Friday, February 16, 2007

Bah Bye Chief

They are finally going to retire Chief Illiniwek. The long dark nightmare is finally over, pending a ridiculous lawsuit from students who portray the Chief who claim their first amendment rights are being violated. If they win, I look forward to donning a Pope costume so I can dance around at football games too, as would be my constitutional right.

It looks like there will be a lot less honoring of American Indians in this town in the future, which I'm pretty sure most American Indians will be quite relieved about.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day Quote

Here's a Valentine's Day present to my loyal reader(s): A quote from Butch Hancock of the country band The Flatliners:

"In Lubbock we grew up with two main things. God loves you and he's gonna send you to hell, and that sex is bad and dirty and nasty and awful and you should save it for the one you love."

Have a Happy Valentines Day, all you sinners.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Moral Strength vs Material Strength

Normally I don’t agree with people who poison their political opponents, but I may have to make a temporary exception for Vladimir Putin.

He blasted the US over the weekend for, well, acting the way we have over the last six years. Some quotes include:

"The United States has overstepped its national borders in every way. Nobody feels secure anymore, because nobody can take safety behind the stone wall of international law. This is nourishing an arms race with the desire of countries to get nuclear weapons”

“Unilateral, illegitimate actions have not managed to resolve any problems, but made them worse. The wars, local and regional conflicts, have only grown in number. We are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper-use of military force in international relations,"

“Until we get rid of unilateralism in international affairs, until we exclude the possibility of imposing one country's views on others, we will not have stability”

I also remember Bush criticizing Putin awhile back for lack of democractic reforms in Russia. Putin shot back that they didn’t want the kind of democracy that we’ve brought to Iraq. Ouch.

I have no illusions about Putin. He would be an old Soviet-style dictator if they let him and seems to be doing everything he can to drag Russia back to pre-democratic autocracy. He’s probably just mad that Russia lacks the power to create unholy, biblically-sized messes like we can. But that doesn’t make his criticism invalid.

It just shows how far we’ve fallen that someone like Putin can criticize our actions, and be so justified in doing so. It also demonstrates why attacking Iraq (and our subsequent behavior there) was not merely a tactical error in the war on terrorism. It was a generational mistake, one that will cost us moral leadership for decades to come. Suffering through lectures on how to behave responsibly from the likes of Putins will be our penance for not having the stomach, strength or willingness to stand up to the Bush administration when it mattered.

Peter Dauo’s The Ethics of Iraq: Moral Strength vs. Material Strength is one of the best essays I’ve read about the moral implications of the Iraq war, and it is as relevant today as it was when it was written a year and a half ago. He compares the left’s focus on moral strength to the right’s focus on material strength, and it goes a long way towards explaining why we so often talk past each other and are so angry with each other. I think of it whenever something happens that is an inevitable consequence of squandering our moral leadership. The first three paragraphs are below:

The unbridgeable divide between the left and right’s approach to Iraq and the WoT is, among other things, a disagreement over the value of moral and material strength, with the left placing a premium on the former and the right on the latter. The right (broadly speaking) can’t fathom why the left is driven into fits of rage over every Abu Ghraib, every Gitmo, every secret rendition, every breach of civil liberties, every shifting rationale for war, every soldier and civilian killed in that war, every Bush platitude in support of it, every attempt to squelch dissent. They see the left's protestations as appeasement of a ruthless enemy. For the left (broadly speaking), America’s moral strength is of paramount importance; without it, all the brute force in the world won’t keep us safe, defeat our enemies, and preserve our role as the world’s moral leader.

War hawks squeal about America-haters and traitors, heaping scorn on the so-called “blame America first" crowd, but they fail to comprehend that the left reserves the deepest disdain for those who squander our moral authority. The scars of a terrorist attack heal and we are sadder but stronger for having lived through it. When our moral leadership is compromised by people draped in the American flag, America is weakened. The loss of our moral compass leaves us rudderless, open to attacks on our character and our basic decency. And nothing makes our enemies prouder. They can't kill us all, but if they permanently stain our dignity, they've done irreparable harm to America.

The antiwar critique of Iraq is that it is an immoral war and every resulting death is a wrongful one. Opponents of the war view the invasion and occupation as a dangerous and shameful violation of international law. Iraq saps our moral strength and the sooner we leave the better. Opposing the invasion on the grounds that the administration lied its way into it, they see every subsequent death, American or foreign, as an ethical travesty and a stain on America's good name.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Two Hauerwas Quotes

I’m back to my old, lazy ways of barely getting in a post a week, and even then, just quoting someone else and commenting on it. Since being reactive is so natural for me, I often question why it is considered a bad thing.

Also, I'm currently trapped in a house with 3 to 6 cabin-fever-infected children, as school has been closed due to the extremely cold weather here. I'm posting this while children are running around me in circles spraying each other with fire extinguishers and wiping our remaining food supplies on the walls.

Posting Hauerwas quotes is not only easy and entertaining, but also something I am able to do with children running amok. I would hope this would be a source of pride for Stanely, rather than shame. For those unaware of Stanley Hauerwas, he is a Methodist theologian at Duke, and worked a lot with John Howard Yoder, who is the St. Augustine of Mennonite Pacifism. Or perhaps the Thomas Aquinas? Mennonites should weigh in here. For that matter, who would Hauerwas be in this metaphor?

Anway, here are the quotes, which I'm not even going to comment on now.

Quote 1 (My favorite Hauerwas quote):

“Why say carefully what you can say offensively?”

Quote 2: Where he relates his contribution to ecumenism (religious unity) and how he became a pacifist, when he presented a paper that defended John Howard Yoder’s work at a Notre Dame/Valpraiso meeting:

I began my presentation by noting that what I was going to do before these Lutherans and Catholics was a genuine ecumenical effort. It featured a Methodist with a doubtful theological background (if you are Methodist you have a doubtful theological background) representing a most Catholic department of theology, reading a paper to a group of Missouri Synod Lutherans and saying that the Anabaptists had been right all along. I said that it was an ecumenical gesture because, by the time I finished, the Catholics and Lutherans would discover how much they had in common – namely, thinking it a very good thing to kill the Anabaptists. And, of course, that is exactly what happened, as the Catholics and Lutherans joined forces to try to show me why we should not take Yoder seriously. Serious people understand that sometimes you do need to kill somebody. I was not convinced, and the rest, so to speak, is history.