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Tuesday, May 23, 2006 | The current mood of DuctapeFatwa
The Woes of the Atrocity Apologist

The world has some dirty callings, but those who are charged with the defense of atrocities win the "hard row to hoe" contest hands down.

These days, they are usually Americans, defending American atrocities. It's not that people from other countries never commit atrocities, just that at this particular time in history, Americans have effectively cornered the market and nobody else can get an atrocity in edgewise.

In fact, America has become so defined by atrocity, such a leading global producer that it is hard to imagine why anyone would see the need to go out and defend them. Or send someone to.

As usual, it is the fault of the internets. While almost nobody would be stupid enough to go into a crowd of Americans and criticize their atrocities unless they had their heart set on suicide by angry mob, on the internets, where the angry mobs are forced to sit helplessly by as American atrocities are roundly condemned and criticized from everybody from survivors and their families, to even the odd American of black and traitorous soul.

The villain, one must remember, is always the person who asserts that no, he or she would not commit an atrocity. Not if they were young, not if they needed relief from stress, not even if they were to receive a financial benefit or honorarium of some kind.

Self-righteous moralistic arrogant scum! To suggest that they would not slaughter infants, shame white haired granny and pre-teen girl alike, even if they believed another country had disobeyed America?

That is just nonsense. They haven't been there so they don't know what it's like.

When the villain is not American, this last argument is not so frequently invoked. Atrocity defenders are no fools, and while they may be able to occasionally hit a nerve of one of their countrymen with the you don't know what it's like mallet, hmm, well, let's just say it may be wiser to change the strategy a bit when confronted with a non-American opposer of atrocity.

One of the more popular methods of atrocity defense requires no argument at all, merely pointing out to one's listeners how awful it was for the poor perp, being forced to commit all those atrocities, how they just never were the same, not quite right, really, and they didn't get the help they needed from the government either!

Conveniently in the bizarro world of the atrocity apologist, the survivors are mercifully free of any unpleasant sequelae, and are exactly the same as they were before the atrocity, and just in case they should in later years, suffer stress, the entire US government stands ready to spare no expense to help them recover from being on the receiving end of America's world-famous atrocities.

Of course it is human nature, this justification of the most horrific atrocities, it is a combination of the primitive spirit of tribal loyalty, coupled with a natural defensive mechanism. But it goes deeper than that.

What the atrocity apologist reveals about him or herself is an uncertainty about his own identity, his own sense of personal responsibility, his own moral absolutes, lack thereof, or uncertainty about the existence of same.

Most people do share some basic moral absolutes, and Milgram notwithstanding, most people do have the capacity to simply refuse to do certain things, or even put themselves in a situation where these things would be demanded of them, even if a financial benefit is offered.

While many may have a limited ability to suspend reason to the extent necessary to enjoy a fairy tale, or a movie about spaceships from far galaxies or hobbits or wizard academies, and may also be able to extrapolate this suspension to more serious situations, such as the pronouncements of a politician or warlord, and out of that same ability that believes in wizards for two hours in a darkened theatre, because he has a very healthy need to take a break from reality for a while, and indeed benefits from that break, and that enjoyment, he believes "evildoers who hate freedom" because not to do so may require the processing of ideas that are simply emotionally unbearable, but he will in most cases, stop short of allowing that soothing belief to carry him into a situation where he must commit an atrocity or die.

Such a situation does not occur instantly, and the choice one makes in such an extreme moment is only the final step of a journey of many steps, many choices.

It is not unlike the decision that most of us make every day to go to work instead of simply hitting a smaller person over the head and taking their money, or renting out the bodies of our children. Even if fear of societally-imposed consequences plays a part in that decision for some, for many individuals, those "easier" choices would not be possible even if there were no chance of being arrested or put in jail. These things are simply not compatible with their moral values, moral absolutes which will not be breached regardless of the circumstances.

So what if someone we love, a family member, a dear friend, commits an action which violates our own moral absolutes? How will we reconcile our love for this person, our sense of being, with this person, a part of some shared larger entity, so much one with that person in some ways that his action becomes part of our own experience, and indeed, if he and I are both part of that larger entity, does his action not now become part of what that entity is? Part of what we are? Part of what I am?

That is the very natural enotional reaction, even beyond emotions, it triggers within us a "fight or flight" instinct: we must either fight - not only against those who condemn the actions of our loved one, or even remind us that those actions have crossed our own moral absolutes, but against ourselves.

In order to protect the part of ourselves that is part of that larger entity, and part of that loved one, we must fight the knowledge that we would never rent out our child's body for money, or hit an old lady on the head and take her purse. No matter what the situation, no matter what pressures we might be under, we simply would. not. do. that. No way, no how. We do not have to think about it, we do not have to examine any factors. It is that self-knowledge that we must fight against, in order to keep intact our sense of belonging to that larger entity, our sense of belonging and partofme-ness that we feel for our loved one.

The other choice is flight. Flight from the larger entity, flight from the loved one. Flight into what? That entity, that loved one, is all we know, it is part of us, our identity. If we renounce it, what will take its place? What will we be part of then? And is it not also against our moral values to abandon our loved one in his time of need? See how he suffers! He will never be the same. His terrible choice, his sin, if you will, is now and forever a part of his own identity, it will define him. And, a voice inside our heads reminds us, it will forever define that larger entity of which we both are part, it will forever define OUR OWNSELF!

And so the atrocity apologist has not taken up his grisly mantle thougtlessly. Like the perpetrator he defends, he too has travelled a long road, grappled with impossible choices at every turn.

So it is with each one of us, when we choose whether to confront the apologist, or ignore him. Whether to take his hand and become a link in the chain, or stand apart, and thereby rend the bond of our own belonging, with him, to that larger entity. Even though neither apologist nor perpetrator be of our family, our tribe, nation, culture, they are nevertheless of our kind, our species, and so we each must withstand or succumb to the ripple of the atrocity, we each must face our own impossible choice of fight or flight.

Each of us must decide if we are with him, and the perpetrator, or with his victim.

Is there, then, no middle ground? Can we not "empathize" with the victim, and "disapprove, but not reject" the atrocity itself, the perpetrator and the apologist?

Perhaps superficially. We can certainly grasp at that as our own "defense mechanism" because that fight or flight choice is so wrenching. But like all stopgaps, that is only a temporary measure, only a way to buy some time, and what we hope will be an emotional distance from the horror of it all. That hope, however, is doomed. Sooner or later, we must face ourselves, and acknowledge our own moral absolutes, or lack thereof, because it is that which will place us into the entity of which we are truly a part, and for all we may plant our feet firmly in the other camp, it will, sooner or later become evident that we do not belong there.

But are not all men capable of - ?

No. Thank whatever God believes in you, all men are not. And should "flight" win your fight, should you remove your amulet, turn in your code ring, and through your tears, walk away from a larger entity that simply no longer includes you, and feel yourself falling alone through the void, there are hands who will catch you, arms which will embrace you, and hearts that will welcome you to the family, the tribe, the nation, albeit without borders, to which you have always belonged. :)

posted at 6:48 AM

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Actions like Sep 11 do not happen in a vaccuum. Long before those hijackers ever stepped foot on the planes the damage had been done. They were brainwashed with the same type of garbage propaganda that is spewed from Fatwa's weblog.
Middle Eastern countries are so much more barbaric today and preAmercia than America can ever hope to be...America has only been around 230 years...who did you blame for everything before that Ductape? I am calling a Fatwa on your bullshit!
IMO - terrorist plain and simple. He is an Al queda operative who should be put in a cage on gitmo
My favorite..."In Defense of Holocaust Deniers"
I always thought that "The Enemy Within" was just a metaphore for liberalism, that is, until I encountered Ductape Fatwa. He should be in an orange jumpsuit for sure.
ductape is either a commie, al queda, or a deep cover mole
Tells you something about this asshole doesn't it. He's really serious.
I believe that DF is nothing but a Republican plant...
Ductape is a commie, a terrorist, and he drinks blood too. He drinks Capitalist blood. He eats unborn babies too
Give me your address and I'll send you $20 and a thank-you note for taking your hatred elsewhere.
A terrorist with a sense of humor!
He ain't nuthin' but shit
Jim Sagle

inadequate, halfway house bullshit
Arthur Gilroy
You are a dumbass. Fuck you and your condescension about us "benighted sheeple."
Untruthful, damaging bullshit
John Locke
no better than the neocons and no different than Timothy McVeigh space
a turd in the punchbowl...if DF were Joe Hill he probably would have killed himself rather than get put to death.
A compost pile of fecundity
despicable and literally mentally ill