We talk like people who live in infamy


The “rules” of war may not carry legal consequences, but they do carry inescapable consequences of identity. It is always possible to “get away with” attacking non-combatants just so long as you go on to win, ensuring your war “crimes” are never punished. But you can’t break that rule without becoming a breaker of the rule. Which is to say, more bluntly, that you cannot break that rule without becoming infamous — a coward, a murderer, and an asshole. [Read more...]

The Scarlet Letter: The A-word doesn’t apply when the Right People choose it for the Right Reasons

Campbell Grant's illustration for "The Scarlet Letter," from Richard Armour's 1960 "The Classics: Reclassified."

For Scott Walker, et. al., the word “abortion” refers to evil baby-killing performed on behalf of irresponsible sluts for unknown — but presumably evil and indefensible — reasons. The termination of a pregnancy by good, white, Christian people may be the same procedure, but since they’re good, non-slutty people, they get to call it something else. [Read more...]

There must be a better world somewhere

Asked to name "the greatest living president," several 2016 Republican candidates answered "Ronald Reagan." (Click angry Nixon for full story.)

No, Texas: Accurately noticing that many Christians do not give as much as they can to help the poor is not “bashing on the Christian community” — although Jesus, James, and many of the early church leaders did bash on the Christian community for that very reason. Plus: RIP BB King; Republicans name Ronald Reagan the greatest living president; three more things that confound Louis Gohmert; and if you want to be a hero, YNATKC. [Read more...]

August 9

It is not permissible to deliberately target non-combatants with a weapon of mass destruction. To do so is always, in all times and places, wrong and monstrous and forbidden. That's not my rule. It existed for centuries before I was born and it will remain true long after I die. It has, over the centuries, [Read More...]

Military precision

With all due respect to India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and with sympathy for the tragic loss of life his country recently suffered in the murderous attacks in Mumbai, it’s still necessary to point out that his statement earlier today grievously — and destructively — mischaracterizes those attacks. Here is what the prime minister said: [Read More...]

Cleaning the lake

Here is the passage I was looking for the other day when I instead stumbled onto that bit about cheese sandwiches. This is from Philip Gourevitch’s award-winning history and meditation, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families. The desertion of Rwanda by the UN force was Hutu Power’s [Read More...]

Terrorists are Bad

Let's try another angle: Nobody likes terrorists, right? I mean, those of us who aren't terrorists can all agree that, you know, terrorism is Bad and terrorists are Bad People, right? I see most of you nodding but a few of you — that bunch there in the back — look worried. You're probably wondering [Read More...]

Perverse arithmetic

"You're not allowed to kill civilians" is not exclusively, or even primarily, a legal statement. Like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this prohibition is spelled out in international law. But, like those rights, it precedes this particular legal formulation. Just as the Universal Declaration is not the source of the human rights it affirms, [Read More...]