[Homestead] Molly Ivins

Tvoivozhd tvoivozd at infionline.net
Wed Sep 22 17:44:35 EDT 2004

Molly Ivins is a populist and as such I generally agree with her, as I 
do with Jom Hightower when I lived in Texas and for health reasons 
escaped to Virginia..

She philosophically waxes poetic and here advocates a "peaceful 
solution" to Chechnya.  That might possibly be a long-term solution, but 
it''s short-term practice is gonng to make a lot of Russians dead.  Not 
surprising, if someone has to die, millions of Russians would prefer 
Chechens dead---which worked magnificently well in the Stalin 
Era---hell, why argue with success?

Worked the same way in the U.S. when a European predator population 
displaced 90,000,000 natives by White Man's Disease, White Man's 
superior weapons and marching the pitiful remainder off to death camps 
aka resourceless "reservations".

It is cruel and it is wrong, but it is survival of the fittest as are 
all population-displacements from the beginning of time..  The present 
Chennya struggle is because the Siberian Gulag survivors drifted back to 
their ancestral home---big mistake for the Chechens who are now 
repeating an act that did not have to be repeated.

by Molly Ivins


All newspaper editors want to know what their readers like. If you would 
like to read this feature in your local newspaper, please do not 
hesitate to share your enthusiasm with your local newspaper editor.


AUSTIN, Texas -- You open the paper and read the news from Iraq these 
days, and all you can say is, "Damn, damn, damn."

I'm flat out of ideas about how we can fix this, but I maybe see a 
couple of wrong roads we should give a miss. I was much struck by a 
column last week by David Brooks in The New York Times written in an 
understandable rage against the perpetrators of the school massacre at 
Beslan, Russia. Condemning the perpetrators of Beslan with all the vigor 
at his command -- hyperbole is impossible -- leads Brooks to an 
unfortunate conclusion.

Brooks particularly blames the American media, which he argues are 
"averting their eyes" and being "quick to divert their attention away 
from the core horror of this act" by paying attention to what he regards 
as irrelevant: the grievance that served as a justification or pretext 
for these terrorists' act of evil. In other words, he is so exercised at 
the utter, unmitigated evil of the terrorists, he thinks history is 

History does not excuse terrorism, but it sure as hell is relevant, if 
for no other reason than you have to understand an enemy in order to 
combat him. Of course we should pay attention to what shaped the Chechen 
terrorists -- since when is learning about terrorists or trying to 
understand what motivates them the same as condoning them or their actions?

In the case of Chechnya, the history is so grim it draws dramatic 
attention to precisely how a cult of death can start. Chechnya has a 
long, bitter history of fighting Russia going back at least two 
centuries. Those of you who have been paying attention know that after 
World War II, Stalin deported almost the entire nation of Chechnya to 
Siberia and dumped most of them off in frozen fields with nothing. So 
most adult Chechens were born in Siberia. Because of the Chechens' 
desire for independence, two hideous wars followed, one under President 
Yeltsin and one under President Putin.

Most of us remember the mind-numbingly desolate photos of Grozny, the 
capital, after the surrender -- beyond Dresden. That's how Chechen 
terrorism was born. Desire for independence is not something this 
country normally condemns.

Brooks blames the terrorism on the "death cult thriving at the fringes 
of the Muslim world." At least in the case of the Chechens, that's akin 
to blaming Catholicism for the IRA. On a larger plane, Brooks thinks we 
refuse to recognize the absolute evil of the Beslan terrorists because 
it "undermines our faith in the essential goodness of human beings." 
Speak for yourself, Brooks.

Seems to me the one thing that does not change through history is human 
nature. Theologians and philosophers will continue to debate human 
nature. I've always liked an observation about politics made by an old 
West Texas rancher: "I feel like I'm about equal parts good and bad. 
There's just not may people appealin' to the good in me."

I think we're all capable of evil under extreme circumstances. I do know 
that most humans are kinder and better people when they are healthy, 
well-fed, raised by loving people in a secure environment and taught it 
is wrong to kill. But that doesn't change human nature.

One trouble with defining terrorism as absolute evil is, as the saying 
goes, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Second, we 
appear to be stuck -- permanently stuck -- with war of unequal forces, 
since no country is dumb enough to declare war on the United States. So 
we need to learn every thing we can about how to fight these people 
effectively. Third, defining "terrorist" or any "other" as an absolute, 
irrational evil gives us a spurious and intoxicating sense of 
self-righteousness. We become the simon-pure contrast, thus missing any 
chance to consider if correcting or just changing our own conduct would 
be effective.

One of the things I know about human nature is that in order to kill 
strangers face to face -- or, God forbid, their children -- you have to 
either be very afraid or convince yourself that your enemy is completely 
evil, other, non-human. People seem far more capable of killing other 
people if they can't see them, which is probably why war has gotten 
nastier as the technology has gotten better.

We have killed an estimated 12,000-14,000 Iraqis since "mission 
accomplished" and are bombing Fallujah today. For all I know, in some 
future I cannot envision, this will turn out to be the right thing to 
have done. Peace and democracy will flourish in Iraq, and we will all 
bow down to the great wisdom of Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. But so far, no 

According to both opinion polls in Iraq and in the larger Arab world, 
our invasion of Iraq has increased hatred of the United States and 
fanned terrorism. Ignorance and condemnation are not a strategy for 
dealing with that.

To find out more about Molly Ivins and read features by other Creators 
Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page 
at www.creators.com

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