Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Revenge" -- Chenya, Chomsky, and Mary Beard

            The above article quotes the Doku Umarov, the Chechen leader who leads Islamic militants in Chechnya and other regions of Russia's North Caucasus as saying "this is revenge for killing of civilians by Russian Security."  I don't think the Chechen's know any more about "revenge" than Noam Chomsky knows about America's "guilt."  Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Revenge: "Revenge (also known as vengeance) is a harmful action against a person or group as a response to a real or perceived grievance. Although many aspects of revenge resemble the concept of justice, revenge connotes a more injurious and punitive focus as opposed to a harmonious and restorative one. Whereas justice generally implies actions undertaken and supported by a legitimate judicial system, by a system of ethics, or on behalf of an ethical majority, revenge generally implies actions undertaken by an individual or narrowly defined group outside the boundaries of judicial or ethical conduct. The goal of revenge usually consists of forcing the perceived wrongdoer to suffer the same or greater pain than that which was originally inflicted."
             How does the killing of 39 people in a Moscow subway force wrongdoers "to suffer the same or greater pain" than the Chechen's suffered?  In order for this to be a logical act, they need to show that the 39 people were "wrongdoers."  If they can't do that, and I don't think they can, then they need to produce an argument to explain their reasoning -- that is, if they wish to be "perceived" by the rest of us as reasonable.  Even mad people have their reasons for doing what they do.  Some mad people are even coherent enough to explain them to their doctors.  But what are the Chechen's reasons?  They can describe how they suffered injury.  That is fairly easy to understand, but how do they connect the 39 people on the subway to their injury.
            Mary Beard engaged in Doku Umarov's rationalization (I'll use that word for want of a better) when she claimed that 9/11 was "chicken's coming home to roost."  It obviously didn't surprise her that Islamic radicals blew up the World Trade Center.  She could see it as an act of "revenge," but is it?  The Islamists who blew up the WTC were vague about their grievances and make no attempt to connect the people who worked in the WTC with those grievances.  They would have been happy to kill all of them, but why?  What is the reasoning behind their act?  How were the people who worked in the WTC perceived as "wrongdoers" by the young "martyrs" who flew passenger-planes into the Twin Towers? 
            Chomsky, who in some circles is perceived as a great thinker, engages in similar thinking when he blames modern day "America" for such things as slavery, giving Indians blankets contaminated with disease, killing off the buffalo and "Wounded Knee."  When he expresses his "anti-Americanism" he dwells at some length upon these early American wrongdoings.  He clearly wants these wrongdoings to count against present-day America.  If you like present-day America and support it, then you are a wrongdoer guilty of slavery and giving diseased blankets to Indians.   Chomsky doesn't bother with logic any more than Duku Umarov or Mary Beard.  How does the guilt of 18th century slave owners reflect upon a modern American whose ancestors never owned slaves or gave diseased blankets to Indians?
            But let's for the sake of argument assume some individual did have ancestors who were slave owners and other ancestors who gave diseased blankets to Indians, and knew it.  How does this individual share in the guilt of his ancestors?  It would be interesting if Chomsky could give up his polemics long enough to deal with a question like this.  I would ask this individual, "do you agree with what your ancestors did?"  If he said he did, then he is guilty of having defective morals.  But do his morals reflect upon America at large.  More than likely he will say he does not agree.  Most Americans would not.  Most Americas see that we "don't do those things anymore."  Most Americans we see that we have moved away from the immorality of those acts.  So moving the matter back to Chomsky how do either of these positions of this hypothetical individual reflect on modern-day America?
            Chomsky has no coherent argument.  Neither does Mary Beard.  Neither does Doku Umarov.  What these three have in common is blind unreasoning hatred and prejudice.  This is the sort of prejudice the slave owners felt toward black people in the South.  It is the sort of prejudice that the early American farmers felt toward the Indian.   It is the sort of prejudice that the Nazis felt against the Jews.  And it is the sort of prejudice Chomsky and Beard feel against America and Umarov feels against Russia.  Chomsky, practices and gives evidence in every speech of the sort of prejudice that he holds America accountable for, but he is guilty of that same sort of prejudice.  America has largely moved past theirs, but Chomsky still wallows in his.  Look first to the beam in thine own eye, Chomsky, before thou worry about the speck in thy brother's (to paraphrase something some place in the Bible).

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