August 28th, 2010

Carnivorous sheep

In Adam Gopnik’s lengthy piece on Churchill in the New Yorker, he writes:

For Churchill always thought in terms not of national interest but of a national character that could trump interest. The Germans “combine in the most deadly manner the qualities of the warrior and the slave,” he said firmly. “They do not value freedom themselves and the spectacle of it in others is hateful to them.” Or, as he put it more succinctly, “They are carnivorous sheep.” We do not think this way anymore.

Not about the Germans, we don’t. But doesn’t it strike you as a rather apt description of much of the Arab world?

Not all people in a culture conform to the description of the group of which they are members, of course. But cultures do have basic characteristics that can be generalized about, and PC-thinking blinds us to certain truths that we ignore at our peril.

80 Responses to “Carnivorous sheep”

  1. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Not all do.
    “So you’re saying all Muslims are….”
    Nope. Few people say anything like this.
    Question is not whether it’s “all” but whether it’s “sufficient”.

  2. F Says:

    “Carnivorous sheep?” No, I think of them more as carnivorous demons.

  3. Tatyana Says:

    That applied to Germans: nation over-disciplined by civilization. Muslims are an entity united by opposition to civilization.
    Carnivorous – yes, certainly. But they are fundamentally savages in Western clothes.

  4. Bob From Virginia Says:

    I would agree that the term “They do not value freedom themselves and the spectacle of it in others is hateful to them.” is applicable to Arabs somewhat, but not predominant. Hate, simple all encompassing hatred of the other, some other tribal, religious grouping, Jews and Israelis of course, Americans, anything to remove the stigma of knowing that their culture is one of constant failure, strikes me as the outstanding feature of Arabic society. To put it another way, the Arab world is what is left when civilization dies.

    To compare the Arab world with disciplined orderly German society is a stretch, even if the Germans were either at your feet or at your throat”.

    See works of Prof. Barry Rubin at the Rubin report for really good insights on the Arab world. Also I cannot recommend enough Nonie Darwishe’s book “Now They Call Me Infidel”. Literally could not put it down.

  5. geran Says:

    ‘…and PC-thinking blinds us to certain truths that we ignore at our peril.’

    Great line! Politicians cannot refrain from saying “Islam is the religion of peace”. How about “Islam is the cult of death and destruction”?

  6. johnnyquark Says:

    The personality of the islamic world, as experienced by the west, is disordered, borderline and narcissistic. The quickness with which that world takes offense is like that of a borderline personality and the narcissism… that’s obvious.

  7. neo-neocon Says:

    Bob from Virginia: obviously, German society was very different from Arab society in many other respects. But in the respect Churchill describes, I continue to believe it was similar. In addition, Germany post-WWI was in a state of failure, shame, and defeat, and the orderliness had broken down quite a bit (read Haffner’s book for more information about that; it is quite stunning). This is part of what made it a fertile field for Nazi takeover.

    And for those who question the “sheep” appellation as applied to Arab society, remember that “Islam” means “submission,” and relies on not challenging its precepts or the opinions of its imans and ayotallahs and clerics.

  8. Artfldgr Says:

    We’re poor little lambs
    who have lost our way,
    Baa Baa Baa,
    We’re little black sheep
    who have gone astray
    Baa Baa Baa

  9. Mike Mc. Says:

    In The Everlasting Man Chesterton wrote about the ancient Romans and Carthaginians and how ultimately they could not co-exist in the Mediterranean. One would rule, the other be destroyed, not so much because of commercial competition, but because of the gods they served, the things they valued, and the view of human nature and society they had.

    The Carthaginians served a dark god who demanded human sacrifice. The Romans served more genial gods and preached family and virtue.

    I think the world is something like this today. Islam serves a dark and vengeful god who does not make covenants but makes demands. He is not to be trusted he is to be obeyed. He is not to be known, for his will may change at a whim. One cowers before this dark master.

    But it is not just Islam. Liberal/Democrat/Progressive (same thing) serve something like the cousin of allah. They are angry and fearsome and vengeful because their dark god is too. What their god’s name is I am not sure yet. But I know he is dark and fearsome and joyless because they are too.

  10. david foster Says:

    Cultural differences can be observed on a much smaller scale, in businesses and other organizations. Corporate cultures are very real and often quite resistant to change.

    That said, I think it’s dangerous to put too much emphasis on German national culture as an explanation for Naziism. The romanticization of totalitarian rule was strong in the 1930s in all western nations: many in the US believed our only choice was between Fascism and Marxism.

    I wonder what would happen in the U.S. today if we had sustained unemployment in the 20-30% range coupled with very high inflation…I sure hope we don’t find out.

  11. gs Says:

    From Spiegel Online International:

    German Millionaires Criticize Gates’ ‘Giving Pledge’

    …Peter Krämer, a Hamburg-based shipping magnate and multimillionaire, has emerged as one of the strongest critics of the “Giving Pledge.”…

    Krämer: In this case, 40 superwealthy people want to decide what their money will be used for. That runs counter to the democratically legitimate state. In the end the billionaires are indulging in hobbies that might be in the common good, but are very personal…one cannot forget that the US has a desolate social system and that alone is reason enough that donations are already a part of everyday life there. But it would have been a greater deed on the part of Mr. Gates or Mr. Buffet if they had given the money to small communities in the US so that they can fulfil public duties…

    I concede that after the previous failure and the current disaster in the White House, I as an American am in a weak position to dispute with other democracies about what constitutes civic virtue. Moreover, barring civilizational collapse, I do not expect to see the Germans again goosestepping through Europe and beyond.

    But the Spiegel piece still made my eyebrows rise.

  12. jon baker Says:

    Mike Mc said: “The Carthaginians served a dark god who demanded human sacrifice.”

    Could that be Baal of the baby sacrifices? As I recall, Carthage was basically a Phonecian settlement.

  13. Mr. Frank Says:

    I’ve often wondered if the Arabs’ love affair with explosives is evidence of some deep seated sense of impotence.

  14. Mike Mc. Says:

    jon baker,

    Marduk, or Baal – one and the same I think but one name for Philistines (Phoenicia) and another for Carthage.

    Chesterton makes a larger point about certain ‘peoples’ who agree with themselves to serve evil or darkness.

    It is not mere myth that in all the great stories there is the ‘dark side’. The truth of it gives the power to Star Wards, the Lord of the Rings, the USA v. USSR, and today, Americans v. Democrats.

  15. Daniel in Brookline Says:

    The stereotypical Arab is a complex person, and I’d find it difficult to describe him in one pithy sentence. Proud, deeply invested in personal honor, yet utterly submissive to Allah and his local government / imam / warlord. He can be hateful, savage, and merciless – but Arab hospitality is second to none; it’s legendary, and deserves to be so. He tends to be Machiavellian rather than idealistic. And authority figures are followed blindly to an extent hard for Americans to understand; this also means that truth is often secondary to the current “narrative” (not that we don’t have plenty of that ourselves, hmm?).

    And yes, there is great pride at past glories, and, I believe, serious difficulties coming to grips with the inglorious present. (They were once the predominant civilization in Europe; now they are best known for two major exports, oil and terrorism.)

    So no, I don’t think the “carnivorous sheep” metaphor is appropriate. (I will not attempt to come up with an equally-witty alternative; I am no Churchill.)

    respectfully,
    Daniel in Brookline

  16. Tom Says:

    “Utterly submissive to Allah, etc, yet hateful, savage and merciless” would be accepted by Winston as meeting the criteria of “carnivorous sheep”, I am confident.

  17. gs Says:

    Churchill on Islam:

    No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.

  18. Bob From Virginia Says:

    BTW, the child sacrifice bit about the Carthaginian/Phoenician god was probably Roman propaganda.

    The comment about the Arabs is interesting in that in the last century peoples have changed their scripts, the Jews moved from being victims and petty merchants to warriors, the Japanese from warriors to merchants, the English from being something to being nothing. Perhaps the Arabs can change from being sheep living in a world of lies and hate to something else. I cannot even guess what.

    That said some Arab study group pointed out that more books are translated yearly into Greek than have translated into Arabic in centuries. That is going to make change interesting.

  19. foxmarks Says:

    I think the conflation of arab and Muslim leads to distraction. Do arab Christians who emigrated to the USA a century ago still count as arabs? Their descendants number in the millions here now.

    And the largest herd of carnivorous sheep is outside arabia, in Indonesia. Don’t forget the partitioned bits of old India, either.

  20. Gringo Says:

    gs:

    The Germans can no more stop criticizing the Amis than they can stop making beer and wurst. It’s tied in to coming to terms with WW2. It is no accident that Herta Daubler-Gmelin who had her 15 minutes of fame for comparing Dubya to “Adolf Nazi” and who also called the American justice system “lousy,” had a Nazi father who “was directly involved in the deportation of Slovakian Jews to the Nazi death camps.”

    Germans looking down their noses at the Amis used to infuriate me. It now bemuses me.

    I wish that ∅bama had followed in Germany’s footsteps on fiscal frugality.

  21. chuck Says:

    BTW, the child sacrifice bit about the Carthaginian/Phoenician god was probably Roman propaganda.

    This comment seems related to Neo’s earlier post on Koestler. The idea that it was propaganda seems a modern one and I don’t find it convincing given the evidence.

    Another modern innovation along these lines is the denial that any culture actually practiced cannibalism, that the accusation is a slander invented by westerners. I find this unconvincing also.

  22. Alpheus Says:

    As somebody with some relevant archaeological experience, I agree with Chuck. The evidence for child sacrifice in Phoenician/Carthaginian culture is pretty strong, and the major reason not to believe in it is because we don’t want to. This Wikipedia article is not bad at covering the debate.

  23. jon baker Says:

    Bob from Virginia said : “BTW, the child sacrifice bit about the Carthaginian/Phoenician god was probably Roman propaganda.”

    Well, the Romans were not the only ones to think that then. Though I am going on assumption that “Baal” here is similiar to the Baal of Phoenicia. From the Jewish Book of Jeremiah, apparently speaking of ancient post Mosaic Jewish Idolatry, Chapter 19 verses 4- 5 :

    ” 4 Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents;
    5. They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind:” KJV translation

    Sometimes you will hear opponents of abortion refer to such verses.

  24. Simon Says:

    The mention of this week’s New Yorker and the term ‘carnivorous sheep’ put in mind of the excellent piece on the Koch brothers.

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer

    It made me wonder if the tea party members might not be worthy of this ignominious moniker.

  25. gs Says:

    Gringo@August 28th, 2010 at 11:56 pm:

    The Germans can no more stop criticizing the Amis than they can stop making beer and wurst.

    Agreed, but not just the Germans. For years I heard much the same from my refugee parents. It took them a long time to understand how America was intended to work. To paraphrase my late father after reading some of the Foundational debates: “Now I get it. They wanted to make it hard for the government to do things.”

    Quite apart from your point I find it creepy that Kraemer all but says the money belongs to the State.

  26. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    I want in to every conversation here. This cocktail party is out of control. In no order:

    chuck, the genetic evidence that we all have cannibalism in our relatively recent (up to 5000 years ago) past is pretty strong. We carry defenses to the likely diseases that result from the practice, and the defenses are different throughout the world, indicating that they developed independently. Some New Guinea cultures practiced it into the 20th C. Nicholas Wade’s excellent Before The Dawn speaks to this.

    gs, I thought of the same example of Germans not liking to even see freedom in others.

    Daniel in B – Robert Kaplan quotes a Balkan writer that in Muslim cultures, all violence is political. Violent crime as known in the west is less common. Hence both the hospitality and the danger.

    david foster – yes, but. Those Americans and western Europeans also favored the twin totalitarianisms because they had been reading the same German philosophers and somewhat agreed. Chesterton traces the rise of the Prussian idea of superiority back through Nietzsche, Fichte, and a dozen others all the way back to Frederick. I quoted and linked to you today, BTW.

    johnnyquark, I have also viewed nations as personality disorders. The Russians a paranoid style, certainly. I would go with narcissist for Muslim cultures, reserving the borderline diagnosis for the French (think Germans and trauma).

    To the larger question. Bitter and deep tribalism exists throughout the world. In one sense, the cultures of the Middle East are no different than groups on every continent. However, Islam gives sanction to this primitive attitude. So do other world-views, and I don’t say that Islam must necessarily lead to justifying the atrocities of tribalism. But in practice, start at the Aegean Sea and move east, bit by bit, all the way to the Pacific. Everything in your path will be the scene of unimaginable atrocities. They are largely atrocities perpetrated by Muslim cultures, with communists taking up most of the remainder (the Eastern Orthodox have smaller bits). Whether Islam causes this, or simply fails to prevent it (as Buddhism similarly fails), I don’t know. But the perpetrators do often specifically reference their faith as their motive.

  27. Sergey Says:

    Tribalism was almost universal human condition before advent of Christianity, with never ceasing intertribal wars, often genocidal. Christian universalism changed it all as nothing else in history ever could. It introduced concept of universal equality, including gender equality. Only tribes too beligerent or too primitive to embrace this transformation were left behind this modernization process. Islam was a parody of Christianity and Judaism and took these leftovers, for some time uniting these tribes into Chalifat and reducing violence within its realm, but greatly escalating it on its borders. So the phrase “religion of peace” makes some sense, but only in this historical context: the whole world was divided into two realms, Dar Islam (conquested, islamised territories); this translates as Realm of Peace; and Dar Harb – the territories not yet conquested, which translates as Realm of War. All lands not yet islamised are seen as battlefields, subject to Jihad. Only when we wil properly understand these basic facts of Muslim worldview, we could decifer ominious meaning of the phrase “Religion of Peace”.

  28. Artfldgr Says:

    The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting – Milan Kundera

    It is why ignorance loses…

  29. Artfldgr Says:

    What their god’s name is I am not sure yet. But I know he is dark and fearsome and joyless because they are too.

    Thats easy, they hint all the time, but if you say it, everyone says, thats ridiculous, but it matches everything… Saul Alinsky devoted his book to whom? and going back to moses harmon and his paper “lucifer bringer of light”.

    whether they believe in him or not, that’s a whole other story, but if you tend to think the way they do, you tend to admire such a figure. which they do. they hate Christians and Jews, and by extension, god of Abraham. they are ANTITHETICAL to the religion which technically puts them in which camp? their morals match what would be, and if you look carefully, their idea of utopia is hell for good people.

  30. Artfldgr Says:

    the largest herd of carnivorous sheep is outside arabia, in Indonesia

    really? well then they better sew the heads of the jihadis they just got rid of who did the bali bombing…

    indonesia is a democratic republic like the US. they had their soviet moment and the country was cleansed thanks to the chinese attempting to jump in and take from russia what it did.

    Indonesia cant be lumped with Arabs. the odd stories you hear as to women not kissing, etc. are for areas like aceh… where that kind of religiosity lives. but the rest of the country is covered in ancient religious statues, Buddhism, and hundu influences are pretty easy to note. they have an active christian population too, which depending on where you are its either a nothing or a something (as in aceh).

    everything the same is a bit different

  31. Perfected democrat Says:

    Bob From Virginia Says:
    “That said some Arab study group pointed out that more books are translated yearly into Greek than have translated into Arabic in centuries. That is going to make change interesting.”

    A deeply inculcated loyalty to family, tribe, state or culture is, in human affairs, almost organically inviolable; whether by threat of consequence or conscience; until along comes Plato and his Allegory of the Cave, the nemesis of the book burners.

    Perhaps an (inconsequential) billion dollars of the U.S. government budget would be well spent translating any number of “eye opening” books into arabic, then bombing the hell out of any number of places with said translated copies; since they can’t do it for themselves…

  32. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Art. It was in Indonesia that the UN, under Aussie leadership, ended the slo-mo genocide of Christians on East Timor.
    Hence the Bali bombing, said by its perps to be in reaction to the Aussie attack on teh faith.
    A phone survey (telephone poll, get it?) found that ten percent of the responses thought that the attack was justified as a way of defending the faith.
    Since the proximate cause of the intervention was genocide against Christians, that gives you an idea of what ten percent of the world’s most populous Muslim country thinks the faith means.

  33. Artfldgr Says:

    Richard,
    My wife is Indonesian, I have been to the country.

    Art. It was in Indonesia that the UN, under Aussie leadership, ended the slo-mo genocide of Christians on East Timor.

    great, since East Timor is not Indonesia anymore…

    In 1999, following the United Nations-sponsored act of self-determination, Indonesia relinquished control of the territory and East Timor became the first new sovereign state of the 21st century on May 20, 2002. East Timor is one of only two predominantly Roman Catholic countries in Asia, the other being the Philippines.

    And Indonesia is not monolithic. which is why i said AREAS LIKE ACEH…

    by the way, there are still tribal areas that eat their relatives when they die, among other gruesome customs. (like hanging out with the dead body for a long time).

    recently muslims have beheaded some christian girls, but again, the country itself doesn’t like such. It is not a wealthy country, its police and security is nothing like the US as far as level or par, and so all that comes into it.

    its VERY hard to sort out the history in the area since the soviet union was to take over and when the coupe failed there was mass killings, riots, and a brutal government that gave such no ground. so when you hear of many killed, you have to also know whether they were diehard communists, or what else.

    in their 25 or so year rule over timor the state was brutal… but the story is VERY complicated, as the soviets took over in islam where hitler left off and most in the west are crappy in their own history let alone dip into anothers.

    The East Timorese guerrilla force, Falintil, fought a campaign against the Indonesian forces from 1975–1999, some members being trained in Portugal by Portuguese special forces.[citation needed] The Dili Massacre proved a turning point for the East Timorese cause internationally, and a burgeoning East Timor solidarity movement grew in Portugal, Australia, and the United States.

    Falintil is portugese, and a revolutionary force, and like che, its hard to figure things out. depending on which you start with when you look at che, you come up differently… no?

    lets get western history down pat before we dig into eastern history and history of countries like Indonesia where Russia, and china and lots of other countries have been very active in rewriting history, changing views, and wanting to take over since they are resource rich and still learning…

    Indonesia comprises 17,508 islands. With a population of around 230 million people, it is the world’s fourth most populous country, and has the world’s largest population of Muslims. Indonesia is a republic, with an elected legislature and president. The nation’s capital city is Jakarta. The country shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and Malaysia. Other neighboring countries include Singapore, Philippines, Australia, and the Indian territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Indonesia is a founding member of ASEAN and a member of the G-20 major economies.

    by the way… i have been to the nightclub where the bali bombings happened…

    Various members of Jemaah Islamiyah, a violent Islamist group, were convicted in relation to the bombings, including three individuals who were sentenced to death. Abu Bakar Bashir, the alleged spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, was found guilty and sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment. However Bashir only serves 18 months of his 2 ½ year imprisonment. This is because of his indirect involvement with the incident. When the would-be bombers approached him vaguely stating their wish to conduct jihad in Bali, he reportedly gave his assent without asking for details of what was planned. This enabled him to later state that he did not know his followers planned a massive bomb attack, nor did he endorse it, but he upheld their right to carry out jihad as they saw fit. Bashir’s lack of direct knowledge of bombing operations was one reason why he twice escaped with short jail terms after being tried for terrorism-related offences..[2] Riduan Isamuddin, generally known as Hambali and the suspected former operational leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, is in U.S. custody in an undisclosed location, and has not been charged in relation to the bombing or any other crime. On 9 November 2008, Imam Samudra, Amrozi Nurhasyim and Mukhlas Ghufron were executed by firing squad on the island prison of Nusakambangan at 00:15 Local time (17:15 GMT)

    Jemaah Islamiah
    is a Southeast Asian militant Islamic organization dedicated to the establishment of a Daulah Islamiyah[3] (Islamic State) in Southeast Asia incorporating Indonesia, Malaysia, the southern Philippines, Singapore and Brunei[4]. JI was added to the United Nations 1267 Committee’s list of terrorist organizations linked to al-Qaeda or the Taliban on 25 October 2002[5] under UN Security Council Resolution 1267.

    so again… they are fighting not to fall into hands which are helped, trained, and fed by certain authoritarian regimes who have done so for a long time.

    The JI was established as a loose confederation of several Islamic groups. Sometime around 1969, three men, Abu Bakar Bashir, Abdullah Sungkar and Shahrul Nizam ‘PD’ began an operation to propagate the Darul Islam movement, a conservative strain of Islam. Darul Islam was almost eliminated in the 1950s after members belonging to that sect instigated a rebellion in an effort to create an Islamic state in parts of Indonesia.

    JI is opposed a lot all over… they have their bastions, like ACEH!!! which is what i referred to… and at least Aceh is part of indonesia.

    In 2010, Indonesian authorities cracked down on the Jemaah Islamiah network in Aceh. Between February and May 2010, more than 60 militants were captured.[20] This Aceh network was established by Dulmatin sometime after 2007 when he returned to Indonesia

    they dont seem to like em, do they?

    and i want to point out something… you say the indonesian bali bombing has to do with them stopping things in timor..

    well, it has more to do with the US as the bombing was on the aniversary of the cole bombing

    October 12, 2002, on the second anniversary of the USS Cole bombing in Yemen, a huge car bomb kills more than 202 and injures 300 on the Indonesian resort island of Bali. Most are foreigners, mainly Australian tourists. It is preceded by a blast at the US consulate in nearby Denpasar. The attack known as the 2002 Bali Bombing is the most deadly attack executed by JI to date.

    we forget the US consulate was bombed at the same time, and the cole connection.

    tons more… but we have complaints as to length and lack of wit…

  34. expat Says:

    Here is an interesting take on Pakistan for those who find this discussion too narrow (Sorry AVI). I got the link via a commenter at Gateway Pundit.

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/42158/pakistan%E2%80%99s-human-cockroaches/

    Now for my two bits about Germans: They really do like things to be regulated (Ordnung muss sein). I’ve probably mentioned this before, but when asked once about the differences between Americans and Germans, I replied that Americans deal with chaos better. It’s hard to imagine the conformity that was imposed on average Germans by the Peace of Westfalia. The ruling noble really did determine the religion of his subjects. Even today there are remnants of Catholic and Protestant isolationism, and there are great efforts at ecumenical bridge building. Of course, what the latter means is really uniting on a common set of religious beliefs and erasing all differences. The great escape from this narrowness was in heeling to the secular intellectual class. Until Gunter Grass was outed as an SS recruit, no one dared question the value of his proclamations. There may have been disagreements around the edges in the feuillitons, but no one said he was a pompous idiot about many issues.

    So there is a sheeplike aspect of German culture which has turned carnivorous. There is also a romantic utopian aspect that sees conflicts resoved by those above, be it the federal tax man or the ICC. That same romantic tendency affects views of Islam and Muslim immigrants. Many Germans just don’t take them seriously, and they don’t want to deal with the messy infights that Americans have gotten used to. American conservatives are also not taken seriously. All of us would be dismissed as the uneducated, deluded unwashed. It is tiresome.

  35. rickl Says:

    Assistant Village Idiot Says:
    August 29th, 2010 at 1:17 am

    chuck, the genetic evidence that we all have cannibalism in our relatively recent (up to 5000 years ago) past is pretty strong. We carry defenses to the likely diseases that result from the practice, and the defenses are different throughout the world, indicating that they developed independently. Some New Guinea cultures practiced it into the 20th C. Nicholas Wade’s excellent Before The Dawn speaks to this.

    That sounds like an interesting book. I’ll have to check it out one of these days.

    Although I haven’t studied this topic, I’ve developed some pretty strong opinions about it. I believe that cannibalism was ubiquitous in prehistoric times. When two neighboring hunter-gatherer bands encroached on each others’ hunting grounds, the winners usually ate the losers. One thing prehistoric hunters knew well was hunting, killing, and butchering. I think they regarded members of neighboring tribes as fair game (no pun intended). Protein was protein, especially in times of scarcity.

    Later, as people developed agriculture and began settling down, they substituted ritual human sacrifice for cannibalism. It was a sort of vestigial or symbolic cannibalism. Again, it was probably universal among people of a certain level of development. It was the mark of more advanced cultures. The more primitive and isolated cultures, like those in New Guinea, still practiced cannibalism.

    Later still, as civilization took hold and spread, the more advanced cultures discontinued the practice of human sacrifice. The Old Testament story of Abraham and Isaac probably symbolizes the end of this practice. They still seem to have practiced animal sacrifice, and maybe that was a vestigial form of human sacrifice for a while. Again, less developed cultures like the Aztecs still practiced human sacrifice. The New Guinea tribesmen, untouched by all this progress, still bitterly clung to their cannibalism.

    But what replaced human sacrifice? Slavery, perhaps?

  36. rickl Says:

    On the other hand, I also believe that travel and trade were more commonplace in prehistoric times than is generally recognized. This tends to contradict what I just said above. So the reality was probably more complicated than my simple thumbnail sketch.

  37. rickl Says:

    On the other other hand, maybe travel and trade got started after people settled down (and abandoned cannibalism), but before the Bronze Age and the rise of civilization. The settled farmers, whose recent hunter-gatherer ancestors were constantly on the move, got restless and just had to see who and what was on the other side of the hill.

  38. Tatyana Says:

    *expat,
    this is very interesting, what you said about German attitudes. The sheeplike nature, I think, has little to do with timidity of sheep – more with deliberate delegating of responsibility to a higher authority. Less responsibility, including your own personal affairs and beliefs – less blame could be put on you. Hence the famous (or is it infamous?) “I was only following orders! I am a perfect soldier!”

    About “not taking seriously” Muslims and/or American Conservatives: I think it stems from condescension. Germans are raised in belief they are highly civilized nation, albeit with a periodic temporary side-steps into savagery. They still think they are big enough to tolerate those intolerates and roughnecks and just continue with their civilized life. They don’t realize the intolerates undermined their life already to the extent they are living on a keg of dynamite.

  39. J.L. Says:

    I am reminded of Ayn Rand’s quote regarding a certain group, that they:

    “are a desperate herd looking for a master, to be taken over by anyone – anyone who would tell them how to live without demanding the effort of thinking. Theirs is the mentality ready for a fuhrer.”

    Rand was writing of ’60s era hippies, which I don’t entirely agree with (hippies were, at their worst, more lazy than carnivorous, grazing among the abundance of ’60s-era America, for better or worst)… but if applied to Islam, the quote is a closer fit.

  40. J.L. Says:

    Following up on what Bob From Virginia wrote, above, I checked out Prof. Barry Rubin’s Rubinreports site, and found this interesting article regarding Islam’s relationship to Islamism:

    http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/2010/08/what-is-threat-islam-islamism-or.html

  41. expat Says:

    Tatyana,
    The thing that is really odd about the condescension part is that I don’t feel it from average people so much as from people who are very conscious of status within the intellectual elite. It’s the kind of think I pick up in TV talk rounds from theater and media people or some people of a philosophical bent. Shopkeepers, plumbers, and receptionists are usually very friendly and open. And the academics I know (natural sciences) frequently ask me for background info on US events. Unfortunately, the people who make it on TV talkrounds have a lot of influence on what the average person learns. Does that sound like the MSM in the US? If there are sheep out there, the media types are certainly border collies.

  42. SteveH Says:

    “” I think they regarded members of neighboring tribes as fair game (no pun intended). Protein was protein, especially in times of scarcity.”"
    Rickl

    One thing that stuck in my mind from touring a cadaver lab once when a friend was in medical school was the easily identifiable white and dark meat portions to the human body. Not that i want to find out if we taste like chicken though. :)

  43. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    sergey – very close to my own thoughts.

    rickl – because trade is so much less interesting to write into history books, or oral traditions, than warfare? But yes, trade and cooperation were more normative than supposed.

    expat – this is true in England as well – less so in the rest of GB. It may be aristocracy going on endlessly rather than a national characteristic that affects the whole population.

  44. Tatyana Says:

    *expat – yes, of course, we are talking about intellectual circles (I wouldn’t say “elite”…these are like Vatican within Rome of average intellectuals) – not plumbers and receptionists. Although the condescension usually spreads to all layers of society, like circles on water.

    I can’t form definite impression on MSM in US, as a general observation: people I know don’t take their news from TV and newspapers. Or, rather, they turn to news for statement of event – fact of explosion, strike, heat wave, etc. Then they listen to “editorial” through other sources.
    Re: “background on US events”…

    Yesterday on one of Russian-speaking blogs the author quoted Krauthammer’s article in WP, and one of commentators took issue with K. “misunderstanding ” of the word intelligentsia. He was insulted of negative connotation and that an American assumes intelligentsia is as a rule – a Left phenomenon.

    I replied that in our country that’s what intelligentsia is, and that meaning of a word changes according to local specifics. He said I made him laugh by my usage of “our and us” – he thinks I’m a pretender-American. This is very typical of Russians in Russia – they see their country as absolute, the navel of Earth, and its mark on individual people – as everlasting and finite. When I said I am an American citizen and patriot, he called me “arrogant”…

    I mention this as I see this, too as an example of condescension.

  45. Ilíon Says:

    The Germans (of Churchill’s day) “combine in the most deadly manner the qualities of the warrior and the slave,” …

    Which is pretty much true of most human beings and thus of most cultures. Until recently, the very concept of liberty (in contrast to license) was pretty much foreign to most non-Anglo cultures.

  46. Ilíon Says:

    Tatyana:But they are fundamentally savages in Western clothes.

    Hey, now! Leave the savages out of this! A good number of my ancestors, just a few generations ago, were savages … and we took to civilization right nicely.

  47. rickl Says:

    SteveH Says:
    August 29th, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    One thing that stuck in my mind from touring a cadaver lab once when a friend was in medical school was the easily identifiable white and dark meat portions to the human body. Not that i want to find out if we taste like chicken though.

    I think it was the Polynesians that called human flesh “long pig”. So maybe there’s your answer.

  48. Ilíon Says:

    Marduk, or Baal – one and the same I think but one name for Philistines (Phoenicia) and another for Carthage.

    Yes, Cathage was originally a Phoenician colony (specifically, of the city-state of Tyre). The main ba’al of Carthage is generally called Melqart.

    The Philistines were not Phoenicians.

  49. Ilíon Says:

    … or not. That Wiki page goes on to say that “Ba’al Hammon” was the chief god of Cartage.

  50. Ilíon Says:

    (They were once the predominant civilization in Europe; …

    That’s a 19-century European secularist myth.

  51. neo-neocon Says:

    SteveH: my understanding of most cannibalism (at least from my recollection from readings and anthro classes) is that the vast majority of it is ceremonial. That is, only a few especially symbolic parts are eaten, such as the brain, in order to take on certain characteristics of the person eaten (be it enemy or friend). Cannibalism for food reasons is more limited to starvation situations ordinarily, such as among the Inuit during very hard times, and is entered into reluctantly.

  52. Mike Mc. Says:

    A small point, but I believe Philistine and Phoenician are same basic people. Words confused over the ages.

    The similarity in sound and geography gives the first benefit of the doubt to that assumption.

  53. SteveH Says:

    Neo, and speaking of starvation situations, thanks for featuring the book “Alive” in your list of books. I ordered it on a whim a couple weeks ago and loved it. Great story.

  54. Richard Aubrey Says:

    art.
    Jeez, get a grip. The reason East Timor isn’t in Indonesia is because the UN, via Australia, got it out. Did you think you could get that past us?
    That was the point of the whole adventure.
    You’ll recall the guy in charge of the Iraq UN office was the guy in charge of extracting East Timor from the Indonesian fun fair. The perps said the blew the place up because of him and his attack on the faith, which is what they said about the Bali bombings.
    But if Indonesia is as big and complicated as you say, the fact that still ten percent think the bombing was justified is at least interesting.
    It says that such a tolerant (?) culture can’t fix the last tenth of Muslims.
    We in the US lament Eric Rudolph and Timothy McVeigh, two guys of 300,000,000. If McVeigh was not acting alone, then he probably had foreign help. Take your pick.
    If a tenth think the Bali bombing was justified then at least a tenth wouldn’t think of dropping the dime on a coreligionist.
    And that’s more than sufficient.

  55. Vieux Charles Says:

    But doesn’t it strike you as a rather apt description of much of the Arab world?

    According to the article Churchill went on to describe the Germans as, “disciplined, servile, and dangerous when their servility meets a character out of Wagner”.

    Anyone know any Wagnerian Arabs?

  56. Alpheus Says:

    Mike Mc.:

    A small point, but I believe Philistine and Phoenician are same basic people. Words confused over the ages.

    The similarity in sound and geography gives the first benefit of the doubt to that assumption.

    The Phoenicians didn’t call themselves “Phoenicians”; the Greeks called them that. They called themselves Canaan (“Canaanites” in the Bible).

    Although the Philistines eventually absorbed much of the neighboring Canaanite culture, the historical origins of the Philistines and Phoenicians were entirely different. The Canaanites seem to have come from the East, over land, by early in the second millennium B.C. The Philistines seem to have arrived by sea, from the West (as part of the invasions of the “Sea Peoples”) late in the second millennium B.C.

    The Phoenicians/Canaanites spoke a Semitic language. A lot of evidence suggests the Philistines spoke an Indo-European language.

  57. neo-neocon Says:

    SteveH: If you liked Alive, you may want to take a look at this truly excellent documentary, featuring recent interviews with the men involved, plus photos taken at the time of the incident, and some re-enactments. It is very thought-provoking and moving, even for those who’ve already read the book.

  58. Mike Mc. Says:

    Okay. I didn’t know about that indo-European v. Semitic language origins of the Philistines as opposed to the Phoenicians.

    If they are therefore different peoples, does that then invalidate the example used about Rome and Carthage? I think not.

    Does that invalidate the point about Islam and the West? Or the internecine struggle in the civilized world between Democrats and decent people? I think not.

    And in case anyone should be wondering do I think Democrtas are not decent people, the answer is, Yes, I do not think they are decent people. Only with these caveats:

    1) Insofar as the are Democrats. ALL Democrats (today), in repsect of their being, being democrta, are indecent, not decent people. Their problem is that they vote Dem and are Dem. If they weren’t Dem, they would not have that problem. Period;

    2) One person being indecent does not automatically make their converse (Republican types) decent. They just get the basics right. One thing you can’t accuse a republican of is trying to destroy the country they live in, and its people. Dems do that as a platform policy, and that is just the beginning of their mistakes. But anyone can be, and most people actually are, bad people in this that or the other aspect. It’s not like I’m inventing that idea. It’s only been a central and ,main teaching of every ethical and religious system there has ever been down the ages. No great sage ever taught how terrific people are and they should all stay that way. Sheesh.

  59. Tom the Redhunter Says:

    “They do not value freedom themselves and the spectacle of it in others is hateful to them.”

    Indeed this does apply to many Muslims, and certainly to how virtually all Muslim societies are run. Their idea of society is one run according to sharia, which is the antithesis of Western concepts of freedom. And the “peace of Islam” is more akin to Orwell’s 1984 than anything else.

  60. Francesca Says:

    About “Alive”. There was a movie made from the book quite a while ago, and I used to use it in ESL college classes. Incredible discussions ensued. I don’t think it is available anymore. It, too, had some interview with the survivors talking about the decision of cannibalism. This latest documentary looks very interesting.

  61. neo-neocon Says:

    Francesca: I believe there were two movies. One was a Hollywood-type movie (not a documentary) made in 1993. It was dreadful, absolutely abysmally bad. Then there was the documentary I mentioned above, an excellent film.

    I seem to recall an earlier documentary, although I can’t find anything online about it. I think I saw parts of it on TV quite some time ago. That may be what you’re remembering, too. The newer one is far superior, I believe.

  62. Bob From Virginia Says:

    jon baker as regards “Baal” Baal means lord, owner or husband in Hebrew. I do not know whether the biblical description of Phoenicians sacrificing their sons holds water. No such description is to be found in Herodotus to the best of my knowledge, nor in any source. The origin of sacrifice of children sounds like it would make a good dissertation. IMHO both the Phoenicians and Carthaginians were way too sophisticated for such bloodiness. Odd we have no extant written works from these peoples.

  63. Gray Says:

    (reposted from the “stripper thread, oops on my part:)

    I’ve got more than a few good arab friends.

    Upon seeing one well into drinking Heineken, I asked him: “I thought you were muslim. Isn’t this forbidden?”

    He responded: “Yes, of course I am, but I didn’t say I was a good muslim!”

    There you go.

    Or my favorite exchange:

    Syrian pal: “You say you are free in America! I can tell you, my friend: I am just as free in Syria! I can say anything I want, go to any church, own a gun, support any idea I want. Travel anywhere. I am free!”

    Iraqi pal: “Yeah, ‘cuz your dad was the head of the secret police….”

    Syrian pal: “I am not resposible for who my father is!”

    Oh, we laughed and laughed…. I love the arabs: crazy, passionate bunch with an irrepressible sense of humor and irony. They’ve found a way, through Islam to pull their people out of their desert into the world stage and they love it. They will push it as far as we let them and if we fight back, they will love and respect us more.

    Give them a reason to believe in America, its strengths and virtues, and they will repay it tenfold. Give them American self-loathing, deconstruction and weakness and they will despise us.

    If Americans won’t stick up for America, the arabs certainly won’t, they know better: they despise weakness and broken promises.

  64. Sloan Says:

    If you liked “Alive”, try “The Long Walk”. by Slavomir Rawicz, another fascinating testament to the human spirit and endurance.

  65. roc scssrs Says:

    And if you liked “Alive,” don’t miss Nando Parrado’s first person account, “Miracle in the Andes.”

  66. Ilíon Says:

    BfV:I do not know whether the biblical description of Phoenicians sacrificing their sons holds water. No such description is to be found in Herodotus to the best of my knowledge, nor in any source. … IMHO both the Phoenicians and Carthaginians were way too sophisticated for such bloodiness.

    Really? They were too sophisticated to exgage in such wickedness? How, exactly, is “sophistication” a shield against moral evil?

    Were the Romans too sophisticated to use public blood-baths as popular entertainment?

    Are modern Americans too sophisticated to sacrifice their sons and daughters, by the millions, to Venus/Ashtaroth?

  67. Ilíon Says:

    Upon seeing one well into drinking Heineken, I asked him: “I thought you were muslim. Isn’t this forbidden?”

    He responded: “Yes, of course I am, but I didn’t say I was a good muslim!”

    Unfortunately, you can never tell when “Sudden Jihad Syndrome” may strike him, and he may decide to make amends for being a “bad Moslem” by striking your neck.

  68. Bilwick Says:

    “Carnivorous sheep” is an apt description of ObamaNation.

  69. Tom Says:

    Sloan: “The Long Walk” stands alone as a testament to man’s ability to endure, powered by resolve.
    A quite moving personal history. Almost beyond belief, in fact; but true nevertheless. By a modest man who chose obscurity thereafter.

  70. Artfldgr Says:

    The perps said the blew the place up because of him and his attack on the faith, which is what they said about the Bali bombings.

    and stalin and hitler said they were doing things for the common good.

    its pointless to argue if you dont think a nation of 17,000 islands each with its own culture and traditions is not complicated.

    invariably when they do surveys, they survey in certain areas…

    the bombings happened on the aniversary of cole, and included a US consulate at the same time.
    if the issue was australia, then why hit the US?

    australian parlimentary library as far as bali bombings does not match waht you say, but draw to a complicated view in which things like extortion are also a part of it.

    The Bali Bombings: Looking for Explanations
    http://www.aph.gov.au/library/intguide/FAD/bali.htm
    More seriously, some bombings and other violent incidents have been linked into a complex web of political and criminal motivations, allegedly involving the police and the military themselves.

    there is NOTHING mentioning east timor in the Australian parliamentary library article as to reasons.

    and they DO mention what i said, which is that it has to do with groups who are in ACEH, and such areas.

    The military in regions of internal conflict in Indonesia, such as Aceh, Papua and Maluku (Ambon), where different elements of the security forces have become involved in a partisan way in the conflict or have acted in such a way to suggest that they are deliberately fomenting violence. Many explosions, such as the one at an Acehnese hostel in Jakarta in 2001, are not satisfactorily explained but have connections with the disparate conflicts occurring in Indonesia today.

    these parts are not representative of the country as a whole… and i also pointed out that even the timor thing was more complicated since it had to do with insurgents trained from other countries, like Portugal.

    and as i referred to the fact of communist insurgency and take over at the time.

    As political parties began to form and emerge inside the country, the Indonesian military headed an operation that backed Apodeti, a pro-Indonesian party that encouraged divisions between the pro-independence parties of East Timor.[citation needed] A brief civil war occurred in 1975. Indonesia alleged that the East Timorese FRETILIN party, which received some vocal support from the People’s Republic of China, was communist.

    it WAS communist… and still is…

    Fearing a Communist domino effect in Southeast Asia—and in the wake of its South Vietnam campaign—the United States,[17] along with its ally Australia,[18] supported the pro-Western Indonesian government’s actions. The UN Security Council had a unanimous vote for Indonesia to stop its invasion and to withdraw immediately from East Timor’s borders, and was blocked by the United States from imposing any economic sanctions or other means of enforcing this mandate.

    and Australia, was not on the UN side, it was on the US side as pointed out above… that is unless you read communist history.

    Australia later was the key part in a UN force to restore peace, which is what your referring to.

    Following a UN-sponsored agreement between Indonesia, Portugal, and the United States and a surprise decision by the Indonesian President B. J. Habibie, a UN-supervised popular referendum was held on August 30, 1999, to choose between “Special Autonomy” within Indonesia or independence.

    78.5% of voters chose independence, but violent clashes, instigated primarily by elements within the Indonesian military and aided by Timorese pro-Indonesia militias led by Eurico Guterres, broke out soon afterwards. A peacekeeping force (INTERFET led by Australia) intervened to restore order.

    now what do you know about Eurico Guterres?

    at the time, Indonesia, before the coupe attempt by Russia, had lots of subversives in state. and as i said above, its very difficult to work this out as the common papers bring up none of this.

    The Thirtieth of September Movement (Indonesian: Gerakan 30 September, abbreviated as G30S) was a self-proclaimed organization of Indonesian National Armed Forces members who, in the early hours of 1 October 1965, assassinated six Indonesian Army generals in an abortive coup d’état.

    this operation was a soviet plot… the chinese stepped in, it got muffed up, and the blow back was huge.. which is what complicates things… (and why you had militias attempting). and this period covers the rule of Suharto…

    Suharto rose to the rank of Major General following Indonesian independence. An attempted coup on 30 September 1965 was countered by Suharto-led troops and was blamed on the Indonesian Communist Party.[3] The army subsequently led an anti-communist purge, and Suharto wrested power from Indonesia’s founding president, Sukarno. He was appointed acting president in 1967 and President the following year. Support for Suharto’s presidency eroded following the 1997–98 Asian financial crisis. He was forced to resign from the presidency in May 1998 and he died in 2008.

    you will find that as i said above, it is good to identify who was with whom and who was being killed for being with whom.

    Eurico Guterres was sentenced by indonesia for crimes against humanity, so who was he fighting for?

    In 1988 military intelligence detained him for his alleged involvement in a plot to assassinate President Suharto, who visited Dili in October of that year. From that time on he was ‘turned’ and became an informer for Kopassus. The energetic counter-insurgency officer Prabowo Subianto took a special interest in his abilities. He continued as a double agent for some time, apparently playing a role in the pro-independence protests during the pope’s visit in late 1989, but after that he was expelled from the movement. He went to Suai but still did not finish his high school.

    In 1994 Prabowo recruited him into Gardapaksi. The organisation gave cheap loans to help unemployed young people start small businesses, but also used them as informants and to man pro-military vigilante squads. Governor Abilio Soares strongly supported Gardapaksi, which developed a record of human rights abuse.

    if you dig you will find connections with him and the micro loan programs… (care to point out who was running that and connected to who in the white house?)

    Besi Merah Putih was one of the most violent militias.

    when you read, you will and should be struck that the majority of names are Portuguese, not Indonesian.

    [edited for length by n-n]

  71. Richard Aubrey Says:

    art.
    You’re trying to smother the facts, which are pretty simple, with oceans of irrelevancies.
    Didn’t say anything about complicated or uncomplicated.
    I said that ten percent of Indonesians surveyed thought the Bali bombing was done to avenge an attack on the faith, ditto said the perps of blowing up the Iraq UN facility whose boss had been in charge of relieving the Timor Muslims of their privilege/duty/recreation.
    The rest of the bumf is not relevant.
    If you want to say that Indonesia is complicated and so it can’t fix the final tenth of Muslims, fine. That’s not the same as saying the thing didn’t happen.

  72. pst314 Says:

    “BTW, the child sacrifice bit about the Carthaginian/Phoenician god was probably Roman propaganda.”

    There is archaeological evidence of high levels of child sacrifice.

  73. A_Nonny_Mouse Says:

    Artfldgr Says: August 30th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    “The perps said they blew the place up because of him and his attack on the faith, which is what they said about the Bali bombings.”
    =========================

    Oh, yeah, that “twist a normal human desire to live and thrive –as demonstrated by rejecting Islam– into somehow being an “attack on Islam” — which REQUIRES a counterattack using the utmost barbarity you can muster” thing. Mohammed started that line of thought, way-back-when. They still see the world that way, apparently. So, to the True Believer, “not submitting” becomes “An Attack On Islam” deserving whatever maximum response they can “retaliate” with. Feh.

  74. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Nonny,
    I think Art was quoting me on the “perps” piece.
    Yeah. Interesting idea, that stifling something nasty like that is an attack on the faith. Which means, certainly, that the slo-mo genocide of Christians on East Timor was considered a religious work.
    My wife had a student, born in this country to Saudi professionals, who didn’t want to do a report on el Cid because he demeaned her faith.
    An eleventh-century mercenary leader demeans her faith? Only reason I can figure is that he cashed his last paycheck fighting against Muslims–he’d fought with them, as well, depending–and was folded, imo, into the matter of the Reconquista. Which means the Reconquista demeans her faith. She was born here. Where, do you think, she picked that up? Not only is that a thousand years ago, but the Reconquista is a bunch of Iberians throwing off a conqueror. Demeans her faith. She was saying more than she knew.
    That would be like somebody named Godwinson claiming to be the rightful king of England except his family was vilely dispossessed of the throne by William of Normandy.
    And he’s going to blow stuff up until the Hanoverians concede.

  75. Beatrix Says:

    rickl Says:

    August 29th, 2010 at 11:55 am
    On the other other hand, maybe travel and trade got started after people settled down (and abandoned cannibalism), but before the Bronze Age and the rise of civilization.

    I think human sacrifice must have persisted well into the Bronze Age. Think of Iphigenia in the Illiad, and the sacrifice of Polyxena on the burial mound of Achilles in Euripedes’ plays.

  76. Richard Aubrey Says:

    ref cannibalism.
    For early explorers, it was always just over the next hill, figuratively speaking. Unless you were, say, Captain Cook.
    Then it was ceremonial. Or a matter of desperation (whaler Essex).
    Or a matter of terror–in the Chaco Canyon area.
    The steep grades of Aztec pyramids allowed the recently deceased to flop down to the stewpots without further effort. Not having loads of domestic animals, large populations are short on protein…. But, said one theorist, if you eat corn and beans at the same time, you’ll get somethingsomethingsomething that makes eating meat of whatever kind far less important. And we all know the Indians had corn and beans.
    So that leaves ceremonial. “ceremonial” implies with no evidence that the amounts were relatively small. Depends on your POW count that week, I suppose.
    I don’t see the effort to whitewash this. If a culture is used to it, our culture’s “ewwww” feelings don’t actually apply to something that happened five hundred years ago.

  77. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    You want to see an example of certain truths we ignore at our peril?

    Here is a report–which includes apparently undercover video–of fund raising for HAMAS at a Florida Mosque (http://www.powerlineblog.com/). Pass it on.

  78. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Has anybody sent this to Fox–largest single shareholder is a Saudi money man–or the infected alphabet networks?
    Or the WaPo or NYT?

  79. Pat Says:

    How about the Tea Party? That sounds more like a bunch carnivorous sheep to me. And Glenn Beck is their pied piper.

  80. neo-neocon Says:

    Pat: do you really think such a statement conveys any sort of thoughtfulness on your part? What is the point of your parroting talking points?

    As a matter of fact, I attended several Tea Party demonstrations. Never saw a single carnivorous sheep there. Just a bunch of well-behaved people (some of whom were people of color, by the way) showing concern about statism and fiscal irresponsibility on the part of our federal government.

    And nary a mention of Glenn Beck.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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