Monday, January 15, 2007

A Lot of Talk About Feelings

Thers has written a fine denunciation of Josh Trevino, who recently waxed nostalgic over Boer War-style concentration camps (but not Nazi-style ones, so stop saying that!).

Thers ended his post by quoting from Heart of Darkness, not because doing so is particularly clever or original, but because its relevance to current conservative rhetoric is obvious to anyone with a goddamn brain:

[Mr. Kurtz's report] gave me the notion of an exotic Immensity ruled by an august Benevolence. It made me tingle with enthusiasm. This was the unbounded power of eloquence -- of words -- of burning noble words. There were no practical hints to interrupt the magic current of phrases, unless a kind of note at the foot of the last page, scrawled evidently much later, in an unsteady hand, may be regarded as the exposition of a method. It was very simple, and at the end of that moving appeal to every altruistic sentiment it blazed at you, luminous and terrifying, like a flash of lightning in a serene sky: 'Exterminate all the brutes!'
But Trevino won't have it like that, 'cause his momma didn't raise no suckas. He draws himself to his full height - aflame with a pellucid probity that vitiates the impuissant obloquy so vainly essayed by the tongues of the imponderous (or words to that effect) - and announces that:
'[E]xterminate all the brutes' is hardly an apt description of British strategy in the Boer War....
Bwa ha ha! You lefty suX0rz are totally pwned, LOL!!!! And if you must persist in thinking that Conrad had a point about how easily the West's sentimental burbling about "spreading light to the dark corners of the earth" devolves into racialist bloodlust, then know, oh foolish mortal, that you do so under the pain of Josh Trevino's displeasure.

Meanwhile, NRO's Rod Dreher complains that the Iraq War has caused him to see "the limits of finitude of American power." Apparently, he used to think that as long as you have power, you get to have whatever you want, whether it be the Suppression of Savage Customs or a second helping of butterscotch pudding.

Dreher's piece is notable more for its sad-sack abjection than its forcefulness. And since he's already a laughingstock among Bush cultists, he certainly won't earn any brownie points by spouting meaningless pre-Reagan catchphrases like "question authority." Worse, Jonah Goldberg has pointed out that "there's a lot of talk about feelings" in Dreher's piece. In other words, Dreher's a pussy. And unless you want to be a pussy too, you'll prefer not to walk any portion of our national Via Dolorosa in his Birkenstocks.

Real conservatives like Goldberg don't go in for that touchy-feely stuff any more than they sit down to pee. Unlike the softheaded liberals in dairy states, they understand the imperfectibility of human nature, and the impossibility of avoiding "unintended consequences" when you undertake massive social re-engineering projects (unless you put someone smart in charge, like General Pinochet). That's what makes 'em great, and that's why it'd be a tragedy for America and the world if the chaos in Iraq hurt their credibility with the public or their peers.

Thus, as the floodwaters of disillusionment lap at the Plantation-style verandah of the Kool Kids' Klubhouse, dead-enders like Trevino and Goldberg still hope to protect themselves by building a sky-high levee out of Iraqi corpses. Not for their own sake, you understand, so much as for the good of humanity.

How many darkies must die to maintain the illusion of conservatarian competence?

How many ya got?

I mean, when you think about it, the fact that we're so civilized is really the only thing that keeps us from civilizing the brutes, isn't it? It's a Chestertonian paradox, by God, and what could be more admirable or instructive than that? We can be proud that we've kept our claws sheathed up 'til now - hooray for the better angels of our nature! - but from here on out, we need to practice the art of cruelty with a steady hand and a dry eye. For as no less imposing a military strategist than Josh Trevino has made clear, "to eschew it is folly."

Aye, it were folly indeed to eschew it, and those who contemplate it, why, they show a want of wits. Not until we lay down the law book and the lorgnette will we be able to mop up these Muslim chappies properly. And our children will thank us when Iraq has friendly natives and year-round skiing, like Dubai.

Plus, as Mark Steyn notes, "great powers can't go around losing every war that comes up and expect to remain great powers."

If you're a member of what Steyn calls "the parochial left," you might see this as an excellent argument against allowing peabrained authoritarian loudmouths to drag your country into unnecessary wars that it can't win. But that's just because you don't have Steyn's grasp of geopolitics.

Come to think of it, you probably don't have his grasp of anthropometric history, either:
[A]ny proper study of Continental “standards of living” or “biological standards of living” should take into account U.S. defense welfare, which relieves Continental governments of the need to maintain credible militaries and enables them to provide generous social programs instead. Hence, the paradox of all these 6’5” Dutchmen and Scandinavians protected by squat knuckle-dragging 5’2” Americans. Those Continentals seem tall because they’re standing on the backs of Texan midgets.
Well said! The fog of war can be well-nigh impenetrable at times. But as long as thinkers like Trevino, Goldberg, and Steyn remain on the job, Western Civilization's triumph over the savage races is assured.

(Illustration at top from the French magazine L'Assiette au Beurre, circa 1901.)


Rmj said...

Meanwhile, NRO's Rod Dreher complains that the Iraq War has caused him to see "the limits of finitude of American power." Apparently, he used to think that as long as you have power, you get to have whatever you want, whether it be the Suppression of Savage Customs or a second helping of butterscotch pudding.

So, there are limits to power?!?

Dammit! Why doesn't anybody tell us these things anymore?! Hell, we're a hyperpower! What's the point of being the sole hyperpower in the world if you can't get all the butterscotch pudding you want?!


Phila said...


You said it.

Honest, I don't believe in nuthin' no more.

Anonymous said...

If any of you is interested of the picture's caption, it reads :
Once arrived at the reconcentration camp, boer women find roomy tents that lack no air nor coolness. All my cares are dedicated to letting in these tents the much reputed british hygiene and comfort. ..
Some of these tents have a really charming air of intimacy.
Official report from Lord Kitchener (?) to the War Office

Thers said...

At least the British did their imperialism with some class. Kipling, for instance, was a crumb, but at least he had style. These Trevinos and Steyns and Goldbergs... well, it's simply not pukka.

Phila said...

Thanks, Abie. Bloodcurdling....

Interrobang said...

Modern Conservatism: Defending the Indefensible Since 1980.

I wish more of these hypersyllabic microcephalics would see the limits of finitude of American power in the context of their overweening senses of American Exceptionalist entitlement and get a life.

ellroon said...

Well, if we are seeing the finitude of American power, will we see the finitude of blustering blowhard gasbags of toxic windiness anytime soon? I never knew they multiplied so quickly....