Link Farm and Open Thread #4

Here are some links I’ve read lately. As usual, please feel free to write about whatever you’d like in the comments, including links to your own stuff if you want.

UPDATE: Lauren at Femniste just posted her own “link farm,” although she calls it a “corral.” Anyway, we overlap a bit, but she has lots of excellent links I missed, so check it out.

Excellent Source of Information on the Sudan Crisis
This blog collects Eric Reeves’ articles about the ongoing genocide in Sudan. I don’t think there’s any more essential issue in the world right now. (And yet, I’ve barely ever written about it. I guess I don’t feel I have much to say, beyond impotent expressions of horror). Via The Reality-Based Community.

Chivalry Isn’t Dead, But It Should Be
Tekanji makes the case against chivalry. My second-favorite blog post I’ve read this week.

Women’s Rights Laws and African Customs Clash
This New York Times article describes the conflict between activists pushing for laws favoring women’s rights, and the desire of tribal leaders to preserve misogynistic traditions such as publicly checking teenage girls genitalia to certify virginity.

Year In Review (bad-news, cartoon version)

Year In Review (gains for women’s rights around the world version)

Year In Review: Top Ten News Stories About Women In 2005

The Oriental Vagina?
The best post I’ve read on any blog this week (yes, it was posted two weeks ago, but I only just now read it). Jenn at Reappropriate, an asian american feminist, discusses auditioning for a production of The Vagina Monologues and being cast in a part solely for her race.

Shakespeare’s Sister on The Boy Crisis in Education
Contrary to what I argued in recent posts, a USA Today article says that now it’s middle-class white boys who are having the most dramatic fall-off in college attendance. I plan to research the data more in the new year. Shakespeare’s Sister blames it on the rising tide of anti-intellectualism among right-wing Americans, and also on the fact that white men with high school degrees earn almost as much as white women with college degrees. (Edited to correct factual error.)

Super-Excellent Post About Family, Expectations and Education

Last Saturday, Johnson defied the naysayers and graduated from the University of Michigan with a master’s degree in social work. Next month, she begins a job working with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.

But her successes are still bittersweet.

“People say I should be proud because of what I’ve accomplished as a teenaged mom,” Johnson said last week. “It’s so hard to live with everyone else’s low expectations.”

Scott Lemieux: Why I Am A Feminist

DJW: Why I, Too, Am A Feminist

Humans as Spiritual Beings
The Uncredible Hallq argues that rather than focusing on ghosts and gods, we should pay attention to the only spiritual being we know for certain exists: Humans.

Lousy Human Being, Good Moviemaker, So Why Not See The Movie?
Well, the particular star being discussed here – Mel Gibson – has been in a lot of movies that suck, so he’s not a great example (I usually wind up having this argument about Woody Allen). But I have to agree with Ed: I’m bewildered by people, on the right or the left, who refuse to see movies, read books, etc., made by lousy human beings or even just by people whose politics they disagree with.

Miles Davis Retroactively Quits Smoking

Interview With Lost Star Naveen Andrews
A pretty interesting interview with the very pretty Lost star, touching on issues of racism in Hollywood and an upcoming role as an abusive husband. Curtsy: Reappropriate.

Right-Wing Christians Seek To Defund Queer Student Center & Women’s Resource Center (curtsy: Dru).

Hellbound Alleee on Angels

My feeling about the angels-as-pets beliefs is somewhat the same as my feelings about Christmas and Santa Claus: the creatures are simply not christian, but come from somewhere much deeper in the past.

British Woman Marries Dolphin
Someone alert Stanley Kurtz!

Science Must Destroy Religion
So Sam Harris argues. As a couple of his readers point out, while it’s true that religion has often done a lousy job at elevating humanity, there’s not much reason to think that Science will do any better.

Better a “Slut Feminist” Than A Jerk
Jessica at Feministing takes down an anti-feminist, anti-sex editorial by Monique Stuart, a cookie-cutter moralistic right-winger. Note the bit in Monique’s article where she seemingly regrets that censoring student newspapers isn’t politically viable. Damn those anti-censorship fanatics!

Book Review: Taking Up Space
A review of Taking Up Space, the new book by fat activist, sociologist and blogger Patty Thomas, aka Fattypatties.

Patty Thomas on “The Victim Mentality”

I hate hearing something like “victim mentality” because it cuts off all productive discussion. It is a discursive stopper. There is no way to answer this criticism. If I protest and say, “no I’m a real victim” then I look like I’m engaging in such a blame game….

Do Girl Monkeys Prefer Girl Toys?
Cathy Young sharply critiques the “boys like trucks, girls like dolls!” monkey study that’s gotten way too much press lately. (A nice companion to Echidne’s excellent posts on the much-hyped “gender and internet use” study).

Fathers Rights Divorce Manual On How To Screw “The Bitch” Over
As Trish Wilson points out, as legal advice this website by the “Married Mens Militia” is ridiculous. But as a written record of woman-hating bitterness, it’s top-notch.

Birth Coaching Doesn’t Lead To Significantly Better Outcomes

A Collection Of Pro-War, Right-Wing Attacks on Murtha

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53 Responses to Link Farm and Open Thread #4

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  3. 3
    RonF says:

    I found the chivalry posting interesting. Back in the early 70′s when I was at school, I once held the door open for a woman following me down a school corridor only to have her stop dead and start heaping abuse on me for doing so. Once I adjusted to this novelty, I informed her that I didn’t hold the door open for her because of some notion that women were weak/inferior/etc., etc. – I’d held the door open because my mother taught me that letting a door slam in someone’s face was rude, regardless of the sex or physical condition of whoever was following me.

    She seemed dissatisfied by my answer.

  4. 4
    RonF says:

    The Sudan crisis has been a slow-motion train wreck for some time. I’ve read critiques of the American response (mostly diplomacy, but no troops, etc.). Can there be no problem in the world solved without American leadership and resources? Where the hell is Europe? Where the hell is the Islamic world? What about the African nations themselves? What about Asia? Too bad for these poor bastards that they have no oil. If they did, someone would give a shit and do something about this. But since they don’t, everyone ignores it.

  5. 5
    Ampersand says:

    Ron, where are you located? I’m in the U.S.., and while it’s true that most of the calls for action I’ve read here in the US are calling on the US government to act, doesn’t that make sense in a US context? I’m more concerned with how my own government responds than I am with how other governments respond.

    However, if you look through the essays on Eric Reeves’ site, you’ll find criticism of Europe, of Islamic leadership and governments, and of African governments. So I certainly don’t think your critique is a fair response to the link I provided, although perhaps you didn’t intend it that way.

  6. 6
    Richard Bellamy says:

    Shakespeare’s Sister blames it on the rising tide of anti-intellectualism among right-wing Americans, and also on the fact that white men with high school degrees still earn more than white women with college degrees.

    I don’t think this makes logical sense for several reasons. First of all, a man with a high school diploma who goes to college will always end up as a male college graduate (trans-sexual threads notwithstanding), so it always “pays” to go to college. No middle class white men risk college turning them into Hispanic women.

    Also, based on your charts, this wage gap appears to be true for women with “some college” or an “associates’ degree”, but women with “bachelor’s degrees” consistently make more than boys with “high school diplomas.”

    Since most people I know who went to college intended to get a bachelor’s degree (even if it was via the “Community College and then transfer to a four-year program” route), I don’t think you can blame the gap on people who intend to stop before receving a bachelors degree.

    That said, I agree with those who think this is not a “problem”, certainly not one that requires remedies such as male-affirmative-action to narrow the gap.

    The middle-class white men I know who didn’t go to college basically all had the same mind-set. “I got this job offer at the mill paying $20,000 a year. If I go to college for four years, I gotta pay for college, and give up four years of earnings, so the actual cost is over $100K. If my salary after college is $30K, it’ll take me well over 14 years even break even.” I don’t know if their math is right, but that’s the argument.

  7. 7
    The Countess says:

    Thanks for the link, Barry. I was floored by the venom in that “Married Mens Militia” web site, but I’ve seen that kind of “advice” given to angry dads before. It’s horrendous, it harms women and children, and I’m glad I had a chance to address it.

  8. 8
    Lee says:

    I thought the MRA divorce tactic post was interesting because it almost looked like it could be a spoof. The sad part is, we had a visit last night from a recently divorced friend and heard the tale of their shipwrecked marriage. We’re friends with the ex, too, and had heard the other side last week. It’s hard to stay friends with people who use these tactics on each other, but we’re trying to give them both the benefit of the doubt (tough when we’re pretty sure the truth is somewhere in the middle and got finely minced when both sets of attorneys engaged in two-handed swordfighting in court). The kids seem to be doing OK and also seem to have a pretty good handle on what’s what, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed.

  9. 9
    Nathaniel says:

    RonF-

    “I didn’t open the door for you because you are a lady, I opened it because I’m a gentleman.”

    But yes, to address the real problem the post mentioned, if she opens the door for you, it’s equally rude to try and fight over it rather than walk through and thank her.

  10. 10
    Jenn says:

    Thanks for the link and the kind words about the oriental vagina post! If it’s any indication — I still haven’t received the monologue, and we perform in roughly a month.

  11. 11
    Mendy says:

    I’m a woman and I often hold doors for men, children, and other women, because I was raised that not to do so is rude. However, I’ve often had my arms full of packages and had several men and women walk by me and leave me fumbling with my packages and trying to open the door.

    I wrote a bit about it in my lj, and had several men reply that they often don’t open doors, hold doors, offer to help women because they’ve been upbraided many times about how “women are not weaker and don’t need help”.

    Though I agree that women are not weaker than men, I do find that as a human being I do need help from time to time. I think everyone ought to do these things for eachother not out of an idea about chivalry or gender roles, but out of common courtesy.

    Just my thoughts.

  12. 12
    Steven Pierce says:

    The NYT article on the conflict between women’s rights and African tradition is all too typical of its African coverage. What the article doesn’t acknowledge is that many of these misogynistic traditions aren’t really that traditional. In many places, colonialism and social change (often called “modernization”) eroded women’s status and enshrined as official what were essentially male fantasies about tradition. The NYT traffics in awful images of Africans as primitive and sexist–the reality’s often terrible, but it’s a lot more complicated.

  13. 13
    piny says:

    Jenn:

    Thanks for the link and the kind words about the oriental vagina post! If it’s any indication … I still haven’t received the monologue, and we perform in roughly a month.

    Great post. It made me really curious to hear what would happen next. I’d love to see more updates as the perfomance goes forward. I’m adding you to my blogroll-on-the-inside.

    That seems inconsiderate, to put it mildly. I hope you’re given enough time to really work with the material before you perform it. It doesn’t indicate anything good about treatment of you as an actor, rather than a placeholder.

  14. 14
    tekanji says:

    Amp: Thanks for the link! Speaking out against chivalry is one of the most frustrating things for me, because it’s like the moment I try to explain to someone why I don’t like it, their ears close up and all they hear is “Crazy feminist wants men to slam doors in faces of women, will yell at any man who tries to be nice to her, and wants to ruin romance!” So not what I’m trying to say. -.-

    Mendy said:

    I think everyone ought to do these things for eachother not out of an idea about chivalry or gender roles, but out of common courtesy.

    That was one of the main points of my posts. I hold doors for people, too. Heck, even when a man isn’t refusing to go through my door I’ve sat there for several minutes just so a huge group of people could go through because I didn’t want to slam it on someone’s face. I have friends who will hold doors for people, regardless of gender, if they get to a door first. I don’t refuse a door open for me, unless it’s someone who knows me and is just trying to be a jerk. That is just good manners. Chivalry, while it may sometimes include good manners, is a system rooted in sexism, classism, and control. I mean, if it were just about being nice to each other, then why would people have a problem of me saying, “Thanks, but no thanks” to chivalry?

  15. 15
    Jimmy Ho says:

    Jenn’s post made me want to check out the Asian American Movement Ezine, which I haven’t been reading in months (it was on my now-out line Zhengming 正名’s blogroll. Although the radical leftist rhetoric can turn some readers away (that’s “old school” to me), I woud like to recommend it. There is an updated version of a ’95 essay by Bob Wing, “Crossing Race and Nationality: The Racial Formation of Asian Americans, 1852-1965″, an article by Erin Pangilinan about “Harry Potter and Cho Chang: Exotified Asian Women and Invisible Filipinos”, and so much more. The “Art & Culture” section may the Azine‘s most accessible and “conscience-raising” feature.

  16. 16
    Jimmy Ho says:

    (I know: it’s off line, not “out” line.)

  17. 17
    Jimmy Ho says:

    I hesitated to link to that one, because it is two years old, but since it’s not quite unrelated to Jenn’s post: “Last Samurai” Premiere After-Party Launches Racism and Exotification.
    Quote of note (from Sarah Park’s letter):

    Your casting call requested “beautiful Asian women.” Again, apparently we all look alike too, correct? During World War II and Japanese Internment, Korean and Chinese Americans had to wear pins that said “Korean, Not Japanese” so that the police officers – white people – could differentiate between who to take and who not to take to camp. In this case, you don’t care. Any beautiful Asian will do. Any Asian woman can dress up in village clothing to scamper about among Hollywood’s toughest white men. I wonder why your casting call did not call for handsome Asian men? Are they not also part of the scenery in an 1870s traditional Japanese village? It is my understanding that Asian women (oooh, forgive me if I make generalizations, but as long as you’re doing it, why can’t I?) were not allowed outside their homes. It was considered indecent for women to be outdoors among society. So if you really wanted to recreate a traditional Japanese village, you may want to change your casting call for ONLY men instead.
    (…)
    The fact that you asked for “beautiful” women also raises questions. Whose definition of “beautiful” are you using? Your western one or my Asian one? What purpose would the women serve? Were you also going to ask them to speak in “Ching chong cho” language to really get into character? Should they bat their eyes and appear docile, demure, servile and submissive? Would you like them to shuffle their feet? According to the character in your film, should the Asian women who respond to your casting call also sleep with Tom Cruise and the other white men who will be at the party?

  18. 18
    Rachel S says:

    Amp, did you ever check out the outcome of the debate between myself and doctor science over the White men enrolled in college post? I read that USA today article a while back. I also posted a link to more recent data, but I stick by my contention about the race and class affects being greater. Did you get the chance to check out the site I linked to for the more recent data?

  19. 19
    RonF says:

    Amp, with regards to the Sudan, I’m not critiquing your link. The primary link didn’t seem to criticize the U.S. in particular, although links on it did. I’m critiquing Europe, Asia, etc. Why don’t they take action? Where’s Germany and France and Italy and England and Spain, and all the rest? Hell, most of those countries have a much longer history in Africa than we do, what with their colonies there and all.

    Seems like many in other countries want the U.S. to solve the world’s problems instead of taking action themselves. And often, they then complain when we solve them the way we think they should be solved instead of the way they think we should solve them. If you want something done the way you think it should be done, do it yourself.

  20. 20
    RonF says:

    Jimmy Ho:

    Whose definition of “beautiful” are you using?

    My guess would be the definition that the producer thinks will accord with that of the people he or she expects to buy tickets to the movie. Let’s not kid ourselves here.

  21. 21
    alsis39 says:

    Read the whole thing, Ron. This was not casting for a movie. It was casting for a party to promote the movie in which “beautiful Asian” women would basically act out the fantsasies of subservience for a bunch of White Male film moguls and their buddies. The general public was not invited.

    Thanks for the link, Jimmy– but I think I need to go scrub off now. >: Yuck.

  22. 22
    Myca says:

    I’m with you, Alsis.

    That was just plain creepy. Guh.

    —Myca

  23. 23
    RonF says:

    Oh, shit, alsis39, sorry about that. You’re right; I thought it was casting for a movie.

    Then the standard of beauty would be what the person running this ad would think would be that of the attendees. Again; let’s not kid ourselves. But I understand that the question was rhetorical.

    Having said that; these guys just decided to hire some attractive Asian women for a party? I wonder if they were requested to provide any other services besides walking around? Serving drinks? Conversation? Dancing? Anything … else?

    I do have to wonder why the writer would presume that the invited attendees would all be a) male and b) white.

    Is this common practice in Hollywood? Not that I’ve never seen a stripper at a batchelor party or anything, but in that case her entertainment was part of the point of the party. All the cards are on the table, so to speak. Somehow this seems sleazier.

  24. 24
    RonF says:

    A couple of quotes from Sam Harris’ article:

    The conflict between religion and science is inherent and (very nearly) zero-sum. The success of science often comes at the expense of religious dogma; the maintenance of religious dogma always comes at the expense of science.

    Nonsense. Certainly there are some religious people who believe this, but the vast majority of religious people understand that religion and science have separate spheres, and that they complement each other. For example; a few religious people support the concept that the Biblical story of creation is in conflict with the scientific principles of evolutionary theory. But in fact, most do not consider the two in conflict – God created the universe, the statement of “6 days” (in one of the TWO Biblical stories of creation) is allegory, and evolutionary theory explains the mechanism of how species are created and destroyed, but not the prime mover that created that mechanism in the first place. This view is accepted by all the mainstream religious leaders, starting with the Pope and on down.

    Religion is fast growing incompatible with the emergence of a global, civil society.

    Once again, nonsense. In fact, I posit that religion is increasingly necessary for a global civil society. Evil things have been done in the name of religion, but so have a great many good things. And while religion is used as a cover to justify evil things that the evildoers would likely have done anyway (such as Hitler’s use of Christianity to help justify his activities), religion has often been the initial inspiration for many good things that have been done.

    Human society keeps gaining powers that would have seemed divine to those of previous generations. Religion gives us what I think is needed guidance on how to use such power for great good. I’m not saying that there’s no writing on the negative side of the ledger, but it seems to me that the balance sheet on the whole is positive.

    Religious extremism, which I will quickly define as the belief that God has granted you the right to require someone else to follow your definition of His laws on pain of death, is incompatible with civil society. Unfortunately, neither an appeal to reason nor appeasement seem to work with such people, but only force of arms.

  25. 25
    pdf23ds says:

    “Religion gives us what I think is needed guidance on how to use such power for great good.”

    Not really. I don’t see why it would. People are plenty moral without religion, and they care plenty about future generations without religion. Religion is irrelevant to these feelings. Religion pretends to be the source of these feelings, because religion is a memetic replicator, and that characteristic makes religion more fit in the memetic landscape by making itself appear more indispensible to the host. But it’s not true. Our moral impulses are based in our social nature and are not so mutable.

  26. 26
    alsis39 says:

    With all the discussions about Radical Feminism going on here these days, some folks might find this anti-war piece by Huibin Amee Chew relevant:

    (Warning: It’s a long read, and the first few paragraphs are graphic and upsetting;May trigger those with PTSD.)

    Why The War Is Sexist (And Why We Can’t Ignore Gender Anymore)

  27. 27
    alsis39 says:

    To clarify, the paragraphs that intro the article are the most disturbing.

  28. 28
    mousehounde says:

    RonF Writes:

    Once again, nonsense. In fact, I posit that religion is increasingly necessary for a global civil society.

    Which religion would that be? Any, all, or just one?

  29. 29
    RonF says:

    Well, my own personal preference is Christianity. But for the purposes of making global society civil, most will serve.

  30. 30
    pdf23ds says:

    More like, all will fail equally. Seriously, RonF, what’s your reasoning here?

  31. 31
    RonF says:

    My reasoning here is that religion has long been a civilizing force on human behavior, helping to constrain it in a moral fashion. It’s certainly been both misused and abused, but it’s also been used in an entirely appropriate fashion, and I propose more the latter than the former thoughout history.

  32. 32
    RonF says:

    Alsis, I find those paragraphs disturbing as well. The problem that I have is that I can see no particular reason why I should believe a word of them.

  33. 33
    dorktastic says:

    RonF, I think that religion, and Christianity in particular, has caused a lot of suffering in the world. Off the top of my head, I can think :
    - the long history of anti-Semitism in Europe – pogroms, the Inquisition
    - the imposition of Christianity on Indigenous peoples in much of the colonized world. The impact of this is still being felt where I live (Canada), in terms of the destruction and forced assimilation of First Nations people, in particular through the residential school system (as well as many cases of physical and sexual abuse of children in that system)
    - the Crusades
    - witch burning throughout in Europe and the United States
    - the history of misogyny and homophobia in Christianity
    - the Native Canadian author, Thomas King argues that the Christian worldview is one of domination and hierachy. He examines the Christian creation story – Adam names all the animals and is given dominion over them as an example of this.
    Now, many of these things could also be said about other religions, but my point is that I have a hard time seeing Christianity as a positive force in the world. This is also coming from my position as a queer Jewish woman of European descent. From my perspective, the argument that Christianity does the world a lot of good is one of great privilege a large portion of my family was murdered in a pogrom, and those that survived but didn’t immigrate to Canada were murdered in the Holocaust because of religion. As a queer woman, the amount of hatred directed at me by Christians is pretty overwhelming. Looking at what’s going on in your country (I’m presuming you’re American) in the name of Christianity is also pretty terrifying.

  34. 34
    alsis39 says:

    Try reading the whole thing, RonF. Including the footnotes, which have plenty of links.

    I see no reason why you should want to believe any of it, either. After all, it’s just a bunch of stupid women and/or 3rd-Worlders against our sacred Fatherland. Skepticism hurts, especially coming from someone historically viewed as “the other.” Soldiers beating their wives ? Soldiers raping citizens of another country, as well as their own colleauges ? Bo-ring. Best just to wrap ourselves in the flag and drift back off to sleep.

  35. 35
    pdf23ds says:

    “My reasoning here is that religion has long been a civilizing force on human behavior, helping to constrain it in a moral fashion.”

    And my reasoning is that it hasn’t. Which really isn’t reasoning at all, one way or another. Oh, well. If you don’t want to talk about it fine. But don’t pretend the “fact” is somehow obvious.

  36. 36
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Or better yet, Ron could define “civilizing force on human behavior” and we could determine if the assertion is true.

    Which I don’t think it is …

  37. 37
    James Q says:

    Alsis39:

    Try reading the whole thing, RonF. Including the footnotes, which have plenty of links.
    I see no reason why you should want to believe any of it, either. After all, it’s just a bunch of stupid women and/or 3rd-Worlders against our sacred Fatherland. Skepticism hurts, especially coming from someone historically viewed as “the other.” Soldiers beating their wives ? Soldiers raping citizens of another country, as well as their own colleauges ? Bo-ring. Best just to wrap ourselves in the flag and drift back off to sleep.

    Hi alsis39,

    While, I am very inclined to believe the accounts described in your links I am not very surprised by them. Still while I believe it maybe possible to train soldiers so that negative behaviors are minimized I think it is very hard to do. After all, a significant part of a solider job and training is to kill people who are defined as the enemy. Given that I not surprise that there would be a spill over of very negative behaviors especially in a war. Also, for effectiveness, military cohesion, and safety, soldiers are taught to be obedient to authority and take decisive action. This means that soldiers are ultimately dependent upon superiors and so while individual soldiers actions should be dealt with, I largely blame the bush administration for making decision to go to war in the first place because these actions are consequences of it.
    I also think that it is a rather sad fact that civilian deaths are mostly ignored in wars it compared to military deaths, but I believe this is more do to nationalism rather than sexism. I believe the media should focus more on civilian deaths, but I doubt that any news organization could give equal or more coverage without it being labeled “treasonous” by republicans and war supporters. After all, they did the same tacit to the NYT just covering the wire tapping a year after the fact they new about it. I would like to be more positive, but to some extent being a Canadian I still surprised that bush was reelected after his first term e.g. it seems he can get away with almost anything.

  38. 38
    RonF says:

    The opening paragraphs aren’t supported by any footnotes. What we see there are a couple of advocacy partisans claiming that certain things happened. We also see reputed quotes of people from areas where they don’t like the U.S. claiming that all kinds of things happened who may very well be lying about it as a means of helping to win a war. As far as the race/class card goes, I have no real way of knowing if such people really said such things. And regardless, whether or not they are women or 3rd world residents or whatever is immaterial to me. On both sides of this conflict we have seen people tell amazing lies in order to further their ends; brown and female as much as white and male. Much of it being inspired by an organized religion whose major tenets are a heck of a lot more violent, intolerant, all’s fair when you’re fighting the enemy and anti-everything-else-but-us than Christianity, if you want to talk about failures of religion to promote moral behavior.

    So, no; I don’t doubt what’s claimed in those paragraphs because the proponents are reputed to be female or 3rd world. I doubt them because there’s a group of people who seem to be able to justify any lie, or any act (like blowing up a bunch of kids) to further their aims.

  39. 39
    RonF says:

    How can the media focus any more on civilian deaths than it already does?

  40. 40
    RonF says:

    I don’t wrap myself in the flag. I think that President Bush has made some ridiculous mistakes in the means by which this war was started and in how it’s being conducted. It wouldn’t bother me a bit to see Bush replaced in a couple of years with someone a lot more intelligent.

    But I do think that in the end, dumping Saddam (who has been stopped from adding to his own total of over 300,000 dead) and building up what will very likely be the Middle East’s second democracy and the first Arab-based one ever. No, it won’t be perfect; we weren’t when we started, but we survived, improved and propsered. Hell, France sent ships and troops to help us gain freedom from Britian.

    We are paying a price for this; so is Iraq. But then, so has every country that’s become independent. There was no way that Iraq was going to go from tyranny to freedom without deaths. Given the history we’ve seen in Iraq and Yugoslavia and Bosnia, and what must be half of Africa, we may well have kept the body count below what might otherwise have occurred without our intervention.

  41. 41
    Ampersand says:

    1) The Lancet study established beyond much doubt that the body count with our intervention was higher than it would have been without.

    2) The website described in the first paragraph of the article Alsis linked to was reported on in the mainstream press. I haven’t seen anything to indicate that it’s a hoax.

    3) I think that the assumption that Iraq will achieve independence, and provide meaningful freedom to all its citizens, is completely unjustified by current events. I very much hope you’re right, Ron. But it seems almost freakishly optimistic to think that things in Iraq are going at all well. What we’ve done so far is remove one tryant and replaced him with dozens of local tyrants; and replaced the old set of sham elections with a new set.

  42. 42
    Robert says:

    Ampersand, how genuinely democratic was the United States in 1779?

    Hell, in 1879?

    Criticizing an acorn on the grounds of its failure to be an oak seems, well, limited in perception. Which is not one of your failings.

  43. 43
    Ampersand says:

    Robert, the problem with “in 200 years things will be okay” is that you could say the same thing about virtually anything – including having not invaded. On that timeline, there’s no way you could say for sure whether the US invasion is a quicker or slower way of bringing about genuine democracy and freedom than diplomatic and economic engagement, combined with containment when needed, would have been.

  44. 44
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Ron writes:

    Much of it being inspired by an organized religion whose major tenets are a heck of a lot more violent, intolerant, all’s fair when you’re fighting the enemy and anti-everything-else-but-us than Christianity, if you want to talk about failures of religion to promote moral behavior.

    Ah, but there’s the rub — Christianity has had its own share of “kill the enemy”, and some of what’s going on in the Middle East is a direct result of Christianity and its tendency to “kill the enemy”.

    As for Islam being inherently violent, there’s nothing about Islam that makes it any more inherently violent than Christianity. Both believe in one-true-way-ism and both have factions who believe in converting the entire planet to their religion. In that regard, Christian extremists and Moslem extremists are the same.

  45. 45
    Robert says:

    As for Islam being inherently violent, there’s nothing about Islam that makes it any more inherently violent than Christianity.

    Except for the parts about the founder & chief figures saying “kill the infidels” vs. “forgive your enemies.”

  46. 46
    Robert says:

    Robert, the problem with “in 200 years things will be okay” is that you could say the same thing about virtually anything – including having not invaded. On that timeline, there’s no way you could say for sure whether the US invasion is a quicker or slower way of bringing about genuine democracy and freedom than diplomatic and economic engagement, combined with containment when needed, would have been.

    First, nobody is saying that “in 200 years everything will be OK”. The argument is “this thing has just gotten started and it is invalid to judge it by the standards of where it ought to be in a perfect world.” Hey, Sydney and Stephanie can’t read yet, and they can’t hold a job. Saying “in twenty years they may well be productive adults” is something that could be true of ANY kid – we can’t know that! Let’s stop wasting effort and money feeding these useless things, admit defeat, and move on.

    Second, your basic argument denies agency. In fact, this argument is essentially a counsel of inaction in all circumstances, and you empirically do not believe in that – maybe sexism will get better on its own, too, without the need for potentially destructive social engineering. Yes, we can’t say for sure that one course of action or other is better. There are very few things that we can say for sure.

    Larry has cancer. If we do a surgery to remove the cancer, he may die under the knife. Or, he may go into remission if he just eats a high-fiber diet. We can’t know for sure. And yet, we do surgeries on cancer patients all the time, using our best judgment and best knowledge. That’s all we can do.

    I happen to think that the odds of a positive outcome in Iraq are improved by removing a fascist regime and attempting to impose a representative form of government. That’s my best judgment and knowledge. YMMV.

  47. 47
    Ampersand says:

    The argument is “this thing has just gotten started and it is invalid to judge it by the standards of where it ought to be in a perfect world.”

    How, in practice, is this different from saying “nothing a Republican administration does ever has bad outcomes, because no matter how horrible things become I can say it’ll be fine in 20 years?”

    I don’t demand a perfect world. There must be some middle ground, however, between “a perfect world” and “absolutely everything went badley, we killed a hundred thousand civilians, women’s rights are down the toilet, and we’ve installed Islamic Fundimentalists into power,” which would indicate success. And the fact that so many conservatives (not necessarily you) are patting themselves on the back for their glorious victory makes me doubt that ANY failure, no matter how extreme, would not be somehow spun as success by right-wingers.

    Your cancer analogy is flawed for several reasons.

    1) The practice of surgery for some cancer patients is well-established and has strong empirical supporting evidence to show that it often provides the best possible chance of extending the patient’s life. In contrast, pre-emptive invasion is, to put it mildly, not as well tested.

    2) Extreme measures are usually avoided by surgeons until absolutely neccessary. In contrast, conservatives were determined to avoid diplomatic solutions, and did everything politically viable to undermine the inspections process (for example, the widespread right-wing mockery/demonization of Hans Blix).

    3) A well-equipted hospital is capable of treating hundreds of cancer patients – and thousands of patients – in a single year, so the opportunity cost of treating a single cancer patient is very low. Put another way, treating Bob’s cancer doesn’t cripple a hospital’s ability to respond to the illnesses afflicting June, Rob, and Chris. In contrast, the enourmous military and financial commitment to Iraq has severely limited our options for dealing with other, more pressing problems (such as Sudan). The money, military force and diplomatic credibility squandered on Iraq could have been spent with far better results elsewhere in the world.

    Most doctors believe “first do no harm.” Conservatives, on the other hand, act as if any amount of harm to Iraqi civilians, especially women, is justified by the claim that an acorn has been planted which may or may not turn into a glorious tree in an undisclosed number of years or decades. I just don’t buy that.

  48. 48
    James Q says:

    RonF:

    How can the media focus any more on civilian deaths than it already does?

    Well in my opinion there some ways they couple ways they can do this.
    First, try to attach a more human element to the report of Iraqi deaths. Most the reporting seems to tree deaths as merely N.B.A. scores. In my opinion, there is significantly more humanizing of American soldiers compared Iraqi civilians; an example of this is Lou Dobb segment called Hero’s.
    Second, work harder at trying to find out the total number of Iraqi deaths caused since the occupation. So far the number only really focused on is the Iraq Body Count , which only measures the total number of deaths based upon media reports. This number really only gives an absolute minimum number of deaths rather that an estimate. The Lancet Study as noted by Ampersand above gives an estimate, but has been mostly ignored (see fair Counting Iraqi Casualties. Furthermore, if the press wants a more solid estimate about Iraqi casualties, why not get together and commission a independent study, which is much more broader that the Lancet because they would easily have the resources to do this, if they think the question is important enough to answer.

  49. 49
    Robert says:

    How, in practice, is this different from saying “nothing a Republican administration does ever has bad outcomes, because no matter how horrible things become I can say it’ll be fine in 20 years?”

    Easy. I simply point out the many, many things that the Republican administration has done which aren’t new creations, or which have no plausible intrinsic developmental embryology. For example, the Medicare drug benefit is “new” but cannot conceivably be thought of as the start of something big and original; it’s just a tack-on to an existing program. The NSA intercept program is neither new nor a seed. Criticize away, and I cannot defend these on the grounds “but just you wait!”.

    The practice of surgery for some cancer patients is well-established and has strong empirical supporting evidence to show that it often provides the best possible chance of extending the patient’s life. In contrast, pre-emptive invasion is, to put it mildly, not as well tested.

    The invasion of Iraq was not pre-emptive. It would be pre-emptive to go into Iran tomorrow. Iraq was in violation of the terms of the cease-fire agreement from the previous war, which then became operative once more.

    Having removed that term: Germany. Japan. Italy. Pretty strong cases for the ability of western liberal democracy to stick itself down someone’s throat – made all the more compelling by the fact that the ruling ideology of Iraq was directly descended from the ruling ideology of two of those three. Indeed, you can make a good case (and I wonder that nobody has) that Iraq is a continuation of the war on fascism, finishing an ugly job that the exhausted Allies lacked the will for in 1946. On to Syria!

    I’ve enjoyed this discussion but I really, really, REALLY have to get back to work now and won’t be available to argue any further. So I shall yield to you the last word here, if you have a response.

  50. 50
    Charles says:

    Robert,

    The occupations of Italy, Japan and Germany did not escalate into civil wars over the 3 years after the end of the preceding war. This is pretty strong evidence for exactly the opposite of what you are arguing. Those three examples are examples of the progression of a successful occupation, and they look nothing like what is going on in Iraq. Find us some examples where the US invades, destroys the existing military and government, and 3 years later the country is in the middle of a low-level civil war, with the US favoring one side, and the outcome a decade later is better than in a comparable uninvaded country.

    On the “oh, it wasn’t pre-emptive, they were in violation of the cease fire,” there is nothing in the cease fire agreement that gave the US the right to unilaterally decide that the cease fire had been violated, and that a resumption of war was required. The invasion was not a legitimate resumption of the preceding war. It was a new and pre-emptive war. Arguing otherwise is just silly.

  51. 51
    RonF says:

    The jury is definitely still out on whether or not Iraq will 1) remain a single sovereign country, b) degenerate into civil war, or c) split up relatively peacefully into 3 separate countries. I have my hopes. I think there’s room for optimism. I do think that they are going to have to re-think the way they have federalism structured. It’s not like the federalism we have; the local authorities have too much power over what should be nationally owned resources. Of course, in our country such resources would be privately owned and exploited.

    It’s also going to depend on your definition of “civil war”; massed armies with pitched battles like our Civil War is unlikely. What I anticipate is that as the Iraq Army gets spun up and more and more batallions become effective, they will take over dealing with the terrorists and the Americans will leave. There are going to be car bombings and murder/suicide bombings for quite some time in Iraq, but do those constitute civil war? At the present level, I’d say “no”. But the Iraq Army is likely to be a lot more heavy-handed than the U.S. armed forces are, and that could foment dissatisfaction.

    I don’t think that Iraq is going to go the way of Iran. Yes, the religious establishment has more power that we’d like, but the population as a whole is too used to secularism and have had the example of Iran to see what happens when the mullahs have the final say. They don’t want to emulate that.

    I understand that there was controversy over the vote; some Sunnis thought that they had not been able to be properly represented, that the Shiite parties’ votes were, shall we say, “overcounted”. But the U.N. authorities disputed that, saying the vote was fair. Has there been more on this recently? In any case, it’s going to be quite interesting when the new parliament is seated and takes up revising the new Constitution and allocating the proceeds of oil sales.

  52. 52
    Jimmy Ho says:

    Alsis, I am glad you appreciated the “Exotification” article. As long as there are people who can react spontaneously with a “yuck”, there still are a few reasons for hope. By the way, Huibin Amee Chew’s essay was also featured in the Azine. It is massive coincidences like this that make me feel less bitter and more confident about humanity.

  53. http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/

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