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June 06, 2004


Rich Puchalsky

"I still believe that we are better than that, and the US army should be better than that. I question the patriotism of those who feel otherwise."

While your father was being personally decent in WW II, the U.S. was officially interning its Japanese citizens in concentration camps, after having denied immigration to Jews fleeing Europe. Are we supposed to feel patriotic about your grandfather? Or is patriotism supposed to be about what our country actually does as a country? The Abu Ghraib tortures were not the result of a few bad apples, they were the result of official policy, which excluded the Red Cross from the start and told interrogators to break down prisoners to get information.

Belle Waring

I think there should be a sort of special dinging tone on the computer that says "You've got Rich!" Yeah, you're supposed to feel patriotic about my grandfather. Just for a minute, while you read the post. So fucking sue me.

Fontana Labs

That exchange is completely hilarious. Philosophical project: explain (beyond "because you're a doofus") why I get annoyed when people point out the sordid facts about american history, even when (a) I know the facts and (b) I acknowledge their relevance. I can't stand the triumphant tone of those "nasty things your high school teacher never told you" volumes, and I've often wondered why.

Doug Muir

I think there should be a sort of special dinging tone on the computer that says "You've got Rich!"

Thank you, Belle. On a gray afternoon in Bucharest, you just made me smile.

Fontana: "because you're a doofus" covers the ground pretty well, for me.

Doug M.


I still think Chun's "It's really only the educated classes who perform cunnilingus," wins the doofus award for this month. But Rich is a close contender. And hey, we're only a week into June.

Still, this is the second attack I've seen so far on Belle that uses her relatives as an excuse. Wtf?

C. -- high school dropout.

Rich Puchalsky

Hoo boy. Write one comment pointing out a few well-known commonplaces in response to an attack on your patriotism, and get:

1) There should be a special dinging tone for your stuff!

2) I don't like your triumphant tone!

3) You're a doofus!

4) You're attacking Belle! (???)

Look, if you don't like people pointing out commonplaces, then don't write posts that can only be answered by them. How else am I supposed to explain why there's nothing wrong with my patriotism despite Belle's heroic grandfather?


See, Rich, I meant to be questioning the patriotism of people who think Abu Ghraib was *not* the result of orders from the top or *not* a big deal. Not you, since we presumably agree. I was trying to turn th8is whole "it's just like WWII" thing around.

Mitch Mills

And in case you were wondering, Belle, I think everyone save Rich got that.

Doug Muir

Don't whine, Rich. It's unseemly.

I note in passing that you've been doing this "Look, I'm just a reasonable guy making on obvious point here, I don't understand why you people are so /sensitive/" shtick ever since the Unitarians threw you off their moderated newsgroup. And that was in, what, 1997?

BTW, Belle, absentmindedness is really, really common in pregnancy and the early postpartum months. My normally very organized and with-it wife became so forgetful that we started referring to "pregnancy brain". Asking around, we found out that about half of everyone seemed to have had it, with some fairly severe cases reporting in.

So, yeah, no going back to the job inspecting commercial airline engines for a little while just yet.

On the plus side, you do eventually get your brain back.

Doug M.


Thanks, Doug. I am a big space case. Waking up every two hours doesn't help, of course. But my own wedding anniversary? Jeez. Of course, the funny part is that John is normally terrible at remembering numbers of any kind, so terrible that when I told him our anniversary was Friday he just went along with it, not wanting to be the one who was confused about the date. That really is ironic.

Rich Puchalsky

Doug Muir, I note in passing that you have been doing the "You're as bad as Adam Yoshida!" shtick, using your patient mastery of groups.google.com, ever since I questioned your relationship with your maid: http://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/001482.html. Class my reaction as unseemly whining if you like; I think you're projecting.

Belle, thank you for taking the time to explain your post. But I think that I really did understand what you were trying to write the first time. What you wrote was still a message about American exceptionalism, grounded in a personal anecdote, and concluding with you questioning the patriotism of anyone who doesn't believe that "we are better than that". I don't believe that we are better than that, and I don't agree that a good way to oppose Abu Ghraib is by appealing to a romanticized version of U.S. history. As long as people still believe that we, as a country, are better than usual, there are going to continue to be Abu Ghraibs. (And no, I'm not suggesting the converse version of exceptionalism, that we are worse than usual.)


Rich, I post on the same newsgroups as Adam Yoshida. I've outed Adam Yoshida. Adam Yoshida considers himself an enemy of mine.

Rich, you're no Adam Yoshida. Just a minor cacodaemon of self-righteous rudeness. You could learn a lot from Adam, actually.


Rich Puchalsky

Carlos, I don't feel that I have much to learn from the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler. You clearly have learned a lot from him, though.

My original reply here was, as Fontana Labs said, both factual and relevant. I believe that I fully understand what Belle was trying to say, and I disagree with it. If you want to answer that with a torrent of abuse, including your latest cacodemon bit, that's your problem, not mine.

Carlos, I don't feel that I have much to learn from the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler.

Who? No, don't bother.

[snip blather]



This is just like that episode of I Blog Lucy, when Lucy in order to get a new intarweb account out of Ricky pretends that their anniversary is coming up and Ricky goes along with it, only then Lucy blogs about it and Ricky finds out and he say "Lucccccccccceeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" and she says "yeahhhh" "Lucy, I swear..." and then he does, only in spanish, and then he does that little dance he does whenever he's really excited where he turns around and shakes his buns, and they make up. And then Fred turns up and says Amerikkka sux.

Rich Puchalsky

Sorry for mixing up Misha with Yoshida. But snip blather, indeed.

Walt Pohl

Bryan, that was very funny.

Another Damned Medievalist

Um...Belle, I feel patriotic about your grandfather, I guess. As much as I feel patriotic about any person. But I think it's incredibly patriotic to think that we are supposed to be better than Abu Ghraib. It's also patriotic to out and punish every one of the people who participated in that behavior, because we have to be vigilant. The two things, as much as Rich seems to wnt us to believe, are not mutually exclusive. There are the ideals, and then there is trying to ensure that we live up to them and are not hypocritical about them.
In the case of your grandfather, it sounds like he exhibited great personal bravery during the war. My husband's father and uncles were all serving in various of His Majesty's services then, and one was in intelligence. D-Day itself was an amazing effort and, although I cringe whenever I hear a fellow Americans claiming credit for saving Britain and France (as I point out to the students, timeing, fresh troops and lots of good equipment played their roles), its importance and the sacrifices made there can't be denied.
Good on your grandfather, and good on you for pointing out ('cause it can't be done too many times, IMHO) that the comparisons of the Iraq War/War on Terror to WWII are pretty bogus. Thanks!

Anton Sherwood

Doug: "Asking around, we found out that about half of everyone seemed to have had it . . . ."

Let me guess: women?

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