Sunday, June 8, 2008

On Moral Equivalence: Response to Cleitus

My co-blogger Cleitus the Black is arguing that since "we did it too" we have no right to call "them" on it when "they" do it. I'm glad that he points us to the historical facts about US barbarity.

But two points:

1) It's not true that citizens like myself and Chloe have no right to call the kettle black since the US also has targeted civilians in past wars. First of all, I'm not sure what intel leads Cleitus to be so certain Chloe is a US citizen. Second, the fact that I am doesn't make me guilty of my country's crimes. In fact, I would argue it makes me more responsible for opposing those crimes, not less, which is partly the point of this blog.

2) Since two wrongs don't make a right, I hardly see how any of these arguments invalidate my earlier claim: that we ought to call barbarism what it is. That's as true of the US' enemies as it is of the US. Just as I would call it "war crimes" when engaged in by US troops (because that is a secular term that resonates in the US), I would/will call it harabism when engaged in by Muslims in the name of Islam. Just as "war hero" is inappopriate for US troops who target civilians; "jihadism" is inappropriate for Muslims who kill innocents in the name of their crusade, however justified. I don't need to be an Islamic scholar in order for this to be a legitimate claim. So there.


LFC said...

I tend to agree with you rather than Cleitus, though I can't get too excited about this whole debate. "Jihad" has more than one connotation and hence is somewhat ambiguous, which is a pretty good reason to avoid its adjectival form.

Roy said...

Good counter Dio. And I have new disdain for the overused term "war hero".

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