Although men of the left profess a certain admiration for the spontaneous, unspoiled qualities of third world men, there is one iron rule they always observe. Never take them at their word. If for instance they say, "Islam will rule the world," why, it must be a joke. If a third world regime declares it is acquiring nuclear weapons to conjure the return to earth of the 12th Imam the same rule applies. Believe them in all things, such as for example any complaint or accusation they might have against America, but disbelieve them in any threat they might make against you.
Thus when the current leader of the al-Qaeda affiliated group now advancing on Baghdad, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, told his captors on release from US custody in 2009 that "I'll see you in New York", it was taken as a joke.
You don't suppose he means it? Nah, all the experts say they never mean these things.
This desire to make childlike persons in colorful exotic costumes seem at once better and less than human is a curious attitude that Snopes unintentionally highlights in Barack Obama while attempting to debunk various quotes inaccurately attributed to him. Snopes only succeeds in depicting a man determined to be like the Other. For example here is Obama warning against the possible persecution of Arabs and Pakistanis, ostensibly because that's the sort of thing Franklin Roosevelt -- oops -- that Americans do.
In the wake of 9/11, my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans, for example, have a more urgent quality, for the stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their sense of security and belonging. They have been reminded that the history of immigration in this country has a dark underbelly; they need specific reassurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.
It's not a new attitude, but an old one, this reflexive identification with the exotic and the alien.
As long ago as 1951, Howard Hawk's horror movie The Thing featured a character loosely modeled on Soviet sympathizers during the Cold War. The character's name was Dr. Arthur Carrington. Carrington was the best educated man on the base. Nobel Prize material. And as such he believed he was above it all.
“Carrington” is the archetypical out-of-touch “man of science” in sharp contrast to the ever-practical military man in Tobey’s “Captain Hendry” and a large part of the suspense comes as Carrington torpedoes Hendry’s efforts to protect the base personnel. Carrington’s agenda is to sacrifice his vulnerable friends and co-workers to protect the vicious alien predator for the sake of “science”. What better characterization could we have for the modern Left verses Right culture war that will dictate the fate of America!
At one point in the movie, CPT Hendry is forced to investigate a room on the base where Carrington basically set up his friends to be slaughtered by the Thing. He finds that two of Carrington’s co-workers were killed and cut open for the sake of their blood (which was feeding the alien’s vegetable progeny). Amazingly, Carrington tries to defend his behavior! The debate between Hendry and Carrington proceeds for only a few seconds until Hendry simply says, “Bob” and Hendry’s NCO crew chief (played by Dewey Martin) steps into the face of Carrington with his M2 Carbine (an automatic version of the popular WWII weapon) and says quietly, “Doctor, you better move along.”
The finest portrait of Arthur Carrington comes at the end, when The Thing breaks into the last refuge of the humans, protected by a single, electric defense. Carrington of course, sabotages the generator powering the circuit, all the while babbling on about how bigoted and narrow minded the survivors were. He tells the survivors that their lives are not worth the fine creature clomping down the hallway.
"Keep away. Keep away. I won't allow you to destroy ..."
But he is overpowered, gently of course, and left unrestrained because he has his rights. Readers will by now recognize my familiar stock character from Dinosaur Island, who removes the firing pins from all Weatherby .460s of the exploration party because he's so convinced that T-Rexes are gentle creatures. It's Dr. Arthur Carrington, who is certain that monsters from outer space may menace and kill many, like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, but you see, they don't really mean it.
They don't really mean it is a kind of denial of volition in that which Carrington professes to admire. Third world humans are regarded by leftists like dinosaurs on lost islands: authentic in all but reality. In this last property they are held to be defined by the beholder's fantasy. In the final minutes of movie, Dr. Arthur Carrington breaks forward again and attempts to warn The Thing about the trap waiting for him.
"Listen, I'm your friend. Look I have no weapons."
"You're wiser than I, you must understand."
"Don't go any further, they'll kill you."
This "look I have no weapons" scenario is repeatedly re-enacted in politics today. For example, when Putin was dismembering the Ukraine, the president took care to rule out military force before he even decided what to do. Similarly, the first thing Obama said on learning that al-Qaeda was invading Iraq was to rule out the use of ground troops. While he might be right to avoid both these courses of action, the value of pre-emptively renouncing your most potent options is doubtful. Would you for example, declare to a home invader, advancing with a beheading knife:
"I want you to understand that I won't shoot you. In fact my gun isn't loaded. For that matter, I've blocked up the hammer channel with chewing gum. However I am considering other options to make you stop."
"I may decide to scream and exhibit my indignation. And if you push me too far I'll write you a letter."
It's fortunate for the human survivors that The Thing chooses this moment to twitch aside Carrington like an insignificant piece of meat before he can spill the beans. In some sense The Thing sees Carrington more accurately than he sees himself. Carrington sees himself as a god, for when he says, "you're wiser than I, you must understand," what he really means is that "I am wiser than you, Thing. I know what you will do."
Of course The Thing has his own point of view, which Carrington learns to his cost. But he is nothing deterred. One feels sure that could the character but rise from the floor without the assistance of his shattered limbs, the Doctor would again go straightaway to the aid of The Thing.
This surprise at the inability to respond to empathy was in evidence in the Bergdahl case. According to NBC news when the Taliban commanders found Bowe Bergdahl he was cursing his countrymen. If he thought that would win him any points, he found like Carrington that it elicited no sympathy with the Taliban at all. Subsequent reports say the Taliban clapped him irons and tortured him mercilessly, locking him in a metal cage in total darkness for weeks at a time.
Was he surprised? Did he expect they would be impressed by those phrases he learned? He probably expected a different welcome. Maybe there's a moral in there somewhere, though I leave the reader to determine what it is. Then there was the famous Robert Fisk, who sought to befriend the Afghan tribesmen and was thrashed within an inch of his life for his trouble. His conclusion? Fisk would have joined in beating himself up if only he could physically manage it.
They started by shaking hands. We said “Salaam aleikum” — peace be upon you — then the first pebbles flew past my face. A small boy tried to grab my bag. Then another. Then someone punched me in the back. Then young men broke my glasses, began smashing stones into my face and head. I couldn’t see for the blood pouring down my forehead and swamping my eyes. And even then, I understood. I couldn’t blame them for what they were doing. In fact, if I were the Afghan refugees of Kila Abdullah, close to the Afghan-Pakistan border, I would have done just the same to Robert Fisk. Or any other Westerner I could find.
It was the bag they were after, Fiskie. You were just holding it. If you're so keen on beating yourself, next time try setting your hair on fire and putting it out with a hammer.
If anyone doubts that real Dr. Carringtons exist in the world , one need only recall the curious case of the Christian Peacemaker hostage crisis in Iraq, 2005. It was about a bunch of nitwits, who like our Greenies on Dinosaur Island, decided to approach the T-rexes with bouquets of flowers.
The hostages were members of CPT's Iraq project, which began working in 2002, before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Their goal is to document and publicize abuses of human rights occurring in the country, especially in relation to detainees, and to advocate for peaceful solutions to conflict.
But if it was their plan to document the vileness of US imperialism the plan soon went seriously wrong.
The four had planned to visit the Muslim Clerics Association, an influential group of Sunni religious leaders formed in 2003 after the collapse of the former regime. They were about 100 metres from the entrance to the mosque where the meeting was to take place when they were abducted. Their driver and translator were not taken. ...
On March 10, the body of Tom Fox was found atop a garbage dump in Baghdad, killed by gunshot wounds to the head and chest. The hands of the corpse were bound together. CNN reported that Iraqi policemen claimed Fox's body showed signs of torture. [though this could not be independently verified]
Upon Fox's death the CPT released a statement of condolences, also asking that the world not "vilify or demonize others, no matter what they have done." They quoted Fox himself, saying, "We reject violence to punish anyone ... We forgive those who consider us their enemies."
On March 23, 2006, the three surviving hostages were finally rescued "by elements of 'Task Force Black' - the UK element from the joint special operations task group known as Task Force 88 ... supported by 'Task Force Maroon', a support unit made up of British paratroopers and marines. Joint Task Force 2, The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian Security Intelligence Service were also involved.". The "Christian Peacekeepers" appeared to have little charity for their rescuers.
CPT and the victims were criticized for their reluctance to thank the troops who freed them. Following the release of the hostages, CPT's initial statement omitted any expression of gratitude toward the soldiers involved, but issued such a statement 12 hours later, with their gratitude that no shots were fired during the mission. General Sir Mike Jackson, Commander of the British Army, told British Channel 4 news he was "saddened that there does not seem to have been a note of gratitude [from Mr. Kember] for the soldiers who risked their lives to save those lives". James Loney and Norman Kember later publicly thanked the soldiers for rescuing them. Harmeet Sooden issued a statement thanking the soldiers for saving him as well.
If they felt any real gratitude it did not extend to a willingness to testify against their abductors. "The ex-hostages also said that if they did testify, it would likely be only to plea for clemency on behalf of their captors." Thus the CPT abductors, like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, were free to kill again, which doubtless they have done, though one wonders if it bothers the consciences of these splendid gentlemen in the slightest.
Probably not. They possess a kind of supreme moral vanity which lifts them high above the plane of mortal men. In their ideal world they are legends in their own minds, fighting a lonely battle against the Man, who if not pre-emptively stopped, will sin again, against Marx, Engels and Patrice Lumumba. They profess to love The Thing because only lofty men can see The Thing is really "wiser than us". But one suspects that secretly they are scared sh**less that on one of these little escapades Task Force Maroon will leave them for dead.
Or maybe not. Perhaps it is all unfolding as Darwin intended. Maybe there is no solution for the Dr. Carringtons of the world except to watch them approach the dinosaur and let the reptile take care of it. But to hope that they should take heed? Like I said, with the Left it's double down until the end.
Recent items of interest by Belmont readers based on Amazon click-throughs.
Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.
The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small
No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.
Storm Over the South China Sea $0.99, how China is restarting history in the Pacific