Sunday, March 30, 2008

The New Black Plague


Plague: "Any widespread affliction, calamity or evil, esp. one regarded as a visitation from God; any cause of trouble or vexation." -- The Random House Dictionary of the English Language

It probably began in Central Asia and spread to Europe by the late 1340s. The total number of deaths worldwide from the pandemic is estimated at 75 million people; there were an estimated 25-50 million deaths in Europe. The Black Plague is estimated to have killed 30% to 60% of Europe's population. It may have reduced the world's population from an estimated 450 million to between 350 and 375 million in 1400.
And now it has returned in a new and even more virulent form...
it is called Islam.

A statement from Radarsite: I've reached my limit with Islam and Islamists. No more discussions. No more arguing with delusional or propagandist commenters; I'll just delete them. Actions speak louder than words and by their own actions the Muslims have defined themselves beyond refute. Islam is bound and determined to destroy our civilization -- not just some Muslims, not just some terrorists, but Islam itself; it is the Will of Allah. The time for debate has long past, they have killed it with their innumerable bloody acts. We must concentrate now on ridding ourselves of this parasitic evil presence in our midst. We must stamp it out and kill it. It is not a religion, it is not a movement; it is a plague and must be dealt with as such.

How can anyone support or defend a plague? You cannot reason with a plague, you can neither accommodate a plague nor appease it; you must eradicate it -- whatever it takes. First you must contain it; you must not allow it to spread. You must identify those who have been infected and isolate them from the rest of the population. Then you must systematically and ruthlessly root it out and destroy it.

This, I suggest, should be our new paradigm. The old one just doesn't work; it never really did.

Whomever came up with the idea of using the analogy of a War on Terror for our present troubles, as well-intentioned as they might have been, have in the long run done us a disservice. The parallel is inherently flawed, and people know it. People have a good idea of what war is, and this, whatever it might be, is certainly not a war. It is, admittedly, a tremendous societal upheaval, but it is not a war. As hard as we have tried to push this analogy on to the people, half of this country, and more than half of those people overseas, are just not buying it.

A war involves the movements of armies and navies, boundaries and maps. It presumes clear cut adversaries and allies. It is essentially a rather straight-forward contest between two or more combatants, usually (but not always) ending with the emergence of obvious winners and losers. During WWII, even as a kid I could quite easily follow the progress of the War on the maps on the front page of our daily paper. All you had to do was find the dotted line that separated the combatants: Yesterday the Allies were here and the Axis was there; and today the Allies have moved twenty miles to the east. Yesterday this particular island was in the hands of the Japs; today it is ours. Yeah!! This is the way we followed our War, on our maps; whether civilians or military, everybody had their maps. Kids had maps. The enemy had maps. This was how we -- and they -- determined success or failure. We followed the course of our War assiduously, until the flight of the Enola Gay once and for all obliterated our need of maps in that monumental conflict.

Even during that all-but-forgotten and quietly unpopular "Police Action", otherwise known as the Korean War, we could still rely on our maps to make some sense of it all. And in the end of course, everyone knew where the 39th Parallel was on that map of the Korean Peninsula, and they knew what it meant.

Then came Vietnam. And it soon became apparent that we could no longer follow the course of this confusing conflict on our maps -- at least not with that same ease and certainty we had before. The lines had become fuzzy and confused. Who was the real enemy, and where were they?

Today we are faced with one of the most deadly crises that the West in general and the United States in particular has ever faced. And our maps are of no value whatsoever. We are even less certain now who our real enemies are. Are they in this very room with us? Are they our new neighbors? How are we to tell who they are? And what if they don't yet know that they are our enemies? What if they have yet to declare themselves? If this is a War on Terror, then where the hell are the boundaries? Where is that dotted line?

No, I'm afraid that that inadequate paradigm just never really worked. It was unconvincing from the start. It was a bad idea.

So, it is time now for a new analogy, one that makes sense, one that we can believe in and use.

"Any widespread affliction, calamity or evil." What could better describe our present circumstances? We do not need our maps anymore. Not if we're fighting a plague."You must identify those who have been infected and isolate them from the rest of the population. Then you must systematically and ruthlessly root it out and destroy it." We do not need to worry about identifying our enemies; by their rhetoric and their actions those people afflicted with this deadly contagion will make themselves known to us. And then, all we have to do is act.

We can still act, can't we?

4 comments:

  1. "We can still act, can't we?"
    No. Not as nations. Our leaders have decided otherwise.
    Brilliant post, Roger.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Actually, that should read "masters", not leaders.

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  3. Churchill's ParrotMarch 31, 2008 at 10:12 AM

    Yet another fascinating observation my dear Roger! A plague. A plague of the spirit. Votaries often brag how "Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world." Your plague analogy would explain this quite well. Perhaps the West is afflicted with the early stages of this plague as well; symptoms of muddled thinking and moral torpidity, followed by "submission" - the alleged translation of "Islam." Most thought provoking indeed. Not to mention bloody disturbing!

    Cheers,

    Charlie

    ReplyDelete