The Collapse of Judgment

Posted: Aug 03, 2006 6:14 AM
The Collapse of Judgment

If you could save the victims of one of the following four events, which group would you save?

1. The victims of Fidel Castro's "revolution?"

2. The victims of Hezbollah's ambushes, rockets and missiles over the past three weeks?

3. The victims of the Seattle attack on the Jewish federation?

4. The victims of Mel Gibson's repulsive outburst of anti-Semitic venom?

If all human life is valued equally, you'd have to save Castro's millions of victims, the Hezbollah's thousands, then the one dead and many injured in Seattle, and then Gibson's offended.

As an extraordinary week draws to a close, though, you wouldn't have any sense of scale or importance if you had been watching American media or reading American commentary.

To MSM, Castro is the aging but charismatic leader of a defiant island-state, still bearded and wearing fatigues.

Hezbollah is the little terrorist organization that could hold out against the mighty IDF.

Naveed Haq, according to his lawyer, "had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had been taking medication to help control its symptoms, which generally include drastic mood swings."

And Gibson is the anti-Semitic rant-maker and Oscar-winner in whose explosive wrath upon arrest Arianna Huffington found "a chance for reasonable people to stand up and be counted. For the sane among us to identify, separate, and condemn the extremists, the fanatics, the fundamentalists, the bigots, the hate-mongers and say 'no more.' "

We are, it seems, in danger of losing any sense of priority, of scale, of genuine importance.

Abe Foxman, as my new guest blogger Dean Barnett has noted, is deep into Mel commentary. As was Andrew Sullivan. As were and still are many thousands of others.

We are three weeks and two days into the longest, sustained terrorist attack since the V-2s fell on England. It is a war crime --recognized everywhere-- to employ indiscriminate weapons. More than 2,000 have fallen on Israel in a little over three weeks, every one of which is intended to kill civilians.

Castro, if we are lucky, is in renal shutdown or some similar panic-and-repentance initiating slow-shut down of his internal organs that might lead him to beg forgiveness of God and the people he so cruelly used. Tens of thousands executed; hundreds of thousands imprisoned. Millions impoverished. That is Castro's record, and it makes him --easily-- the Most Evil Man of the 20th Century, Western Hemisphere Division.

And Haq is just the most recent of a series of alarming but largely uninvestigated-by-the-MSM events: the arrest of seven in Miami; of 17 in Toronto; the UNC SUV attack; the El Al killings at LAX.

Mel, however, is covered.

In a passage from her famous book, Eichmann on Trial, Hannah Arendt asked: "Could the activity of thinking as such, the habit of examining and reflecting upon whatever happens to come to pass, regardless of specific content and quite independent of results, could this activity be of such a nature that it 'conditions' men against evildoing?" I will leave it to folks far more skilled than I to apply Arendt's observation to the effects of MSM on the public's appreciation of priorities, but here's a bit of background:

From The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

As far as Arendt could discern, Eichmann came to his willing involvement with the program of genocide through a failure or absence of the faculties of sound thinking and judgement. From Eichmann's trial in Jerusalem (where he had been brought after Israeli agents found him in hiding in Argentina), Arendt concluded that far from exhibiting a malevolent hatred of Jews which could have accounted psychologically for his participation in the Holocaust, Eichmann was an utterly innocuous individual. He operated unthinkingly, following orders, efficiently carrying them out, with no consideration of their effects upon those he targeted. The human dimension of these activities were not entertained, so the extermination of the Jews became indistinguishable from any other bureaucratically assigned and discharged responsibility for Eichmann and his cohorts.

Arendt concluded that Eichmann was constitutively incapable of exercising the kind of judgment that would have made his victims' suffering real or apparent for him. It was not the presence of hatred that enabled Eichmann to perpetrate the genocide, but the absence of the imaginative capacities that would have made the human and moral dimensions of his activities tangible for him. Eichmann failed to exercise his capacity of thinking, of having an internal dialogue with himself, which would have permitted self-awareness of the evil nature of his deeds. This amounted to a failure to use self-reflection as a basis for judgment, the faculty that would have required Eichmann to exercise his imagination so as to contemplate the nature of his deeds from the experiential standpoint of his victims. This connection between the complicity with political evil and the failure of thinking and judgment inspired the last phase of Arendt's work, which sought to explicate the nature of these faculties and their constitutive role for politically and morally responsible choices.It is easy to comment on the events of Malibu. It can be very hard to comment on Qana. It is inconvenient to bring up Armando Valladares as that requires some reading.

And it can be frightening to consider Haq.

The MSM never surprises, and almost always disappoints.

We are awash in Gibson denunciations, but very short on Castro and Hezbollah condemnations. "I don’t take sides for or against Hezbollah or for or against Israel," Michigan Democratic Congressman John Dingell rambled on Detroit television. Of course not. Nor have his colleagues commented on his ambivalence between the Jewish homeland and the terrorist killers of 241 Ameircan Marines and soldiers in 1983.

As blogger Major Mike at MySandmen has noted, it is hard to imagine winning this war with a media incapable of basic judgments about priorities; about obvious good and obvious evil. To save you the click through, I offer half of his post:

It has occurred to me over the past couple of weeks, with the Middle East and Afghanistan in turmoil, because of the likes of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Iraqi Insurgents, Hamas and Hezbollah; that we now live in a world where governments, borders, diplomatic protocols, and indeed, civilizations are on the brink of becoming extinct and obsolete.

These groups, some quasi-governmental entities, (Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah), others simply terror organizations (AQ, and the AQ led Iraqi insurgents) are on the verge of collapsing the existing, and long recognized, international conventions of government, and governmental interactions. Operating outside the frameworks of established political systems, these groups are capable of destroying the very essence of our existing, global, civilization.

While they are attacking with conventional and non-traditional martial weapons, they are also attacking on many asymmetrical fronts, many of which we are either slow to recognize, or refusing to acknowledge. Their asymmetric attacks…IEDs, kidnappings, border incursions, unguided rocket attacks, Gitmo prison suicides, 24/7 MSM wind farm manipulation, are designed to create a perpetual din of violence that we soon become numb to, and are expected to submit to out into the future.

All the while, they receive unsolicited and unwitting help in their messaging by a blinded and prejudiced free press that has let its loathing of Western culture, the culture that gave it birth, create a dire and slanted world view that leaves many apathetic and hopeless. The MSM, with their crass empathies for murderous nationalists and terror mongers, is fueling these anarchistic endeavors through publicity, supportive messaging and storytelling, tacit encouragement, and continual anti-government campaigning.

Their first target is the erosion of institutional and governmental confidence worldwide. They are not seeking to defeat the US in battle. They are not seeking to defeat Israel in battle. They are seeking the destruction of our social, economic, and governmental structures through the simple erosion of public confidence over time. In essence, they are trying to drive the international community into an international malaise, similar to the one that the US experienced after the Vietnam War. And they will leverage this motive vacuum as an opportunity for cultural imposition and theocratic domination. And when successful, they will spiral the current civilized world into chaos, confusion, and repressive dominance that will eventually ruin modern Western society.

They have already changed the government in Spain. They have infiltrated the fledgling democracy in Lebanon and pulled it into a devastating war. They have won control of the Palestinian government, and nearly immediately engaged Israel in a war. Their goal is not victory, it is anarchy. And anarchy is their entry into power. Afghanistan the first time around. Somalia in its current state of affairs.

We are deep into this erosion of confidence and already on the path to ruin. 

Major Mike's been around. He's never been on Hardball, written for The New York Times, or been to Davos.

But he's got a clue. Many, in fact, and he hasn't been writing about Mel.