reflections of a pragmatic optimist, lover of freedom

Month: November 2006

Christopher Hitchens on Faith

Wise words from the mind of Christopher Hitchens, from the closing of the “Holier Than Thou” episode of Penn & Teller’s “Bullshit!” (Season 3):

“Faith is the surrender of the mind. It’s the surrender of reason. It’s the surrender of the only thing that makes us different from other mammals. It’s our need to believe, to surrender our skepticism and our reason, our yearning to discard that and put all our trust or faith in someone or something that is the sinister thing to me. Of all the virtues, of all the supposed virtues, faith must be the most overrated.”

The Return of Bill Whittle

Bill Whittle is back with another characteristically on-point essay: “Seeing the Unseen, Part 1“:

I cannot think of a single example where appeasement giving in to an aggressive adversary in the hope that it will convince them to become peaceful themselves has provided any lasting peace or security. I can say in complete honesty that I look forward to hearing of any historical example that shows it does.

What I do see are barbarian forces closing in and sacking Rome because the Romans no longer had the will to defend themselves. Payments of tribute to the barbarian hordes only funded the creation of larger and better-armed hordes. The depredations of Viking Raiders throughout Northern Europe produced much in the way of ransom payments. The more ransom that was paid, the more aggressive and warlike the Vikings became. Why? Because it was working, thats why. And why not? Bluster costs nothing. If you can scare a person into giving you his hard-earned wealth, and suffer no loss in return, well then you my friend have hit the Vandal Jackpot. On the other hand, if you are, say, the Barbary Pirates, raiding and looting and having a grand time of it all, and across the world sits a Jefferson you know, Mr. Liberty and Restraint who has decided he has had enough and sends out an actual Navy to track these bastards down and sink them all… well, suddenly raiding and piracy is not such a lucrative occupation. So, contrary to doomsayers throughout history, the destruction of the Barbary Pirates did not result in the recruitment of more Pirates. The destruction of the Barbary Pirates resulted in the destruction of the Barbary Pirates.

And it is just so with terrorism. When the results of terrorism do the terrorist more harm than good, terrorism will go away. We need to harm these terrorists, not reward them, if we ever expect to see the end of them.

As always with Bill’s work, I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

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