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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Random Political Thoughts in Some Strange Kind of Order: Tancredo, Knoll, and Churchill

Call me crazy, but I think Tom Tancredo has about as much chance of re-election as does Catherine Baker Knoll. Debate their views and their sins all you want, but they failed one extremely important test that all politicians face sooner or later: not knowing when to keep their mouths shut.

If Ward Churchill needed to be voted into office, he too would probably lose his next election (or face a recall if he failed to step down). Instead, the University of Colorado seems to be drawing out their inquiry into his academic past in hopes that the public’s memory of Churchill will be somewhat fuzzy by the time they find him a little bit less than guilty of academic misdeeds. The panel may yet surprise me and do the right thing (that is, terminate his contract), but their recent request for more information has me believing that they are just cowering until the storm passes.

There is more than enough evidence to conclude that he is a plagiarist and a liar--and both of those should spell the end of tenure for a professor at any respectable university. Tenure isn’t a blanket get out of jail free card, exonerating teachers from whatever they choose to do; tenure is meant as protection from unjust persecution and to give teachers the opportunity to innovate and instigate in the classroom. But tenure requires a trust between the school and the teacher; to say that Churchill broke that trust would be an understatement.

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Ward even lacks the degrees necessary to teach at University level. Apparently posing as a faudulent native American works wonders when it comes to securing lucrative teaching jobs in the more lightly policed areas of academia. My gut feeling about this guy has always been that he craves notoriety for reasons that are more ego related than cause inspired. Let’s face it, if your intellectual calibre is mediocre and your academic work mundane, you can always drop your pants and/or resort to inflamatory speech to make them sit up and pay attention. At root, Ward is very likely a deeply frustrated exhibitionist.

on Jul 28 2005 @ 12:20 AM

If the borderline racist crap that Tancredo has spouted in the past wasn’t enough to get him booted I seriously doubt that suggesting we “nuke Mecca” (I know, he didn’t actually say that) will do the trick. A large percentage of his constituents obviously like that sort of “straight talk” from their politicians, or they wouldn’t have elected him in the first place.

on Jul 28 2005 @ 10:33 AM

You really don’t think so? I think all the negative publicity will be major ammunition for his opponents in his next election.

Who knows, though. You could be right.

on Jul 28 2005 @ 10:39 AM

Yes I do. Check out the results from 2002. He really kicked his oppenents ass, and he’d stuck his foot in his mouth a half dozen times that year, and over similar issues. Every time Tancredo says something dumb it’s about brown people and what we should do with them (deport them, nuke them, whatever). The “nuke Mecca” controversy will torpedo any Tancredo attempts to gain statewide office, but I’m willing to bet they may actually improve his polling in the 6th district.

on Jul 28 2005 @ 11:08 AM

I’m playing the devil’s advocate here with tongue firmly in cheek BUT if a “nuke Mecca” option was on the table in response to any major attack on the U.S., it would put Al Qaeda into an untenable position.  Even a cursory understanding of the Qu’uran and the central tenets of Islam, makes it crystal clear that Mecca is the repository of the beating heart of that religion, in much the way the Holy Grail was sine qua non of all things Christian for the Crusaders.

Of course the ramifications of nuking Mecca would also have to be figured into the equation. But as a deterrent, it’s definitely the ultimate threat bar none. No warrior weilding the sword of Allah wants to be responsible for triggering the guns of Great Satan and reducing the sacred kaaba to smouldering lava.

on Jul 28 2005 @ 11:47 AM

Without quite agreeing with that view (I know--not necessarily yours, but we’ll roll along with it, anyway) I do have to say that it would be nice to explain to our enemies and to the people that support them that we’ve played nice up ‘til this point. We’ve been relatively sedate and measured in our response--the full, destructive capacity of our military is a terrifying thing, and they’ve really only seen a part.

It would be nice to explain to them that if things don’t change, we will--unhappily, but out of necessity--unleash all holy hell on them. We will destroy our enemies so thoroughly that they will never again be a threat to anyone. We will topple their governments, we will grind their infrastructure to dust, and we will make their tiny military power seem as nothing. I don’t say this out of rage or a sense of vengeance, but a realization that at a certain point their is no choice but to bring a much greater level of destruction to the people who oppose us.

But the idea of targeting their holiest sites, as a punishment to all Muslims seems horribly wrong. Not every Muslim is a terrorist and not every muslim supports terror; the moderate Muslim isn’t a myth. Not every Middle Eastern country is equally responsible for supporting terrorists, either, although, discerning guilt is a pretty fun trick, isn’t it?

And welcome to the site. Thanks for leaving a comment and playing a part in keeping the site interesting.

on Jul 28 2005 @ 12:17 PM

I think your 3rd paragraph makes a point that’s important while also being slightly incorrect. Yes, when we bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki (or when the British bombed Dresden) we could justify that because we were committed to total warfare against a state. But every German wasn’t a Nazi, and every Japanese wasn’t a kamakazi. So I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to justify punishing large numbers of “innocent” Muslims for the actions of their brethren. If a sizable percentage of those who are hurt are either Islamists or support the Islamists, and our actions truly hurt the Islamists abilities to hurt us I think it could be morally justified.

That said, we have to ask if bombing Mecca is the right target. Will it help, hurt, or have no effect on the Islamists abilities to wage ware? I think it would help the Islamists, and in a big way. And does threatening Mecca, while hoping we never have to take action, help or hurt? Again, I think it would only turn otherwise peaceful Muslims against us.

If we’re going to talk about retaliatory targets, I think we need to be talking about Riyadh. Or Damascus. These are the cities that support the Islamists, both emotionally and monetarily, and their destruction would really hurt the Caliphate cause.

on Jul 28 2005 @ 12:29 PM

You make a series of good points--although I’m going to disagree. Actually, disagree might be the wrong word; it might be closer to clarifying so that we understand why we disagree.

From my point of view, the comparison to Germany or Japan isn’t quite right--Islam’s holy sites don’t belong only to one country, they belong to all Muslims. So targeting Mecca isn’t just targeting a part of one nation, it’s targeting a holy site for Muslims around the world. Nagasaki, by comparison, was simply a Japanese city (although, for the people on the ground, I’m sure the distinction is sort of irrelevant).

I accept that in time of war, some innocents will die. It is nothing short of tragic, but it does happen. The morality of the firebombings and the atomic bombs would make (and has made) an interesting debate of its own--but my own personal set of beliefs and justifications says that damage must be as localized as possible to hurt the enemy. Dropping a nuclear weapon on Mecca would be an attack on the Muslim gentleman who lives down the street from me.

Or, at least, that’s how I see it.

Your larger question does raise the best point, though, and I think that you have the right answer. Not only would it be, from my view, unjustified, but it would probably be a hinderance in our larger effort.

on Jul 28 2005 @ 12:48 PM
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