to good nutrition.

                      This gets you from barely functional to mid 90s.

                      Which, oddly enough, is about what happens to these population groups when they come to the states. Bell Curve and all.

                      That doesn’t get you *as a country* the ability to run a modern industrial society, and especially not a post-industrial/information age society. There’s a reason that when “we” got the internet into Nigeria their primary use of it, rather than developing a “native”/African software industry was to create scams to get Americans and Europeans to send their money there.

                      Look, being low IQ isn’t morally bad. It like not being able to bench press much, not being able to finish a marathon or being near-sighted (or in my case horribly far-sighted). It just *is*, and as long as we refuse to accept that it *is*, we’ll continue to mis-characterized the problem and screw up the solutions.

                      I wish it were otherwise, then maybe the fixes would easier.

                      [1] A friend of mine’s sister met and married either an Algerian or Libyan prince while he was here getting an education. This story includes grabbing the kids and running for a plane in the middle of hte night)

                    • I have a problem when you mention the aid monies being poured into various nations. My mind immediately goes to why Bono pulled his charity out of one nation — the money and goods were NOT going to the intended recipients.

                      We see this time and again. While the world gave generously to the PLO, Arafat wore custom tailored suits and the Palestinians themselves were kept in sub-standard housing prevented from developing businesses that would have improved their lot.

                      The argument that the failure of the aid money to improve the lot of Africa, or anywhere else, is not proof that the people are incapable of improvement. To me this suggests that the trouble lies with the governments and the uber culture prevalent in these areas.

                    • William O. B'Livion

                      I have a problem when you mention the aid monies being poured into various nations.

                      That was covered in “fostered dependency and corruption, but”

                      The financial aid was badly handled, and stupid.

                      We have also dumped *tonnes* of man hours of education, both by brining folks here and by sending folks there.

                    • I’m not denying there is a correlation. The causative factors are a damn sight more complex than you or the other person assume.

                      First, IQ testing is not an accurate measure of intelligence. It’s a broad thumbnail of abstract reasoning ability. In places and cultures where abstract reasoning isn’t much use, it tends not to be particularly common.

                      Second: Our more distant ancestors largely were no better at abstract reasoning than many people who live in shitty cultures today. So what happened? Was there a sudden unexplained IQ jump that lead to increased wealth for all? Or did something ELSE happen that brought IQ AND standards of living up.

                      THAT is my point: there are too many other factors in play to claim that the correlation between IQ and standard of living is a causative one.

                    • Yep,

                      I wonder how they would incorporate current research into the “7” areas of “intelligence?”

                      Or Myers/Briggs?

                      There are these abilities called Judgment and Common Sense.

                  • As I said, I don’t know if you do math…..Your comment is stupid.

                    • Peter,

                      Calling someone’s comment stupid is not refuting said comment.

                      Citing specific examples of why you believe the things you do would help your credibility around here and will help people take you seriously.

                      Declaring yourself right and your opponent wrong does not for an argument make.

                • Peter, I can’t tell from your comments whether you’re trolling on purpose or not, but that I’m asking the question is enough. Treat our community and the people in it with more respect, please.

                • Which countries have you visited besides the US Peter? Kate wasn’t born here any more than Sarah was. Oh, and White Man’s Burden civilizing countries? Look at almost any of the former British Colonies, there are exceptions of course, but overall the English strategy of turning the entire world into England seems to have paid dividends for those countries.

                  Then take a look at the ones controlled by the other colonial powers such as Spain, Portugal, Germany and Belgium. Most are basketcases, with the exceptions of the major south american powers such as Argentina and Brazil, and they ain’t doin’ so hot either.

                  The of course one has the “former” French colonies, which were decolonized in name only. They’re still doing fairly well, but of course they’re still wholly owned subsidiaries of La Belle France.

                  Basically, if you knew anything about the world you’d know that western civilization has been the biggest boon to humanity the world has ever seen, where it has been allowed to function.

                  • Western civilization pretty much is high civilization, with a few exceptions, and of course it’s been a boon to the world. I don’t see much evidence that British colonies are doing better than French colonies, etc, for example Kenya with gdp/cap 2,000, and India 65 years after independence much worse. But regardless of international travels, and my kids speak 6 languages, it’s pretty obvious that the colonial powers didn’t do it out of altruism. And my business involved Qatar, but anyone could look up the fact that their income is entirely based on western resource extraction.

                    • British colonies? Such as the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore?

                      Which French, etc. colonies do you wish to cite for comparative purpose?

                  • @ RES: ❤ you so much for that comment right now. People oh so conveniently forget that those were colonies, because they don't fit the 'waaah evil colonial timez' narrative.

                    The question that should be asked is: Why did Hong Kong and Singapore prosper more than India did, economically, as well as advance socially?

                • Angola? Angola has been exhausted by proxy war that ultimately became a fight between socialists and communists. They have made a great deal of progress since the end of hostilities, but rebuilding the infrastructure in the nation that has been so badly damaged is a monumental challenge.

      • “You can’t ignore people kept in poverty by oppression”–which means what? Are we going to invade India to do away with the 4,000 year old caste system?

        • well, to a great extent the English DID transform India. Does the caste system survive? Sure, it does. With the force it had? not even close. In fact India is by way of being a capitalistic success compared to much of the rest of the world. The dreaded British colonialism did it.
          Also, kindly let me know when India, while being kept in poverty by oppression, is shouting Death to America and staging terrorist attacks. PFUI. you aren’t EVEN serous.

          • You have to be kidding….The British didn’t even make a dent in the Indian caste system. Indians today don’t intermarry between castes or often even between sub-castes. Average IQ 80-85, but the top two castes and the Jains are highly intelligent, and they are the ones who come to the US.
            Indian gdp/capita is an awful 1,450/yr.
            India was the wealthiest country in the world in 1750, then the Brits marched in. When the Brits finished “transforming” India and left in 1947, it was one of the poorest countries in the world. Nice job, Britain!
            To its credit, the US generally opposed the British Empire, but we didn’t do much about it, since our upper classes were mostly Anglophiles.

            • William O. B'Livion

              Boollshit.

              Or rather “lying by telling 1/2 the story”.

              India was *already* on a general downward slide that was slightly arrested in the 1600/1700s, where it continued it’s downward slide.

              By 1947 India wasn’t “one of the poorest countries” by any real measure other than they had not developed the resources they had–and they had (and have) plenty.

              The “strip mining of resources” that you assert the British did was not the sort of resources that mattered in a post-war, industrial world–the East India Company traded mostly in commodities that could be grown (silk, cotton, opium (both medical and otherwise, remember this was before it was regulated in the US or Europe) and some other stuff). Post war it was steel (iron ore + knowledge) and other “industrial” metals, of which India has, if not plenty at least in sufficient quantities AND (other than coal) were not extracted by the EIC.

              The problem with India is that the British weren’t able to inject enough of their culture. But then by the end of the Raj the British weren’t doing so well themselves.

              • You are not aware of the wholesale looting of India after the Mutiny.

                • William O. B'Livion

                  Really?

                  Do you even *read* the stuff you reply to?

                  Between 1900 and 1970 a *wholesale change* in what was valuable swept across the world. Until the late 1800s it was farmland and laborers, the ability to get *people* to where work needed to be done, get them down on their knees and do it.

                  Yeah, Britain treated Indians like serfs, but have you seen how they treated their OWN lower classes? This is the same time that the leftist turds whinge about how US lower classes were treated, and during 65% of the 1800s slavery was straight up legal in the US (and for much of htat time legal in Europe. It’s still legal in parts of Asia).

                  By 1900 it wasn’t farms and laborers, it was factories and transport, logistics and invention.

                  In 1850 brawn was more important than brains. By 1900 brains and brawn (at least in the nations we call “developed”. By 1950 brains more so than brawn almost anywhere in the world.

                  The British extracted wealth from India, but they built the infrastructure and institutions that allowed India, when it finally decided to, to get it’s shit together.

                  And yes, India, like Japan and most of the world is deeply bigoted and deeply status conscious. Your criticism seems to be that the british didn’t kill *enough* people to stop this, while at the same time complaining that they were stealing too much wealth. That’s not exactly a coherent argument.

                  • No, but from older son’s “World Geography” book, it’s the Marxist pap pushed in education. Colonialism is bad because it steals everything and then these countries can never develop. The fact that it’s not true (Africa and South America are still WAY wealthier in raw materials than dear old Europe) ain’t never stopped them.

        • India is doing away with that all by itself – mostly thanks to the Raj, and the changes that brought. Those changes were enough to give the lower castes the idea that they damn well COULD do what the upper castes did, and things moved on from there.

          Despite the efforts of India’s Islamic population and its Islamic neighbors (who, oddly enough, despite the SAME starting point aren’t doing nearly as well. Must be more of that Heinleinian “bad luck” stuff.)

          • Simply not true, you’ve been watching too much Hollywood. I suggested some of this optimistic stuff to one of my Indian chess playing friends, and he stopped me cold, said India is primitive and full of horrific slums…then I looked up the depressing facts. A recent look at Indian dating sites in the US found they require the following info–caste, subcaste, religion, blood type, and some other affiliations I don’t even understand. Not a melting pot.
            Some decent growth lately, but a vast distance to go…

            • Try answering my actual point instead of the one you wish I’d made.

              Your Indian friends are seeing India as it is now. Of course they’re seeing and hating the many things that are still problematic.

              Compared to the USA, India IS primitive and has horrific slums. Compared to Pakistan, it’s wonderful. Compared to what it was before the Raj, it’s wonderful. Suttee has been stopped (thank you Raj). Untouchables CAN be elected (when the idea of an Untouchable being able to make laws that apply to Brahmins was quite literally unthinkable before the Raj).

              Pointing out how far a nation has come along a bloody difficult road is HARDLY “Hollywood”, nor does it suggest that there isn’t a long way to go. (And, for the record, I do agree with you that watching zero Hollywood is too much)

              Kindly stop seeding your commentary with answers to points that were only made in your delusions.

              • If your point is that Pakistan is somewhat more awful than India, I would completely agree, same for Bangladesh. I wouldn’t live in a moslem country if you paid me. But being slightly better than godawful still leaves you as a bad third world country, with the typical well educated and prosperous upper classes that show up in the west.

                • Since you have demonstrated repeatedly that you have no intention of reading what I actually say, it will do no harm to your delusions to state that my point is this: India is improving. The Raj, despite its flaws, did a great deal to create the conditions that allow India to improve. Your statements to the contrary are wrong and based in pseudo-Marxist anti-Western propaganda.

                  • Criticizing the British Empire is anti-Western? So every President since 1912 is a pseudo-Marxist for disapproving the decaying Empire? Just nuts.
                    Yes, India is starting to improve, but remains one of the poorest countries in the world after two centuries of deterioration under British rule…is that supposed to impress anyone?

                    • A tendentious and needlessly vituperative statement which is also a gross distortion. Disapproving the decay of the British Empire does not constitute criticism of the existence of that Empire; rather the opposite.

                      While about about two-thirds of American presidents since 1912 have been pseudo-Marxist, it no more makes a president that than criticizing Obamacare makes one a right-winger — lots of socialist advocates of single-payer also criticized the ACA.

                • Oh so your ‘point’ is because it’s NOT perfect or that it’s not all like whichever nation you hold as the ideal, therefore all improvements, no matter how small, are irrelevant and don’t matter?

                  You’re a blithering idiot with delusions of having an inkling of a clue. Especially since you likely are NOT living with the day to day of the countries in question.

            • William O. B'Livion

              I went and checked this.

              The first site I looked at didn’t, but on indiancupid.com there was this:

              Your Background / Cultural Values
              Nationality:
              Education:
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              Religious values:
              Cultural values:
              Family values:
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              Fathers occupation:
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              Kind of interesting.

              America. Most racist country on earth 🙂

        • Hm. You *could*, I suppose, look at India’s economy recently. Since they opened it up, they’ve become quite a bit more prosperous.

    • So, whose ink have you been drinking here? Rousseau, at a minimum, along with a collection of third/fourth generation useful idiots who swallowed the old Soviet propaganda that was intended to undermine Western confidence in our own culture (it succeeded, which explains the state of the media, education, politics, and assorted other locations rather well).

      First: nothing changes a culture from the outside. But the right messaging over an extended time frame can certainly change it from the inside – witness – again – the nihilist philosophies that were sown here from the 20s and 30s (I’m not going digging for the documentation of this – but it was happening) by the Communists to weaken the USA over the course of decades until it was *able* to be taken over by Communism.

      The “right messaging” can and damn well SHOULD include the values that you want in the region – but you do have to be prepared for a long, expensive occupation. Empire is not cheap and no, powerful members of society don’t, as a rule, make huge amounts of money off the results. Even when there is an on-paper profit, there’s usually a chunk of hidden costs that tend not to be obvious until they can be examined with 20/20 hindsight.

      Second: the “White man’s burden” is not *necessarily* evil. Was it “white man’s burden” that transformed the shattered wreckage of Nazi Germany into a stable, well-run democracy? (Further proof of Communism being as evil as the Nazis if not more: East Germany started with the same culture. After forty years of Communist rule, they had endemic corruption, a bankrupt economy and people desperate to get out. “White man’s burden” built up West Germany into an economic powerhouse that managed to absorb the bankrupt, Communist East with remarkably little economic difficulty.)

      Do try to avoid drinking the ink. It makes you sound stupid.

      • Germany was already a highly civilized country, center of scientific progress, literature, music, etc. Taken over by mad men after Wilson allowed a punitive peace and central bankers created hyperinflation…no relation to 3d world countries, and not a country that needed or adopted American values. We didn’t “build” the new Germany, the hard working Germans did, and the assertion that we did is just plain dumb…
        Same for Japan, btw, one of the oldest civilizations on the planet.
        Our occupations have in fact wreaked havoc upon numerous third world countries, including Iraq and much of Latin America.
        But of course nothing can top the British strip mining of India, discussed above, and Britain’s two Opium Wars to force China to accept shiploads of Opium and devastating trade agreements. White Man’s Burden, indeed, very sick humor…

        • And, yet again you ignore the key point – under Communist rule the same “hard working Germans” produced nothing of any lasting value, acquired a profoundly dysfunctional culture and were well on their way towards third world levels.

          On the western side, the Allied occupation forces worked their tails off and spent large amounts of money to rebuild the ruined infrastructure and shape the culture that emerged to something that would reject any attempt to reintroduce the Nazi madness. Time will tell if that succeeded or not.

          “Nothing can top the British strip mining of India”? Really? I rather suspect Tibetans, 1950s East Germans, Congolese from Belgian-occupied Congo, and survivors of the Japanese invasion of China would disagree with you. Vehemently.

          Pax Brittania was a long way from perfect but it was better than any of the other colonial powers of the 1800s worked. It’s no coincidence that damn near all of the most functional former colonies with a sizable native population is a former British colony. Singapore. Hong Kong. India. Even – before they sank into Communist madness – South Africa.

          White Man’s Burden is the reason – the British Empire taught the locals how to do the things they did and figured if they stayed there long enough and imposed their rules long enough it would ultimately catch and they wouldn’t need to spend so much on it. Not without exceptions, of course, and often horribly misguided.

          But they weren’t killing by the millions like Belgium, or treating them as unskilled labor, like most of the other colonial powers.

          White Man’s Burden isn’t what you think it is. It’s the moral obligation to do your best to help those without the *objectively superior* Western culture to find their way to something that will work with their culture and improve their standard of living.

          (Note: Objectively superior – Western culture is the only one that commits to trying to ensure that all its people have the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness even if the various European cultures don’t phrase it quite that way. The old Prussian chivalric motto comes to mind: Suum cuique – to each his own)

          • That the Belgians did even more horrific things in their holocaust of the Congo is irrelevant to the fact that the British plundered India and China in heinous fashion. I notice that you added the phrase “nothing can top” to my post, which is dishonest and you need to retract. In any event, while the British were one of the better colonial powers, it doesn’t detract from anything I said. To paraphrase Gandhi, no one wants to be ruled by an alien force, let alone one that, like most colonial powers, loots the country.

            • William O. B'Livion

              I notice that you added the phrase “nothing can top” to my post, which is dishonest and you need to retract.

              Deciding between Ms. Paulk’s integrity and yours, you lose.

            • You, sir, are a liar. Your own post upthread a little way disproves your claim.

              Begone.

          • If your main point is that communism/socialism is evil and dysfunctional, no dispute. So is the present SJW claim of egalitarianism, humanity free from evolutionary pressure and always improvable. This idea is ompletely nonsensical and contrary to all known science, but essential to the SJWs’ desire to reshape society and spend massive amounts of money on various impossible and failed theories of societal change and human improvement.

        • Hm. Japan. Korea — a nice example since we can compare North and South Korea so readily.

        • William O. B'Livion

          We didn’t “build” the new Germany, the hard working Germans did, and the assertion that we did is just plain dumb…

          There was a *LOT* of American aid, American managerial assistance and American labor that went in to rebuilding most of Europe after WWII.

          It was called the Marshall Plan.

          For the 4 years the plan was in effect the US contributed about 1.5 percent of it’s GDP each year (a total of 13 billion dollars in 1948 dollars against a GDP of about 258 billion) to help rebuild. This was IN ADDITION to other moneys spent.

          So basically, yeah, in this case Ms. Paulik is right, the US (and allies) did a LOT of the heavy lifting to rebuild Europe.

          Since that time we’ve also contributed a majority of the money to their defense.

          • True, but the West has spent more than $5 trillion in the last 50 years trying to improve sub-Saharan Africa, and the results have been zilch. The difference…..Germans, and French, etc., not Africans.

          • Point of order. (Yes, I know I’m a day late and no one will probably ever read this.) The Marshall Plan spent vast sums (by the standards of the time) to rebuild our allies, England and France. Less than 10% of the funds were spent on the occupied countries. They rebuilt themselves. Even East Germany rebuilt to an extent, given that the USSR appropriated most the the surviving factory tools as reparations. (I was stationed in West Berlin back in the day, and learned from some of the people who survived the experience. Most of them absolutely loved Americans.)

        • You mean that Wilson choose to have his health collapse so he could cancel his promotion tour for a better treaty and go back to the White House and suffer a stroke? I knew he was capable of a lot of things, but never imagined this.

      • It should also be needless to say that Kipling’s “white man’s burden” referred to raising up primitive non-white peoples, so your reference to Germany is inapposite, to put it mildly.

        • Remove the non-white side of things, and Germany at the end of World War 2 most certainly applies. Fallen from grace or never achieved it is indistinguishable from the mud.

      • Kate, you are the one who has swallowed the cultural marxist/SJW blank slate/egalitarian propaganda, hook line and sinker….natural selection doesn’t work that way, and programs like Head Start to jump start groups fail spectacularly, as we have seen.

        • You, sir, are clearly reading what you wish to read, and not what I choose to say. You have consistently refused to address the core point, upheld the lies promulgated by the SJW and their precursors, played almost every line from the concern troll playbook, and abused statistics.

          No amount of education can spare the willfully delusional from the price of their delusions, but as you so clearly demonstrate, repeating a lie with sufficient volume and persistence can cause it to take root and become an unexamined belief.

          Remove the plank from thine own eye, sir.

          • Please clarify your point, since all I have done is correct your delusional views of certain parts of history.

            • Considering that I get my views from primary sources as much as possible, and translations of primary sources when I can’t read the primary documents myself, I have to wonder who is delusional here.

              Textbooks are typically useless: Marxist tripe pretending to be real analysis. I’d rather filter the biases from the people who were there.

        • Kate is SJW? Who is this guy? *picks self up from floor-laughing*

        • What! No. Really? Kate! Our Kate a cultural marxist SJW! Well, I never.

          Reading comprehension doesn’t seem to be your strength.

      • William O. B'Livion

        First: nothing changes a culture from the outside.

        I used to believe this.

        Now, not so much.

  19. Another major nasty area in the history of medieval christianity is the treatment of protestants in the first century after Luther and Calvin. The Dutch revolution (somewhat like the American one, but two centuries earlier) was all about that. John Lothrop Motley, an American diplomat and historian, describes it at great length in a series of excellent books written in the 1860s (and available from Gutenberg.org). Burning at the stake is something people know about, and it was conducted on a large scale (thousands of victims) along with other barbaric practices like burying alive. All for the crime of having the wrong religion.

    • Um… The protestants did the same to the Catholics, Whatever you’ve read, trust me, it was a two-burn lane.

      • England got it both ways and back again. 😉

        • Oh, England. I forgot about them. Certainly there was no burning of catholics in Holland. And England’s official church is really just the catholic church with a different pope, and divorce added (for certain people anyway).

          • No, but there was in Germany, among the various principalities. ALL insane.

            • Central Europe (Modern Germany, Austria, czechoslovakia, Hungary, bits of Poland) is strange. fascinating, grim, brilliant, depressing, marvelous, and strange. The area suffers from an acute case of too much history, IMHO.

              • OH, aye. Portugal is afflicted with too much history, too. the past trawls beneath the surface and drags at them so much that one understands why many Chinese rulers have tried to “reset” and erase the past (including burning all the books.)

                • I believe that’s the reason why the red chinese changed their writing system (“simplified chinese”) — to make it much harder for the people to read pre-communist books.

          • England’s official church is really just the catholic church with a different pope, and divorce added …

            That’s not what Guy Fawkes said.

        • Ah, Geneva. Where Calvin burned people for being Protestants. (In one case, after luring the poor guy to Geneva in the first place.)

    • Just downloaded Motley’s books from Gutenberg. Thanks, pkoning. (I learn more history from this blog…)

      • Enjoy. His command of language is excellent. It’s clear he spent many years researching the original sources, no mean feat when you have to deal with 400 year old manuscripts in various old dialects.
        The other interesting point is that he takes sides, and isn’t shy about it. That’s a refreshing contrast from modern historians (and “journalists”) who so dishonestly pretend to be unbiased.

  20. “A lot of other powers became imperial in these circumstances, occupying and taking the fruits of the land to pay for their trouble.

    Americans don’t do that. They are terrible imperialists. All they want to do is go home.

    This means, ultimately, that it’s a costly endeavor for someone’s benefit, as the someone is kicking and screaming and telling you they don’t want it.”

    Sarah – have you read Nial Ferguson’s “Collosus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire”?
    That’s basically his argument: that America is an Imperial power that doesn’t want to pay the cost of actual Empire, and that it won’t work.

    http://www.amazon.com/Colossus-Rise-Fall-American-Empire/dp/0143034790

    If I was going to be snarky and extremely politically incorrect, I’d say the problem is that America didn’t listen when Kipling wrote “White Man’s Burden” to them in the early 20th C…

  21. “Swifter than the moon’s sphere,” from Midsummer Night’s Dream. After all, you can’t run faster than the moon. No matter how fast, it just lopes along beside you.

    Or it could be they were science fiction just so stories, and the horse was faster than the speed of light. Seems a waste to use it just for crossing rivers, though.

  22. You know, this story sounds a lot like a cross between the British folk song Jack Orion (Pentangle’s recording is 15 minutes long) crossed with the John Wayne movie “The Searchers” and the novel it was based on, and all those American Captivity stories about women captured by Indians.

    • I won’t say it hasn’t occurred to me to START a novel with it with alien abduction. (Only he either doesn’t kill her and there’s alien interference or he kills her and then finds there’s alien interference.)

      • “The Searchers” has a very American twist on this story, Wayne’s character searches for his abducted niece for years with the intention of killing her because she has surely become “some brave’s squaw” by now, but when he’s face to face with her, he smiles and says, “Let’s go home.” (not much of a spoiler, character was played by John Wayne.

        • Yes, she does not object to going home. She’s in her early teens. Ford’s later movie “Two Rode Together” and the Sixties Western “The Stalking Moon” deal with the issue in ways earlier movies could not because of censorship codes.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        I have some story ideas concerning “alien abductions” but I refuse to write a “Mars Needs Women” type of story. Of course, the aliens might abduct women but only because their human male slaves need mates. [Very Big Evil Grin]

        • I was thinking women as alien agents, not sexual toys, though who knows. If these aliens are modified humans…

        • Their human slaves were genetically engineered for various tasks. Their sexual attraction was not changed. As a consequence, all unmodified humans look impossibly attractive to them.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            The slave masters only created “genetically engineered” male slaves so the slaves have “make do” with standard model human females. The alien slave masters thought by having only genetically engineered males, the slaves won’t form “family units” with standard model human females. They’re terribly wrong and will pay dearly for their mistake. [Very Big Evil Grin]

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              To make things “fun” for the now free genetically engineered humans, their former masters had rigged their genetics so they can only father sons. To get wives for their sons, they need standard model human males to father daughters on standard model human females. [Very Big Grin]

            • Eh, for the full “Mars Wants Women” scenario, the slaves have to act on their own. This would probably require their having the ability to reproduce on their own.

  23. So there I was, in Iraq in 2004. Watching us proudly build schools. The news people were so proud of us for building all those schools. But then we didn’t provide any teachers. The Saudis sent teachers. They taught those young boys (seldom girls, and usually just long enough to attract cameras) very well. They were taught the principles of Wahabbi Islam. They were taught to hate Western infidels and ideas. I knew then that everything we were doing was in vain, if not completely counterproductive. And we never even tried to occupy the country, so never had a chance to command the people, much less change their culture.

    • Rhys related to me how angry many of the builders and soldiers were, when forced to leave projects that were being done. These were people who genuinely saw the connection, the hope, that they were giving Iraqis, who dreamed of peace and prosperity, and a chance for secular advancement. The Iraqis they spoke with did not blame them, and all they knew was that with the job half done and without the presence of the West and it’s influence, they knew it would end badly.

      And look where they are now. *sadly*

  24. The thing is, there was a long period when the countries of Islam took some real care not to annoy the West. In the late Victorian era, after the messy object lesson of The Mutiny, rulers knew there was only so far you could go before somebody would send alomg a gunship and flatten your palace. Oh, that place got probed, because Arabs are gamblers, and incidents took place that the rulers had no control over. But by and large, gunboat diplomacy worked.

    And there was a cold practicality to it. By then the West was getting over any desire to rule every corner of the Earth; ruling an Empire costs money, even if the area being ruled runs at a loss. They wanted prosperous trading partners, not impoverished subjects … At least the British, Americans, and Germans seem to have. The French case is a mess. The Dutch were apparently awful. And what the hell the Belgians thought they were up to in the Congo baffles me.

    But for quite a long time, a n Islamic ruler who was willing to keep the nutballs from annoying the Westerners and put up a show of being “modern” could reasonably expect to be left to his own devices. He could even take his fortune and his hareem for an airing on the Riviera, and be told what a fine fellow he was for having his wives taught to read, and maybe allowing a favored daughter to go to college. And if, in the privacy of his hotel suite, he liked to bend those wives over a railing and address thier backsides with a quirt, well the wives were unlikely to complane because the Riviera was still an improvement on some drafty palace in the middle of a sand dune.

    The Left spoiled that. Since Rousseau they have had a fascination for dirt and overt violence. So they lionized bandits whomwere smart enough to style themselves as “Revolutionaries”, and demanded that support be withdrawn from men like the Shah (who were approaching the level of the mid 19th century) in favor of Islamic radicals (who wanted to revert to the 13th, plus AKs).

    We don’t have to govern places like Iraq; we just have to decide what constitutes acceptable behavior, and what doesn’t, and friggin’ STICK TO IT.

    • William O. B'Livion

      The thing is, there was a long period when the countries of Islam took some real care not to annoy the West.

      Yeah, Lt. O’Bannon and some of his Marine buddies went for a little walk back in 05 (1805) and had a brief little chat with them. Convinced them to behave.

      Marines can be pretty convincing.

    • You are not, I repeat, emphatically not going to impose reform on Islam, the Arab world in general, or the Middle East by force, short of exterminating the lot of them and repopulating the place with some other ethnicity and religion that’s more amenable to sweet reason. The very best you’re going to be able to do is effectively dissuade them from bothering the rest of us, and that’s going to take an amount of sheer bloody-mindedness that would be considered rather war-criminalish by today’s standards.

      None of us here in the West have that sort of mentality, these days. Good? Bad? Indifferent? Nonetheless, it is a fact. The Arab/Islamic melange is going to continue doing what it is doing today until they condition enough of us to start thinking along lines of doing unto Mecca and other Arab cities as Rome did unto Carthage. And, when we do that, we’ll finally get them to leave us alone. Until enough of them forget the lessons imparted, or we go the way of the Mongols.

      That’s my assessment, and unfortunate as it is, I think we’re in for a long haul until they finally piss enough people off that we’re willing to consider actually doing Really Nasty Things ™ to them, and then do them. Figure a couple of generations, until the Caliphate is raiding Western European and American shores in conjunction with Boko Haram for Euro-American slaves.

      Because, unchecked, that’s where this is going. Eventually, they’re going to drive the electorate to put leaders into office with the same sort of mentality that long-service NCOs have about these issues, and they’re going to go for the practical lesson, which is that if you kill enough of them, they’ll eventually learn to leave you alone. If nothing else, the salutary effects of evolution will do a lot to tone things down. People like me look at the present state of the Ismaili remnants of what was once the the universally-feared fanatic sect headed by the “Old Man of the Mountain”, and nod knowingly, recognizing the efficacy of the Mongol technique in imparting cultural communication and long-term lesson-teaching.

      I’d wager that to this day, the Mongols would likely be left the hell alone by the majority of the Islamic world.

      • Kirk, I’d rather have those long-service NCOs in charge of things right about now, as opposed to the clown car bumblers we have now.

        • Yesterday night, to husband “the problem with this administration is that it’s like a clown car in a horror movie. Every time we turn around they extrude another would-be-funny-if-not-so-horrific move from the innards of their insanity.”

        • After we got done, you might not.

          This is the thing: The situation with regards to things like ISIS, and the metastizing cancer that is Wahhabi Islam is that they’re not soluble by means other than things that the average “nice, civilized person” doesn’t want to see, or be a part of.

          It’s much like the Indian issue in the Old West: Nobody wanted to live with constant raids by the young bravos of the tribes, and yet, nobody wanted to do the “hard things” that would put a stop to the endemic raids and thefts, either.

          We’ve quite thoroughly stuffed what was done down the memory hole, and exciorate those that did what it took as being genocidal racists, but the sad fact is that nothing short of exterminating the buffalo and driving the starving remnants of the tribes onto reservations would have worked. It was monumentally ugly, and nobody today wants to own it, but it happened. And, I’m not sure that there was another path, to be quite honest. Short of the utter destruction of the society in question, nothing else seems to work when it comes to reforming this sort of human being’s behavior patterns. Doesn’t matter if we’re talking Nazis, fanatical Bushido Imperialists, or the prideful warrior children of tribal custom, nothing seems to work.

          Want to reform the region? Be prepared to inflict a similar rate of casualties on the entire society that we did upon Nazi Germany, and then be prepared to occupy the territory and mentor the survivors until at least two or three generations have passed. When the grandparents are reviled as fools who brought destruction down upon the nation, you might be able to begin thinking about bringing the troops home.

          Frankly, I don’t think it would be worth the effort. I can’t think of a single damn thing that Islam or the Arabs have brought the world, other than destruction and widespread suffering. Better to be done with the lot of them, and hope the next set of peoples to occupy their space are less destructive.

          That’s the military solution, and the only one likely to work using force. A so-called “soft power” sort of solution? You’re talking something that would require generations, and the erasure of much of the present social matrix. How to do that, I can’t even begin to guess. And, I don’t think we have the time to attempt such a thing, either–We’re rapidly coming up on a technological Singularity the likes of which Vernor Vinge hasn’t considered, namely that the day is coming when technological and scientific progress are going to put the potential power to erase the entire human race from the Earth into the hands of nearly everyone with some kind of access to the modern world. We’re going to be in a race, between those who develop bio-terror agents, and those who develop countermeasures, between the nano-technologist dreamers, and the nanotech nihilists. We’re either going to have to convert and destroy the social entities that support and enable terrorism, or we’re going to wind up dead at their hands. The benefits of progress are pretty much handing each and every one of us the ability to end progress for all time, and I strongly suspect that this sort of Singularity is the reason why we don’t have a positive answer to Fermi’s Paradox. Any race likely to achieve our kind of intelligence, or a near analog of it, is all too likely to strangle itself in its crib, I’m afraid.

          Call me a pessimist, but I think there are really good odds that we’re going to crash this whole Juggernaut we call a world-wide civilization before the end of this century, and the people I blame the most for it are the fs*king starry-eyed idealists who have put us in the situation we’re in, right now. Who the hell thought it was a good idea to hand billions and billions of dollars of petro-wealth to a bunch of back-asswards fanatic primitive tribesmen? Or, enable the social delinquents of our own culture? You want a vision of the future, unless we pull off a damn miracle? Look to Ferguson.

          If you can’t tell, I’m a little pissed-off and depressed today, mostly an effect of the cumulative stupidities I watch taking place before me. If I knew then what I know now, I sure as hell wouldn’t have spent the majority of my adult life standing watch on the wall, enabling this idiocy that was going on behind my back. If I could tell my 18 year-old self anything, it would be to advise him to take up a hedonistic lifestyle, and just enjoy it, instead of wearing himself out in a futile attempt to preserve something that was dying around him.

          • Islam is Arabic, but there are more than Arabs in Islam.

            Solve the “Islam problem”, and you might be able to drag some of those ancient and useful cultures out of the religion, and get them productive again.

            As for the Arabs themselves, well…

            There’s a theory I saw suggested a couple of years ago that Mohammed never existed, and Islam was simply the Arab world’s attempt to cope with the fact that they’d suddenly – and almost accidentally – conquered one of the two big empires of the region. The idea is that the Arabs literally had nothing that they could point to with pride after conquering Persia, and so created a religion out of whole cloth in order to compensate. Whether you believe the theory or not, the rationale for it says a lot about the (complete lack of) Arab contributions to the world.

            • The Arabs got lucky, with the timing. Had the Byzantines and Persians not been victims of a horrendous outbreak of disease, likely as not, Islam would have died in its cradle. The majority of their initial “victories” came simply by being first on the scene to occupy/take over regions and cities that had been depopulated. Without those disease events, the Arabs would have remained what they were–Proxies for both empires. It’s ironic that the Arabs who had been the patsies for the Persians mostly became Shiia, and that the former clients of the Byzantines became the Sunni.

              And, the idea that Islam was created out of the whole cloth after the conquests started would not surprise me a bit. A huge swathe of the Koran reads as if someone was playing the telephone game with the Bible and Talmud, resulting in all the little oddities of the Koran that sound almost, but not quite, as if they’d been taken up wholesale. I suspect that a lot of the tradition was based on poorly-remembered tellings of bible stories over campfires, and whoever did the actual transcription had to try to reconcile the whole thing.

              Very much like the Book of Mormon, which sometimes seems as if it were created after a half-intoxicated reading of the Bible combined with Masonic teachings and doctrine, and then distilled through the mind of someone who was likely largely self-taught from a very limited library. In other words, Joseph Smith.

              I remember someone once remarking that if Mohammed had not existed, he would have had to have been invented. Someone else replied “That’s exactly what happened…”.

              • Kirk, let’s dodge the dive into religious contention, if we can.

                There’s a number of Huns in good standing that follow the call of their faith to Mormonism. There’s nothing to be gained in denigrating that faith, and no real value in comparative analysis with Islam.

                Just a humble request from a bystander.

                • Thank you. We already have quite enough stupid around here today.

                • Eamon, I intend nothing of the kind–I’ve got Mormons in my family. And, we’ve sat around and done the analysis, all of us coming to the same conclusions about what influenced Joseph Smith’s writings. It’s there, plain as day, when you know the source material. Saying that is not denigrating the faith any more than it is denigrating Christianity or Judaism to note that the Gilgamesh and Flood stories have a lot of points of contiguity with the Old Testament.

                  If that offends any, well… I apologize for pointing these things out and making people uncomfortable. Some people don’t like to do historical analysis on their religious beliefs, but I come from a tradition of open-eyed belief that has never had a problem with that.

              • Do you have any idea how many of us recently went to a memorial service for a Mormon friend who passed away a few weeks ago? :Not that there’s ever a good time to compare mass murderers to people who are almost all honest, productive citizens.

              • With regards to Persia, there was also a raging civil war at the time, and both the Persians and Byzantines had recently finished exhausting themselves after yet another fruitless round of campaigns between the two empires (involving, perhaps, the two greatest generals that both empires produced, oddly enough).

          • It’s much like the Indian issue in the Old West: Nobody wanted to live with constant raids by the young bravos of the tribes, and yet, nobody wanted to do the “hard things” that would put a stop to the endemic raids and thefts, either.

            I will note we pretty much gave it up, though.

        • William O. B'Livion

          As much as NCOs are great about getting the job done, there’s a reason we have both NCOs and Officers.

          • It’s the mentality that I was getting at: Identify what needs doing, figure out how to accomplish it most directly, and then do it, no matter what throats have to be slashed to make it happen.

            Few products of the traditional commissioning process have the necessary feral directness that this requires. They’re more worried about following the rules and coloring inside the lines than they are about getting on with things. Tell your typical officer that he needs to procure transportation for himself and his men, and they’ll immediately start working within identifiable channels. Which are very likely to tell them to go piss up a rope.

            If he’s smart enough to tell one of his NCO cadre something along the lines of “Gee, it sure would be nice if we had our own vehicles…”, God alone knows what will happen afterwards: It may be something stolen out of a transit yard, it may be something traded for liquor, or it may stem from some drug deal done between old friends wearing stripes instead of gilt tin fripperies. However, it will be done, and the smart young officer knows better than to ask how, in any kind of formal way.

            In all likelihood, he really, really doesn’t want to know. Not if he’s smart, that is. You tell the wrong NCO to get something done, and you may literally wind up having to help him hide the bodies of those people who got in his way while he did as you so casually suggested. A lot of career NCO types are really just high-functioning sociopaths that have assigned their moral compass to their leaders in the officer corps.

            You say you want X, you’d better be damn sure you want X, because you’re probably going to get it. And, it may well have the still-warm body parts of the previous owners somehow associated with it…

            When I spoke of the NCO mentality, I was referring more to the manner in which men like Sherman approached dealing with the realities of the Civil War. The Sherman strategy was not fit for polite company, but it pretty emphatically put an end to the South as an effective economic and social entity–And, you’ll note, Sherman’s March kept the lid on things for multiple generations, regardless of how we now look at it these days.

            For many generations after, most Southerners who had direct experience of that particular historic event just sort of shuddered when some other idiot spoke of more secession and rebellion, and thought “Nope… That didn’t work out too well for us, the last time, now did it?”.

            You want a lasting peace? You need to convince the people you’re fighting that they lost the conflict, emphatically. The quantity of destruction varies, but I’d say that the bare minimum resides somewhere between what we did to Germany in WWI (which clearly wasn’t enough) and what we did after WWII (which we have subjective proof was enough for at least a sixty-year period of peace).

            Does it require genocide, necessarily? Hopefully not, but the defeat we inflicted on Iraq and on the Taliban in Afghanistan most emphatically did not leave the other side convinced that they’d lost, and that further violence was a waste of time for them. I would speculate that whatever we do the next time ’round had better be a very clear and emphatic defeat, or we’re just going to be setting ourselves up for round three in a continuing nightmare.

            Bloodless wars fought by proxy don’t really accomplish much, and especially don’t work as goads to changing cultures the way we need to.

            I don’t know where the current path is going to take us, but I’m not at all sanguine about the odds that we’ll be able to finesse our way through it without rendering considerable death and destruction upon those who’ve made themselves our enemies. We’re dealing with some very slow learners, here, and I think we are going to have to deliver some truly unmistakable lessons if we want to live our lives the way we want to, and in any kind of peace.

            Then again, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe unicorn farts really will power the future, and we’ll all lay down together, lions with lambs.

            Don’t expect me to bet any money on that outcome, however.

            • William O. B'Livion

              You describe as the “NCO Mentality” hast two parts:

              1) Focus on getting the *job* done regardless of obstacles, and getting it done thoroughly.
              2) Focus on immediate tactical operations and technical execution.

              I would argue that #1 *used* to be a military mentality that would get lost between the wars, and because of the way we’ve fought since WWII and the Gramscian damage to the US Government, has not been re-fostered in the officer corps.

              Sherman was not a NCO. Neither was General Mattis (as an example of an officer who seems to Get It).

              There’s a corollary to #2, and to use your example of “wouldn’t it be nice if we had vehicles”. If an NCO acquires a couple of 5 tons to move your crew to it’s new location, and he *did not* get those through “approved channels” then there is some *other* NCO and crew out there that now doesn’t have their trucks and maybe missing some ancillary equipment (like truck mounted radios). This is why we have officers riding herd on NCOs–(O3+, LTs are supposed to be learning) are supposed to have their heads up and scanning the future while the NCOs are heads down getting the job done. NCOs tend to be good about the fiddly bits, and bad about the big picture.

              This was the genesis of my comment.

              I agree with you that we need a little more oomph in our policies, and if we want a more peaceful world we’re going to have to hit some people a little harder.

              • I’d say what we need is a senior but not flag-rank mustang* who after getting out ran a civilian business for a bit – basically someone with an all-aspect perspective.

                I prefer a ground pounder of one sort or another given the types of military engagements the US has had over the last 20 years, but I could be talked out of that given the right candidate.

                I could also be talked into a special ops person who wasn’t a commisioned officer given how those communitiees keep talented enlisted folks in the E- and W- ranks.

                Good senior NCOs are probably way to smart to run for any office, unless like most flag-rank officers they were really politicians all along.

                *For the non-mil folks, a mustang is a commissioned officer who was originally enlisted.

          • And that reason is, William, a survival of the English class system, which we modeled our forces after. Officers (nobles) as opposed to enlisted (peasants). It’s a model that has no place in an American (alleged to be egalitarian) society.

            • Doers & Thinkers.

              Not everyone can focus on both the micro and macro.

              Some thinkers are natural leaders. People gravitate and freely follow them. For the problems only begin when people feel they have a right to lead and yoke everyone to their will.

              The problem isn’t that we have leaders and followers it’s that some feel that we shouldn’t have a choice in who choose to follow.

              • Josh, I’ve read you comment a dozen times. Read it a dozen more times today. And I STILL can’t figure out what it means. How is this related to class structure and the US military?

                • Markaomalley,

                  Because just talking about class and class systems is old world thinking. In stead of figuring out if people are actually good at the rolls they take on. We needed both types of people. Those that can look at and see the big picture, and those that see and deal with the day to day stuff. Not often do you find someone that can move freely into either roll. These different ways of dealing with the world needed to be able to work together to get things done; not be at each other’s throats; which is what happens when we start this bullshit of class warfare. Pitting one group against another.

                  Nothing is fixed in America and we needed to stop boxing people into groups; which I think is kind of your point.

                  But in the military you need these distinction, because you need a clear chain of command. The battlefield is confusing enough as it is.

                  • But in the military you need these distinction, because you need a clear chain of command. The battlefield is confusing enough as it is.

                    This was discovered as early as the American Revolution.

                    At the beginning of the hostilities a least one state used a system where the militia units were formed under a loose command structure, having new leaders elected on regular basis. This failed miserably when the units were faced with the actual task of fighting in large scale engagements.

                    Meanwhile The Continental Army set up its own structure of command.

                    (BTW: even the great Ben Franklin could be wrong, it has been reported that he thought it would be advisable to have the men elect new officers two weeks.)

      • Well, some of us may have that sort of mentality these days, but we’re looked at a bit warily.

        Freedom is great as long as it includes the freedom from stopping others from infringing too far on that freedom. Somehow we’ve mostly lost that.

        I was against involvement in Iraq because I didn’t think it could work unless there was already a strong enough element present that was willing to sacrifice their lives and treasure to bring that about. And if that was the case, I’m not at all sure they’d need us. In fact, we might prove counterproductive.

        That said, I really, really hoped to be proven wrong. There was a period, far too short, where I thought I was wrong.

        You can’t give a man freedom; only that man can make himself free.

      • William O. B'Livion

        You are not, I repeat, emphatically not going to impose reform on Islam, the Arab world in general, or the Middle East by force,

        Are not, or *can* not. Keep in mind the actual meaning of those words.

        Because we certainly *could* if we wanted to, and it would take about as long as we were in Germany. We’d just have to prove we were serious.

        None of us here in the West have that sort of mentality, these days.

        For values of “us” that mean “those who run the Progressive Institutions”. The rest of us are certainly willing to have a go at it.

        Figure a couple of generations, until the Caliphate is raiding Western European and American shores in conjunction with Boko Haram for Euro-American slaves.

        They don’t need to raid, they just pick them up on facebook and get them to fly over.

        Eventually, they’re going to drive the electorate to put leaders into office with the same sort of mentality that long-service NCOs have about these issues, and they’re going to go for the practical lesson, which is that if you kill enough of them, they’ll eventually learn to leave you alone.

        Nah, you just convince them that you’re NOT going to leave, and that as long as you’re there you’re going to keep killing those that f*k with you AND bill their tribe for the bullet.

        All the while your peace corps volunteers are in their schools with their rights this and rights that. In 20 years, they’re *done*.

        • This I agree with.
          Look, in Africa, part of the problem is that it gets more aid than ANYWHERE else, and the “smart kids” end up working in the aid network — and all of it gets stolen before tribal level. In the arab world too. These people don’t have clean water. I was just looking at a book of pictures from Iraq and I’d bet you the conditions were probably the same as in the fifties in my native village. So, yeah, malnutrition, sucky hygiene but more importantly, no reason to exert the brain (and it might be dangerous.)
          I’m not touchy feely and I’m not going to tell you IQ tests count for nothing, but IQ tests given to a pre-literate society or mostly illiterate society? It’s hard as h*ll to test even with same cultural assumptions, much less worldwide. (Trust me, I used to study this stuff for… reasons.)
          Even on the level of “kid had a high fever, untreated, has been not all there since” there were maybe one in ten in my generation in Portugal (and our medical services were I bet you better than Iraq now.) It tells. Particularly on average.
          Now, I’m going to agree with you that part of the issue is who gets picked and what the society values, which is why I think your plan would work. But I’d say 50 years. Islam has been picking for conformity and keeping your head down for too long.

        • The will is what is lacking, along with the moral certainty necessary. The Englishman of the Raj had the moral clarity and strength of will to impose it, and thus the old story about the funeral pyre, the widows, and the gallows erected nearby. These days? The average product of the American education system would likely be put in charge of running a school somewhere in Bumcrackistan, and wind up being converted to Islam by his students. You don’t have the necessary cadres to do what you’re proposing, here.

          And, it’s a failure of the leadership senior classes in the West, as well as academia. We could probably throw up the necessary folk for the infrastructure, the NCO-level civil cadre, but the people who’d have to administer and run the damn programs you’re suggesting? Where the hell are we going to get them, in this day and age?

          I think a more likely course of events to follow this latest range of Obama-led idiocy is that we’re going to keep doing just enough about the ISIS situation and Afghanistan to prevent his legacy from being “He lost the wars…”, and at some point in the not-too-far-off-future, we’re going to experience another 9/11 event. One probably a lot more devastating and larger in scale. From there, the resulting actions are likely to consist of one of two things: Either we’ll ignore the attack and the implications thereof, allowing the situation to fester, or we’ll massively over-react, and God alone knows where that branch and sequel series ends.

          You tell the American people that they are signing up for a multi-decade attempt to reform the Arab/Islamic world, and you’re probably going to get a very emphatic “No”. What follows from that “No” is going to be the crux of the next century, unless something drastically changes the game.

          I don’t think people are going to be up for sacrificing additional American lives to prevent taking the lives of random unknown Arabs and Muslims. Not even George Bush was brave enough to articulate that, and frame what he was doing so clearly.

          So, what’s probably going to happen is that whatever residual humanitarian feelings might still exist are going to be drowned in a sea of sheer bloody-mindedness, and the end state will be the clash of civilizations on a scale we’re used to seeing only in history books. At the end of it all, the US will probably be like the British Empire at the end of WWII, and the Arab/Islamic realms will be utterly devastated.

          The sheer waste of it all is what appalls me. I just don’t see a path forward that doesn’t include a truly massive amount of destruction taking place, either by slow sublimation of the West into some form of Islam, or a spasmodic rage of destruction as the damages inflicted become intolerable to any but the Jews. When we’re all putting up with an Israeli-level of minor terrors, the public is all of a sudden going to come on board for some truly massive bloodletting.

          About the only thing I can take solace in is that the current administration is probably going to go down in history as being more like court jesters than real statesmen. I fully expect that by the 2050s, Mr. Obama is going to be remembered for little else besides incompetence, and they’re likely going to be telling us that he was actually a Republican…

          • Clown car in a horror movie, trust me, not court jesters.

          • The sheer waste of it all is what appalls me. I just don’t see a path forward that doesn’t include a truly massive amount of destruction taking place, either by slow sublimation of the West into some form of Islam, or a spasmodic rage of destruction as the damages inflicted become intolerable to any but the Jews. When we’re all putting up with an Israeli-level of minor terrors, the public is all of a sudden going to come on board for some truly massive bloodletting.

            This. To some extent, this would be the POSITIVE outcome, as it means that our people, that the West, is still willing to fight back, and hasn’t been so completely crippled. At the same time this is a terrible outcome, because it was necessary to get to this point, and honestly, I don’t want it to get to that point before we start fighting back, defending us all.

          • A casual review of the known portion (and much of what we suspect about the remainder) of human history indicates collossal waste is the norm.

    • Complain? Are you kidding? The English lord in the adjacent suite is listening to the sound of that quirt with envy.

    • About the Belgian Congo: Apparently, it wasn’t really Belgium’s idea. It was King Leopold of Belgium who wanted it, got a loan for it, then was desperate to get it paid off.
      At which point, the Heart of Darkness ensued.

  25. I’m joining the conversation late, but how would it be if, after conquering a tyranny, we imposed just one condition on it: whoever governs this country from now on, and however he governs it, there has to be a consulate in every city where any citizen who desires emigration can come unhindered, and thence exit the country to anyplace that will take him?

    • The place that will take him is the issue. We have one of the most liberal (in the sense of openhanded) immigration policies. Well, maybe England has more for Arab countries, but that is changing. So it would amount to “come to America” and the problems with a vast unassimilated Islamic crowd descending on us for the benes and the appeasement for imaginary oppression make me cringe.

      • We certainly need to rein back the benefits provided by government, but we should do that anyway — and will within 10 years, just because we won’t be able to afford them. Also we need to get our immigration policy in line with the will of the people, which it currently is not. Both of these objections go to the point that we haven’t really implemented freedom in this country yet, which naturally makes it harder to take the note from our neighbor’s eye.

    • I can think of a dozen way to game that condition off the top of my head.

  26. “Once you’ve been hemmed in and confined very long, but had your food and drink on time and aren’t’ randomly terrorized every day, you equate confinement with security. You’d rather not be free, if it’s going to make you insecure.”

    This is the life of a pet. I have a cat who was semi-feral when I adopted her. It took 2 years of care and courtesy for her to agree to sit on my lap for a short time. Now, at 3 years, she will sleep on my lap for a couple hours at a time, maybe twice a week. She still prefers to hide out in odd nooks and crannies of the house. But she loves dinnertime! She has no interest in the outdoors, beyond windowsill observation. I’m glad to have rescued her from whatever it was that made her so spooky when we took her in, but I”m also sad at her loss of something essentially Cat …

  27. C4C

  28. “Otherwise, it will be all to do all over again.”

    Do you WANT to put historians out of work?

  29. Once you’ve been hemmed in and confined very long, but had your food and drink on time and aren’t’ randomly terrorized every day, you equate confinement with security. You’d rather not be free, if it’s going to make you insecure.

    This. So very much this. It’s why those who want, in a single election, to turn the country “libertarian” are doomed to failure. You’ve just described a very large chunk, if not the overwhelming majority, of people living in the US.

    So it’s enough of a problem right here, let alone the rest of the world.

    Oh, and about “faster than moonlight”. Is moonlight supposed to be particularly fast light? Is it faster than sunlight? Than candlelight? Someone help me out here. 😉

    • How fast is moonlight? That depends, does her father have his shotgun out?

    • It’s a standard phrase of Arab poetry, and Portuguese took it up wholesale. Maybe it makes sense in Arabic?

      • Imagine riding a horse through the desert at night, the full moon pregnant overhead, washing the world in stark silver. Now imagine you’ve spent so much time under her consort your brains have baked to a uniform much. Now the phrase makes sense.

      • I wonder if it has something to do with perceived speed. In moonlight you can’t see as far as you can in sunlight. Due to that, your perception of speed (at least the visual perception) is based on motion relative to surroundings that are closer. As a result, you appear to move faster than in daylight where the totality of the surroundings, the horizon against which your relative speed is measured, are much broader.

        Desert nomads must be active more at night than in daytime. They would be more sensitive to such things.

        • Oh, and I should add, the “fast as moonlight” would be a poetic turn from “as fast as in the moon’s light.”

          Pure conjecture.

        • I find the expression lovely, but confess I have clue zero what it means.

        • Huh. Maybe it’s just my experience of doing things at night outdoors without the aid of artificial illumination, but the metaphor is perfectly clear to me: Moonlight is swift and changeable, almost magic, in comparison to the steadiness of daylight. Consider how changeable moonlight is, and how capricious it can appear to be, when you’re following the moon’s cycles.

          Modern man has managed to disconnect himself from that sort of thing via headlights and other forms of lighting the night, but you’ve really got to have the experience of trying to move and do things at night in the darkness, and then having the moon rise, lighting your way.

          It is particularly apparent in the desert–There’s this one plateau out in the Mojave that I’ve seen under those conditions, and you really have to experience something like that for it to evoke the proper set of feelings: One moment, you’re staring out into utter darkness, unable to see anything at all–And, then the moon rises behind you, pale light speeding forward as it rises, illuminating the hills and wadis of the landscape, sloping away from you. It’s really quite magical.

          Well, at least until the column of tanks you’re trying to follow cross-country with a HMMWV roars off into the moonlight, and you’re suddenly dragged back into reality…

          • I remember how hard it was to actually see something by moonlight, rather than streetlight, in order to verify that everything did, indeed, look colorless.

    • Patrick Chester

      Is it faster than that guy from Freakazoid! who nabs you when you say his name?

  30. ” So a strong knight could certainly mistreat/lead his wife a dance.”

    There were limits, to be sure, because a marriage was also an alliance. Exactly how much did you want to risk offending her family?

    One of the classic medieval morals to the story of patient Griselda was — see what happens when you marry above your station? Your family has no clout and can’t protect you!

    • Yes.
      I actually find the story of the Portuguese Queen (St. Elizabeth) who took her husband’s bastard children and raised them as her own together with hers more fascinating as an adult.
      From the pious point of view, she was that charitable. From the adult, practical point of view, WELL. She only had ONE son, which in the middle ages was poor insurance. By not allowing the other potential heirs to be raised by an enemy (and Portugal was very much a land of factions at the time) she was ensuring her old age, as well as everything else, particularly since by all accounts she was very kind to them, and they loved her. In fact, later one, one of her “miracles” was walking onto a battle field and, with a stern word, stopping a fight between her son and his half brother.

      • In fact, later one, one of her “miracles” was walking onto a battle field and, with a stern word, stopping a fight between her son and his half brother.

        “I don’t care how old you two are, if you don’t stop this horseplay right now, I WILL put you over my knee”?

  31. Sarah,

    Should I start a Trolls Anonymous.

    Hello! My name is Josh I’m a troll, but I got better.

    😉

    Kind of.

    • When some people comment I think back and go, I wasn’t as bad as them was I?

      😦

      • Josh,
        You never made the mistake of accusing Kate of provincialism. That one ranks up there with getting involved in a land war in Asia or going in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

      • Hon, you were, in my opinion NEVER that bad. *jerks thumb up thread* There was kind of a reason why I, after reading all of Peter Connor’s comments to Kate, decided to go straight for calling him an idiot, and why people were wondering if he is a troll.

        The difference between you and the trolls is simple: you’re replying to what the person you’re talking to is saying. Sometimes, you’ll find that you’re actually talking a bit past each other, or the conversation gets too vehement. But you’re actually still discussing. Plus, when I read your comments, I can follow your thoughts. I might not agree, but I can see where you’re coming from.

        Peter made a crapload of assumptions, and wasn’t happy that we didn’t join in the criticizing of Western Civ and having the unrelenting POV that ‘if it’s not perfect, it’s not good enough’ versus the human-positive POV of ‘it’s not as bad as it used to be for some things, let’s be honest here.’ He addressed exactly zero of Kate’s rebuttals, addressed points she wasn’t making and acted sanctimonious to boot. That ain’t discussin’.

    • You’re fine, except for an obsessive compulsive need to flog the dead horse 🙂
      We rather like you.

      • It’s not dead. Itst otal lack of movement is due to it bein’ tired and shagged out following a prolonged neigh.

    • Josh, you were never a troll. You were earnest, and we’ve tenderized a couple of horses together, yeah. But, passionately defending your beliefs (with cites, references and philosophy) is not trolling, nor is taking on all comers with a fervent desire to fully illuminate your thinking.

      You’ve always done your damnedest to address the points put before you. We’ve all done some talking past each other at one time or another, but you’ve never intentionally perverted your opponent’s message to make a point, not that I’ve seen.

      In short, we may have our disagreements but I respect you and I respect the perspective you bring to this community. Never doubt it.

      • Eamon,

        Thanks! It’s hard to see (identify) your own blind spots. From the outside looking on to someone else’s position I see the holes and I wonder what am I missing in my own. That because I want my position to be true how much is conformation bias blinding me to reality.

        It’s enough to make you a little bit insecure.

        🙂

  32. I am slack-jawed that no-one has yet countered with the Man-Kzin wars lesson.

    Making people free is impossible. But teaching them that you and yours are “not-prey,” is extremely doable. And is generally what places like the Middle East need.

    There are ways to do this without bombing countries into the stone age (though there are always extreme circumstances), or occupying their country for 3 generations. The key is to damage the rulers and their selectocracy badly enough, and be willing to repeat damage at the slightest sign of further provocation.

  33. Having spent 30 years dancing around the various ME countries, I can say that for the most part Kirk has it right. I would probably give Jordan and the UAE a considered pass, but then the UAE has been the merchants in the region for a very long time. And the latest Sheikh Zayed wants to keep it that way. ( I have somewhat of a personal interest in the UAE; I have a longtime friend there whose family is one of the original founders of the country.)
    And King Hussan of Jordan is a western-educated ruler who is trying his best to bring his country up to western standards. Of course he has to smack down the Arafat Palestinians in Ma’an every few years but that just gives his Bedouian palace guard some practice.
    I not even going bring up the connections between the UAE, Jordan and Israel.
    The rest – not counting Iran because they not arabs – the way you stop the others is that when one of theirs kills one of yours, you kill him, his personal family and as many of his extended family members as you can find – occasionally you kill the whole tribe. After a while the rest catch on.
    Of course to do that you have to have the will to do so and I don’t see a lot of that in this country at the moment. Now after the next 9/11+ incident that may change.

  34. Apparently WP wants me to individually resubscribe to every ongoing post. Stoopod WP.

  35. ” If Feminists had an ounce of shame or knowledge of history, they’d trace their origins to convents, where women proved they could support themselves, lead decent lives and contribute to society without men.”

    But, Sarah! You just said that those stories about sexual exploits in the convents were false, how could they be trace their origins to the nuns if that is so?

  36. Because of my own experiences with freeing people from abusive fundamentalist homes, I really appreciated this legend. It also reminds me of the post Cynthia Jeub wrote about The Trouble with Freeing People: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cynthia-jeub/the-trouble-with-freeing-_b_4168714.html