Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Thoughts About Boston

                                                                    Winning and Losing

"Another such victory, and we are undone."

Almost as soon as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was taken into custody, Bostonians celebrated. It was a muted celebration, to be sure, remembering the four dead and some one hundred and seventy* maimed, some horribly so. But it was a celebration nevertheless, as if a victory had been won.

In fact, nothing was won. The Boston bombing was a defeat inflicted by an implacable enemy. Not as terrible as 9/11 by any stretch of the imagination, but consider:
At a cost of two casualties, one dead and one captured, and a few thousand dollars at most, a major city was shut down for days. A massive manhunt took place, involving thousands of police. The news media of the entire country was dominated for most of a week.  Charges and counter-charges are flying between Federal agencies, prompting massive bureaucratic ass-covering. By some reckoning the incident cost a billion dollars or more, directly and indirectly. I'd be surprised if as much again wasn't spent on subsequent investigations and Tsarnaev's trial.

We can't afford it. Local, state and Federal budgets are already overstretched. Cries for more security will stretch them further. Something has to give, and I guarantee it won't be entitlements. More taxes? Fine, and watch what happens to business, then jobs, then government revenues. Welcome to Detroit, with cameras and drones. There's no good answer.

The Boston bombing was a classic cheap shot: underhanded, despicable, and effective.

* Most recent estimate: 260+

                                                              Culture Matters

"What multiculturalism boils down to is that you can praise any culture in the world except Western culture - and you cannot blame any culture in the world except Western culture."
Thomas Sowell

Progressive philosophy is sort of schizophrenic. On one hand, progressives love to separate people into groups and celebrate their diversity. We're asked---or ordered---to attend to cultural differences, to be "sensitive," to be guilty about "majority" status and privilege. All cultures (except that of the American South) are said to have value and deserve respect. On the other hand, when member(s) of some pet culture commit a heinous act perfectly consistent with their cultural values, norms and history, we hear about individual differences. The perpetrators are aberrations, exceptions---unless, of course, driven to savagery by their majority oppressors. Only Southern white males, especially religious combat veterans, commit atrocities because of their culture. To progressives, culture matters more than the person, except when it doesn't.

No. Culture is real in the same way that individual differences are real, and both matter. Culture is associated with, among other things, differing distributions of individual attributes that render certain dispositions more likely than others. To argue otherwise is to ignore evolution, something progressives are happy to do when it suits their purposes even if they otherwise sanctify the concept.

Islam isn't a culture, of course. Saudis are not Afghans are not Indonesians are not Persians are not Chechens, ad infinitum. But might there not be some common thread that makes at least some of these people more likely to become terrorists than, say, Scottish Presbyterians are? Chechens, in particular, are some of the most vicious people on the planet.  Maybe it's because they've fought the Russians for so long. Maybe they've fought so long because they're so damn mean. Or maybe they started mean and have gotten meaner the longer they've fought. Right now it doesn't matter.

I suspect that most Chechens, like most of everyone else, just want to be left alone to live their lives. But if there's even a 5% difference between them and, say, Lebanese Muslims in the frequency of violently motivated people, that's a hell of a lot of Chechens ready to be radicalized. There's a truism in psychology, supported by a library's worth of data, that it's easier to push someone in the direction they're already leaning than in the opposite direction. Call it "psychological judo."  

Expect to see more Chechens in the news.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jack, It is always a puzzle looking though the lenses of a progressive. I can never see the logic or willful disregard for science and study, of the world as it is. Culture is what it is, some are successful, some fail. Some are aggressive some passive. Whether we like it or not it is, what it is. Trying to ignore or excuse it does not change it. If you see it for what it is you stand a much better chance of dealing with it in, if not positive at least in a secure way. And a you said, if they are leaning they are easy to push over. And I am afraid you are correct we will hear more from the Chechen factions. We must truly be vigilant and see the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.


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