Friday, July 10, 2015

Right Wing Limits

I've been following Sam Harris' work for a few months.  I'm interested in his criticisms of religion and his dedication to absolute honesty in dealing with people.  He recently posted his "discussion" with Noam Chomsky that he believes made them both look bad, but I thought Chomsky looked reasonable.

Chomsky displayed moral outrage and implied that Harris is an apologist for the American war machine.  This was self-evident when Harris kept trying to establish a moral hierarchy for American-created "accidental-casualties" vs. terrorist's purposefully-created casualties.  I can swallow a moral negation or easement or justice in some very limited cases, but not a "superiority" in "intention" in any case.  Chomsky is right that "intention" soon gets warped into whatever abstract (often religious) justification humans need to wrought evil on other humans.  He tries to use the example of a "perfect" weapon to clarify that intention matters...days before it became news that the Saudis would be using American cluster bombs (banned by every other Western country in the world because they instill terror and are considered torture) to kill people in Yemen--a most imperfect bomb, manufactured in the U.S.

I myself try to avoid establishing moral hierarchies precisely because America would SUCK in such a count, and so does Israel, and both of our countries are equally trying to balance the moral weight of violence with humanitarian works.  Sadly, the balance is way off, unless you start saying that our lives are worth more than our enemies, which is probably true for most people if you grind down. In fact, this is such a common place assumption, that most people would have no qualms about killing a house intruder.  How crude is our lack of sensitivity?  Why is killing the default defense instead of something more humane?  Why don't we buy tranquilizer guns instead of gun powder for home protection?  This crudeness, this lack of sensitivity, extends to our enemies.  If the sane and orderly are so easily cruel, then the criminal will be even more so.

I'm sure Noam Chomsky points this out incessantly in his books, which is one reason why I have until this date avoided reading them.  I have not really wanted to spend my time trying to change the dirty laundry this country has shat.  Most people don't.  And a hell of a lot of people, particularly in the military, are more than happy to dance among the dirty laundry.  American Sniper is certainly one example of the present day war dance.