Saturday, May 16, 2009

Violence is Silence

“From my own experience visiting the troops in the Middle East, I can tell you this though, despite how the conflict has been portrayed by our glorious media, if you gave any US soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Osama bin Laden, there’s a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice." -- David Faherty
There are few things to me more disturbing then that above sentence. It's a sentiment wholly alien to my being. I like social order. Alienated though my views can be from the general electorate, I think that social order is at least a worthy aim, an understood and accepting thing. For all the fears people built around "Change", change is an incredibly modest, statist word. It isn't arguing for an overthrow. It isn't calling for a sweeping realignment of social organs. It isn't challenging the very notions of statehood. It is, really, a slight adjusting of the rudder. It's not transforming the boat into a helicopter. "Change" likes the general contours f the system, and just hates a lot of the specifics. It's really surprising that people could must up such fervor for as modest a concept, and perhaps the fervor is what was reacted to. And hopefully, once the presidency is well under way, we'll see people calm down and accept it as the modest, statist thing it is.

And hopefully comments like this will stop happening. I mean, fine, private conversation, or choir-preachy websites. Free speech is well and good; I'm not opposed to that, and don't seek to stop it.

But what I would like to see wane, if not disappear, is this notion that the response to something moderately disagreeable is implied murder, or justified violent agrny outbursts. As harmless as that may be intended, it's terrifying. The implication - that members of the US armed forces are universally assumed to prefer the death of a domestic politician they dislike than the death of a man responsible for killing 3,000+ innocents boggles.

And I get that this is an attention-grabbing statement. And that, by acknowledging it, I'm only feeding the problem, giving the guy a larger audience for his soapbox. And this post is probably unnecessary - there will be better and more numerous deconstructions online, and in most media outlets. The statement deserves to be deconstructed, if there is any real sentiment behind it. Because that sentiment is profoundly opposed to social order, and seeks a world of platonic absolutes instead of this messy land of disagreement and compromise. It's the same motivation that fuels international jihadist violence - if the center is undesireable, the center is untenable. And if the center (broadly speaking, functioning democracy) is untenable (say, Pelosi dead), then extremists (the hypothetical US soldier, or bin Laden) get to just go at it, in a violent world of conflicting absolutes. And to get to that point you have to stifle dissent, alienate all those on your side who disagree. You have to not only call for the death of elected leaders, who are inherently moderate beings, having accepted the social order and the system in which they exist, but you have to make it impossible for such moderate leaders to speak against the excessed of their friends and allies. Once that happens, civilization becomes an angry little suicide pact.

The statement itself is only half the reason I'm upset. What bothers me more is that a friend of mine from college, a moderate Republican from Colorado, who was the most diehard supporter of McCain I've ever met, loves this quote. He gives reasons - the detachment of Pelosi's ideals from that of the rest of the US, say, but reasons don't matter. We can't, as a nation, have our ongoing experiment (one of a democracy that doesn't kill itself) if we think calling for the death of elected leaders we disagree with is acceptable. It just doesn't work that way.

There are few things, ever, that chip away at my faith in humanity. My friend's endorsement of this statement was one.

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