An amplification of my American Thinker article about public school’s failure to teach children to fear true enemies

gpc31 left a comment that so perfectly amplifies the point I was making in my American Thinker article, it deserves to be elevated to post level:

I’d like to sketch a few conjectures on why we, or at least our intelligentsia, bend over backwards to deny the reality of modern enemies:

1) I think that it is essentially a form of wish fulfillment, i.e., if I don’t hate them, they won’t hate me.  Unfortunately, this approach founders on the simple fact that it takes two to make peace but only one to make war.   It is a slippery slope from the disappointment of high-minded intentions down to the practice of cowardly appeasement, and all too easy to rationalize ones motives along the way.

2) There is a closely related second psychological mechanism connected to the desire for a rational and humane society.  It contains a worthy germ of moral idealism within and depends on the (overvalued) power of good intentions and the idea of reciprocity.  Again, if I demonstrate my good intentions and rationality, surely the “other” will do the same in return.  But what happens if, instead of a handshake, I get punched in the nose?  Clearly, good intentions are not enough, and not everyone is rational (at least not rational on the same scale; otherwise, what good is multi-culturalism?  The Left is incoherent and thus self-contradictory here.)

3) The liberal cocoon.  Victor Davis Hanson has done a wonderful job of skewering the mentality behind the EU conflict resolution model in a therapeutic world.  It’s not bad for Europe, given its bloody history.

4) Kant is the great philosophical progenitor of the twin themes of good intentionality and political rationality.  He wrote an influential essay entitled “On Perpetual Peace.”  His modern day descendant in social contract theory is the enormously influential John Rawls.

5) Kant was reacting against a Hobbesian state of nature, a war of all against all, which is the natural state of international relations.  Hence the desire for a world government to create a kind of peace.

6) This desire for a world government is one reason why the Left denies American exceptionalism and denigrates American sovereignty at every opportunity.  Multiculturalism is merely a stalking horse; it is theoretically incoherent, and is therefore really just another form of self-loathing.

7) The liberal impulse for inclusion provides another reason to deny the existence of enemies:  If there is no “us vs. them,” then there can be no war.  (An obvious fallacy but psychologically appealing.)  Historically, liberals have sought to continually expand the franchise–democratic rights, voting rights, economic rights, civil rights, social rights (gay marriage), etc… — so from their perspective, why not give health care to illegal aliens, or rights to animals (I am NOT equating illegal aliens with animals; the idea is to demonstrate a perpetual widening of the political horizon).  This impulse also fits in nicely with the Left’s desire for egalitarianism (i.e., leveling).

8) Our elites, and the rest of the world, fear what an enraged America is capable of once at war.  Hence the reluctance to even name enemies.  Hence the phony moral equivalence.  It is a case of Gulliver being strapped down by the Lilliputians, with the twine made up of U.N. resolutions and threats from the Hague.  God forbid that we show footage of people jumping from the towers, or other victims of jihad.  Instead we play up Gitmo.  Why?  So as to not enrage the populace.

9) I might add that it is an unrealistic form of moral vanity and condecension to think that we are so mighty and morally pure good that we can win wars with one hand tied behind our back.  War is a grave business.

10) Finally, intellectuals tend to value words over deeds and are not noted for their physical courage.

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  • Earl

    Haven’t thought deeply about this, but two quick points:

    1. *This* American is enraged every time I hear the lie about Gitmo repeated in the media – I cannot imagine that I’m alone.

    2. I wonder if the two world wars didn’t remove from the gene pool many of the intellectuals who valued action as much as words in moral situations…it would explain a lot.

  • David Foster

    Earl…certainly, intellectuals were well-represented among the European resistance movements of WWII.

    Case in point: the distingished historian Marc Bloch…fought in WWI, being awarded the Legion of Honor, served in the brief WWII campaign of 1940, and after the defeat joined the Resistance. Captured and shot by the Germans.

    “I was born in France, I have drunk the waters of her culture. I have made her past my own. I breathe freely only in her climate, and I have done my best, with others, to defend her interests.”–Marc Bloch

    Quite different from many of our present-day academics, isn’t it?

  • Ymarsakar

    In previous times, intellect was more closely connected with the Greek concept of virtue, where one needed both physical and mental acuity. Now a days, intellectuals are content to think and not do. Instead they castigate the doers, those like Sarah Palin, as being nimrods who should have aborted the real retarded people, while they exalt the guy who didn’t do anything productive, Obama, as being a genius.