Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Belgian attacks Lawrence, the Marine Corps & the U.S.

Kraus from Belgium writes,

Here's what I find offensive in particular: In the way back machine when Lawrence Helm was in the Marine Corps and I probably wasn't even born, I didn't need him or his Marine Corps.

I don't think the Soviet Union I was born in and lived in briefly needed Lawrence Helm or his Marine Corps but I was young before we left for Belgium, so maybe I'm mistaken.

I can say for sure that in Belgium, I never needed Lawrence Helm or his Marine Corps.

I can say for sure that I didn't ask for NATO or America or Lawrence Helm or the Marine Corps to protect me in Belgium.

I can say that if the Soviet Union had invaded us, Lawrence Helm's America would have suffered a fuck of alot more than my Belgium, so let's not mix up we needed YOU with you needed US.

I would have been happy to be a dissident writer in a Soviet Belgium.

But your America, Helm, doesn't even allow us that. We are just specks, just gnats in the way of your ultimate paradigm of righteousness. It makes me sick. Come here and see what your enemy is. We have plenty of those Islamists you hate here.

What is REALLY funny is reading you write how America is "under attack". Your America doesn't have Muslims invading your culture. You pathetic Americans with your big stupid hearts think 9/11 was the be all and end all. In Belgium, as in most of Western Europe, we are, under your definition, "under attack", culturally, religiously, politically, socially, blablabla, every day. Are WE invading sovereign nations?

Who are you? A stupid capitalist country of uncultured yahoos (generally speaking) who took one terrorist attack to milk an entire new world agenda? I can't excuse myself to say Americans, as defined by you, Mr Helm, are very sick people.

Someone who lives in Israel, I understand. SHE and her culture are under attack. You, Mr Helm, live in some suburban California retirement culture reading books wishing you were a young marine again.

I respect your desire to read and learn but unfortunately, your desire to learn is limited by the parametres of your political ideology. In short, you are a fraud.

Why don't you come here to Belgium and visit me? You are welcome to come. There is plenty of room. Here you can see what your enemy really is rather than some faux spector your president has created built on the political luxury of 9/11.

But frankly, the commentary you provide with your readings demonstrates to me that you aren't interested in learning. You are interested in having your beliefs be reaffirmed. Come here and see for yourself what your enemy is. You can't milk 9/11 forever and still claim credibility.



Lawrence responds:

I felt no desire to protect Belgium while I was in the Marine Corps or after I got out. As to whether America protected Belgium while you were in that country, if you lived there during the Cold War then your protection was guaranteed by America – whether or not you wanted it or think you needed it.

You say that if the USSR had invaded Belgium that the US would have suffered more than the Belgians. That’s an interesting thing to say. It implies that we would fight and you wouldn’t. I would be ashamed, if I were a Belgian, to admit such a thing.

You do a lot of ranting in your note. However, I am used to poorly informed Leftists dismissing my studies and substituting their aerie nothings. They don’t respond to my references. They don’t cite alternate references. They don’t respond to my arguments. They eventually become frustrated; so all that is left for them to do is to tell me I make them sick. Take two aspirin, get a nice talking to by a fellow leftist and call me in the morning.

You write “Who are you? A stupid capitalist country of uncultured yahoos (generally speaking) who took one terrorist attack to milk an entire new world agenda? I can’t excuse myself to say Americans, as defined by you, Mr. Helm, are very sick people.” And I suppose Belgium is a “smart” capitalist country of cultured yahoos – or did you have some other contrast in mind? I don’t know about “culture,” but I could wish that you Leftists did a bit more reading were better informed. I just read a book by Niall Ferguson who thinks the US is an empire and a mighty good one at that. You probably wouldn’t like it.

You make the astounding claim that you are in a better position to speak about certain things because you are under a real attack, not a mere 9/11, but a serious everyday attack from on-the-ground Islamists. But of course you are, and you’re befuddled by it. You don’t know what to do because you aren’t in the habit of dealing with attacks. We are. We have a plan for what to do, but it would undoubtedly make you sick. I suppose we’re going to have to leave you in your own Islamic angst. Perhaps what we will do will relieve that somewhat, but you won’t need to say thank you.

But no, I don’t live in a “suburban California retirement culture.” I am retired but I live in a rural culture. Some of my neighbors are goats.

You write, “I respect your desire to read and learn but unfortunately, your desire to learn is limited by the parameters of your political ideology. In short you are a fraud.” Let me be the first to inform you that every human on earth has presuppositions. Hans Georg Gadamer described them Truth and Method. R.G. Collingwood referred to them in his The Idea of History and later writings. We are all limited by our presuppositions. Historians are especially concerned about this matter. They must strive not to be influenced by their presuppositions. As a matter of fact, I examined mine when I first began my study of the Middle East. I discussed them on in a discussion group at the time. I resolved to study those writers who had been right about the Islamists being dangerous rather than those who had been wrong. In the latter camp were Edward Said and John Esposito. However I was getting into so many debates about Edward Said in early 2002 that I did read his magnum opus Orientalism as well as several of his articles. If one were to go back into the discussion group archives, one would find that I spent a fair amount of time reading contrary views. I still read books that don’t coincide with my presuppositions – primarily to see if they have any good arguments or evidence that might cause me to change my views. For example, in regard to the middle east, I read Islam without Fear, Egypt and the New Islamists by Raymond William Baker, 2003. Baker has found a few prominent Islamists whom he considers to have deviated from the objectionable mold we usually think of. However, I discovered Baker to be a bit of an Arabist. He identified with the Islamists he was writing about. These New Islamists were few in number, not terribly influential as far as I could tell, and a lot closer to the old Islamists than we might like. But John Esposito praised his book.

As to my “desire to read and learn,” I don’t think of it in those terms. I’ve been this way my entire life. It seems normal to me. I tend to think everyone ought to do that, but I usually don’t harp on the idea – unless someone who has not studied a subject argues with me about something I have studied. I tend to get a bit impatient because I’ve got to try and educate him at the same time I’m arguing with him – I could just as well have that debate with my neighbor the goat.

Thanks for the invitation to visit Belgium, but I’m not interested in traveling. I moved out of Orange County after I retired. I wanted to live in a rural area with bad roads, animals and lots of hiking trails. As to needing to make a trip to Belgium to verify that you have a tougher Islamist problem than we do after 9/11, I tend to doubt that will be necessary. I am interested in your Islamist problem but your problem is a bit different than ours. We are the chief opponents of the Islamists worldwide. Your problems are of a different order. Timothy Ash said about your Islamist problems that the fault was yours (EU’s) for not making your immigrants feel more welcome. He said that the US, Canada, and Australia were much better at making immigrants feel welcome.

As to wishing I was back in the USMC, haven’t you heard? Once a Marine, always a Marine!

As to milking 9/11, I suppose you haven’t really been reading my notes, have you. You got sick and stopped reading. Well, I won’t repeat myself and risk making you sick again.

Lawrence Helm

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