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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Willful Blindness

I was talking with someone the other day who said to me, 'I know al Qaeda says they attack us because we have troops over there, but that seems implausible to most Americans.'

'Why, then, do you think they attack us?'

'I think they want to return to the 8th century.'

I see. It's plausible to think that al Qaeda members believe they can reverse 13 centuries of history, but implausible to think that they believe guerilla warfare might drive off foreign troops! And it's not like al Qaeda has done this before or anything! It's not as if they spent a decade in Afghanistan fighting the USSR, or anything like that.

This is immoral, willful blindness. Now, we all have our shortcomings and blind spots. (Well, not Wabulon, but you get my point.) However, it's one thing to overlook the fact, say, that your son breaks antennas off of cars. But it's quite a bit different when this blindness has alreay gotten a million people killed.

4 comments:

  1. It's plausible to think that al Qaeda members believe they can reverse 13 centuries of history, but implausible to think that they believe guerilla warfare might drive off foreign troops!

    I don't think the view of 'most Americans' cited and your own are at all obviously incompatible. For, they could be seen as identifying motivating vs. immediate reasons respecively. More specifically...

    'I know al Qaeda says they attack us because we have troops over there, but that seems implausible to most Americans.'

    One might interpret this as holding it implausible that simply having American troops stationed in one's country is a sufficient motivating reason to engage in some form of warfare against the US (perhaps the 'most Americans' in question are thinking of postwar Japan or West Germany here?). Qua reason, it is instead derivative (or so the claim goes) from a desire 'to return to the 8th century'. Prima facie, I guess that would be nicely supported with the idea that American troops in Iraq are homologous to Soviet troops in Afghanistan - each intervention being associated with a self-image of helping local 'progressive elements' to 'modernise' the invaded country by introducing 'liberal democracy' or 'people's democracy' respectively. To be fair though, I assume the cited 'most Americans' wouldn't find such a supporting thought appealing.

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  2. Man, Chris, don't be coming on my blog and using words like 'qua'. We don't talk dat shit in Brooklyn.

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  3. After your son (well, not one of _your_ sons, Gene) breaks off car antennas (yes, I know, we don't say "antennae" in Brooklyn), he pokes out people's eyes with em.

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  4. Anonymous7:15 PM

    I alwasys want to have a lot of gw gold and then i will give my friends some GuildWars Gold to make them strong. I like to earn the Guild Wars Gold and also want to get a lot of GuildWars money,sometimes i will get some cheap gw gold to buy some weapons.

    ReplyDelete