Friday, January 2, 2009

Vandals at the walls of Rome

I didn't realize people actually thought these things and then got paid to have them printed in newspapers.

The issue of Israel sits at the very apex of the fight to defend civilisation. Those who wish to destroy western civilisation need to destroy the Jews, whose moral precepts formed its foundation stones. The deranged hatred of the Jews lies at the core of the Islamists’ hatred of America, the ‘infidel’ west and modernity, and is the reason why they wish to destroy Israel. Unless people in the west understand that Israel’s fight is their own fight, they will be on the wrong side of the war to defend not just the west but civilisation in general.

Melanie Phillips in the Spectator, quoted by Andrew McCarthy in National Review Online. Good. Fucking. Lord.

Maybe they're pissed off at the West because the West has colonized, exploited, manipulated, and generally fucked the Middle East for the past 100 years or so? No? Okay. Clearly, it's the West's explicitly Jewish basis. I just typed that sentence and I'm fighting the urge to smack myself across the face because it makes. No. Sense.

On a more general note, this whole "clash of civilizations"/"the battle for civilization" formulation makes me absolutely beside myself with annoyance and intellectual disgust. I mean, Jesus, if you're going to be shallow, at least let me wade farther than my goddamn ankles. It's lazy, it's stupid, it's demonstrably false, and any time you try to break it down into anything more specific than that phrase it falls apart in your hands. How do you define a civilization? What separates one from the next?

What the "clash of civilizations" thing is really about is a strategy to take whoever your enemies are as a monolith and define them as not just Other but nearly subhuman--extra-civilization, or that time-honored term, barbarian. We see this word used to describe terrorists, Hamas in particular, the Taliban, and any number of foes all the time. Currently, because the people who use this concept see their world order (or privileged position, depending on how you want to look at it) as under threat from Muslims, civilizations are supposedly based on religion (Islamic civilization, Christian civilization, etc.). At other times cultural practices, or technology, or skin color, or any number of other characteristics have been used to define "civilization" depending on who is seen as "civilized" and who is seen as a danger to them.

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