Friday, December 14, 2007

Comment Trail for Friday:

Yellow Limes:


Jimmy Carter: Guantanamo Bay = Soviet Gulag

My favourite quote in the matter of these outlandish analogies comes from Olivar Kamm:

"Historical analogies are never exact but sometimes useful. If they are to be useful, then the precedent needs at a minimum to be stated accurately."

So let's see what is the gulag?

Gulag: A History, by Anne Applebaum, explains:

“ It was the branch of the State Security that operated the penal system of forced labour camps and associated detention and transit camps and prisons. While these camps housed criminals of all types, the Gulag system has become primarily known as a place for political prisoners and as a mechanism for repressing political opposition to the Soviet state. ... it imprisoned millions, ”

There were at least 476 separate camp complexes, each one comprising hundreds, even thousands of individual camps.[2] It is estimated that there may have been up to 5-7 million prisoners in these camps at any one time. It is possible that approximately 10% of prisoners died each year....

In all, perhaps more than 18 million people passed through the Gulag, with further millions being deported and exiled to remote areas of the Soviet Union."

And what is Guantanamo Bay?

"Guantanamo Bay detention camp is a cooperative military prison and detention camp under the leadership of Joint Task Force Guantanamo since 2002.[1] The prison, established at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, holds people accused by the United States government of being terrorist operatives, as well as those no longer considered suspects who are being held pending relocation elsewhere. The detainment areas consist of three camps ... The detainees held by the United States were classified as enemy combatants.

Since the beginning of the War in Afghanistan, 775 detainees have been brought to Guantanamo, approximately 420 of which have been released. As of August 09, 2007, approximately 355 detainees remain"

(Source: Wikipaedia)

Death at Guantanamo Bay:

"Three detainees at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, died of apparent suicides early this morning, military officials reported today...

The detainees appear to have hanged themselves with nooses made from clothing and bed sheets, Harris said."


http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=16080

_____________

Clearly, Carter knows nothing about either the gulag or Gitmo. Someone must have provided him with disinformation, or else I cannot imagine why he would make this comparison. After all, he is known for the great restraint he exercises over hyperbolic language, as is evident in his pronouncement that there is no genocide in Darfur.



Terry Glavin:

Today's Lesson From The Koran: How To Turn Your Worst Enemy Into A Folk Hero

Response to another commenter's comment:

"either way, she deserves to live"

"To deserve:": to be worthy of : merit, deserves another chance

intransitive verb : to be worthy, fit, or suitable for some reward or requital

"have become recognized as they deserve" — T. S. Eliot

Excuse me for being pedantic and cantankerous, but what does it mean "to deserve to live"? There is judgment implied in this formulation. As if there is a possibility that some girls might not be deserving to live.

Deserving suggests entitlement, not a right. And the right to life, secure and free of persecution, is a primary human right. A person does not have to earn that right, in any way. Using this kind of word is a variation on the theme that brought her to her death.

Again, I'm sure nothing like that was meant by Richard but I would plead with him to try to use more accurate language in such cases.

booksbooksbooks is Richard's blog (Richard the commenter from Terry Glavin's blog).

Doris Lessing is god

This is my comment:

Looks like the perilous ills of the Internet is a hot subject these days. Read here Norm's response which I only partly disagree with:

http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/2007/12/accentuating-th.html

I happen to think, based on a very dense Internet experience in the last 5 years, that "attachment to screen and radio" may well be "a consequence of stress, loneliness and fear.." and unlike Norm's assumption that it can offer consolation, it does not. It's like eating candy when you are hungry for something much more nutrient.

There is no substitute for the book. You cannot snuggle with a laptop in your bed at night and read a chapter. You cannot leaf backwards and forwards with a roaming finger to remind yourself of something you read earlier. The Internet and computer are extremely efficient but for actually reading deeply into something, they are useless. When I want to read a long article which I find interesting, I have to print it out and read it on paper. The absorption of the material is just not the same.

In "Star Trek-the Next Generation", three centuries away, Jean-Luc Picard is often seen with a book in his hands, usually when he has retired to his quarters. The author of that series could not bring himself to imagine a bookless world!

5 Comments:

At 12:54 PM EST, Blogger richard said...

OK, CC - here's the thing.

My full comment was this: "If a girl is killed because of her preference for clothing, then the reason for that objection has no place in the world I want to live in. This might be a rejection of the hijab, or it might be a taste for very short skirts: either way, she deserves to live."

You wrote: "Excuse me for being pedantic and cantankerous, but what does it mean "to deserve to live"? There is judgment implied in this formulation. As if there is a possibility that some girls might not be deserving to live."

I'm torn about how to respond. You're correct that the language of rights might be more appropriate. My point, of course, was the very simple one that a life should not be ended because of a disagreement about which kind of (or how much) clothing to wear.

On the one hand, a comment about an individual person does not necessarily translate syllogistically to an equal impact on others. "She deserves to live" doesn't necessarily imply that other she's don't deserve to live, and in fact I was using the singular pronoun in a generic sense in order to refer to all girls and all clothing choices.

On the other hand, death penalty advocates regularly make the argument that some people forfeit their right to life. I have never advocated the death penalty, so this isn't an argument I'd make, but I do think that people can forfeit indefinitely the right to freedom.

 
At 1:17 PM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"I'm torn about how to respond."

Why are you torn?

"My point, of course, was the very simple one that a life should not be ended because of a disagreement about which kind of (or how much) clothing to wear."

But I think you know that the disagreement was about more than just a code of dress. It was actually an existential struggle, on both sides.

I think you got my problem with your formulation if you saw fit to mention the death penalty.

 
At 5:50 PM EST, Blogger richard said...

Why "torn" about how to respond? Because I think you recognized my intent in the post (bad to kill a girl for her clothing), but decided to read it more narrowly as "which means it's OK for kill girls for other reasons" rather than more broadly as "bad to kill a girl." The narrow reading is a long way from my intent.

My first reaction was to be apologetic for poor wording, except that you said, "I'm sure nothing like that was meant by Richard," so I knew you got it. I thought maybe I should get offended, but that didn't seem right either, since I could certainly have been clearer.

I was trying to expand outward from the religious question into the "asking for it" defense/claim around sexual violence, which is no more right than killing a woman for refusing to wear a hijab.

 
At 6:19 PM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"I was trying to expand outward from the religious question into the "asking for it" defense/claim around sexual violence, which is no more right than killing a woman for refusing to wear a hijab."

I've got to understand this. You think this murder is a case of sexual violence against women due to their choice of dress?

As in, if a young woman goes on a date wearing very revealing cloths and gets raped?

I suppose there are cases of teenage girls being raped by their fathers or brothers. Or even murdered in the act.

So you think this is the same kind of sickness, the same kind of crime?

A Jewish man who gets murdered during an armed robbery. A Jewish man gets murdered because he was wearing a skullcape identifying him as a Jew. Is there a difference between these crimes?

 
At 8:25 PM EST, Blogger richard said...

No, I think that this murder is based on a girl's choice of clothing, and what the male viewer or viewers think that choice represents. It lacks the overtly sexualized angle of the raped-for-revealing-clothes story, but in both cases death derives from the male interpretation of the woman's choice. Both are utterly wrong. (OK, murder is wrong generally, but I'm saying that there's a similar wrongness in these two cases.)

Different sickness, though.

Yes, there's a difference between the two murders of hypothetical Jewish men. Both murders are wrong, but one results from a pathological view of ethnicity and religion, while the other results from a complicated range of things including a pathological view of life's value.

 

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