Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Friday, June 10, 2005

I meant to link to this the other day. James Lileks can really write when he is on, or at least writing about something that interests me more than his afternoons with his daughter. I guess that is why he never became an every day must read for me, but it looks like his new Screed Blog may become just that.

Stories like these must be told, of course, if only to show what the media finds important, and remind us how good things are going. I can imagine in late 2001 asking a question of myself in 2005:

What’s the main story? The smallpox quarantine? Fallout from the Iranian – Israeli exchange contaminating Indian crops? A series of bombings in heartland malls?

"Well, no – the big story today has to do with soldiers mishandling terrorists' holy texts at a detention center."

Mishandling? How? Like, you mean, they opened it up without first checking to see if it was ticking, and it blew up –

"No, they handled it in a way that disrespected it. Infidels are supposed to use gloves."

Oh. So we lost, then.

Don't get me wrong. I want us to do the right thing. I don't think there should be a policy that permits interrogators to treat the Qur'an like it was, oh, a Bible discovered in the Saudi airport customs line. But when it comes to the revelations of these Gitmo tales, I cannot care as much as they would like me to care. I cannot. Not to say we should treat the Qur’an with casual disrespect. But if an infidel touches the book with the wrong hand and people react like a two-year-old whose peas are touching the mashed potatoes, well, I understand why this matters, but when measured against the sins of headchoppery and carbombs, it pales to an evanescent translucence. Odd how the story isn’t about the rules and the precautions and the spine-cracking efforts to bend over backwards to make sure infidels get out the tongs when approaching the sacred book of the terrori – sorry, the detainees - Sorry, the murderous gynophobic gay-hating fundamentalist theocratic cultural imperialists. No, the story is the infinitesimal number of times in which the rules were breached over the course of years.

I suppose it is a testament to our resilience that, in just a few short years most of us are just about back to pre-9/11 comfort level - at least in terms of our everyday concerns. If you'll recall, most of us didn't believe we would even get through the holidays of 2001 without another attack at home, in fact at the time that we would get hit again seemed like the only sure thing in the world. Yet, here we are almost 4 years later with no attacks on the homeland, but an enemy still out there determined to kill thousands of Americans. And we are focused on how we handle their books. That's a dangerous kind of complacency, one that leads to Lee Harris's forgetfulness.


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