Monday, October 30, 2006

Two Articles, Oddly Related

1.) "If It's Not the Crusades, It's the Cartoons",
"Mired in Diplomacy", &
"The Trifecta of Eurocool"

Mark Steyn:

"The host, Paul Orgel, had asked me what I thought of President Bush and I replied that, whatever my differences with him on this or that, I thought he was one of the most farsighted politicians in Washington."...

"But suppose the ''Anyone But Bush'' bumper-sticker set got their way;..."

"What then?"

"Nothing, that's what. The jihad's still there. Kim Jong Il's still there. The Iranian nukes are still there. The slyer Islamist subversion from south-east Asia to the Balkans to northern England goes on, day after day after day. And one morning we'll switch on the TV and the smoke and flames will be on this side of the Atlantic,..."

"And, riffing on the endless list of Islamist grievances, Bush concluded with an exasperated: "If it's not the Crusades, it's the cartoons.""...

""We are on the offense," he insisted, sounding sometimes as frustrated as us columnists that so much of the wider momentum had become (in Charles Krauthammer's words) "mired in diplomacy.""...

"The invaluable Brussels Journal recently translated an interview with the writer Oscar van den Boogaard from the Belgian paper De Standaard. A Dutch gay "humanist" (which is pretty much the trifecta of Eurocool), van den Boogaard was reflecting on the accelerating Islamification of the Continent and concluding that the jig was up for the Europe he loved. "I am not a warrior, but who is?" he shrugged. "I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it.""

"Too many of us are only good at enjoying freedom. That war-is-never-the-answer 25 percent are in essence saying that there's nothing about America worth fighting for, and that, ultimately, the continuation of their society is a bet on the kindness of strangers -- on the goodnaturedness of Kim Jong Il and the mullahs and al-Qaida and what the president called "al-Qaida lookalikes and al-Qaida wannabes" and whatever nuclear combination thereof comes down the pike. Some of us don't reckon that's a good bet, and think America's arms-are-for-hugging crowd need to get real. Van den Boogaard's arms are likely to be doing rather less of their preferred form of hugging in the European twilight."

2.) Be Ye Men or Be Ye Infincks?

Michael Bywater:

"My grandfather was born in 1888 and he didn't have a lifestyle. He didn't need one: he had a life."...

"The crucial difference is my grandfather's lack of self-consciousness, and that self-consciousness is a hallmark of the perpetual, infantilised adolescents we have all become, monsters of introspection hovering twitchily on the edge of self-obsession, occasionally aware that the life that exists only to be examined is barely manageable; barely, indeed, a life."

"It is a preparation for a life. The consistently introspective life of the Big Baby is as much a simulacrum as life on Big Brother."

"To keep the simulacrum going we need help. And we need that help because that help is available."

"It's the old paradox. We need distraction from our fragmented and solitary lives because the distractions available to us have rendered our lives fragmented and solitary."

"And we need lifestyle advice from magazines and websites and newspaper supplements and health advisers and personal trainers precisely because we are being nagged about our lifestyle all the time by magazines and websites and newspaper supplements and health advisers and personal trainers…"

"If one of the markers of adulthood is autonomy, then one of the preconditions of autonomy is being left alone."

"But the Big Babies have no such autonomy, and are harangued to death; nor have they learned the adult trick of simply ignoring the fishwife-and-huckster voices. Instead, Baby tries to comply."

"Believing it when he is told that he is unhappy, he then believes the cure the same fishwives and hucksters proceed to offer."

"And it is all a world of make-believe, a set of status symbols notable only for symbolising someone else's status… except that when there is nothing but status for the Big Baby in the Age of Distraction, then our symbols are our status."

"We live on a diet of shadows, and we can only imitate them, stuck in the playpen, waiting to be distracted."

"Admittedly, it's tricky, being grown up. The great thing about being a Big Baby is it's so easy and so rewarding, and everybody else can just bugger off."

"Once one has embraced the 'isms' that characterise the Baby Boomer's creed of modernity - individualism, relativism, voluntarism - and lapsed into the hooting, crooning self-validating babyhood that inevitably follows, then one is beyond criticism."

"Anyone who says otherwise just doesn't understand us and, what is more, is just plain wrong."

"Being grown up is not nearly as comfortable. Let's, just for a moment, beg the question and say that one of the qualities of being a grown-up is what the Romans called discrimen and what we would perhaps call 'discrimination', though that doesn't quite cover it."

"Discrimen is the ability to judge a situation and to take right action without being sidetracked by peripheral considerations. Sailors would call it 'seamanship'."

"Surgeons speak of 'decisiveness'. In all cases, discrimen is about knowing what to do in the circumstances, even if there is no guarantee of pulling it off."

"But if discrimen is a cardinal virtue of adulthood, the tenets of infantilism work against it. Discrimen calls for right judgment; but the idea of something being 'right' is in profound conflict with individualism (which says I can only claim my judgment as being right for me)."

"It is in conflict with relativism (which says others may have different ideas, which are right for them) and with voluntarism (which says that those different ideas are just as valid as mine, because they, too, have been chosen)."

"As the body ineluctably decays (the mind's long gone, of course; who needs it?), perpetual infantility glosses over the rheum, the pains and creaks and flaccidities. As the opportunities dwindle, perpetual infantility offers us illusion on easy terms with pick-'n'-mix spirituality, self-improvement, angels and goddesses, diversion and aspiration."

"As time slides past, doling out its irreversible quanta, perpetual infantility offers us… the perfect wristwatch: shockproof, waterproof, antimagnetic, a perpetual movement which says everything about us except the single intolerable truth: that we have had it and are headed for oblivion, tick by tick."

There you have it... George W. Bush has gravitas AND discrimen.

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