The Worst Mistake

| | Comments (3)

TSO makes an interesting and cogent point in this post from which an excerpt foloows:

But the Native American holocaust was a much bigger mistake. The Spanish-American war and the Mexican war were arguably much bigger blots on our record. And yet the ironic thing is that this war is seen as intolerable sin; a co-worker says some scholars say Bush will go down as the worst president in US history. I think whatever error we incurred with respect to Iraq is pretty mild compared to some of the errors of our past, such as slavery. I'm completely at a loss at how this war for an arguably good principle (overthrow of a despot) is somehow more obscene than taking other people's lives for a baser principle (land, power, money). That doesn't make this mistake right but the lack of perspective is astonishing. I feel far more squeamish about our use of the nuclear bomb in WWII than enforcing the ceasefire conditions Hussein repeatedly broke.

I think there is much here to think about, but what I wanted to reflect on wasn't the contention that we have done worse in the past, which I believe to be true, but the perceptions then and now, and why they give me hope.

I think TSO is right in our past blunders. The annhilation of the Native American, the long slavery debacle, and more debatably the Spanish-American War. But the reality is that in the past these were not regarded as blunders, and the people who undertook some of them were regarded as heroes. After the atrocities they committed in the Civil War, in which Sherman and Sheridan proved themselves, they were sent out to the west to commit even worse upon the Native Americans who were already near starvation and being crowded away off of traditional hunting and farming lands. At the time, the explanation, which remains in some part today, amounted to eminent domain. This land could be better exploited for larger numbers if only it were freed of this pesky nuisance.

Slavery was supported and preached about in the South, largely because the rice crop in South Carolina depended nearly exclusively upon the labor of slaves. Certainly, there was probably a good deal of special pleading in some of these sermons, but some were given by solid men of God who had a grave misunderstanding of what scripture spoke of.

Today we are embroiled in a war that could be called at best a mistake and at worst, according to Pat Buchanan (and I won't defend his opinion, because frankly, I don't know), playing into Osama Bin Laden's hands. Buchanan points out that 9/11 was all about getting us involved in a war like the one we launched in Iraq to our detriment, and eventual demise. I don't know that it will happen, nor does Mr. Buchanan seem to think it inevitable, but I think it has been shown that despite laudable goals, it was essentially an unjust war, and we are now reaping the whirlwind we have sown.

But what is wonderful about this is that so many are willing to speak up and express their disapproval. People are no longer being shoe-horned and steam rolled into accepting any party line. Where once we went along with slavery or went along with the annhilation of the Native Americans, now we protest a war some see as imperialist and others view as protectionist (of oil interests.)

I don't know if we are becoming more devisive, more aware, or simply tired of acting as policemen for the world. But I think it will help to promote a good deal more circumspection from those leading the country in the future. At least I pray so. And I think that this war has been very helpful in clarifying the concept of "just war."

For all of these reasons, I find the hue and cry heartening. It may not mean much of anything in the long run, but I hope that it is a sign of some slight maturing. Now, if we could just recapture any real sense of morality with regard to sexual matters and life in general, we might progress overall.

Bookmark and Share


Yes point well taken, but there was plenty of divisiveness before WWI & WWII too. Once we went to war there was mostly undividedness. Where we used to disagree vehemently and then come together for common cause once the decision was made, we now all consider ourselves individual decisionmakers and we now no longer come together for any common cause, for good or for ill. Some may pose that as a positive and some as a negative depending on our individual view of a given issue.

Dear TSO,

I think there is a stronger and more deliberate questioning of authority; however, when authority is seen in the right, there is generally not much disagreement.

For example, many people are upset about Iraq, but only the most rabid say anythng whatsoever about Afghanistan. And normally that is simply to say that we are in another one of those situations that admits of no easy out.

So, I think the right cause does bring us together, but we, as a people, are far less likely to be strung along on any particular trip--and I find that comforting as well. Perhaps, only perhaps, such a people would be more resistant to the idea of slavery, than our forefathers.

My question is, when do we stop confusing proper questioning of authority with unrestricted personal license? When will we begin to question the authority that tells us it is okay to have an abortion? Or that it is okay to have sex and children out of wedlock?

We are very resistant to some kinds of authority, but the authority of our vices is nearly never questioned.

Thanks for the comment.



I think TSO makes some great points. A few hundred years from now and even (hopefully, Kyrie Elieson) a few decades from now the perspective will no doubt be very different, and rightly so. But the mistake I am involved in right now is always the most important mistake, if you will, and I am not sure that that is inappropriate either.



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on July 30, 2006 5:41 PM.

How the Right Went Wrong was the previous entry in this blog.

Blogging Difficulties is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Blogroll