Saturday, June 30, 2007

On terrorists past and present

Whenever we are confronted with violence, extremism and nihilism, as we have been in recent years here in the US, in Britain, Spain and elsewhere on the globe, I always remember the words of a now-elder statesman, a fellow who has done a fair amount of writing in his life, and who won the Nobel Prize for literature in l970. Here's what he said about a previous incarnation of terrorists:

"Violence, less and less restricted by the framework of age-old legality, brazenly and victoriously strides throughout the world, unconcerned that its futility has been demonstrated and exposed by history many times. It is not simply naked force that triumphs but its trumpeted justification: the whole world overflows with the brazen conviction that force can do everything and justice nothing. Dostoevsky's DEMONS, a provincial nightmare of the last century, one would have thought, are, before our very eyes, crawling over the whole world into countries where they were unimaginable, and by the hijacking of planes, by seizing HOSTAGES, by the bomb explosions, and by the fires of recent years signal their determination to shake civilization apart and to annihilate it! And they may very well succeed. Young people, being at an age when they have no experience except sexual, when they have as yet no years of personal suffering and personal wisdom behind them, enthusiastically repeat our discredited Russian lessons of the nineteenth century and think that they are discovering something new. They take as a splendid example the Chinese Red Guard's degradation of people into nonentities. A superficial lack of understanding of the timeless essence of humanity, a naive smugness on the part of their inexperienced hearts--We'll kick out thosefierce, greedy oppressors, those governors, and the rest (we!), we'll then lay down our grenades and machine guns, and become just and compassionate. Oh, of course! Of those who have lived their lives and have come to understand, who could refute the young, many DO NOT DARE argue against them; on the contrary, they flatter them in order not to seem "conservative," again a Russian phenomenon of the nineteenth century, something which Dostoevsky called SLAVERY TO HALF-COCKED PROGRESSIVE IDEAS."

Well said, Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn. As we've noted before, democratic governments faced down extremism and totalitarianism in the past, they've been there before...this is nothing new. We can do it again without going all to pieces.


Blogger TomCat said...

Bucky, I think we have put the issue of terrorism out of perspective. In the last thirty years 50,000 people, worldwide, have died as a result of terrorism. By comparison, in less than five years, over 650,000, in Iraq alone, have died as a result of Bush's war for oil and conquest. Which then, is the greater evil?

3:04 PM  
Blogger buckarooskidoo said...

That's a great point, which many people beyond these shores have made slightly differently: what are the statistics on terrorism, or more specifically the numbers on 9/11 vis-a-vis the people lost in World War I, World War II, the Korean conflict, Vietnam? This is why people overseas have trouble understanding why this disproportionate response on our part to one lucky hit, as indisputably traumatic as it was. chalk it up yet again to the people who are "leading" us in this era.

3:45 PM  
Blogger TomCat said...

Well said.

4:36 PM  

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