Thursday, 3/13/14

    1. “Lust hard by Hate”
    2. Ram the iceberg!
    3. If …
    4. How dare those SOB’s be so generous?!


Remember “rape is a crime of violence, not of passion”? If Anne Barbeau Gardiner is right, that may be a false dichotomy:

At the start of Paradise Lost, John Milton introduces Satan’s chief ministers in Hell, giving them the names by which they will be known later in biblical times. Among these devils he lists Chemos or Peor, whose “lustful orgies” in ancient Israel will take place next to “the grove / Of Moloch homicide, lust hard by hate.”

In the phrase lust hard by hate, Milton suggests that it is fitting for lust to have its altar next to the place where children are to be sacrificed to the “grim idol” Moloch. Indeed, lust and hate are generally found side by side. Lust produces hatred not only of the children conceived but also of the objects of transient desire. Abortion, the very triumph of hate, will never cease to be a specious “right” until lust is recognized once again for what it truly is — a form of hatred, not love.

She goes on to illustrate her point by poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950) and John Wilmot, Lord Rochester (1647-1680), both sexual adventurers and switch-hitters. (For what it’s worth, I’d never before thought of “my candle burns at both ends” as a bisexual allusion, but then I came to poetry late in life, without benefit of learned tutors.)

However finely honed their lyrics, Millay and Rochester are trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Lust is not beautiful, and no rhetoric can make it seem so. In “Sonnet 116,” Shakespeare reminds us of what love really is: “the marriage of true minds.” It is “an ever fixed mark / That looks on tempests and is never shaken.” It lasts not just for a minute, or a few hours, weeks, or years, but “bears it out even to the edge of doom.”

(H/T Prufrock)


[D]espite the media barrage, Americans simply don’t find Russia reasserting some sort of hegemonic position in Crimea much to be concerned about … Overheated Beltway language implying a Putin blitzkrieg seems somehow unrealistic in the face of a Russian intervention that has not, as of this writing, resulted in the loss of a single life.

Why aren’t the American people following the clues of their media masters? It’s not entirely clear. But I would point to two powerful potential reasons: the real Cold War was about the spread of Communism, which Americans understood to be an evil system, not about hostility to Russia acting like a normal great power. Adam Gopnik makes the point (in a short essay of exceptional lucidity) here:

The point of the Cold War, at least as it was explained by the Cold Warriors, was that it wasn’t a confrontation of great global powers but, rather, something more significant and essential: a struggle of values, waged on a global scale, between totalitarians and liberals. Russia as a nation was incidental—if the Soviets had given up Marxism and on the utopian (or dystopian) remaking of the world, and had been content to act as a regular power, we would have had no war, cold or hot. That, anyway, was what the Cold Warriors claimed—indeed, those who saw Soviet ideology as mere Russian behavior were regarded as historically naïve. And here we are, with a restored Russia, paranoid about encirclement, increasing their leverage in the neighborhood. It may be ugly and it may be wrong, and Ukraine deserves the moral support that small nations always deserve when they are bullied—but it is also historically normal. If we become hysterical every time historical forces assert themselves, there will be no end to the hysteria.

Or, to put it another way (as Pat Buchanan did) there’s a difference between a Russian ruler who murders priests by the thousands and one who jails for a year the Pussy Riot ladies for committing sacrilege.

(Scott McConnell, Push for a New Cold War Seems to Stall, emphasis added) On the other hand, it’s a little bit troubling when McConnell describes ”consider military options” in an opinion poll as “the certifiably insane position” – unless he reads a lot more into “consider” than I do.

The Adam Gopnik piece, by the way, includes this wonderful line in the lede: “When someone says, ‘Ram the iceberg! We can’t afford to let it make us look weak,’ it’s time to run for the deck.” And this:

The underlying truth then was that there was no point in appeasing Hitler because there was no possibility of appeasing him. The German Army was the most powerful force in Europe, indeed, in the world, and Hitler had long before decided on a general European war. He wanted one, and for him it was only a question, at best, of delaying it until his odds were marginally better. If Putin wants a general European war, we will know it when he invades a NATO nation. There is no shortage of real trip wires in the region, and no need to discover new ones.


This is the dilemma: on the one hand going to war causes terrible evils, but on the other hand not going to war permits them. Whichever horn one chooses to sit on, the sitting should not be comfortable. Allowing evils to happen is not necessarily innocent, any more than causing them is necessarily culpable. Omission and commission are equally obliged to give an account of themselves. Both stand in need of moral justification.

Nigel Biggar’s In Defense of War (Oxford University Press). H/T George Weigel.

If anything could get me to queue up a 384 page book on just war theory, touted by a guy for whom “the effective threat, or the effective use, of … armed force” seems always a first resort, not a last, it would be a quote like that.  “If.”


On the ridiculous side, the Washington Free Beacon reports on an anti-Koch protest over the weekend staged by a pair of unions, the New York State Nurses Association and the Service Employees International Union Local 1199, along with the state chapter of the NAACP. They were protesting a new hospital wing.

Yes, you read that right. They objected to “the soon-to-be-built David H. Koch Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital,” for which the eponymous donor gave $100 million:

The donation was the largest in the hospital’s history, and will presumably create a fair number of new nursing jobs. So why are the usual suspects up in arms? Well, the agitators were apparently agitated because this particular hospital didn’t need all the money. Oh yeah, and because it was International Women’s Day, and the Kochs are the primary funders of the “war on women’s reproductive rights . . . and many other issues of concern to American women.” They’re also behind “the effort to defeat and repeal healthcare to all Americans,” whatever that means.

It means that they oppose ObamaCare, of course. And you can’t fault Obama partisans for defending ObamaCare, except on the merits. But the people who staged this protest merely called attention to David Koch’s nonpolitical philanthropic efforts, with which no reasonable person can find fault, and in turn to their own unreasoning hatred.

(James Taranto)

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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.