Council Results for May 5th, 2006

Watcher's CouncilThis week, Gates of Vienna placed first with Last Boat Out of Liverpool. As I had hesitated to write that post, I also hesitated about entering it into this week’s nominations. Back when I wrote ”Open Letter to Cindy Sheehan” I asked Doc Sanity and Shrinkwrapped what risks one took with being so self-revealing. What I came away with was the sense that one could use this as a forum for processing and reaching an understanding of the forces at play in a given situation if you were careful and respectful of your Self. Not their words, just my interpretation (since I can’t easily locate the emails).

Autobiography is satisfying to write when enough emotional distance has occurred, because the act of writing creates in turn, sufficient aesthetic distance which allows others to participate in the drama (and autobiography is drama of one sort or another. You don’t tell the whole truth because other people’s eyes will glaze over. You must pick through to find the salient motives for the characters you are presenting, including your own character, warts and all. And despite being the center of the universe in ordinary circumstances, on the written page one is reduced to simply a character in the story. Aristotle says this somewhere or other – though he states it more coherently [and he’s not writing about autobiography, which really didn’t occur until Augustine. Is one permitted to say “Saint Augustine” any more?].).

I will always be glad I wrote the Cindy Sheehan epistle. So many grieving parents emailed me over the months, as they stumbled upon that post while looking for something else. One person said that I’d made them understand why they’d not been able to put up a headstone on their son’s grave, and now, having understood it, would be doing this one final task for their son. Reading that allowed me, in turn, to forgive those who had left my daughter’s grave unmarked for three years.

[Update: She has a gravestone now, installed some time in the last few weeks. My son said he’d actually seen it; I was much relieved. Now I must find the courage to go and see for myself what has been erected for her, so her husband and I are going on the anniversary of her death, May 8th. A hard journey, but a necessary one. Wish me luck.]

New World Man came in second for “You’re Being Mean To Me Liberalism”. His was a most astute analysis of the fake but accurate dissent-as-patriotism:

…But even I don’t think Jefferson was dumb enough to say “dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

“Dissent’s” connotation is that of a minority position: Most people believe one thing, and you believe another. Mr. Justice Scalia doesn’t “dissent” when he has six of nine votes for his side, he “dissents” when he has two. There is, we acknowledge, an element of courage to outwardly disagreeing with others, our appreciation for which grows proportionally with the size of the majority (or, otherwise, the power) your opponents have. Which makes “dissent” against the policies of a President with something like a 30 percent approval rating more “opportunistic” and “candy ass” than “courageous” or “patriotic.”

New World Man has certainly put that piece of cant in the grave where it belongs. One wishes it might lie there undisturbed, but we all know that Senator Kerry will insist on digging it up, dusting it off, and using it again. And again, and again…

On the non-Council side, Villainous Company won handily for her essay, “Can America Still Win Wars?” —

When was the last time the United States actually won a war? What did we last fight another nation to a standstill, obtain its surrender, and disarm it so we would not have to face it on the field of battle again?


War has often been termed ‘politics by other means’, but in such a climate political will is the one thing an open society arguably cannot sustain indefinitely. So long as the underdog mentality reigns supreme and legitimacy is conferred only by perfect consensus, the American military may wish to reconsider its willingness to fight and die in defense of “American ideals”. If we cannot learn to withstand the disapproval of our critics, if we no longer find our own ideals worth defending or dying for, it may well be that the most irresponsible of our critics have been proven right. To rephrase John Foregainst Kerry, “How do you ask a man to be the last to die for something we no longer believe in?”

It’s a good question. We’d better come up with a convincing answer. The problem is, in a word, multiculturalism. But V.C. knows that. As do we all. It is the poison in the well we all drink from. One Cosmos would call it a “mind parasite.”

You know the drill by now: Go see the rest of our offerings here at The Watcher’s hangout.