Discuss amongst yourselves

Ganging wildly agley

Bane likes how Lileks states it, but they both fail to understand the irrelevance of their martial enthusiasm:

Look: there’s always a place for the bitchers, the carpers, the griefers, the snipers, the angry marginal sorts flinging poo from the cages of their own beliefs. But it’s not the pessimists who will save the West. It’ll be those who believe the West is worth saving, and not because it is the least horrible option whose defense must be prefaced with endless apologies, but because it really is the best hope we have. Would you rather be a libertarian in China? A Christian in Sudan? A Zoroastran in Iran? A lesbian in Saudi Arabia?

But – but we supported the Shah, and –

Yes. Interesting how supporters of the Shah didn’t storm our embassies or wage a 30 year Death-to-America campaign after we cut the Shah loose. Reset the hands. We can argue about all manner of strategies now, but there’s one division that counts more than any other, and it’s fundamental and pervasive. Pessimism or optimism. One’s very satisfying. The other’s hard. I’d say we don’t have any choice, but we do, and that choice may undo us yet.

First, citations of past misdeeds and incompetencies are not always an indictment of essential American evil, but can be relevant in terms of pointing out one reason why so few allies are willing to sign onto the Grand Crusade for Democracy. I don’t know Lilek’s position on immigration, but if he is a conventional Republican hawk, then he is Optimistic on converting the entire Muslim world through the neocons’ internally contradictory Kill-and-Seduce strategy and Pessimistic on Encouraging Emigration.

This is stupid, of course, since the latter is eminently possible whereas the former is likely to wind up with the same sort of Unintended Consequences that our installation of the Shah did. The evilness of installing the Shah is far less important than the unintended consequences of doing so. Already one of the justifications for invading Iran is the assumption of the result of American actions in Iraq.

The most important point that must be understood is that the West cannot be defended externally while it is simultaneously weakened (demographically) and colonized by non-Westerners. That’s not pessimism, that’s a provable assertion backed by millenia of historical examples. Mindless invocations of national will never win wars or stop migrations, such declarations have been made by winners and losers alike and they are particularly unconvincing when that will is clearly nonexistent.

Foolish optimists with demonstrably counterproductive strategies focused on irrelevancies won’t save the West either. And Bane, I believe you could say it better, but it wouldn’t make any difference because you’d still be avoiding the central issue.

Guano logic games

Zuzu of Feminstasi angrily swings and somehow manages to entirely miss the point:

Let’s think about this for a moment — this guy is actually arguing that women having sexual liberty and being able to control when they have children and how many is an abuse of freedom. And the same goes for support of gay marriage and no-fault divorce.

What’s particulaly funny is that one of her readers actually thinks her meandering response “is a fantastic analyis of Dinesh’s batshit logic”. But what is that logic?

1. An abuse of freedom is possible. To deny that it is possible to abuse freedom would be a logical and effective response, but Zuzu does not make it.

2. It is an abuse of freedom to threaten a free society’s ability to survive. This is also arguable, again, the argument is not made. I’d consider making it, after all, I’m in favor of personal nukes. Most people who claim to believe in freedom aren’t.

3. A free society requires sustainable procreation in order to survive. This was debatable thirty years ago, but considering how the recent experiments in mass immigration are going, few but the most willfully PC would argue the point.

4. Women having insufficient children is therefore a threat to a free society.

5. “women having sexual liberty and being able to control when they have children and how many” is the primary cause of their having insufficient children. “gay marriage and no-fault divorce” are also contributing factors. I’m dubious about the negative effect of gay marriage myself, I think monogamy is a greater birth rate negative, but otherwise the statistics are conclusive.

6. Ergo, women having sexual liberty, etc, is an abuse of freedom.

Feel free to correct me if you believe I have summarized D’Souza’s logic incorrectly. If the summary is accurate, then see if you can attack it better than its hapless critics; I have already suggested two reasonable ways, there are others. Needless to say, Zuzu lights on precisely none of them.

Shredding Scott Adams

One of the cartoonist’s blog readers rightly impales him:

Every time you’ve voiced an opinion on this blog and had it shredded by people who understand the issue at hand, you’ve backpedaled into “I didn’t really mean anything I said. I was just testing you. I was just conducting an experiment. Revel in my brilliance.”

Your standard scheme is: opine, face disagreement, insult people, backpedal. It’s lazy, and it’s cowardly. You’re obviously very impressed with yourself. You clearly want people to agree with you, and call you brilliant. You write books to “educate” people with your sage observations.

But as soon as you are in a feedback-capable forum, you cave. The internet is not a healthy forum for those craving approval. Post on any topic, and you will instantly get 50 people smarter than you rebutting your post. This is pretty much a worst-case environment for you.

I enjoy both Dilbert and Mr. Adams’ blog, but this reader has all but vivisected his typical behavior on the blog. Adams is the quintessential Gamma Male, a supremely skilled sniper who is afraid to directly confront so much as a Girl Scout in open debate. Everything is always couched in a manner to allow him to attack others without being attacked himself.

While one must make allowances for Mr. Adams, whose gift for entertaining the employed masses is largely based on his weasely, passive-aggressive nature, one need not do so for the average Internet weasel. It is my disdain for such creatures and their typical “gotcha” method of criticism that first led me to infuse my columns with the weasel-traps that are occasionally confused by the superficial for an Adamsian attempt to have things both ways.

For example, during a foolish attempt to have an straightforward discussion with some fellow SFWA writers who had taken offense at a side-comment about why women don’t write hard science fiction, I referred to what a spectacularly ugly woman Kim Stanley Robinson was. (Robinson is a man who won the Nebula in 1993 for Red Mars.) As I expected from the infantile SF writers who infest that particular site, this was immediately leaped upon to prove how stupid I was, thus absolving them from having to respond to any of the logical points I had made.

Of course, once I pointed out that I am perfectly aware that Kim Robinson is, in fact, Mr. Robinson, the embarrassed “gotcha critics” first attempted to claim that I was only trying to cover for my own blunder, then, when that didn’t fly, one or two tried to assert that setting such traps is somehow childish. But that assertion is to miss the point entirely, because the purpose of such things is to separate the serious critics who are worth engaging from those who are only interested in manufacturing a spurious excuse to quickly declare themselves the winner and run away. For example, if a critic declares that a treatise on Muslim immigration in Europe is completely worthless because the author makes one reference to Swaziland instead of Switzerland and uses that as an excuse to avoid facing the main thrust of the piece, he is merely a drive-by commenter and is unworthy of notice.

I have learned over the course of this blog that engaging such intellectual tadpoles is a complete waste of time; one sure way to get yourself ignored here is to unsuccessfully argue a point and instead of conceding it, go silent or try to change the subject. Another, of course, is to carelessly stick your foot in an obvious weasel trap.