[ a fully caused & embodied blog ] [ Good Sense Without God ]
It is in the prosecution of some single object, and in striving to reach its accomplishment by the combined application of his moral and physical energies, that the true happiness of man, in his full vigour and development, consists. Possession, it is true, crowns exertion with repose; but it is only in the illusions of fancy that it has power to charm our eyes. If we consider the position of man in the universe,—if we remember the constant tendency of his energies towards some definite activity, and recognize the influence of surrounding nature, which is ever provoking him to exertion, we shall be ready to acknowledge that repose and possession do not indeed exist but in imagination. - Wilhelm von Humboldt, The Sphere and Duties of Government (The Limits of State Action) (1854 ed.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Required Reading

Factual errors cited in cases against detainees (from 2006)
The US military's accusations against detainees at Guantanamo Bay contain factual errors and some easily disproved assertions, according to declassified records, raising questions about whether the US military has thoroughly investigated its cases against the roughly 400 inmates.

For instance, one detainee is accused of belonging to an Al Qaeda cell ``circa 1998," according to the summary of evidence prepared for his hearing. But Pentagon records show the detainee was born in 1986, making him 11 or 12 in 1998.

In another case, a detainee stands accused of attending a terrorist training camp in July 2001. But copies of pay stubs show he was a chef in London at the time.

The United States as Cho Seung-Hui: How the State Sanctifies Murder ("old" Arthur Silber post)
The similarities between Cho's psychology and the forces that drive United States foreign policy ought to be startling, and profoundly disturbing: the feelings of vulnerability, victimization, humiliation and rage are the same -- as is the determination to restore one's own dominance through violence and murder. But be sure you appreciate the the chronology and the causal chain that Lifton correctly identifies: just as Cho did not suddenly become a murderer on the morning of April 16, but only reached that awful destination after years of inexorable psychological development along one particular path, so too the United States was not instantaneously transformed into an unfocused, rage-filled international murderer after 9/11. As Lifton states, "The war on terrorism, then, took amorphous impulses toward combating terror and used them as a pretext for realizing a prior mission aimed at American global hegemony."

'Going Muslim' (it should be needless to say, but still I say it, that you can only believe I endorse this if you have read no other posts from this blog; in which case, go read another post from this blog)
The difference between "going postal," in the conventional sense, and "going Muslim," in the sense that I suggest, is that there would not necessarily be a psychological "snapping" point in the case of the imminently violent Muslim; instead, there could be a calculated discarding of camouflage--the camouflage of integration--in an act of revelatory catharsis. In spite of suggestions by some who know him that he had a history of "harassment" as a Muslim in the army, Maj. Hasan did not "snap" in the "postal" manner. He gave away his possessions on the morning of his day of murder. He even gave away--to a neighbor--a packet of frozen broccoli that he did not wish to see go to waste, even as he mapped in his mind the laying waste of lives at Fort Hood. His was a meticulous, even punctilious "departure."

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