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Dead Souls

Millions of us shuffle around, sighing that most of what we hear pounded into our brains is either banal or as untrue as it is dangerous to identify it as such. So we ignore it, we the dead souls who live in the world of unmentionable thoughts.

The world of banality

Here is a daily inanity: “The great majority of Muslims are moderates,” and its ancillary: “Only a tiny percentage of Muslims are terrorists.” Both are true, but they have value as admonishments only if there were a widespread Western effort to demonize Islam and persecute Muslims, or we knew that mass destruction required millions of conventional troops. But neither is true.

Last year anti-Semitic hate crimes far outnumbered attacks in America on Muslims.

Let us do some hypothetical math to suggest a small minority can be a very great worry. If the common referent of 1 billion Muslims in the world is roughly accurate, and if there are only, say, 10% of the number who are rather radical in their beliefs (e.g., the tens of millions in places like Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia), we may be talking only about 100 million Muslims who are indifferent to speaking out against terrorism (we saw that reflected in a number of polls after 9/11 tracking public opinion in the Middle East, in which only a quarter to a third of the respondents had a positive opinion of Bin Laden or the tactic of suicide bombing.)

And further if, of that 10% /100 million subset, only one in ten is actually sympathetic, or willing to offer aid, to terrorists, and if, among that population of about 10 million, another one in ten actually wishes to commit terrorist acts, then we would have 1 million Muslims worldwide to watch out for — or one in a thousand Muslims that might cause some worry.

In that context, I 'd prefer the other banality "not all Muslims are terrorists, but most of today’s global terrorists are Muslims"— given that terrorism of the age requires very few zealots. The miniscule .1% of the Muslim community as potential terrorists is quite a lot, given we never hear of the size of the pool from which we are postulating.

No military solution!

I heard this banality four times this week on the air and at two lectures: “There is no military solution!”

Well, yeah, of course, you cannot bomb or blow up your way to democracy in Iraq or Afghanistan. But who ever embraced that straw man as the sole answer in our ongoing wars?

The fact is that in both theaters only military action can demoralize the terrorists and insurgents enough to back off to allow ongoing diplomacy and so-called nation-building to proceed.

Iraq is fairly stable not just because of constitutional reform and Ryan Crocker’s inspired diplomacy or Gen. Petraeus's brilliant efforts to assure civilians hope and safety, but also because the U.S. military and the Sons of Iraq in the Anbar Awakening annihilated vast cadres of al-Qaeda and radical Sunni terrorists.

The history of war suggests gridlocked conflicts evolve to diplomatic solutions once one side fears losing or at least sees it cannot win. The banality of “there is no military solution” among today’s elites has become synonymous with either “we are losing” or “we want out.”

The unmentionables

Then there are the unmentionables that we dead souls carry around as well. All matters that even touch on race are good examples. The California papers are now heralding that the state’s schools have a majority of Hispanic students. But while that is good news to liberals who seem to see race as essential not incidental to larger society, it raises then some very uncomfortable corollaries for reporters — such as, is there any connection to why California’s once top-flight public schools have fallen to near dead last in test scores, given millions of non-English speakers?

Answers are offered in our major newspapers this week along the following lines. We are told in these articles that only 40% of Latino parents can vote (= if they could vote, would schools change for the better? And why did parents not take action to qualify to vote? And did not they already vote -- with their feet -- by the very fact they fled their homes to risk something entirely alien in the north?)

In order not to address those questions, an “expert” is introduced into the article to reference school board elections where noncitizens might vote (= if one does not follow the law, change it!). We are next reminded in these reports that few parents speak fluent English. Presto! -- another PhD is found to suggest that rather than illegal aliens learning English, California should learn Spanish (= if a century and a half of custom is bothersome, drop the custom).