Always Read The Whole Article

My young friend who blogs at Rightsided took issue with one of my recent posts about gun violence, though he didn’t actually address the question I posed to him and others like him about the ineffectiveness of small arms against a professional military:

“More Americans have been killed in our country within in [sic] the last year by guns than all U.S. soldiers killed in all of the years of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Richard Aborn writes in the New York Daily News.

I’d be interested to hear from some of the people who insisted to me yesterday that Iraq and Afghanistan are good examples of an insurgency with small arms standing up to a military that possesses overwhelming firepower.

From this statistic, it sure seems like the small arms you desperately believe are going to ward off governmental tyranny are really far more useful at killing (defenseless) civilians than soldiers.

You know what city alone has more homicides than troop killings in Afghanistan: Chicago.

You know what Chicago has: some of the strictest gun laws in the country.

Hell, Chicago has the highest murder rates in the world

So, shall we go the way of Chicago?

Instead, he noted that more civilians die in Chicago than troops in Afghanistan. This was, of course, my point. But his reasoning, apparently, is that there’s too much gun control in Chicago and that this accounts for the violence.

I guess I’ll begin by noting that Chicago doesn’t actually have the highest murder rate in the world.

My interlocutor links to the Steve Gill Show website to demonstrate that “Chicago has the highest murder rates [sic] in the world.” Gill’s piece (which is titled “‘CHICAGO HAS THE HIGHEST MURDER RATE’ IN THE WORLD”) centers around the fact that Chicago’s murder rate is 19.4/100,000. At the bottom of the piece, which is pretty much entirely a quote from another source, we learn that “We could be doing worse: Caracas, Venezuela has a murder rate of 130 per 100,000." Check out the numbers for Cape Town, South Africa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil or Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

This disregard for facts shouldn’t be too surprising. Steve Gill simply grabbed a couple of paragraphs from an NBC Chicago opinion piece … but only a couple of paragraphs. Because the rest of that piece completely disputes Gill’s point and that of my young friend.

So, here’s the rest of that piece so readers can really think about the issue for themselves:

Gun lovers are gleeful about Chicago’s deadly summer. They see it as a rebuke not just to gun control, but to the policies of Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel.

But Chicago’s murder rate is not proof that gun control doesn’t work. It’s proof that, in a country with one gun per citizen, local gun laws are meaningless.

Let’s look at Tokyo, one of the safest cities on that list, with a murder rate of 0.5 per 100,000 citizens. Japan’s constitution does not guarantee its citizens the right to bear arms. Handguns are prohibited. Semi-automatic weapons are prohibited. Automatic rifles are prohibited. The only exceptions are hunting shotguns and target-shooting pistols. The penalty for illegal possession of a gun is up to 15 years in prison. Japan has a population of 127 million. In 2006, two people were murdered with guns.

Japan starts with the principle that citizens have no right to a gun, and forces them to prove they need one. The United States starts with the principle that guns are an inalienable right, and forces the government to justify banning them.

The number-one factor in predicting crime is not guns — or lack of guns. It is concentrated urban poverty. Because of Chicago’s history as a segregated city, we have a lot of that.

There’s also this, from a much more recent piece that talks about Rahm Emanuel’s desire for tougher new gun laws:

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy agrees with Emanuel’s sense of urgency. Chicago’s top cop suggested the nation needs a better firearm tracking system.

"A national recognition that there has to be some sort of tracking, not even gun control accountability for gun owners," he said on Saturday. "It doesn’t mean you can’t have your gun, but there’s a requirement to report the lost, theft, or transfer of a firearm."

McCarthy explained most guns in Chicago are legally purchased, but illegally transferred into the city.

So, the Police Superintendant in Chicago disagrees with you about Chicago’s gun control laws and all of your facts are wrong.

But otherwise this is a bang-up response.

(Source: azipaybarah)

# guns # politics # Afghanistan # Chicago

reblogged from Right Sided
More Americans have been killed in our country within in [sic] the last year by guns than all U.S. soldiers killed in all of the years of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Richard Aborn writes in the New York Daily News.

I’d be interested to hear from some of the people who insisted to me yesterday that Iraq and Afghanistan are good examples of an insurgency with small arms standing up to a military that possesses overwhelming firepower.

From this statistic, it sure seems like the small arms you desperately believe are going to ward off governmental tyranny are really far more useful at killing (defenseless) civilians than soldiers.

(Source: azipaybarah)

# guns # politics # Iraq # Afghanistan

reblogged from The Longest Week
What are we to make of it if Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is executed for his role in the Kandahar massacre when there are not only doubts about whether he acted alone, but how the TBI and PTSD he sustained during three tours of duty may have contributed to his actions?
excitablehonky

I’d say we ought not to be particularly surprised.

If we use the death penalty in this case, we’ll feel really fine about ourselves, telling ourselves that we care a great deal about justice — not only for victims in the U.S. but for people everywhere — and that we’ve rooted out the one bad apple from amongst the heroic men and women we’ve sent overseas.

We’ll be wrong, of course, but at least we won’t have to ask more challenging questions about the intersection of mental health, warfare, and criminal justice … which is what we like about the death penalty.

# criminal justice # justice # death penalty # questions # Afghanistan

I caught a few minutes of a discussion on radio this morning about the video of four Marines urinating on the corpses of three Taliban fighters. Most of what I heard revolved around the notion that war is hell, that soldiers might do terrible things because they are encouraged to think of their enemy as radically Other, and that — of course — these are the terrible actions of a tiny, unrepresentative handful of American soldiers.
It’s also worth noting that, no matter how vile the behavior, it’s really nothing new. The above image is of Achilles dragging Hector’s corpse behind his chariot, one of the most famous scenes from the Trojan War. In the book that I’ve just finished on heroism, I look at Achilles’ repeated attempts to defile Hector’s body and make the argument that, even within the context of a brutal war in a far more brutal time period than our own, Achilles’ behavior was out of step.
He has avenged his friend Patroclus by killing Hector, but still Homer (XXIV.3-13) says that “Achilles / thought of his friend, and sleep that quiets all things / would not take hold of him. He tossed and turned / remembering with pain Patroklos’ courage…He lay / on his right side, then on his back, and then / face downward—but at last he rose, to wander / distractedly along the line of surf.” It is at this point that Achilles begins his daily desecration of Hector’s body, the savagery of which is even noted by the gods; Apollo, arguing that the corpse be taken from Achilles, says that he “shows no decency, implacable, / barbarous in his ways as a wild lion…The man has lost all mercy; / he has no shame” (Homer: XXIV.47-52).
Zeus determines that Achilles should accept ransom from Priam in exchange for Hector’s body, and he sends Thetis and Iris as messengers to inform both parties of his will. And so the great king of Troy departs for the Achaean camp “to do what no man else / has done before—to lift to my lips the hand / of one who killed my son” (Homer: XXIV.606-609).
When Priam arrives at Achilles’ tent at Zeus’ behest, a personal connection between the old king and the young warrior can finally made: “Remember your own father, / Achilles, in your godlike youth: his years / like mine are many, and he stands upon / the fearful doorstep of old age. He, too, / is hard pressed, it may be, by those around him, / there being no one able to defend him / from bane of war and ruin” (Homer: XXIV.82-87). Achilles, at this moment, takes pity on the king through a recognition of all that has been lost by both of their families. Achilles, after all, knows that Priam’s comparison is particularly apt; in the end, neither Priam nor Peleus will have a son to comfort him in his old age. As Seth Schein (160) points out, “the two old men are linked in their sorrows through Achilles.” The great warrior knows what Priam does not: Peleus will not see him alive again, precisely because of his decision to fight against and kill Priam’s son.
As Homer (XXIV.609-611) writes, “Now in Achilles / the evocation of his father stirred / new longing, and an ache of grief. He lifted / the old man’s hand and gently put him by.” Moved by the circumstances in which they find themselves, both men are overcome by emotion: “the old king huddled at Achilles’ feet / wept, and wept for Hektor, killer of men, / while great Achilles wept for his own father / as for Patroklos once again” (Homer: XXIV.613-616). Having shed these tears together with Priam, Achilles seems transformed; he is neither the daimon who killed so many Trojan warriors nor the beast that dragged Hector’s corpse around Patroclus’ tomb. But the change is an incomplete one as yet; although he is impressed that Priam has come to the Achaean camp and emotional about his father’s similar sorrow, the dangerous and savage killer rages just below Achilles’ exterior.
When Priam refuses to sit down with Achilles, saying that he cannot rest while Hector’s corpse lies in the dust, the warrior reminds the king that his pleas have only succeeded because Zeus has commanded it. And, even then, his position is a precarious one: “I have intended, in my own time, / to yield up Hektor to you. She who bore me, / the daughter of the Ancient of the sea, / has come with word to me from Zeus…Therefore, let me be. / Sting my sore heart again, and even here, / under my own roof, suppliant though you are, / I may not spare you, sir, but trample on / the express command of Zeus!” (Homer: XXIV.671-674, 680-683). It is unlikely that Achilles would actually defy Zeus –- especially as he immediately agreed to the god’s order when it came to him from Thetis (Homer: XXIV.165-167) –- but it is telling that Achilles continues to vacillate here between the daimon who challenges the gods and the mortal hero who understands his place in the community of other men.
At the same time, Achilles leaves his tent to make ready Hector’s body for Priam’s return journey; although he departs “like a lion” (Homer: XXIV.685), he takes great care in preparing the corpse. Homer (XXIV.697-699) says that Achilles “ordered the body bathed and rubbed with oil— / but lifted, too, and placed apart, where Priam / could not see his son.” He does so, notably, out of concern for Zeus’ order and also for Priam, “for seeing Hektor / he might in his great pain give way to rage, / and fury then might rise up in Achilles / to slay the old king, flouting Zeus’s word” (Homer: XXIV.699-702). Having done as Zeus commanded, Achilles apologizes to Patroclus’ spirit for agreeing to the return of Hector’s corpse.
He then returns to his tent and convinces the king to join him for a meal. It is at this point, his rage spent and his feelings of fellowship with Priam ascendant, that Achilles fully returns to the moral community. After Patroclus was killed, he insisted on abstaining from food and when he fought with Lycaon on the battlefield, he refused to acknowledge the cultural significance of breaking bread together.[i]
These two important incidents signaled the difference between Achilles and all other men; now, however, he returns to the traditional fellowship of the shared meal. Schein (161) argues that “The two break bread together in an expression of their shared humanity; this takes precedence of their previous enmity and acknowledges the necessities of a life that goes on even after such deep losses as they have suffered.” He is once again fully human, no longer more -– daimon –- or less -– bestial or symbolically dead -– than other mortals.
Having eaten together, Achilles and Priam are once again overwhelmed; this time, however, it is not their grief but their awe of one another that causes them to share a very intimate moment. Homer (XXIV.753-758) writes that “When thirst and appetite were turned away, / Priam, the heir of Dardanos, gazed long / in wonder at Achilles’ form and scale— / so like the gods in aspect. And Achilles / in his turn gazed in wonder upon Priam, / royal in visage as in speech.” While a bed is prepared for Priam, who says that he has not slept since his son’s death, Achilles asks how long the Trojans will require in order to conduct a proper funeral for Hector. The king asks for eleven days and Achilles agrees to suspend the fighting for that time, both men knowing that a resumption on the twelfth day will lead to their deaths.
With this, the Iliad comes to a close; Achilles goes to sleep and Priam, awoken by Hermes, returns to Troy to conduct Hector’s funeral. Schein (159) argues that, in Priam, “Achilles finally finds a ‘father’ whom he can accept, one with as great or greater a need than his own for consolation and elemental human solidarity.” Achilles, then, is brought back from the brink of infamy by Priam, a most unlikely savior. In making plain their intimate connection, Priam not only succeeds in claiming his son’s body but also restores Achilles to the human community from which he has been divorced by what he thought was his singular grief and the brutal warfare to which it led him.
The desecration of corpses has a long history but it has always been regarded as the most vile behavior, out of step with even the many brutal deeds committed on the battlefield (for which a warrior could earn acclaim). For most of the warriors who fought at Troy, the Other was not so radically different; they generally recognized the conventions of the day because they recognized the humanity in one another. And when Achilles — the greatest of the warrior of his time — acted reprehensibly, he needed to be corrected, reminded that his enemies were like him and deserved respect and pity.
The American people generally need to be reminded too, as do our politicians who send troops all over the world and clearly those soldiers themselves. Who will be our Priam?

[i] The fellowship found in the relationship between guest and host -– which involves ceremonial gift-giving and, often, a shared meal -– is a theme that is featured prominently in the Iliad and with good reason. While the cleartest example can be found in the battlefield conversation between Diomedes and Glaucus (Homer: VI.253-275, who choose not to fight because their ancestors exchanged gifts with one another and broke bread together, it is noteworthy that a particularly egregious example of broken fellowship –- Paris’ stealing of Helen from the house of Menelaus after the former receives the latter’s hospitality -– provides the context in which all of the poem’s action takes place.

I caught a few minutes of a discussion on radio this morning about the video of four Marines urinating on the corpses of three Taliban fighters. Most of what I heard revolved around the notion that war is hell, that soldiers might do terrible things because they are encouraged to think of their enemy as radically Other, and that — of course — these are the terrible actions of a tiny, unrepresentative handful of American soldiers.

It’s also worth noting that, no matter how vile the behavior, it’s really nothing new. The above image is of Achilles dragging Hector’s corpse behind his chariot, one of the most famous scenes from the Trojan War. In the book that I’ve just finished on heroism, I look at Achilles’ repeated attempts to defile Hector’s body and make the argument that, even within the context of a brutal war in a far more brutal time period than our own, Achilles’ behavior was out of step.

He has avenged his friend Patroclus by killing Hector, but still Homer (XXIV.3-13) says that “Achilles / thought of his friend, and sleep that quiets all things / would not take hold of him. He tossed and turned / remembering with pain Patroklos’ courage…He lay / on his right side, then on his back, and then / face downward—but at last he rose, to wander / distractedly along the line of surf.” It is at this point that Achilles begins his daily desecration of Hector’s body, the savagery of which is even noted by the gods; Apollo, arguing that the corpse be taken from Achilles, says that he “shows no decency, implacable, / barbarous in his ways as a wild lion…The man has lost all mercy; / he has no shame” (Homer: XXIV.47-52).

Zeus determines that Achilles should accept ransom from Priam in exchange for Hector’s body, and he sends Thetis and Iris as messengers to inform both parties of his will. And so the great king of Troy departs for the Achaean camp “to do what no man else / has done before—to lift to my lips the hand / of one who killed my son” (Homer: XXIV.606-609).

When Priam arrives at Achilles’ tent at Zeus’ behest, a personal connection between the old king and the young warrior can finally made: “Remember your own father, / Achilles, in your godlike youth: his years / like mine are many, and he stands upon / the fearful doorstep of old age. He, too, / is hard pressed, it may be, by those around him, / there being no one able to defend him / from bane of war and ruin” (Homer: XXIV.82-87). Achilles, at this moment, takes pity on the king through a recognition of all that has been lost by both of their families. Achilles, after all, knows that Priam’s comparison is particularly apt; in the end, neither Priam nor Peleus will have a son to comfort him in his old age. As Seth Schein (160) points out, “the two old men are linked in their sorrows through Achilles.” The great warrior knows what Priam does not: Peleus will not see him alive again, precisely because of his decision to fight against and kill Priam’s son.

As Homer (XXIV.609-611) writes, “Now in Achilles / the evocation of his father stirred / new longing, and an ache of grief. He lifted / the old man’s hand and gently put him by.” Moved by the circumstances in which they find themselves, both men are overcome by emotion: “the old king huddled at Achilles’ feet / wept, and wept for Hektor, killer of men, / while great Achilles wept for his own father / as for Patroklos once again” (Homer: XXIV.613-616). Having shed these tears together with Priam, Achilles seems transformed; he is neither the daimon who killed so many Trojan warriors nor the beast that dragged Hector’s corpse around Patroclus’ tomb. But the change is an incomplete one as yet; although he is impressed that Priam has come to the Achaean camp and emotional about his father’s similar sorrow, the dangerous and savage killer rages just below Achilles’ exterior.

When Priam refuses to sit down with Achilles, saying that he cannot rest while Hector’s corpse lies in the dust, the warrior reminds the king that his pleas have only succeeded because Zeus has commanded it. And, even then, his position is a precarious one: “I have intended, in my own time, / to yield up Hektor to you. She who bore me, / the daughter of the Ancient of the sea, / has come with word to me from Zeus…Therefore, let me be. / Sting my sore heart again, and even here, / under my own roof, suppliant though you are, / I may not spare you, sir, but trample on / the express command of Zeus!” (Homer: XXIV.671-674, 680-683). It is unlikely that Achilles would actually defy Zeus –- especially as he immediately agreed to the god’s order when it came to him from Thetis (Homer: XXIV.165-167) –- but it is telling that Achilles continues to vacillate here between the daimon who challenges the gods and the mortal hero who understands his place in the community of other men.

At the same time, Achilles leaves his tent to make ready Hector’s body for Priam’s return journey; although he departs “like a lion” (Homer: XXIV.685), he takes great care in preparing the corpse. Homer (XXIV.697-699) says that Achilles “ordered the body bathed and rubbed with oil— / but lifted, too, and placed apart, where Priam / could not see his son.” He does so, notably, out of concern for Zeus’ order and also for Priam, “for seeing Hektor / he might in his great pain give way to rage, / and fury then might rise up in Achilles / to slay the old king, flouting Zeus’s word” (Homer: XXIV.699-702). Having done as Zeus commanded, Achilles apologizes to Patroclus’ spirit for agreeing to the return of Hector’s corpse.

He then returns to his tent and convinces the king to join him for a meal. It is at this point, his rage spent and his feelings of fellowship with Priam ascendant, that Achilles fully returns to the moral community. After Patroclus was killed, he insisted on abstaining from food and when he fought with Lycaon on the battlefield, he refused to acknowledge the cultural significance of breaking bread together.[i]

These two important incidents signaled the difference between Achilles and all other men; now, however, he returns to the traditional fellowship of the shared meal. Schein (161) argues that “The two break bread together in an expression of their shared humanity; this takes precedence of their previous enmity and acknowledges the necessities of a life that goes on even after such deep losses as they have suffered.” He is once again fully human, no longer more -– daimon –- or less -– bestial or symbolically dead -– than other mortals.

Having eaten together, Achilles and Priam are once again overwhelmed; this time, however, it is not their grief but their awe of one another that causes them to share a very intimate moment. Homer (XXIV.753-758) writes that “When thirst and appetite were turned away, / Priam, the heir of Dardanos, gazed long / in wonder at Achilles’ form and scale— / so like the gods in aspect. And Achilles / in his turn gazed in wonder upon Priam, / royal in visage as in speech.” While a bed is prepared for Priam, who says that he has not slept since his son’s death, Achilles asks how long the Trojans will require in order to conduct a proper funeral for Hector. The king asks for eleven days and Achilles agrees to suspend the fighting for that time, both men knowing that a resumption on the twelfth day will lead to their deaths.

With this, the Iliad comes to a close; Achilles goes to sleep and Priam, awoken by Hermes, returns to Troy to conduct Hector’s funeral. Schein (159) argues that, in Priam, “Achilles finally finds a ‘father’ whom he can accept, one with as great or greater a need than his own for consolation and elemental human solidarity.” Achilles, then, is brought back from the brink of infamy by Priam, a most unlikely savior. In making plain their intimate connection, Priam not only succeeds in claiming his son’s body but also restores Achilles to the human community from which he has been divorced by what he thought was his singular grief and the brutal warfare to which it led him.

The desecration of corpses has a long history but it has always been regarded as the most vile behavior, out of step with even the many brutal deeds committed on the battlefield (for which a warrior could earn acclaim). For most of the warriors who fought at Troy, the Other was not so radically different; they generally recognized the conventions of the day because they recognized the humanity in one another. And when Achilles — the greatest of the warrior of his time — acted reprehensibly, he needed to be corrected, reminded that his enemies were like him and deserved respect and pity.

The American people generally need to be reminded too, as do our politicians who send troops all over the world and clearly those soldiers themselves. Who will be our Priam?



[i] The fellowship found in the relationship between guest and host -– which involves ceremonial gift-giving and, often, a shared meal -– is a theme that is featured prominently in the Iliad and with good reason. While the cleartest example can be found in the battlefield conversation between Diomedes and Glaucus (Homer: VI.253-275, who choose not to fight because their ancestors exchanged gifts with one another and broke bread together, it is noteworthy that a particularly egregious example of broken fellowship –- Paris’ stealing of Helen from the house of Menelaus after the former receives the latter’s hospitality -– provides the context in which all of the poem’s action takes place.

# Homer # politics # philosophy # long reads # Afghanistan # global affairs


In a country desperately in need of a hero, Sayyid Abdullah Hashemi would like to apply for the job.

This New York Times piece nicely demonstrates that heroic motivation isn’t always a clear-cut thing and that it’s seldom easy to act heroically:

Whether he was motivated by altruism, ambition or some mix of the two may matter little given the importance of his work. But how Mr. Hashemi fares over the long term may be an important sign of whether a reform ethic stands any chance against the corruption so deeply embedded here.

HT: Matt Langdon.

In a country desperately in need of a hero, Sayyid Abdullah Hashemi would like to apply for the job.

This New York Times piece nicely demonstrates that heroic motivation isn’t always a clear-cut thing and that it’s seldom easy to act heroically:

Whether he was motivated by altruism, ambition or some mix of the two may matter little given the importance of his work. But how Mr. Hashemi fares over the long term may be an important sign of whether a reform ethic stands any chance against the corruption so deeply embedded here.

HT: Matt Langdon.

# heroism # Afghanistan # global affairs

What’s Wrong With Our Society, 3.5

In the fifth episode of MTV’s “Jersey Shore,” we learn a little bit about how to issue an effective apology courtesy of Sammi. Oh — and MVP create and make use of the Grenade Horn, to alert one another (and the neighborhood) to the presence of grenades at the Jersey Shore house.

As Sammi and Ronnie continue to have their (unending and insufferable) relationship problems, Ronnie decides that he hasn’t really done anything wrong — at least lately, since we know that he did many, many things wrong in Miami in Season 2 — and realizes that he ought to be having fun with the rest of the gang rather than moping around the house with Sammi.

He begins by patching things up with J-WOWW … but when Sammi sees them talking, she confronts Ronnie and ends up punching him in the face for his transgression. After this bizarrely violent action, Sammi seems to recognize that she’s gone over the edge and she decides she probably needs to leave the Jersey Shore house.

Rather than actually doing so, however, she ultimately opts for the next best thing: apologizing to Snooki and J-WOWW for about a year’s worth of unpleasantness. And, amazingly, they accept.

Why?

To find an answer to that question, let’s begin with a recent example of a failed public apology, from the New York Times:

The American commander in Afghanistan apologized in person to the leadership of the Afghan government Sunday for the mistaken killing of nine Afghan children in Kunar Province on March 1, but the Afghan president rejected the apology, according to a statement from the president’s spokesman.

General David H. Petraeus attended the Afghan National Security Council meeting held Sunday and explained that the shooting of the boys, who were all between 9 and 15 years old, was a mistake and apologized to the Afghan people.

In response, President Hamid Karzai said that the apology was insufficient. Civilian casualties worsen the relationship between Afghanistan and the United States, he said, according to the statement.

“The people of Afghanistan are tired of these incidents and excuses, and condemnations can not relieve their pain,” said Mr. Karzai, according to the statement. “I am asking you on behalf of the people of Afghanistan that there be no repetition of this incident,” the statement said.

Both apologies — from Sammi and Petraeus — were made in person, a critically important component of a successful apology. What’s more, both apologies contained explanations about why the offense was uncharacteristic. It’s noteworthy, however, that observers of both the “Jersey Shore” and the war in Afghanistan know that such behavior — while obviously filling Sammi and Petraeus with regret — aren’t actually so uncharacteristic. As Karzai points out, there are many examples of civilian casualties due to U.S. actions in Afghanistan and, as we know, Sammi’s unpleasant behavior toward Snooki and J-WOWW didn’t begin and end in Miami.

The principle difference is clearly that Snooki and J-WOWW actually like Sammi, as evidenced by their desire to alert her to Ronnie’s infidelity in Miami (a central plot line of the entire second season, for those who haven’t been keeping up).[1] The same simply cannot be said with regard to the relationship between Afghanistan and the U.S. Though Karzai might need the U.S. presence to maintain his hold on power, it’s certainly not a damaged friendship that he’s desperate to repair. With that in mind, it might very well be the case that no apology from Petraeus would be sufficient for Karzai while any apology from Sammi might have been accepted by Snooki. In other words, it’s important to evaluate the relationship before wading into an apology because the result of the apology will likely depend more on the relationship’s status than on the apology’s quality.

This doesn’t mean that Petraeus ought not to have apologized, of course; it simply suggests that he probably shouldn’t have expected a great result from doing so. Sammi, on the other hand, learned a valuable lesson about Snooki and J-WOWW: no matter how badly she treats them, it seems that they’ll forgive her. This does not bode well for the remainder of the season (or next season, abroad), as it might give Sammi something of a blank check.



[1] I realize that another difference – the actually critical one – is that one incident involved the shooting deaths of nine Afghan children while the other was a moronic on-going argument between three young women on an MTV reality television show. I don’t mean to minimize the tragedy of the former in any way by comparing it to the latter and I hope that readers will recognize that I’m simply attempting to use the two incidents to tease out some important points about apology from an inane television program.

# Afghanistan # Jersey Shore # MTV # television

Since I’m at work on a book about heroism, from time to time I’ll post something that’s related. Here’s an account of the heroism of Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, the most recent Medal of Honor recipient:

Miller killed at least 10 insurgents and wounded dozens more in repeatedly exposing himself to enemy fire “in keeping with the highest traditions of military service”
…
Obama gave a detailed account of the combat in which Miller was killed, describing how the small group of U.S. and Afghan soldiers came under fire in a narrow valley from protected enemy positions above.
Realizing the peril of the situation, Miller ordered his team to fall back, but then “did something extraordinary,” Obama said.
"Rob moved the other way, toward the insurgents," to draw their fire so his team could back off safely, the president said.
The others could hear Miller firing and calling out enemy positions amid overwhelming enemy fire, Obama said.
…
Five members of his team were wounded, Obama said, but all survived. He quoted one of the survivors as saying, “I would not be alive today if not for his ultimate sacrifice.”

Miller’s story is so compelling because it emphasizes the way in which ordinary people ultimately do extraordinary things. But, beyond that, it’s interesting to me because it highlights how often the line is blurred between the war hero, who excels on the battlefield, and the moral hero, who makes a monumental sacrifice on behalf of others.
The two sorts of hero, I argue, aren’t necessarily connected, but it’s a virtual certainty that we are more comfortable honoring our moral war heroes as opposed to those who simply excel at killing others on the battlefield.
Full story here.

Since I’m at work on a book about heroism, from time to time I’ll post something that’s related. Here’s an account of the heroism of Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, the most recent Medal of Honor recipient:

Miller killed at least 10 insurgents and wounded dozens more in repeatedly exposing himself to enemy fire “in keeping with the highest traditions of military service”

Obama gave a detailed account of the combat in which Miller was killed, describing how the small group of U.S. and Afghan soldiers came under fire in a narrow valley from protected enemy positions above.

Realizing the peril of the situation, Miller ordered his team to fall back, but then “did something extraordinary,” Obama said.

"Rob moved the other way, toward the insurgents," to draw their fire so his team could back off safely, the president said.

The others could hear Miller firing and calling out enemy positions amid overwhelming enemy fire, Obama said.

Five members of his team were wounded, Obama said, but all survived. He quoted one of the survivors as saying, “I would not be alive today if not for his ultimate sacrifice.”

Miller’s story is so compelling because it emphasizes the way in which ordinary people ultimately do extraordinary things. But, beyond that, it’s interesting to me because it highlights how often the line is blurred between the war hero, who excels on the battlefield, and the moral hero, who makes a monumental sacrifice on behalf of others.

The two sorts of hero, I argue, aren’t necessarily connected, but it’s a virtual certainty that we are more comfortable honoring our moral war heroes as opposed to those who simply excel at killing others on the battlefield.

Full story here.

# heroism # Afghanistan

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