Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Israel, the Washington Post, Snarling Dogs, and Proportionality




“Say to the nations far and wide: “Get ready for war! Call out your best warriors! Let all your fighting men advance for the attack! Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Train even your weaklings to be warriors.”


Nancy and I just got back from a couple of days in Kansas City. It was a nice getaway. We alternated between getting things at her mother’s place organized and celebrating Nancy’s birthday. Both were done in grand fashion. Yesterday morning we sorted through boxes and boxes of post cards, photographs, letters, books, magazines, and other memorabilia. There were several treasures unearthed in the process – a Bible printed in 1873, five or six late nineteenth century daguerreotypes from Switzerland, Nancy’s ancestral home, three shelves of old “Organic Gardening” magazines, and several post cards from one branch of Nancy’s family to another dated 1903.

On Monday night Nancy’s mother took us all out to dinner. For James, Nancy’s developmentally disabled brother, it was a something special. He ordered a steak in honor of Nancy’s birthday and when it got to the table he got right to work. While he has a few problems using a knife, he has very nimble fingers, so, when the knife didn’t cooperate he just ripped the meat into small pieces by hand. I didn’t notice whether or not any of the restaurant’s more genteel customers were offended by what they saw, but if anyone had said something I was prepared to tell them that since James was a paying customer it would be best for them to focus on their own food and manners. At any rate, when he was done he pronounced that “This is the best steak I’ve ever had.”

Last night Nancy and I had dinner at McCormick and Schmick’s on the Country Club Plaza. The sea food (sea scallops and mahi-mahi) was pricey, but outstanding, easily justifying our decision to eat there. We just figure we won’t have to eat at Applebee’s, Emporia’s version of haute cuisine, six or seven times in the next couple of months and everything will even out.

On the way home this morning we recapped our visit to Kansas City, going over the good things that took place. Nancy’s mother and brother seem to be quite excited about the potential of moving to Emporia. Then, somewhere around Ottawa Nancy switched gears, mentioning in passing that there is a commonly held belief among liberals that Volvo is “their” car. We both found it quite amusing, especially since we’re on our second Volvo since 1997. “I wasn’t aware that Volvos are built with left-leaning politics as one if their standard features,” I chuckled. “I just thought it was a bunch of metal, plastic, glass, rubber, and other components fashioned into an automobile by blue-collar workers somewhere in Sweden.”

About an hour after I got home I went through my e-mail and got caught up with my reading. One of the first pieces I read was Eugene Robinson’s “It’s Disproportionate.”
It seems that the peacemakers are at it again, assuming their the only ones noble enough to want peace, blaming the victim for the attack, once again calling Israel’s response to Hezbollah disproportionate. It also seems that many in the media, particularly the media east of the Mississippi, are, like Robinson, calling for Israel to stand down. They’ve all but said that Israel must beat the swords into plowshares. The problem with their position is that the plowshare, as well as the sword, often cuts two ways.

Upon reading Robinson’s piece I came to the conclusion that he must be, by liberal definition, a Volvo owner. After lighting in to George Bush for his table manners and back rubs, he, as is the wont of America’s left, got down to brass tacks, as the following excerpts demonstrate:

“Bush's endorsement of the violence that Israel is inflicting on Lebanon -- a sustained bombing campaign that has killed hundreds of civilians and can only be seen as collective punishment -- is truly astonishing. Of course Israel has the right to defend itself against Hezbollah's rocket attacks. But how can this utterly disproportionate, seemingly indiscriminate carnage be anything but counterproductive?”

“The Israeli campaign is so intense and widespread that it is creating more terrorists than it kills. Proportionate military action might have enhanced Israel's security, but video footage of grandmothers weeping amid the rubble of their homes and bloodied children lying in hospital beds won't make Israel more secure. Hezbollah's stature in the Arab world is growing, and its patrons in Damascus and Tehran must be smugly satisfied.”

Robinson appeared to be quite proud of his piece, so much so that I think he must have been thinking, “This is an opinion only a peace loving Volvo owner could hold” as he typed the last word.

Perhaps I’m a bit conflicted (I own a Ford Ranger in addition to a Volvo), but I still maintain that a peace loving Volvo owner can sanction Israel’s response to Hezbollah. I’m not from the school of thought that posits the insane notion that Israel’s response to terror is creating terrorists. I’m more from the Richard Cohen School in that regard. I’m beginning to wonder if there isn’t a hint of anti-Semitism in the calls for Israel to stand down:

“The dire consequences of proportionality are so clear that it makes you wonder if it is a fig leaf for anti-Israel sentiment in general. Anyone who knows anything about the Middle East knows that proportionality is madness. For Israel, a small country within reach, as we are finding out, of a missile launched from any enemy's back yard, proportionality is not only inapplicable, it is suicide. The last thing it needs is a war of attrition. It is not good enough to take out this or that missile battery. It is necessary to re-establish deterrence: You slap me, I will punch out your lights.”

I wonder what kind of car Cohen owns. It couldn’t possibly be a Volvo. Only peace loving liberals own them.

The more I thought of Robinson’s op-ed the sillier it sounded. I can only imagine how proportional he would be if the Washington Post canned him for bad writing. He’d be driving that Volvo all around town demanding justice. He’d be going from NBC to MSNBC to the ACLU or any ambulance chaser he could find to take his case. He’s no more for proportionality than I am for Saddam Hussein’s politics or social engineering.

This is the type of proportionality I subscribe to. Sometime back in the early eighties I was living in Kansas City. I’d just gone through a difficult divorce and was trying to put my life back in order. One of the stress relievers I had then was my morning jog. I was renting an apartment near the Kansas City Museum, in the northeast district of the city. One cold December morning I was out making my rounds. After about an hour I made my way back home, and as I jogged through the park adjacent to the apartment building I heard a menacing sound, a dog’s barking getting closer and closer by the second. I stopped and looked back and saw a German shepherd, teeth bared, drool flowing from his jowls. Realizing that the dog meant business, I froze in my tracks and adopted a defensive posture. My knees were knocking, my heart pounding, my body tingling. The dog stopped about five or six feet in front of me, growled menacingly and got back on its haunches, in attack mode. One of the things that was very clear to me was that I had little I could do to defend myself. The dog was quicker than me, his teeth were sharper, and he was prepared for the fight. “Go home,” I shouted, thinking that noise would deter him. I needn’t have bothered. The dog just keep inching its way toward me as I tried to back away from the confrontation. Then, my salvation came. I heard a woman’s voice. “Stay,” she ordered. “I am,” I reassured her.
“Not you,” she said. “I’m talking to Wolfie.”
“Is Wolfie yours?” I asked.
“Yes.”
“Do you have a leash for him?”
“You don’t need to worry about him; he won’t hurt you.”
I looked at Wolife’s snarling face and looked at his master, trying to discern who was telling me the truth. I determined that it was Wolfie.
“Get your leash and get your damned dog away from me,” I demanded.

Later that day I went and bought a can of pepper spray. The next morning I went out jogging, the pepper spray in one hand and my Louisville Slugger, Nellie Fox model, in the other. At the tail end of my run, in the park where the previous day’s confrontation had taken place, I felt much more confident than I had the day before. “Here, Wolfie,” I called out. “Come’ere big boy, Mister Phil has a present for you. Come and get it.”

Wolfie never did appear again, but if he had I can assure you that this Volvo owner would have slapped him up side his snarling head with my right hand and peppered his beady eyes with my left before he knew what hit him.

That’s my practical view of how proportionality should work. Folks like Eugene Robinson seem to think there are better ways. I don’t believe them for an instant. It’s easy for them to be for peace when the dogs aren’t snarling at their doors. What they forget in their ivory tower perches is that Israel is facing snarling dogs bent on attack. I suspect if they’d come down from their safe places they might just encounter a snarling dog or two themselves and change their tune.

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2 comments:

Mike Dillon said...

On the subject of snarling dogs, I have recently moved as you know, and started a walking routine. Every morning I take my dogs, Mojo and Alabama, on leash and we walk twice around the neighborhood. Since our first walk in May, to this day, we have been harassed by the neighbors dogs. There is no leash law where I live so my neighbors usually let their dogs roam free. Each day Mojo, Alabama and I try not to get attacked and each day we face the snarling dogs. I haven't quite gotten to the point of pepper spray, I think simply because of my love of dogs in general, but I'm getting there. See the problem is, I have talked to my neighbors and just like the lady in your blog, they keep telling me to ignore the dogs and they will not harm me. However, the dogs and their snarling tell a different story. To further complicate matters, I own a pit Bull. Contrary to popular belief, he is a sweet and gentle dog. In fact he sits calmly in the face of the neighbors dogs as they come charging with teeth showing. He does not want to fight but he will if forced to. The problem is, if he does get in a fight with these other dogs I can tell you that even though he was on a leah and was attacked, it will be my dog on the front page of the newspapers and my dog that is punished or euthanized. I think you are right, the problem of disproportionality is only a problem when you factor in anti-semtism or in my case prejudice against a particular breed of dogs. That's the problem the Israeli's face.

James Fletcher Baxter said...

Isn't it likely (probable) that the 'disproportion' group is governed by personal cowardice? I think so.

Again, compromise is not a virtue - it is a compromise of virtue. Halfway between principle and abuse is abuse. Cowards submit their 'OK?'

The liberal men of words cannot repair to action. Words will have to do.

Freedom's enemies read them well - and always have. They have no vision for the rest of us.

semper fidelis