Monday, September 25, 2006

One of the (many) reasons I never ever watched Dan Rather was his absurd way of closing each broadcast with the single word "courage." It always seemed silly and pretentious in a way I couldn't put my finger on, until I read this blog post by Harry Hutton, via Wretchard.

A friend of mine –he's a Colombian politician in a small town- receives frequent death threats. Last year he denounced the paramilitaries for skimming a percentage off public contracts, and there’s a strong chance that he'll now be murdered (they've already tried once). He thinks they might try to abduct him.

I'm going to order him a copy of On Becoming Fearless by Arianna Huffington, in the hope that it will inspire him as much as it has inspired American women. It isn't easy being a multi-millionaire in California, and Arianna has shown real courage in standing up against the detentions and disappearances that go on in Beverly Hills, not to mention the gossip columnists, intimidated by the idea of a strong, independent woman.

I even heard someone praise Andrei Agassi's courage the other day. They thought he had been very brave to keep playing tennis all these years, when a lesser man would have retired and opened a pub.

The point is, there's courage and there's "courage." For some reason the culture seems to throw the word around like candy, with the effect, intentionally or unintentionally, of making the term meaningless. If everyone is "courageous," then no one is.

And there's a corollary: If courage no longer has a meaning, then neither does cowardice. I thought of this when I read today's New York Post:

THERE'S a good reason why the four authors of the upcoming book I Hate Ann Coulter! are remaining anonymous - they're afraid for their safety. "None of us want our real names in the hands of gun-toting, abortion clinic-bombing, self-proclaimed 'wing nuts.'"

You see, we are supposed to believe that there's no difference between these guys, and, say, the Muslim apostate Ibn Warraq, who writes under a pseudonym because his beliefs on Islam would get him beheaded. Because, you know, the Christian Right is exactly the same as Islamic fundamentalism and all. Yes, yes, yes, let's remind ourselves again: Christians are no different than Muslim terrorists. No difference at all, no siree.

Now don't you feel more courageous already for saying that?

Monday, September 11, 2006


Another 9/11 anniversary and they still won't show the jumpers or bodies from the World Trade Center. Because of sensitivity.

I thought of this as I watched Spike Lee's recent four-hour HBO Hurricane Katrina documentary, where one of the segments ended with a five-minute montage of floating, bloated dead bodies.. Why is it that sensitivity isn't an issue with Katrina victims?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

ABC's The Path To 9/11, at least the first 3/5ths of it, is gripping and effective drama. The apparent edits that have been made in the face of threats from Democratic members of Congress don't really affect the essential, and very powerful, criticism of the Clinton Administration that the show is. In particular, the mundane facts of the two great anti-terrorism successes of the Clinton years belie the standard wisdom that credits the Clintons with the capture of WTC bomber Ramzi Yousef and the foiling of the millennium bomb plot. Both incidents, as the series makes clear, were the result of individual initiative by low-level officials, not any kind of policy. It was another example of Bil Clinton's amazing lucky streak holding true.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I have been even more ridiculously busy than usual the last few weeks, what with a little ebay experiment I've been attempting (putting 100 better items up on the same day to see what the upper limit I can make in a day is), and a few mishaps (including a trip to the emergency room after I walked into a piece of glass from art that I was unframing and needed five stitches in my calf--don't ask). But I had to write about this DU thread. Normally 9/11 conspiracy idiots only make me angry, but every time I look at or even think about the guy's basic concept, it makes me giggle. The total disregard for the most elementary rules of physics is on one level breathtaking, and on another hilarious. It's like a Monty Python skit brought to life.

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