January 13, 2003

Battleships confide in me

Gary Farber writes an excellent, important post concerning the dead, military hardware, and proper regard for both. The controversy, such as it is, is over a beam from the World Trade Center that will be "melted down and used to configure the leading edge of the ship's bow of the USS New York" (here's an article about it). The reaction of some lefty-bloggers has apparently been to shriek "sacrilege!" (Links to their posts in Gary's post.) The attitude towards the new warship is one of fear and disgust -- you'd think the U.S. military was Sauron and the USS New York was a new Ring. Gary is sick of this attitude:

I can't help also be struck by the seeming presumption that, somehow, military hardware is singularly, inherently, evil, rather than mere inanimate object, able like any other to be used for good or ill, for the saving of lives or the unnecessary wasting of lives, unable to decide on its own, or take on any moral value of its own, but only a tool to be used at the choice of humans whose future actions we cannot predict and know not of.

This seems to me to be a dire presumption, and that there are leftists who make such a presumption is a critical part of what presently ails some of the Left.

There's more; read it all.

(Note: I went to leave a "thank you" note in Gary's comments but the comment that was already in their was yet another example of the wrong-headed, nasty-spirited, just-plain-hysterical crap that has driven me far away from the leftist end of the political spectrum. I let the commenter have it to the best of my limited abilities, but I am running out of things to say to these people -- who are often quite sane and reasonable on other subjects -- when they get this way. I can't let it just remain as "oh, they've got a bug up their ass," anymore, but I am losing the ability to respond coherently to some of the things they apparently believe are rational positions to take on an issue. It makes me feel like I'm the one losing my mind.)

Posted by Andrea Harris at January 13, 2003 12:24 AM

It's important to note that Avram Grumer, whose eloquent LiveJournal post I quoted, is a "leftist blogger," and very much a "liberal." And while I hate to be pinned down to a label, since I take my politics issue by issue in my own idiosyncratic eclectic way, when the time comes to round I'm the "liberals," I'll wear the armband.

It's no more reasonable to condemn all liberals or those of the left for the sins of the extremists than to claim, say, that all conservatives or libertarians are clones of Pat Robertson or Pat Buchanan or Ann Coulter. For that matter, while Patrick was clearly in a Very Bad Mood when he wrote that comment, he's generally an eminently sane and sensible, thoughtful, guy.

Lastly, it's my observation that there are basically a near-infinite number of both crazed leftists and rightists, all too many of whom have blogs, all too many of whom seem only to have knees to jerk, and cliches to spout, rather than brains to think with, and that neither left nor right holds a monopoly nor even a preponderance of, dare I say it, idiotarians.

I find both types equally annoying.

Thanks muchly for the link and lovely words.

Posted by: Gary Farber at January 13, 2003 at 01:52 AM

Nice article Gary.

And if I may say so, if I were one of those unfortunates to die in WTC, I think it would be pretty cool to have a piece of the building I was in put into a warship. It would give me a chance to get back a little bit of my own, posthumously.

But then again, I've been told that I'm not normal, this may just another of my barbaric thoughts.

Posted by: James P at January 13, 2003 at 03:37 AM

Well, I tried to qualify my statement when I said "some lefty bloggers." In truth, I really don't want to call them that -- they may not think of themselves as either rightwing or leftwing either, but I'm no good at coming up with sobriquets. I thought up "kneejerks" last night -- as in "another kneejerk squirts out a no-blood-for-oiilllll missive" -- but that seems in the light of day to be rather harsh, implying that they are always jerks. (I also should have said something about what Avram Grumer said, which was also very nice.)

But it seems to me that those who identify themselves as "liberals" politically are descending more and more into the same sort of nasty shrillness that turned hordes of people off on the Republicans back in the eighties and nineties; it turned me off anyway. I still am "liberal" in many of my beliefs, but apparently I must also be a sycophantic supporter of the Democrat party and all of its goals to be considered as anything other than someone who wants to steal money from babies and make black people into slaves.

This is becoming a low-caffeine ramble. I'lll just end with: that fact that Mr. Nielsen Hayden is usually, as you say, eminently sane and sensible, is one reason I went off on him. It was like: the hell is your problem? Especially after the trouble Gary took to write that post, etc., etc., and it does indeed look like ire from "the left" for saying such things as you (Gary) did is very real indeed.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at January 13, 2003 at 09:25 AM

Any leftist who thinks military hardware is bad should renounce the right of self-expression, which exists only because of military hardware.

Posted by: Steve H. at January 13, 2003 at 11:51 AM

Just in the bow of a ship? Big deal. We should have melted those twisted I-beams down and used the steel to make the shells of the bombs we dropped in Afghanistan. "YOU WANT A PIECE OF THIS?" would take on some real meaning. The ship's bow is anice touch, though.

Posted by: Chip Haynes at January 14, 2003 at 10:30 AM

On a historical note, all Victoria Crosses are still made of bronze from the Tsar's cannons captured by the British Army during the Crimean War.

Posted by: David Jaroslav at January 14, 2003 at 03:34 PM

The USS New York will not be so much a warship was a refuge for Marines. It will carry no armament except some rotary cannon and anti-sircraft missles. It's main purpose is to transport troops from point A to point B in resonable safety.

Posted by: David Rupp at January 14, 2003 at 10:14 PM


She'll be a warship rather than a merchant vessel. Per the law of admiralty, all oceangoing craft are one or the other (or pirates); even USCG speedboats are "warships" in this sense.

Posted by: David Jaroslav at January 14, 2003 at 11:10 PM

I was going to say something on Gary's blog also, but the comment software was down.

It strikes me that this aversion and revulsion by some on the left to military hardware is similar to their attibuting malevolent properties to other inanimate objects used in the home--guns. As Glenn pointed out in the Washington Monthly piece, the author writes as though the gun itself has agency--that the snipers were almost innocent bystanders.

It seems like a very primitive mode of thought--it's where the notion of civil forfeiture came from (in the middle ages)--the property is guilty of the crime, and is thus confiscated.

Posted by: Rand Simberg at January 15, 2003 at 05:42 PM

Okay, so a ship and a gun are just inanimate objects - glad you recognise that even if you do seem to find them oddly attractive. Now stretch your brain cells one stage further and ask yourself: what was this inanimate object created for? What is it's purpose? Why do we have it? The answer is 'To kill people with'. The weapons provide the agency.
Honestly, you sound like those morons that promote gun ownership. Long on emotion, short on common sense. You gave it away didn't you, Simberg? "..other inanimate object used in the home - guns." Yes, unfortunately they do get used in the home. Pity. Then again, if they weren't there they couldn't be used. And a fair number of people who have been killed would still be alive.

Posted by: Douglas at January 25, 2003 at 02:51 AM