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Bringing knives to a gun fight
Bringing facts to a debate where myths rule is pointless.
There were two fewer chairs at the Big GOP Table last night, but the Orange Throne was once again empty. Depending on which side of the Rorschach test you come out on, either Nikki Haley scored, or Ron DeSantis soared, or Chris Christie bored, or Vivek Ramaswamy called the Jewish president of Ukraine “a Nazi” (sadly, he did). They’re all bringing knives to a gun fight.
All the GOP candidates who were at the debate, except Vivek, supported Israel and aid to Ukraine. None of them went after Trump in a meaningful way. Perhaps they don’t want to provoke the legions of bots and trolls who prowl social media, blurting “cuck!” in a cruel mockery of actual Tourettes sufferers. Or maybe they don’t want to stir up the folks whose news diet consists of Newsmax and OANN, who listen to Tucker Carlson’s podcast for dessert. Or I suppose they are thinking, like so many Never Trumpers, the courts will do the dirty work and Trump won’t have a meaningful campaign.
But criticizing each other without acknowledging they are all badly trailing Trump, who was not there, is proof that myths and lies rule, where facts are irrelevant.
Outside the small, stupid world of modern candidate debates (at the presidential level at least), we find similar devotion to myth. Israeli police have collected eyewitness accounts of gang rape by Hamas terrorists, which was published in Haaretz. But people who want to justify Hamas’ actions are impervious to facts, believing a series of persistent myths about anti-Zionism, settler colonialism, and tropes about Jewish conspiracies.
American foreign policy has been reduced to a series of kneejerk reactions and platitudes. Our border policy is hypocritical, cruel, and non-existent at turns, and sometimes all three at the same time. We are like three-year-olds wielding F-35s and Tomahawk missiles, hurling them in whatever direction the latest challenge to our favorite toys comes from.
We have lost coherence. A friend of mine quoted a book by Thomas Merton (not sure which one), but it’s good enough to give a small excerpt from the large one he used.
When the whole world is in moral confusion, when no one knows any longer what to think and when everybody is running away from the responsibility of thinking, when man makes rational thought about moral issues absurd by exiling himself entirely from realities into the realm of fictions, and when he expends all his efforts in constructing more fictions with which to account for his ethical failures, then it becomes clear that the world cannot be saved from global war…
Even those who want to negotiate out of goodwill and do something about peace, will in the end be the most mercilessly reviled, hated, crushed, and destroyed as victims of the universal self-hate of man.
I don’t know how to say it better. Democrats and Republicans who reject facts exhibit this syndrome every day. They play hard to be the biggest victim, while crushing others and ultimately themselves under an avalanche of hate, and self-hate.
Quoting Jonah Goldberg quoting James Burnham: “Problems without solutions aren’t problems, they’re just facts of life. Or as James Burnham put it, ‘Where there’s no solution, there’s no problem.’” Goldberg was specifically referring to China’s CCP as an objectively evil government, racist to the core, undemocratic and soul-destroying, yet many people think Taiwan needs to be left to its fate. Some of that is true, that we can’t change China.
We also can’t change Hamas. Its charter and raison d’être is the destruction of Israel and the expulsion or murder of all Jews within its borders. Folks, that’s genocide. Israel might be wrong about a lot of policies, but it doesn’t stand for genocide. No matter how many Palestinians in Gaza die from this horrible war, Israel is not engaged in or even considering genocide (aside from fantastically stupid comments by certain Knesset members). Hamas stands for genocide, and literally little else. It is objectively evil.
Russia stands for empire and actual “settler colonialism.” Putin is objectively evil. Ukraine deserves America’s aid because we are not evil, and Ukraine is fighting evil. How simple can these moral questions get? But then again, some progressives in San Francisco and Philadelphia justify rampant shoplifting, property crimes, and violent drug-addicted homeless people as doing good. It’s objectively evil to leave people to die in the streets from a fentanyl overdose, or to force companies to close stores because everything gets stolen daily with no police protection.
And a bunch of Republicans stand on stage and justify the man who tried to retain power in a republic where for over 200 years, we never had a single instance of a coup (even counting the Civil War). They’ve brought butter knives to the gun fight.