In the comments section of a recent Belmont Club post, just before the tsunami disaster in South Asia, a discussion began concerning Kevin Sites. Responding to one of the commenters, Wretchard wrote:
If Mr. Sites has been deleting critical comments, I would be very disappointed in him. Belmont Club is exhibit A in the policy of giving every opinion, short of incitement, the freedom of the site. Yes, even DoubleStandard. Paradoxically, I think criticism sharpens the quest for truth. What should anyone fear except error?
The real value of this blog is that it encourages readers to contribute their opinions. The process of thinking through a situation, writing out an opinion and then discovering that it is no worse and frequently better than the stuff dished out by talking heads is a powerfully liberating experience. It is the process, not necessarily the result that is really subversive.
The longer it goes on the more dangerous the revolution becomes. Someone compared the rise of the Internet to the invention of the printing press. When books were the province of a few you could only come to knowledge through someone else. When books became common, people could learn for themselves, which put quite a few mediocrities out of business. Doubtless there will be those, as happens with people who interpret scripture do-it-yourself, who will get it all cockeyed. But on the whole mass produced books were a good thing.
There are some who are shocked, shocked at the act of a private person musing out loud about what seems like a staged photograph. ‘How dare you, how dare you raise these questions’. Yet to those who grew up on the Internet, this attitude is puzzling in the extreme. It’s a natural as breathing, a wholly different tradition. There must be hundreds of sites out there saying I’m a jerk. So what? This blog is just a meme, that’s all. I am nothing. I don’t even have a name. There must be zillions out there who disagree with my ideas. But so what? If my ideas are wrong they’ll die. If they are right, not even I can stop them. Scary when you think of it.
But I forget that people out there in the old media have got a consciousness of status which they value. Some may subconsciously think of yours miserably truly as a one of them wannabe. I can’t even aspire to what I don’t understand. Merry Christmas everybody.
Buddy Larsen then responded to Wretchard:
Merry Christmas to you, too, Wretchard. You’ve fought the good fight all along, but on this, you alone looked twice at that pic, and asked the right questions. The rest of us had already looked at it, registered it as hellish stuff, and moved on, a little sickened. Just as we were supposed to as always sheepishly do. What you did with your “Whoaaa, hold on a minute” was to give a real gift to the world. Pretty good work for a mere meme, a nameless entity in cyberspace.
Wretchard’s response was:
The one thing Saddam left out of reckoning was the existence of people who wouldn’t go along. When you think of it, the Problem of Evil is the dual of the Problem of Good. The chief problem with accepting the existence of God is the fact that evil exists. Yet the mirror problem afflicts those which would deny God. Why does beauty, why does superfluity of good exist? Against the ichneumon wasp there is the problem of accounting for a Francis of Assisi.
And so it is here. Men of good will are the problem from a certain point of view. They are the obstacle which must be removed at all costs. A little more money, intimidation and corruption should do it. But the bad guys are left scratching their heads in wonderment at why victory is denied them.
But they are part of the scenery; a curse, if you will. “For the Shadow was only a passing thing and Frodo knew there would always be truth and high beauty beyond its power to corrupt.”
Pure goodness is always a surprise when it appears in the world. To cite a recent example:
A man walked into a homeless shelter in Denver last night and handed out 35-thousand dollars to the residents.
He gave five-thousand dollars to a family of six for housing. He passed out 100-dollar bills to 300 people.
One man who’s been at the shelter since last month says, “It was like seeing Santa Claus and God all at once.”
Or look at the way Western Civilization has responded to the tragedy wrought by the tsunami: relief efforts, spearheaded by Australian aid agencies, are entering the Indonesian province of Aceh on the island of Sumatra to begin the process of aiding the injured, bringing food, water, and clothing to the displaced, and stemming the inevitable onslaught of epidemics. As it happens, Aceh is a hotbed of Islamist activity, home to the Free Aceh Movement, which aims to create an independent Islamic state. This region has been a refuge for some of the terrorists belonging to groups that planned and executed the Bali bombing which killed so many Australians.
So how does Australia respond? By coming to the aid of Indonesia, even at the risk of giving possible succor to some of its enemies.
Another quote from The Lord of the Rings is apropos: Frodo says, “I wish it need not have happened in my time.” Gandalf responds, “So do I, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”