August 20, 2003

Right-Wing Terror Apologism

Via Andrew Northrup I find this nasty little screed about yesterday's terror attack in Baghdad from Emperor Misha (in his own comments section), who likes to think of himself as an "anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler."

I am not "condoning" the attack, I'm merely stating what should be obvious to most people, in my ever so arrogant opinion:

When you play with hyenas (and the UN has being doing nothing BUT that ever since it hobbled out of the swamps), don't come fucking whining to me when the mangy, rabid beast turns around and bites you.

Excuse me, Mr. Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler. But you did just make excuses for terrorism.

Let's rerun this and replace just a single small letter.

I am not "condoning" the attack, I'm merely stating what should be obvious to most people, in my ever so arrogant opinion:

When you play with hyenas (and the US has being doing nothing BUT that ever since it hobbled out of the swamps), don't come fucking whining to me when the mangy, rabid beast turns around and bites you.

Worse than Noam Chomsky. At least Chomsky's language is clinical.

Most of Emperor Misha's audience seems to agree with him, judging by the comments thread. How charming.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 20, 2003 01:02 AM

When a guy uses the word "felching" more than once a day, it's a red flag not to take him very seriously.

Posted by: Dave Weigel at August 20, 2003 03:12 AM

The attack on the UN in Baghdad is like a modern day Operation Barbarossa, admittedly on a much smaller scale. The idealogical successsors of the Nazis (Islamist Arabs) have launched a "preemptive" attack on the idealogical successors of the Soviets (Tranzi UN).

Will the UN answer this wake up call? The moral bankruptcy of the UN makes nothing certain. Prior generations of Western socialists said little about Hitler until the the porch light they fluttered around was attacked. Contemporary socialists have been fluttering around the Islamist movement due to their common hatred of liberal free-market capitalism. Well, they just got bit by Churchill's crocodile.

Posted by: HA at August 20, 2003 04:24 AM

I tried to argue with them,all in vain.I thought the UN employees were there to help the Iraqi people,clearing landmines,improving health care and doing other humanitarian work.Apparently I was wrong.

Apparently,the people who died were war criminals and Nazis just waiting to get their just desserts.Because they were working for the UN,they were guilty by association of all the wrong things done by the UN,in the name of the UN,or by anyone who ever worked for the UN.

As Misha said,to compare the UN to SS was "unfair to SS."


Now that I've slept over it,I can see exactly what's wrong with these people.It's called Collectivism.Precisely,it's the idea that people are,first and foremost,members of their groups instead of being individuals.Instead of being just responsible for their own actions,they are collectively responsible for whatever any member of the group has done.

Therefore,"because of UN actions in Srebrenica and Rwanda,those people in Baghdad had it coming."
"Because some Jews cheat,the Holocaust was less of a tragedy."
"We hanged the wrong black man?Well,he must have been guilty of something."
"All Kulaks are bloodsuckers."
"By disagreeing with me,you are objectively Fascist."
"Liberals never fail to choose the side of treason."

I ditched the far left for the right because I could see how exactly that kind of tribalist,group-think was responsible for the Gulag and the Killing Fields.I wanted to choose the side of Reason,the side of Individualism,of the great project of Enlightenment (don't laugh).I wanted to choose the side of Thomas Jefferson,Thomas Paine and John Stuart Mill.

Alas,I wasn't entirely successful.*

*not that I'm becoming a leftist again,mind you.

Posted by: JH at August 20, 2003 04:48 AM

Sorry about the long post.But I was genuinely shocked at what occurred last night,and had to express my thoughts somewhere.Thanks for the space.

Posted by: JH at August 20, 2003 04:54 AM

Oh the wonders of society. Where audiences tend to voluntarily gather around that which they agree with.

What this town needs is an enema...

Posted by: Gaijin at August 20, 2003 05:12 AM

Good critique, Michael. While Gaijin has a point about most folk, mostly spending their on-line time with others who agree, there's plenty of alternatives available. For instance, AlterNet (or Indymedia) are available for any pro-war folk to get plenty of abuse, whenever the masochism comes over you.

Posted by: Tom Grey at August 20, 2003 05:47 AM

About a year ago, my (very conservative) family decided that any more than 3 rants a day was both unbecoming and evidence that you were unhinged. Misha never gives it a break, so I took him off my reading list. After reading the comments on his UN bombing post (one good guy in the crowd), I'm not putting him back. Good call, MJT.

Posted by: slimedog at August 20, 2003 06:55 AM

Michael - I don't understand what you're saying. Is it not possible to read the original comment as this: "When you try acting kindly to terrorists, don't be surprised if they kill you anyway." Isn't it valid to wonder whether the UN treats terrorist organizations with a light hand, as long as they're killing Americans and Jews, but then doesn't complains then a terrorist does not distinguish between victims?

But don't answer me yet. You might be interested in an article in today's NYT: Questions About Role Of World Agencies In Hot Spots. It contains an interesting quote:
[...] why has what one official called its "moral shield" become so porous?

[...] Mark Malloch Brown, the under secretary general for development, spoke for many at headquarters when he voiced a sense of betrayal, saying: "We do this out of vocation. We are apolitical. We were there to help the people of Iraq and help them return to self-government. Why us?"

Is it not fair to point out that the UN has arguably restrained Americans and Jews from fighting terrorism effectively, and that the only thanks they should expect for their humanitarianism is death?

Note also this:
He added, "This is another blow at the neutrality and the impartiality of the U.N. flag. Not since Count Bernadotte has a United Nations operation and its chief been targeted in this way." He was referring to the 1948 assassination of Count Folke Bernadotte, a Swedish nobleman trying to mediate between Israelis and Arabs, who was killed by Jewish radicals from the Stern gang.

In 55 years of UN history, did he need to go back all the way to Year One in order to find an equivalent act? Or does he bring it up just because it was a Jew, and it still sticks in his craw. The UN is an organization of questionable morality when it comes to fighting terrorism and defending human rights. I think it's fair to point out to the UN that their "neutrality" does not buy them a free pass among today's terrorists.

If you want to argue that this is or is not what Misha said, then one of us is going to have to ask him directly. Given what I saw on his site, despite the poor quality of debate, I still think the conclusion above is at least arguable.

Posted by: Hovig John Heghinian at August 20, 2003 07:10 AM

(Sorry for my editing blunder above. I think my meaning above is clear, but I'll rephrase: Isn't it valid to wonder whether the UN treats terrorist organizations with a light hand, as long as they're killing Americans and Jews, but then complains when a terrorist does not distinguish between victims?)

Posted by: Hovig John Heghinian at August 20, 2003 07:12 AM

Well Michael, you yourself said:

"Now that the UN has been hit, the fact-resistant might finally understand that these are the bad guys."

Count me among those who think Misha takes it too far, but his underlying premise is essentially the same as yours. Namely, the irony that this attack may finally get the UN and its fellow-travellers to understand that there are bad people in Iraq (and elsewhere) who will stop at nothing to spread their evil and that ignoring or, even worse, coddling up to them will not render you immune from their behavior.

Posted by: Hacksaw at August 20, 2003 07:13 AM

Good point. I was blaming the UN too, until I read your post.

The UN people there were trying to do right according to their own beliefs. And they were murdered for no good reason.

The fact that the UN has not helped the effort in Iraq as much as we might like is not a good reason to ignore innocence of its' employees or the guilt of the bombers.

Posted by: DeanT at August 20, 2003 07:35 AM

That post and the ensuing thread were utterly appalling. There may have in theory been some sort of defensible point in there somewhere but the effect of the original post and then multiple comments by the poster was nothing more or less than an apologia for terrorism, plain and simple, which I though was exactly the sort of lazy moral equivalence that those who use the "anti-idiotarian" label were seeking to repudiate.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at August 20, 2003 07:46 AM

Well Michael, you yourself said:

"Now that the UN has been hit, the fact-resistant might finally understand that these are the bad guys."

Yes, I said that. I said that because I thought that killing UN envoys and employees was self-evidently an evil act.

Well, I guess I got that wrong. Some right-wingers can still apparently side with fascists and terrorists as long as they pick the "right" target. I thought 9/11 changed that, but boy was I wrong.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 20, 2003 08:54 AM

Hacksaw,let's go over what Misha said in the comments:

"As to the mourning the dead:I mourn the poor hotel workers being blown to Hell by the Islamokazis,but that's it.

As to the Smurfs:They made their bed when they enrolled in a Totalitarian,Anti-Semitic organization,just like every last private in the SS did.I won't necessarily cackle with glee,but I sure as hell ain't gonna weep for the fucks either."

UN is just like the SS?Does that mean Sergio De Mello was Heinrich Himmler?Or was he a man like the Waffen-SS brigadefuhrer Jurgen Stroop,the butcher of the Warsaw Ghetto,the man who crushed the Jewish resistance in occupied Warsaw by burning down whole neighborhoods and sending the survivors to die in the gas chambers?What kind of sick fuck would even think there's a moral equivalence between the two?

What's the difference between this and some Indymedia freak claiming that Israel 'is just as bad as the Nazi Germany'?

Posted by: JH at August 20, 2003 09:15 AM

Hey, MJT, LGF's thread roundly denounced the bombing. Rottweiler used the same language and was slapped down, then he left and stuck to his own thread.
He was dead wrong, and most of LGF knew that. It was a profoundly stupid and hypocritical postion to take.
It wasn't a "rightwing" position, but unique to him and other immature simps.

Posted by: Bleeding Heart Conservative at August 20, 2003 09:18 AM


Let there be no doubt, the attack and the killing of UN personnel is both awful and evil. Moreover, unlike anti-war liberals, I will place no clause after that statement (as in "Saddam is evil, but ...). And, to be sure, comments like those by Misha and others are dismaying because no one should rejoice in the death of people who, no matter the failings of their organization, were only trying to help others.

Still, both you and Misha (and many others) proceed from the same observation, namely that this attack may force the UN to reassess its previous blindness to the very real threats in Iraq. Yes, Misha and others on his site use this to indicate (and perhaps revel in) the UN's comeupance as they might phrase it. You use it to hope that people will now see what they have been ignoring.

One has only to listen to what UN spokesmen were saying yesterday, expressing astonishment that they would be attacked because they are only trying to help the Iraqis (with a not so subtle implication that the US is not and therefore attacks on our troops are acceptable) to (1) understand the gulf in their understanding of the world and the reality of that world and (2) to share at least some of Misha's anger at the UN's sanctimony even in the face of this horrible reality-check.

Posted by: Hacksaw at August 20, 2003 10:36 AM

I looked at Misha's blog for the first time yesterday. I looked at Misha's blog for the last time yesterday. This person has difficulty differentiating between attack dogs and rabid dogs. Attack dogs know the value of a sincere growl is greater than the value of an unrestrained assault. Attack dogs do more by continuous watchful presence than by bloody mayhem. Rabid dogs get put down. Misha is foamin at the mouth.

Posted by: Patrick Lasswell at August 20, 2003 11:07 AM

Misha is actually a smart, pleasant fellow with a crazed-fuckhead schtick. Subtle moral distinctions are not on the menu at nicedoggie. He's like Ann Coulter in that he throws red meat to bloody-minded troglodytes and then pleads "irony" or "hyperbole". Guh.

That said, I don't see him making excuses for terrorism here, just condemning the UN's past complicity with tyrants and terrorists, and taking the opportunity to rub in some salt. At least, that's what I see if I give him the benefit of the doubt on the irony thing.

As to whether the UN is as bad as the SS, that's only one fence post from the truth. Had the UN existed back in the day, I'm sure they would have been most helpful to the SS. They certainly assisted the Mukhabarat when they could.

(By coincidence, if you follow that link you might notice I linked nicedoggie that day in February. If you poke around a bit, you'll find I can toss red meat with the best of them. I won't be pleading irony though.)

Posted by: dipnut at August 20, 2003 11:42 AM

Misha and his buddies had a party when good people died. It is beneath contempt, and it is not funny or ironic at all.

I see no difference between their behavior and that of Palestinians who cheer in the streets when Jewish babies are murdered on busses.

So what if he has a point about bad UN behavior? Lord knows the UN isn't my favorite institution. But the Baathists and/or Islamists attacked it because it is a symbol of the civilized international community, not because it's corrupt and ineffective.

And saying the UN is worse than the SS is not one fence post from the truth, sorry. Who was Sérgio Vieira de Mello, then? One fence post from Albert Speer? Come on.

We are part of the UN, too.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 20, 2003 12:29 PM

"Misha and his buddies had a party when good people died. It is beneath contempt, and it is not funny or ironic at all."

And, stepping back, that is the most important conclusion and even this member of the VRWC shares it. The UN deserves many things, but being blown apart is not one of them.

Posted by: Hacksaw at August 20, 2003 12:48 PM

Wait till Emperor Misha hears what my cousin's brother-in-law tells me: all the French UN employees stayed home yesterday!

Posted by: al-Jughead at August 20, 2003 01:12 PM

Who was Sérgio Vieira de Mello, then? One fence post from Albert Speer?


Here's Misha's logic: the SS was an evil organization, and therefore anyone who would join it had to be evil. In parallel, the UN is an evil organization, therefore anyone who would join it has to be evil.

I get off this train at the next-to-last station. Whatever its faults, the UN is perceived by many as a noble, humanitarian institution, therefore it is likely that people could choose to work for the UN out of humanitarian motives. Unlike the SS, the UN does not select for fanatical viciousness in the people who work for it (though a deep and abiding cynicism seems to be a prerequisite for high rank). Dancing on the graves of Sérgio Vieira de Mello or any of the other victims, is unjustified and indecorous.

And that's about as much passion as I can muster on the subject, because I share Misha's loathing of the UN as an institution. The UN has been very cozy with organizations bearing a striking resemblance to the SS. There may be no UN torture chambers or secret police, but the UN regards possession of such apparatus with complete tolerance if not outright approval, and has assisted their operation from time to time. This is the one-fence-post remove I refer to. And please, I did not say "worse".

In many cases the UN has helped to sustain (and in at least one case, created) the kind of sociopolitical climate that engenders terrorism. So there is a perverse sense of justice when the UN gets paid back in the same deadly coin it helped to mint. Perverse, because the UN is not a person but an institution, and because the suffering and death of the real people involved is not just.

Misha breezes right past this little difficulty, using the logic above. This is what I mean when I say that fine moral distinctions are not on the menu. Okay, so he's a boor, and I'm not laughing at his "irony". But neither am I deeply offended. Sigh, and change the channel.

Posted by: dipnut at August 20, 2003 01:34 PM

Update: if this is true, then de Mello was personally targeted, specifically for having done some good in the world.

That, I can muster some passion for.

Posted by: dipnut at August 20, 2003 01:54 PM

de Mello was personally targeted, specifically for having done some good in the world.

Yes. And that is why when I posted on this subject yesterday I assumed it was self-evident that this attack was monstrously evil, and that even the fact-resistant appeaseniks in the UN should be able to understand this at last.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 20, 2003 02:07 PM

It's not cool to deliberately target civilians, be they Israelis on a bus or UN aid workers in a hotel.

Posted by: Anticipatory Retaliation at August 20, 2003 03:45 PM

I started paying attention to international news about the same time that whole East Timor thing was going down: something about roads lined with severed heads on spikes.

Now it seems the same sick bastards who cheered that atrocity assassinated de Mello, for helping to stop the carnage. CNN says the prime suspects are a Qaeda affiliate, not Baathists.

This would put the UN in a more complicated position. We should hope the UN would realize: these terrorists don't care whom they kill, and appeasement is no way to safety.

But if this was an assassination based on a grudge against the individual, the UN might draw the conclusion: we have not appeased the terrorists enough. They might decide to purge the ranks of such as de Mello.

With this in mind, Kofi Annan's remarks give some cause for hope. But the guy needs an injection of fire-and-brimstone. Mostly he's on about how sad it all is.

Come on, dude! It's not like this was a frickin' tornado or something.

Posted by: dipnut at August 20, 2003 03:50 PM

I agree with you Mike, just charming.

Posted by: Dave at August 20, 2003 04:45 PM

I certainly don't see the guy apologizing for terrorists. What I see him saying is admonishing the UN for asskissing these evil bastards. The US wanted to add extra security for that meeting--the UN refused--they didn't want to frighten the nice terrorists. You sleep with rattlesnakes you may get bitten--happens in Israel all the time.

Posted by: Kat at August 20, 2003 04:45 PM

I see that its entirely wrong of Misha to be smug and so insensitive to the death of UN workers.

UN politics has been disgraceful and upsetting to many Americans, but that issue pales in comparison to the fact that they humanitarian workers were mass murdered. Nobody deserves that. A friend of mine was offered her first job in international law as an intern with the U.N.

Despite her personal politics, or the politics of the organisation, nothing justifies or excuses such an abhorent primitive act where she would be murdered.

On a wider note, what do we actually know of the terrorists who commited the act ?

I am pretty sure it was the usual jihadis, perhaps from another country.

Perhaps the UN was the only soft target considering US soldiers had good security.

Either way, it should serve as a wake up call to the fact resistant.

And it destroys the idiotic notion that terrorists do not draw a line in the sand and stop being terrorists once you address a certain number of demands.

Posted by: Jono at August 20, 2003 07:40 PM

The primary goal of the so-called "resistance" is to make Iraqis miserable, which is why they keep cutting the power lines in August. The UN is there for humanitarian purposes. So it is a target because it is trying to do good.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 20, 2003 08:12 PM

I spent some time today trying to find some reporting on what the reaction of the Iraqis themselves is to all of this, and came up empty. Is it because there is no reaction, because the journalists on the ground don't bother asking, or because the major media here doesn't pick up the story? Some combination?

Posted by: Christopher Luebcke at August 20, 2003 10:52 PM

I don't know, Christopher, but if I find out I'll post about it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 21, 2003 12:51 AM

Terrorism exists because terrorism works.

Terrorism works because the UN (among others) rewards the terrorists.

The UN rewards terrorists because the UN sympathizes with the terrorists. It winks and nods at what they do while mouthing a few platitudes against it.

Michael, nobody wants to see innocent people killed. But the fact is that the UN has been an enabler of terrorism. You can't refute this.

The UN didn't unleash the dogs of terrorism, but they did NOTHING to stop it. Although nobody should gloat at the UN being attacked, nobody should be surprised to see them reap what they sowed.

Posted by: HA at August 21, 2003 03:59 AM

Terrorism works because we allow terrorism to work. If we decide to give no sanctuary to those who violate our sanctuaries they will beat themselves to death. This will not be easy and it will cost our people's lives. If we decide instead to yield to the rule of fear, it will not be easy and it will cost our people's lives.

The problem is the yardstick, there is no convenient and accurate measure of the will of our enemies to continue the violence. Even worse is the problem that it is the duty of the administration to conceal any such accurate measurement in the interests of protecting our troops. Although it causes the press anguish, I love the paucity of leaks. Sorry, I'd rather our troops be effective than have my idle curiosity satisfied. If I was seriously curious, I'd be there finding out for myself.

Posted by: Patrick Lasswell at August 21, 2003 10:21 AM

I think that the resistance's* target of making the lives of everyday Iraqis miserable is a means, rather than an end.

*the Iraqi resistance, at this time, is composed mainly of really really bad people.

Posted by: Kimmitt at August 21, 2003 11:31 AM

Michael: Excellent example and you are absolutely right to point it out. That's all I wanted to say.

Posted by: Name: at August 21, 2003 11:31 AM

Well, Salam Pax has already posted about the bombing. But you're right - I also noticed the absence of Iraqi opinions on it.

Posted by: George at August 21, 2003 01:54 PM


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