Patterico's Pontifications

9/3/2006

On Cowardice

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:11 pm



After Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig were released, I said of Centanni’s decision to go along with a forced conversion to Islam: “I don’t blame the guy. I’m glad he’s home with his family.” My sentiments obviously applied to Wiig as well.

One of the commenters in that thread mildly criticized me for saying something he thought was obvious.

But I knew it wasn’t obvious, because I knew that there would eventually be someone like David Warren who would come along and condemn Centanni’s and Wiig’s decision to cooperate with their captors as “cowardice.”

I share Warren’s admiration for Fabrizio Quattrocchi, the Italian who defied his Islamist captors, crying out: “This is how an Italian dies!”

But I wouldn’t presume to question someone’s character for cooperating with terrorists who have threatened their life.

And unlike Warren, I do not discount the danger they faced by arguing that, “in retrospect, their lives probably weren’t in danger.”

That’s easy for Warren to say now.

And it’s easy for Warren to be self-righteous about the actions of Centanni and Wiig — whom Warren holds in such contempt that he won’t even “stoop” to name them — from behind the safety of his computer keyboard.

(Via Xrlq, whose assessment of Warren is spot-on.)

UPDATE: Jules Crittenden has a suggestion for Warren:

Offer yourself up. Sgt. Keith Maupin has been missing for two years. Israel wants three of its soldiers back. In exchange for you, maybe Al Qaeda will tell Maupin’s parents what they did with him. Maybe Hamas and Hezbollah will produce the Israelis. Maybe not, it doesn’t matter. Because this really isn’t about any innocent’s life or death. It’s about your big chance at martyrdom. So put up, or shut up. Unless you are just another conventional coward.

Not a bad idea. Ball’s in your court, Mr. Warren.

139 Responses to “On Cowardice”

  1. Right on. I usually disagree with you (I’m a libertarian who thinks the R’s really need some time in the wilderness), but you’re dead on here.

    The people attacking these reporters are shameful.

    fishbane (3389fc)

  2. All the incident pointed out to me is how many Muslims themselves must be remaining as such only thru threats and force, else why would Islam need to force conversions at gunpoint or take such a harsh line (generally death) against apostasy?

    [IIRC, the apostasy rules came about as a matter of policy and are not from the Koran.]

    ras (a646fc)

  3. If you don’t believe in invisible pink unicorns to begin with, it’s a lot easier on your conscious to claim to believe in invisible blue unicorns, especially if the alternative is death at the hands of idiots who do believe.

    I wonder if those who refuse to deceive a court, in order to nullify an unjust law, would be able to lie about converting to Islam if they were brought before a Sharia judge…

    Frank N Stein (38ff57)

  4. I can not fault them for their ‘conversion’ if they feared for their lives, which they appear to have understandably done. Nor do I fault them for making no reference or some sort of big deal of it immediately upon release, while still in Gaza or even when in Israel. What I do find puzzling is the seeming black out on any discussion of it now that they are back in the US. It’s suddenly relegated to be a non-event/never happened sort of thing and thus far I have yet to hear any mention of it, how it came about, how they feel about it, what it meant (if anything) in the greater scope of the kidnapping and release. And the utter silence serves only, it seems to me, to further advance Al-Jazerra et al in their claims of how weak the West is.

    dustoffmom (97cb0b)

  5. I could absolutely see a situation where you’d be a coward to go along with your captors – if the captors wanted you to blow up police cars, or the captors wanted you to snipe innocents, the right answer is, “Shoot me now, [obscenity of choice]”

    But Warren argues that the journalists probably aren’t Christians, but should still have done…. something. Assuming they were Christians, a gunpoint conversion obviously destroys Christianity and makes baby Jesus cry, as near as I can tell.

    Whether they were or weren’t, an unconvincing conversion followed by some Stockholm syndrome statements do not make the two kidnapped journalists bad people. At all.

    In my opinion, getting your head lopped off by terrorists is irresponsible if avoidable. If you have to say a few words in support of a deity you don’t believe in, that’s just not a crime against humanity.

    –JRM

    JRM (5e00de)

  6. Peaceful muslims just like the aztecs were peacful back to nature freaks just like the enviromentalists wackos

    krazy kagu (52a738)

  7. Peaceful muslims just like the aztecs were peacful back to nature freaks just like the enviromentalists wackos

    Why, yes! anti-emissions smelly hippy bike riders are just like those who behead people, and eat their hearts.

    (Hey, don’t blame me for mixing metaphors.)

    fishbane (3389fc)

  8. Mr. Warren is wrong. His post and his premise are total nonsense. He holds journalists to the same standard as ordinary Americans. Such as those on Flight 93.

    nk (b57bfb)

  9. Warren implies that you’re either a braveheart or a coward, whereas in fact most people live their lives as neither.

    ras (a646fc)

  10. I wonder if those who refuse to deceive a court, in order to nullify an unjust law, would be able to lie about converting to Islam if they were brought before a Sharia judge…

    That’s an interesting question, but not because it makes sense. A nonbeliever would never be brought before a Sharia court, by definition. Talking about Sharia is like talking about “Western law” – one can make broad stroke comments, but there’s always a rule somewhere that disproves it. Fact is, it is very complicated, widely adopted, and… different. Sometimes wrong. But hey, we wouldn’t be fighting about nullification if we were for all times perfect, right?

    In other news, In my opinion, getting your head lopped off by terrorists is irresponsible if avoidable.

    I’m glad we agree on that. What about a toe? Finger? What if you don’t have kids?

    fishbane (3389fc)

  11. I think that instead of discussing their forced “conversions” seriously (as David Warren and Mark Steyn think they should), the reporters should say something like:

    The kidnapping and treatment and death-threats were simply horrible. But reciting some meaningless gobbledygook to make our captors happy — that meant nothing to us at all. I’m sure none of you people back home took that crap seriously. I mean, come on!

    LTEC (d17b04)

  12. All the terrorist accomplished was the make Islam and everyone that practices the kook religion look more stupid, if that is possible.

    Scrapiron (9f37aa)

  13. I think David Warren judges people too harshly. One wouldn’t like to be judged like that. I remember when Canada was unsupportive of America fairly early after 11 September 2001, he suggested it would be natural or even proper for people in countries that were sticking to their alliance with America (like Australia) to despise Canadians. I didn’t think like that, and I thought it was creepy that he did, or that he thought that I and other Australians legitimately might. On another occasion, he portrayed Tony Blair as a coward “going wobbly” who needed a hard slap across the face from America to straighten him up, and got it. Again, I though that was wrong, because Tony Blair has showed immense courage in alliance politics, on the war on terror, and in Iraq, and I thought David Warren was beyond being wrong, he was also being creepy.

    So, in my opinion, that’s a weakness of expression and perhaps also of temperament that he has.

    In this case, I though he should have shut up. It was rude for him to speak on such a shameful matter.

    But now that the debate is not whether he was tactful but whether he was right – I think he was right. And I think he had the right to say what he said, even if he would have been wiser not to exercise it.

    The people saying David Warren should go and put himself in the hands of jihadists to have the right to speak are being silly, and un-serious. There is no reason why he should do that, and if he did they would have no reason to admire him and withdraw their objections, rather they would have a good reason to dismiss him, for being an obvious nutcase.

    It doesn’t matter if David Warren is a credentialed tough guy. He still has the right to say: this is wrong, this should not have been done, and Fabricio Quattrocchi showed what should have been done. And I think that is right.

    I don’t think the “chicken-hawk attack” is valid, and I don’t think it’s valid either to take the extra step and say in effect that because it’s socially verboten to criticise what Khaled Centanni and Ya’aqob Wiig did, that what Khaled Centanni and Ya’aqob Wiig did was right.

    That’s a version of the argument from political correctness. (That is: shut up – if you say “not-X”, true or not, I’ll damn you as a racist or something like that. And now that everyone is pressed into not defending the “not-X” position, I’ll assert “X” as truth and win unopposed.) It’s no good. It’s not even creditable to try to win like that.

    However, if you want to argue straightforwardly that it is good to embrace Islam, and not rely on personally damning those who say it’s wrong to give in to fear and make what is in effect war propaganda for the enemy and even change your religion – then fine.

    By the way, on the religious rules – denying Jesus is against His rules, according to what He said in the Bible and Christian tradition, so that actually does “make baby Jesus cry”. It is also seriously wrong for Jews to abandon their religion, and a lot of Jews have died for that reason, refusing forced conversion to other religions such as Christianity. (Even though normally Jews are all in favor of staying alive.) Generally speaking, for Pagans the rules are less straightforward, and it’s hard to sum up a lot of religions with different rules and special cases, but cowardice is still a bad idea. If you convert to another religion because you can’t face the prospect of death, then why should valkyries come for you?

    But if you believe in nothing but doing whatever it takes in life to get a sugar cube and not a shock, then sure, yes. Capitulate away, that is your creed.

    However in that case, I don’t want any moral advice from you, on the beauty of the Palestinian cause or anything else. A licence plate that said “live free or die” would have more wisdom and worth than everything you could do or say in your whole life, with that attitude.

    If Khaled Centanni and Ya’aqob Wiig had just shut up, the case that they should not be criticised would be stronger. When they combined obvious cowardice with moral instruction, they were practically asking for someone tactless like David Warren to say correctly: “No. That’s not all right.”

    David Blue (19364f)

  14. PS: I should have said: “In this case, I thought he should have shut up. It was rude for him to speak on such a shameful matter.”

    And I want to clarify a couple of things.

    I’m also glad Khaled Centanni and Ya’aqob Wiig are home with their families. That’s not the part I have a problem with.

    And I don’t really mind that Khaled Centanni and Ya’aqob Wiig were taking moral stands without any tough guy credentials to back them up. After all that’s what I’m doing, and it’s what David Warren did, and I say that’s all right.

    The part I have a problem with is where Khaled Centanni and Ya’aqob Wiig effectively had a free pass morally, because of genuine pity and people not wanting to speak on such a shameful matter – and instead of just letting everything drop into silence straight away, which is the best they could have done at that point, they had to give us a pro-jihadist take on what was morally right, using their shame and the silence around it as though it was a credential.

    I don’t like that. I think they should not have done that.

    All they had to do was hug their loved ones and go home in silence.

    But since they didn’t, I think it was correct and maybe even necessary, though not very nice, for David Warren to call them on their malarkey.

    David Blue (19364f)

  15. I don’t think it’s very nice for you to keep calling them by these names they adopted under coercion.

    It feels like someone calling a rape victim dirty.

    Patterico (de0616)

  16. Why are you taking what I said in such a nasty way?

    I have a problem, because those are the names they say they have. I’m just accepting the decision they made. Normally, that is considered polite. And I didn’t use their new names in a sarcastic or mocking way or anything like that.

    You may think Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig are their real names. Or you may think that those are not their real names, but I should talk as though those were their real names anyway, on pain of being compared to someone who calls a rape victim dirty. It’s not clear what you’re saying except that you just escalated the rhetoric in an ugly way.

    But anyway, that’s not the decision they made.

    If they say tomorrow that their names are Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig, that’s what I’ll call them.

    Who says what their real names are – you or them?

    And why am I a bad guy – and such a disgusting sort of bad guy – for using the names they said to use?

    David Blue (2e9a57)

  17. The same arguement can be made for ransom payments, unfortunately.

    While it is horrible not to pay and risk the death of a loved one: paying the ransom gives incentive to other kidnappers and actually funds the next operation, in some cases.

    The easy acceptance of this forced conversion will make the incentive for other Muslims to demand captives convert and more likely that violence – facing saving in cases of refusal – wll result.

    While the reporters are not responsible for the actions of others, they are responsible for the environment they helped to create – perception of Western weakness, just as much as Jimmy Carter is not responsible for 9-11. Osama bin Laden, et al, is.

    But Carter, et. al. – and it is a very large list – is responsible for the Muslim belief in the “Paper Tiger US” which created the belief that such an act was an acceptible risk as the US would do nothing to retaliate.

    As a member of the law profession “Ceasar’s wife should be above suspicion…” should be well known to you, even if it is horrifically unfair to Pompeia.

    Adriane (f7888d)

  18. All the terrorist accomplished was the make Islam and everyone that practices the kook religion look more stupid, if that is possible.

    “the kook religion”?

    What an utterly ridiculous thing to say.

    Patterico (de0616)

  19. David Blue:

    Steve Centanni is referred to as Steve Centanni in this interview, and he refers to Wiig as Olaf.

    So cut it out.

    If a man holds a knife to a woman’s throat and rapes her and forces her to call herself a “dirty bitch,” would you call her that?

    It’s just offensive, in my view. These men were coerced at gunpoint, and you’re referring to them by the names they were forced to take, at gunpoint.

    Get real.

    Patterico (de0616)

  20. Adriane,

    I don’t see it as the same as ransom payments, at all.

    So they got a couple of guys to “convert,” and it’s now obvious to everyone it was not serious.

    That’s gonna encourage more kidnappings?

    And without a ransom, there’s no funding more terrorism.

    It’s a strained analogy at best, I think.

    Patterico (de0616)

  21. Adriane: “The easy acceptance of this forced conversion will make the incentive for other Muslims to demand captives convert and more likely that violence – facing saving in cases of refusal – wll result.”

    I think that’s true.

    I don’t agree with David Warren that Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig as they then were were probably not in terrible danger. I think that’s a silly thing to say.

    We were never going to get a lot of people emerging from Muslim captivity to say: “They threatened me to make me deny my faith, but I defied them and here I am safe and sound.” Muslim face-saving would not let that happen.

    Even less so now that jihadists will surely think of Western infidels as cowards whose submission is owed to them on presentation of a convincing threat.

    I think there will be more conversions “without compulsion” in Muslim style.

    And I think in most cases the names of the heroes who held out will never be known. What happened will be buried in shallow graves along with the bodies, to protect Islam’s winning record. We’ll just hear that someone went missing, and perhaps that they were killed, but never that they were put to the test, and what they endured, and they won.

    David Blue (2e9a57)

  22. OK, he’s answering to Steve and he calls his friend Olaf, and he’d be the one to know if it’s all right to do that, so I’ll call them Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig again.

    Here with us tonight, FOX’s own Steve Centanni.

    Boy, I’m glad to see you.

    STEVE CENTANNI, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I’m glad to be here. You bet I’m glad, yes.

    HANNITY: You know, one of the things, Steve, you went in there to tell the story of the Palestinians here.

    CENTANNI: That’s what we tried to tell them from the first time we were able to talk to anybody.

    ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Nice to meet you in person. And Steve, I don’t think I’ve ever been this happy to have a guest on this show as you here tonight.

    CENTANNI: Thank you.

    COLMES: Steve, when was the moment you knew, “All right, I’m going to be free?” When was that moment?

    CENTANNI: When I was free.

    COLMES: We now continue with our special guest, FOX News’ own Steve Centanni and Jennifer Griffin.

    How do you explain the relationship between hostage and captor?

    CENTANNI: Well, there were different levels of captors.

    COLMES: How did you maintain your composure?

    CENTANNI: I don’t know. Olaf and I had each other.

    That’s easily enough – there’s more.

    The situation was a little complicated, because according the religion Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig professed, conversion to Islam with no coercion of exactly this type – at knife-point – are totally legitimate and have been carried out without interruption since the practice was personally instituted by the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh). But it is now clear, it’s Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig again.

    David Blue (2e9a57)

  23. David Blue makes strong arguments, although I disagree with them.

    Look, Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig — okay if I use those names? — didn’t ask to be kidnapped and threatened. So let’s break their conduct into two components.

    First, what Centanni and Wiig did while under duress and controlled by the kidnappers.
    Second, what they did after release, after compulsion ceased. I won’t discuss Centanni and Wiig’s seemingly craven behavior on regaining their freedom, as the controversy centers on point #1.

    Warren says that during captivity

    They were told to convert to Islam under implicit threat (blindfolded and hand-tied, they could not judge what threat), and agreed to make the propaganda broadcasts to guarantee their own safety. That much we can understand, as conventional cowardice. (Understand; not forgive.)

    He then contrasts Centanni’s and Wiig’s cowardice to Fabrizio Quattrocchi’s heroism.

    So, Warren is clear on his stance: victims are cowards and wrong if they do anything other than confound and resist the victimizers. The analogies of the advice given by the military to soldiers in the event of their capture (limited cooperation permissible, depending on the circumstances) and that given by public safety authorities to women in the event of rape (limited cooperation advisable, depending on the circumstances) are thus relevant to the central point.

    By Warren’s lights, Jill Carroll of the Christian Science Monitor was also a coward and wrong for trying (successfully) to endure her captivity and survive (her story here).

    Warren is twisted: the aggressors have coerced the victims, now it’s up to the victims to perform their part in the morality play by demonstrating bravery, for the rest of us to appreciate via our television screens.

    Curiouser, even: it was up to victims Centanni and Wiig to conduct themselves by the standards of Warren’s brand of Christianity:

    I assume they are not Christians (few journalists are), but had they ever been instructed in that faith, they might have grasped that conversion to Islam means denial of Christ, and that is something many millions of Christians (few of them intellectuals) have refused to do, even at the cost of excruciating deaths. Christianity still lives, because of such martyrs. Not suicide bombers: but truly defenceless martyrs.

    Even though they are both, likely, agnostics or atheists.

    As far as I know, Warren also subtly misrepresents Fabrizio Quattrocci’s situation. He knew, or had reason to think, that his captors were about to use him in a snuff film. He faced the end of his life as a hero, discarding the slim chance that he could beg his way to freedom, and ruining the jihadi’s propaganda.

    A thought experiment: your distant cousin and two other captured soldiers are told, “state for the camera that you have converted to Islam, and you will be released. If you do not, you will be beheaded. Need help making up your mind? Here’s a cell phone, call anyone in the world for 15 seconds of advice.” The first guy calls Warren; the second guy calls Xrlq; one beheading and one release. Now your cousin calls you.

    What’s your advice?

    AMac (e560bc)

  24. The thread is moving fast (or I type slow). For context, I wrote #23 after reading through #16 David Blue.

    AMac (e560bc)

  25. Centanni in this interview, and he refers to Wiig as Olaf.

    So cut it out.”

    Cut. All I needed was to see what they themselves were saying their names were.

    Patterico: “If a man holds a knife to a woman’s throat and rapes her and forces her to call herself a “dirty bitch,” would you call her that?”

    No.

    More to the point, would you, or have you? Since you are the one that seems interested in this idea.

    Or if you think that’s not a nice question to ask, I agree, and please stop pushing this kind of question at me.

    David Blue (2e9a57)

  26. Good post 23, AMac.

    You reminded me of another of my many disagreements with David Warren:

    “They were told to convert to Islam under implicit threat (blindfolded and hand-tied, they could not judge what threat), and agreed to make the propaganda broadcasts to guarantee their own safety. That much we can understand, as conventional cowardice. (Understand; not forgive.)”

    Who’s this “we” that can’t forgive?

    🙁

    In answer to your hypothetical:

    A thought experiment: your distant cousin and two other captured soldiers are told, “state for the camera that you have converted to Islam, and you will be released. If you do not, you will be beheaded. Need help making up your mind? Here’s a cell phone, call anyone in the world for 15 seconds of advice.” The first guy calls Warren; the second guy calls Xrlq; one beheading and one release. Now your cousin calls you.

    What’s your advice?

    My advice would start “Tell them,” and you probably wouldn’t like the rest.

    It’s a possibly misguided application of the notion to do for others what you would hope that they would do for you.

    In a situation like that, I’d want all the bracing I could get. The last thing I would want to hear would be advice that suggested people I knew would never understand or respect the reasons they weren’t going to see me again. ‘Cause that would be hard to bear.

    And there is no way to answer a question like that without either (a) saying it’s right to fold, or (b) opening yourself to an accusation that you are claiming you would do something that in that situation you would not really do.

    I haven’t been in that situation, and since I’m not a complete idiot I hope I’m never in a position to put my idea to the test, at either end of the phone line.

    David Blue (2e9a57)

  27. I have no idea how I woluld react.
    It is a shame we have all forgotten that Italian.
    The one that told his throatcutters,”Watch how an Italian Dies.”
    Yes he is dead, but somewhere I hear a quotation that begins something like this.”Is life so dear…”
    The fanatics of the Cult called Islam,knows we are all cowards and unfortunately knows how to deal with us.

    Paul Albers (c95e42)

  28. I think the purpose of the exercise was to show the ME the length we, westerners, will go to stay alive. An advantage to people who worship death, to be sure. Personally, I would opt for staying alive, whatever I had to do. In the west,we admire and celebrate human spirit and survival and nobody has the right to point a finger.

    rick (65b4e5)

  29. I am not sure where you get the idea that the conversion “is not serious…”

    The goal of Islam is to spread to all corners of the earth. How it is done is of no consequence as the end justifies the means.

    The fact that the reporters do not think of themselves as Muslim is important only to them.

    When the first Palestinian blew himself up, and yes there was a first, he increased the pressure on any and all Palestinians who came after him to agree. That pressure remains today. Martyrdom and the celebration thereof is a very visible part of Palestinian society – pictures of bombers, streets named after bombers, schools named after bombers, television shows about bombers, children’s sing-alongs about bombers.

    This pressure affects families even who disagree with Fatah and Hamas and their methods and goals. How do you protect your children from an idea that is celebrated in front of them every day of their lives?

    In gangland terms here in the US, the availability of single women who can be held up as baby breeders increases the pressure for men who want respect to father as many children with as many women as they can boast. If Big D has 6 ho’s, then Big E better have 7 or else he nothin’ man! Is the problem of fatherless children not a serious problem? Is it easy for poor families to steer their daughters away from the life of bling-bling?

    The ease with which the reporters converted has now set as a pressure for status and recognition the claim to be able to force a conversion to any young jihadi that wants to make a name for himself and get some “respect” (and the terrorist funding that goes with it).

    The mid-East and other areas like the Philippines, or Thailand where there is active jihad, have many abductions. Some, when the victims are Americans, we hear about; but many others, we don’t.

    When the victims of kidnapping are forced to convert and do not have a home to run to, such as the reporters back to America – they are as good as dead. Any attempted to deny the conversion is now an act of apostasy and is punishable by death. Any attempt to lead a non-Islamic life with its many outward manifestations of faith is also apostasy and is punishable by death.

    The reduced ability to lead a Christian, Hindu, or Buddhist life again, is not the fault of Centanni or Wiig as they are not jihadis. But they have contributed to the increased possibility of forced conversions happening during other hostage situations – and the eroding of religious freedom for others.

    Adriane (f7888d)

  30. Paul Albers: “I have no idea how I woluld react.”

    Few of us really know, and I am not one of them.

    Paul Albers: “It is a shame we have all forgotten that Italian.”

    I think the brave name of Fabrizio Quattrocchi will endure while Italy does. As a footnote with staying power, if I can put it that way.

    The image of the cowardly Italian from World War II was inaccurate, out of date and dumb, but there was no single face to put on modern Italy’s courage. Now there is.

    He also has, posthumously, the Gold Medal for Civil Valor. I think it was well deserved and wisely awarded.

    Apparently, he is a highly divisive figure in Italy: with the Right holding him up as a hero and the Left rejecting that. This argues that to some extent he is an influence.

    If Italy is to have a future, if Old Europe is to have a future, I think those who admire people like Fabrizio Quattrocchi have to win. Either Italy will remember him or there won’t be an Italy.

    And if there is a future for Italy, he will be one of the people who made that happen.

    Paul Albers: “The fanatics of the Cult called Islam,knows we are all cowards and unfortunately knows how to deal with us.”

    They didn’t know how to deal with that one. They thought they did, but he was too tough for them, and too patriotic. What he did added a little fame to Italy and a little shame to them.

    I think the jihadists will learn from that. Even braver men than Fabrizio Quattrocchi will die like that, for nation, faith and personal honor, and we will never hear of it.

    David Blue (e6e827)

  31. David Blue, thanks for answering my hypothetical. Offering the advice you’d hope to receive, fair enough.

    Adriane wrote (#29, 4:40am):

    The reduced ability to lead a Christian, Hindu, or Buddhist life again, is not the fault of Centanni or Wiig as they are not jihadis. But they have contributed to the increased possibility of forced conversions happening during other hostage situations – and the eroding of religious freedom for others.

    I’ll assume you’re talking about their actions during captivity. That makes me equally guilty (Xrlq and Patterico, too).

    Because here’s what my advice to Centanni and Wiig would have been: “You are being coerced; what you say and do will be judged in that light. Do the minimum that you think will lead to your release, and that you can live with afterwards. You can and should renouce what you say under duress, as soon as you are free again.”

    Could I live with falsely professing that “I accept Mohammed (pbuh) as the one true prophet”? Yes. There are many things I hope I’d have the courage to refuse even at the cost of my life–but that coerced statement under those circumstances isn’t one of them.

    BTW, Ariadne, what would your answer to my thought experiment (#23, 3:54am) be?

    AMac (e560bc)

  32. Mr Blue wrote:

    I don’t agree with David Warren that Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig as they then were were probably not in terrible danger. I think that’s a silly thing to say.

    Daniel Pearl probably wasn’t, either. And Tom Fox, who went to Iraq solely to work for peace and understanding; he wasn’t in terrible danger, either.

    I guess that it’s easy for someone to say that Messrs Centanni and Wiig weren’t in terrible danger after they had been released. One wonders if such a statement might be a bit more difficult with a knife at your throat.

    Dana (1d5902)

  33. This does, of course, bring up the question of why Messrs Centanni and Wiig were released at all.

    Their captors realized that killing them would not help their cause; doing so would only have incrased American support for Israel’s harsh reprisals against the Palestinians. The “conversions” were the face saving way out for the terrorists: Messrs Centanni and Wiig gave them something they could use to claim victory, and still release them alive.

    But that’s one ludicrous victory: al one has to do is say “I accept the faith of Mohammed (piss be upon him),” and they think their own people are going to see this as genuine?

    Kind of makes it more difficult to see the Islamic fascists as seriously Islamic.

    Dana (1d5902)

  34. A Mac wrote:

    Could I live with falsely professing that “I accept Mohammed (pbuh) as the one true prophet”? Yes. There are many things I hope I’d have the courage to refuse even at the cost of my life–but that coerced statement under those circumstances isn’t one of them.

    You know, I’m a serious enough Catholic that I’d like to think I wouldn’t submit. And that’s really easy for me to say, sitting in the comfort of my home.

    How any of us can judge the actions of men who might be butchered for a “wrong” answer, from the safety of our computer terminals, is beyond me.

    Dana (1d5902)

  35. fishbane asserted:

    >>A nonbeliever would never be brought before a Sharia court, by definition.

    Seven Years of College Down the Drain (9ca302)

  36. Sorry. That was non-constructive. Take two.

    fishbane asserted:

    >>A nonbeliever would never be brought before a Sharia court, by definition.

    Seven Years of College Down the Drain (9ca302)

  37. ““the kook religion”?

    What an utterly ridiculous thing to say.”

    Given events in the Middle East by predominantly Muslims, I don’t think it’s a ridiculous thing to say at all. Specifically, forced conversions, cutting off heads, suicide bombings, genocide, etc., etc. don’t cause me to condemn anyone who would call it a “kook religion.” Until Muslims generally condemn this behavior and try to purge it, their religion will be suspect. This is not unlike Seventh Day Adventists in light of David Koresh (there was considerable work by S.D.A.’s to distance themselves from Koresh and his Branch Davidians).

    I have no idea what religion or any the journalists expound. It is a very serious offense in my religion (Christianity) to deny Christ and convert. Even the Apostle Paul discussed persecution, so it isn’t like this is a new thing.

    What I find most disturbing about the journalists is their refusal to say, “I didn’t believe a word of it. I said it because it would save my life.” Instead, we’ve gotten more “religion of peace” pablum. THAT’s disturbing.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  38. Aarrrggghh. fishbane asserted:

    A nonbeliever would never be brought before a Sharia court, by definition.

    Cold comfort. Before one even earns the dubious benefit afforded by access to Sharia due process, one either converts or dies.

    Seven Years of College Down the Drain (9ca302)

  39. LTEC’s counseled post-release remarks included:

    But reciting some meaningless gobbledygook to make our captors happy — that meant nothing to us at all.

    Heh. Say it in a Connery voice. As in:

    “Surely you don’t think I enjoyed that. What I did, I did for queen and country.”

    Seven Years of College Down the Drain (9ca302)

  40. ““the kook religion”?

    What an utterly ridiculous thing to say.”

    Rather, redundant.

    actus (6234ee)

  41. For some armchair paladins, it is apparently cowardice to mouth words that will increase your chance of getting home and seeing your family again.
    It would seem these people are living in the best of all possible worlds, where they have yet to come across a situation that would pressure them to acquiesce against their principles. For surely if it is spineless to say some words rather than accept death, it is even more gutless to obey government restrictions on liberty or pay increasingly arbitrary taxation, rather than face imprisonment.

    Austrian (38ff57)

  42. Possibly the most offensive part of this braver-than-thou bravado are the repeated references to Fabrizio Quattrocchi. Quattrocchi was ordered to dig his own grave and get murdered in a propaganda value. Living and going home to his family was not an option; the only options were to die like al Qaeda wanted him to for the video, or to die like an Italian. He didn’t make a choice to die like an Italian rather than live, as idiots like Warren say Centanni and Wiig should have done.

    Xrlq (1fd2ef)

  43. It is one thing to caution against judgmentalism; it is another to laud dishonorable acts as honorable.

    Centanni and Wiig’s “conversion” is between themselves and God; their willingness to appear in enemy propaganda and then wax emotional over the “wonderful” story of the Palestinian people when no longer in danger is between them and their countrymen.

    We are at war. When American journalists actively aid the enemy, that is a serious matter indeed.

    I am a veteran whose training included resistance techniques. I can assure you that many Americans in a similar situation would have done what these journalists did, but would have been ashamed of doing so. It is not something to be celebrated, nor emulated, even if we tacitly agree to not ask troubling questions out of a “there but for the grace of God…” mentality.

    I am glad Centanni and Wiig have been safely returned to their families, but I am similarly glad that some vestige of Western honor remains that encourages some to question whether or not what they did in order to effect their release was worthy of praise.

    There is a good reason why Fabrizio Quattrochi will be remembered long after Centanni and Wiig are forgotten. Even if many of us would not trade places for a minute with the former, shouldn’t we at least aspire to his bravery and resistance down to his last breath?

    Have those of you who demean Quattrocchi’s heroism by deeming it mere futility so lost your sense of honor that you would spit on sacrifice and elevate self-service in its stead?

    Quattrocchi didn’t say, “This is how Quattrocchi dies”, but “This is how Italians die!”; he was thinking of his countrymen and the meaning his sacrifice would have for them.

    “This is how Americans comply!” is hardly a rallying cry. One can be grateful that these men are back in one piece without throwing rocks at those who point out that their example ought not be repeated.

    Teflon (561666)

  44. It is one thing to caution against judgmentalism; it is another to laud dishonorable acts as honorable.

    And who is doing that?

    Patterico (de0616)

  45. What is with all this “if you haven’t been there, you can’t comment” nonsense? We’ve now moved to the “chickenhostage” line of reasoning, apparently.

    If people are going to laud Quattrocchi, then Olaf and Centanni’s conduct is also subject to criticism (or praise, depending on how you view it).

    But the fact remains that they submitted in a very public manner to the demands of the enemy for propaganda purposes. That’s at best a dishonorable act. At worst a cowardly one.

    You might excuse/justify the act given the circumstances –but that doesn’t change what the act actually was.

    (and 99% of Warren’s piece is garbage, btw)

    Army Lawyer (6853dd)

  46. “For some armchair paladins, it is apparently cowardice to mouth words that will increase your chance of getting home and seeing your family again.”

    For true Christians, it isn’t merely a matter of “mouthing words.” It is a denial of Christ’s deity. Personally, I’m not calling it cowardice, but I find it peculiar that they haven’t renounced their conversion, either.

    “It would seem these people are living in the best of all possible worlds, where they have yet to come across a situation that would pressure them to acquiesce against their principles.”

    Yes, I live in America where I am not held at knifepoint and told to convert.

    “For surely if it is spineless to say some words rather than accept death, it is even more gutless to obey government restrictions on liberty or pay increasingly arbitrary taxation, rather than face imprisonment.”

    In the U.S., you do have redress. You can petition the state and you can exhort your elected officials to change laws with which you disagree. I doubt that was possible in the situation we are discussing.

    To me, the most important lessons of this event are that (a) this is the world the terrorists want for Westerners and (b) Westerners still don’t accept that this is the world the terrorists want to give us, even when they demonstrate that it is.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  47. Me: It is one thing to caution against judgmentalism; it is another to laud dishonorable acts as honorable.

    Patterico: And who is doing that?

    Austrian: For some armchair paladins, it is apparently cowardice to mouth words that will increase your chance of getting home and seeing your family again.

    Rick: think the purpose of the exercise was to show the ME the length we, westerners, will go to stay alive. An advantage to people who worship death, to be sure. Personally, I would opt for staying alive, whatever I had to do. In the west,we admire and celebrate human spirit and survival and nobody has the right to point a finger.

    You get the idea.

    I recommend anyone interested in what is considered to be proper conduct in these situations Google “Code of Conduct for Members of the Armed Forces”; it offers great clarity. Here’s a link:

    http://usmilitary.about.com/od/justicelawlegislation/a/codeofconduct1.htm

    Civilians are of course not held to it (how could they be, legally?); I mention it because it highlights what is considered acceptable conduct while a prisoner of the enemy.

    Article 3:

    If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and to aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.

    Centanni and Wiig’s release upon certain conditions being met is an example of parole; the problem with parole is that it sets up a quid pro quo with the enemy impacting other prisoners (“you do this and we’ll release you”).

    Article 5:

    When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.

    This disallows participation in propaganda, obviously.

    I encourage anyone who thinks journalists in a war zone ought not behave in a manner consistent with the Code of Conduct because it is “unrealistic” to examine the very real experience of Winston Churchill, who was a wartime journalist and POW in the Boer War, and who behaved throughout his captivity in a manner consistent with this Code.

    As an arbiter of honorable conduct in a dangerous and terrible situation, I find it to be much more reliable than charity or nonjudgmentalism.

    One presumes that if it’s good enough for 18-year-olds seeing their first combat half a world away from their homes and families it ought to be good enough for the rest of us, who benefit from far more experience and can anticipate the consequences of giving in to the terrorists much more easily.

    Honor is not a dispensable abstraction; it is what keeps our fighting men fighting and risking all in the process. Thank God they’ve put aside hearth and home temporarily to keep ours safe; what would happen if they decided that their own were more important than duty, honor, or country?

    Teflon (561666)

  48. Patterico, until that update you had successfully resisted the temptation to imply that only a man who has demonstrated great courage can call out a coward. I’m disapointed to see you descend to the level of calling someone a chickenhawk.

    Doc Rampage (4a07eb)

  49. I’m disapointed to see you descend to the level of calling someone a chickenhawk.

    I’m disappointed to see you misread my post so badly.

    How on God’s green earth have I called someone a chickenhawk?

    Patterico (de0616)

  50. Doc:

    It’s “chickenhostage.” 😉

    Army Lawyer (6853dd)

  51. Let me make this plain:

    I have no quarrel with those who favor war but are not fighting themselves.

    Such people are often called “chickenhawks,” and it’s nonsense.

    I have a quarrel with those who call other cowards, but are unwilling to do the actions they demand of others.

    That’s different.

    Patterico (de0616)

  52. Is honor worth dying for?…

    these people are making the same mistake I made initially: “Well, I would probably capitulate in those circumstances and of course I’m not a coward…”…

    Doc Rampage (59ce3a)

  53. Patterico-

    A thought experiment:

    Can you call someone a drunk if you are a social drinker?

    To my knowledge, David Warren hasn’t converted to Islam nor appeared in enemy propaganda.

    You may think he ought to go “all the way” by heading to Iraq and volunteering to be a hostage, but unless he himself has committed some dishonorable act of equivalent magnitude to that of Centanni and Wiig did for fear of their lives, it doesn’t make him a hypocrite as I understand the term.

    Good discussion, and one well worth having. I’ll go back to lurking now (unless doing so makes me a coward and thus not worthy to comment). ; )

    Teflon (561666)

  54. I think people who’ve actually been through it are in a better position to be judgmental — and more often than not, aren’t judgmental.

    Patterico (de0616)

  55. I don’t think it’s being judgmental to hold a point of view on a question so critical. But this thread does raise a different question: should journalists be prepared to conduct themselves in war zones under the military code of conduct or something similar? It’s obvious from this situation that they are considered valuable propaganda tools by our enemies, but given the left-leaning tendencies of most journalists, I doubt they feel reflexively obligated to resist such pressures. I suspect we will see more such videos, as they are terrific propaganda tools. I hope journalists start seriously considering whether forced conversion is what our founding fathers meant by freedom of religion.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  56. I have no quarrel with those who favor war but are not fighting themselves.
    Such people are often called “chickenhawks,” and it’s nonsense.
    I have a quarrel with those who call other cowards, but are unwilling to do the actions they demand of others.

    What is that but the chickenhawk argument merely shoehorned into a different topic? “Unless you’re willing to X, you can’t comment on issues related to X”

    Further, on what basis do you claim that those critical of Olaf and Centanni would be “unwilling to do [as] they demand of others?”

    The only way to give that argument credibility is either (a) that a critic of Olaf/Centanni was in a similar situation and behaved as they did or (b) that they somehow place themselves in such a situation as a “test case.”

    Since (a) isn’t applicable here, what is (b) but a variation on the chickenhawk argument that those without personal knowledge are precluded from comment on a given scenario?

    Hell, Patrick, you yourself outlined your own distaste for such “variations” on the chickenhawk argument in this post:

    While Hugh Hewitt has something of a point in attacking Joel Stein for writing this column while knowing nothing about the military, Hugh’s argument seems reminiscent of the chickenhawk argument. The chickenhawk argument goes like this: if you don’t serve, you have no right to an opinion about the war. Hugh’s argument seems similar: if you don’t know anyone in the military, you shouldn’t opine about the war. You could just as easily take someone to task for having an opinion while: not knowing soldiers who have died in the war; not knowing Iraqi civilians who have died in the war; not knowing Iraqis who suffered under Saddam; etc., etc., etc.

    Not having been taken hostage; not being forced to convert; etc etc.

    So you recognize that the form of the chickenhawk argument exists and have criticized its use that those without personal knowledge can’t comment.

    You’re doing the same thing here.

    Army Lawyer (6853dd)

  57. To my knowledge, David Warren hasn’t converted to Islam nor appeared in enemy propaganda.

    And nobody has held a gun to his head, either.

    actus (6234ee)

  58. There is a difference between holding an opinion on the war or the military, and being judgmental about someone else’s courage. That, I think, is something you shouldn’t be — unless you’re willing to show you’ll do what you criticize others for failing to do.

    Patterico (de0616)

  59. There is a difference between holding an opinion on the war or the military, and being judgmental about someone else’s courage. That, I think, is something you shouldn’t be — unless you’re willing to show you’ll do what you criticize others for failing to do.

    110% agree. Each man is the arbiter of his own honor and courage. If a man be a coward, it does nothing to judge him on it, likewise if a man be a hero, he does not deserve worship.

    dksuddeth (ac44fb)

  60. That’s a distinction without much of a difference.

    If you can’t have an opinion on hostages without having been one, you can’t very well have an opinion on the military (can we be more general?) without having served.

    I reject both. You’ve yet to explain why having an opinion on one aspect of warfare is fair game for those not directly involved in it yet some other aspect of war is somehow off limits.

    (Finally, I am reluctant to call their conduct “cowardly”–I’m more inclined towards “dishonorable.”)

    Army Lawyer (6853dd)

  61. You can have an opinion. And it’s not “off limits.”

    But if you call someone a coward, who acts under duress inflicted by people with guns, I am going to criticize you — at least unless you show that you could do the same. You can have the opinion, and it’s not off limits. You just get criticized, by me.

    Patterico (de0616)

  62. I reject both. You’ve yet to explain why having an opinion on one aspect of warfare is fair game for those not directly involved in it yet some other aspect of war is somehow off limits.

    Because this warren idiot is talking about courage. Others, when talking about war, are talking about military policy.

    actus (6234ee)

  63. To Actus:

    Fine, then any discussion about the military writ large (including how to use the bloody thing) are off limits to those that have not served. Since well, those that have are in a better position to speak on the matter and that is distinct from policy. (the how, not the when)

    To Pat:

    The issue isn’t the fact that you are critical. It’s the nature of the criticism. Your excusing of the conduct is just as uninformed as is the criticism of the conduct. That nobody in this conversation has been a hostage doesn’t validate or invalidate the criticism or excusal.

    You can excuse the conduct based on the circumstances. That’s fine. You can say, “what they did was dishonorable, but given the circumstances, excusable.” (even the mil’s Code of Conduct expects POWs to break….eventually)

    What isn’t fine is (a) attempting to define the conduct as something other than it is and (b) the foreclosure on any criticism based SOLELY (since that’s all it’s based on thus far) on the fact that those critical of Centanni and Wiig haven’t themselves been hostages.

    Earlier in the thread somebody brought up John McCain. They claimed he “sang like a canary”–which is both untrue (he divulged minor details about ship movement IIRC, and only after some rather harsh treatment, and in his book he regrets it in the starkest terms.

    When someone makes themselves available as a propaganda tool for the enemy under, from all accounts, minimal duress without so much as a “we didn’t mean it” follow-up, it’s fair to call that act dishonorable–irrespective of whether one has been in a similar situation.

    Here’s another thought experiment for you:

    A soldier is captured and under no greater duress than the mere fact of being a captive, divulges explicit tactical and operational information to the enemy.

    Fair to call that conduct dishonorable? If so, why? And you need to rely on something other than the Code of Conduct since hopefully, soldiers aren’t the only ones obligated to act honorably.

    And if not dishonorable, why not?

    Army Lawyer (6853dd)

  64. A soldier is captured and under no greater duress than the mere fact of being a captive, divulges explicit tactical and operational information to the enemy.

    Dishonorable. Because enlisting entails a commitment to the ideals of the organization. Codified as Teflon cited in comment #47.

    But were Centanni and Wiig under no great duress? Seems to me that the implicit threat of beheading constitutes greater duress in and of itself. In addition, are ‘journalists’ and ‘soldiers’ equivalent roles for the purposes of this discussion?

    A different thought experiment: Jihadis abduct a tourist and demand the PIN code to his ATM card. They also extract a promise that the tourist won’t have the card inactivated upon his release. Once freed, is it dishonorable for him to call the bank?

    (No–because the promise was obtained by coercion and is not morally binding.)

    AMac (b44d4b)

  65. Fine, then any discussion about the military writ large (including how to use the bloody thing) are off limits to those that have not served.

    Uh. You’re completely missing the point. When we talk about who is or is not a coward, we’re opening up ourselves to be called cowards or not.

    When we talk about what proper military policy to have, we don’t really open ourselves up to having to be in the military.

    Since well, those that have are in a better position to speak on the matter and that is distinct from policy. (the how, not the when)

    Its not at all about better position. But if you must, here we have civilian control of the military. Which to me means that we’ve decided that those outside it are in a ‘better position’

    actus (6234ee)

  66. Your excusing of the conduct is just as uninformed as is the criticism of the conduct.

    The issue isn’t whether the person has the relevant *knowledge.* It’s the gall it takes to call someone else a *coward.*

    When someone makes themselves available as a propaganda tool for the enemy under, from all accounts, minimal duress without so much as a “we didn’t mean it” follow-up, it’s fair to call that act dishonorable–irrespective of whether one has been in a similar situation.

    They have explained that they converted at gunpoint. It appears clear to me they didn’t mean it, and they have conveyed that to me.

    “At gunpoint” to me does not equal “minimal duress.” Guess we have different definitions of duress.

    And Warren isn’t as kind as you are, with your terminology of “dishonorable.” He called their actions “conventional cowardice.” He implied it cannot be forgiven; that they are “men without character”; and that they are unworthy of his even speaking their names.

    What a jerk.

    Patterico (de0616)

  67. And actus is exactly right.

    Patterico (de0616)

  68. To AMac:

    You need to rely on something other than the Code of Conduct if we presume that people have some obligation to be honorable other than the mere fact that they enlisted. I’d hope that an average citizen would have some sense of honor independent of their professional obligations (i.e. CoC).

    If you don’t presume that, fine.

    To Actus:

    Uh. You’re completely missing the point. When we talk about who is or is not a coward, we’re opening up ourselves to be called cowards or not.

    You wrote: Others, when talking about war, are talking about military policy.

    You distinguished the chickenHAWK argument and the chickenHOSTAGE argument via the former’s alleged focus on “military policy.” Define it thus if you wish–but that precludes comment on all other aspects re the military. I mean, like, everything else. And there’s a lot of it. You comfortable with such a broad foreclosure? I doubt it.

    When we talk about who is or is not a coward, we’re opening up ourselves to be called cowards or not.

    That door is open regardless of whether you comment on Centanni and Wiig. I’m fine with that and I hope I acquit myself accordingly.

    To Pat:

    The issue isn’t whether the person has the relevant *knowledge.* It’s the gall it takes to call someone else a *coward.*

    I don’t call them cowards. I call their conduct dishonorable at best. Cowardly at worst. I am focusing on their conduct alone. It speaks for itself. I don’t need to go into a psychoanalysis of their overall character (as Warren tried to do) to analyze their conduct.

    Not much “gall” required there. Certainly no more so than is required to laud others when you haven’t been in a similar situation.

    “At gunpoint” to me does not equal “minimal duress.” Guess we have different definitions of duress.

    “Minimal” in relation to other “breakings” of the sort I mentioned (ex: McCain). And my first comment in this thread stated that 99% of Warren’s piece was garbage. So don’t lump me in with him beyond that 1%.

    Fact remains their conduct was dishonorable. That remains true regardless of whether one has been a hostage or not. You can excuse or justify the conduct based on the circumstances, but it doesn’t redefine the conduct. (McCain himself felt his breaking was dishonorable)

    If you want to hold journalists to a lower standard of what constitutes honor/dishonor or cowardice/bravery, fine. If you want to hold yourself to a lower standard (your self-described “normal” response), fine.

    But that doesn’t make any less valid criticisms from others that might not hue to that particular line.

    Army Lawyer (6853dd)

  69. Back to AMac since I didn’t respond the first time:

    A different thought experiment: Jihadis abduct a tourist and demand the PIN code to his ATM card. They also extract a promise that the tourist won’t have the card inactivated upon his release. Once freed, is it dishonorable for him to call the bank?

    No. But I think your analogy is inapt since there’s no propaganda or strategic value value in the promise. (though i suppose you could argue there is strategic value in the money stolen–but that’s a far greater stretch than a recorded videotape made for distribution)

    Army Lawyer (6853dd)

  70. You distinguished the chickenHAWK argument and the chickenHOSTAGE argument via the former’s alleged focus on “military policy.”

    I’ll rephrase. When I talk about war, but talk about it in terms of who has the courage to invade, call opponents of hte war cowards, etc… Then I’m not talkign policy, but cowardice.

    This is a distinction that I understand some people do not make. They think that being in favor or against some military policies reflects their personal courage or cowardices. It’s a sad, but true, that people like this exist.

    You comfortable with such a broad foreclosure? I doubt it.

    Oh you got me right. I’m a big believer in civilian control of the military: the politicians in washington should run our wars. And some hippie that looks like willie nelson should be the boss of the generals.

    That door is open regardless of whether you comment on Centanni and Wiig

    Certainly. Everyone is free to call anyone else a moron. But once you call someone a moron? You’re going to be a little bit exposed if you do something moronic.

    actus (6234ee)

  71. actus wrote: Everyone is free to call anyone else a moron. But once you call someone a moron? You’re going to be a little bit exposed if you do something moronic.
    ********
    actus, you’ve never let that stop you.

    Desert Rat (d8da01)

  72. actus, you’ve never let that stop you.

    Are you going to tell me you told us all who John Marshall was before I did?

    actus (6234ee)

  73. Everyone is free to call anyone else a moron. But once you call someone a moron? You’re going to be a little bit exposed if you do something moronic.

    I would hope one would be on guard against being a moron regardless of whether you’ve blogged about it in the past. Ditto for acting honorably.

    Army Lawyer (6853dd)

  74. But anyway, this all is getting beside the point.

    Patterico took issue with Warren’s piece. Fine. The piece was 99% crap. Calling Centanni and Wiig unChristian and the like is dumb.

    But Patterico (and XRLQ’s, and others) criticism of Warren raises the question of whether ANY criticism of Centanni/Wiig’s conduct is permissible or legitimate.

    Thus far, it’s not appeared that Pat is willing to accept any criticism but for that which comes from someone who has been a hostage.

    That’s the chickenhawk/hostage argument.

    Army Lawyer (6853dd)

  75. Army Lawyer,

    I want to respectfully clear up a little misunderstanding you appear to have regarding Hugh Hewitt’s establishment of whether or not a person ‘knows’ someone currently serving in the military.

    Hewitt’s motive is to identify whether or not a person thereby receives ‘first hand accounts’ of the duties, goals, sacrifices, obstacles and experiences of military personnel, RATHER than relying solely upon characterization/accounts provided by mainstream media.
    Hewitt has been explicit about this point in his radio interviews, and the actual transcripts are generally made available online the day following a Hewitt radio interview.

    This is a particularly valid point when the person whom Hugh is interviewing is attempting to characterize the military’s morale in Iraq, or is attempting to characterize the attitudes held by the military toward Defense Sec. Rumsfeld, the President, our war effort, etc.
    These points were made by Hugh when he interviewed LA Times columnists Joel Stein, and Jonathan Chait (on separate occasions).

    By the same token, when Hugh interviews someone who DOES know someone in the military—for instance, a couple of months ago, Hugh interviewed a female journalist whose name escapes me—and the woman’s step-son is currently serving in Iraq.
    Hugh went out of his way to appreciate that she posesses first hand knowledge of the morale, sacrifices, obstacles, and experiences of someone currently in harm’s way.

    The late, famous film critic Pauline Kael is attributed as having said about Richard Nixon’s landslide victory over George McGovern in 1972, “I don’t know how Richard Nixon could have won. I don’t know anybody who voted for him.”

    Kael’s quote from the heart reveals the ‘liberal cocoon’ which so many among the mainstream media find themselves, and this is why it is key for Hugh to identify whether or not the people whom are characterizing the the morale of the troops actually KNOW someone currently serving in the military.

    Desert Rat (d8da01)

  76. It is not hypocritical to advocate that volunteers fight a war, even if you are not personally fighting it. But if you call them cowardly for *not* fighting in it, and you’re not fighting in it — now you’re a hypocrite.

    I can’t say it any better.

    Patterico (de0616)

  77. Patterico, I was referring to your update with the question by Jules Crittenden. Until you endorsed that ridiculous suggestion, I didn’t have any problem with what you said.

    I’ve never been a hostage, so apparently I’m not qualified to say what constitutes honorable behavior for a hostage. That’s ridiculous. I’ve never been a priest, a lawyer, a doctor, or a president either, but I’m qualified to say when someone is behaving dishonorably in one of those professions. What’s the difference? Just that you think everyone should be nice to former hostages because they suffered so much?

    As far as your theory on war hypocracy, there is nothing inherently hypocritical to expect of others something different than I do myself. If someone gets a drafted and then runs off to Canada, I can call him a coward even if I got drafted and went to get a deferment on the basis that I’m 80 years old.

    What constitutes duty and honorable behavior varies according to who you are and what circumstances you find yourself in. If an insane bank robber took hostages and forced everyone to convert to Voodoo at gunpoint, I wouldn’t call the people who complied cowards because there were no larger issues involved. They were just placating the crazy guy with the gun until a sniper was able to take him out.

    This case is different because it mattered how those men behaved and their behavior harmed us all.

    Doc Rampage (4a07eb)

  78. AL, your “chickenhostage” objection is every bit as lame as Glenn Greenwald’s mischaracterization of the word “chickenhawk,” and for exactly the same reason. No one is saying you can’t take a position on what hostages ideally should do when taken hostage. What we are saying is that someone who has never exhibited anywhere near the courage that Wiig and Centanni did merely by being in Gaza, is in no position to be a dick about it.

    That’s the principal objection, not that Warren is wrong on the merits, but that he’s a self-righteous prick who, like Greenwald’s chickenhawks, seems to think his personal advocacy of valiant behavior is a substitute for valiance itself. Secondarily, he has stupid ideas, as well, which we wouldn’t have to listen to today if he had had the common decency to implement them in the past.

    Xrlq (c70197)

  79. “They have explained that they converted at gunpoint. It appears clear to me they didn’t mean it, and they have conveyed that to me.”

    How can you say they didn’t mean it? Unless I missed something, they haven’t renounced their conversion and certainly didn’t revile the persons that did it. The one guy said, “He learned something interesting about Islam,” etc., etc. I’m not sure if I were forced to convert that I wouldn’t come home and scream bloody murder about it if I didn’t mean it.

    “It is not hypocritical to advocate that volunteers fight a war, even if you are not personally fighting it. But if you call them cowardly for *not* fighting in it, and you’re not fighting in it — now you’re a hypocrite.”

    That’s not hypocritical, Pat. There can be many reasons one doesn’t actually fight in a war, yet are disgusted by cowards. For example, if one is too old, handicapped, etc. for military service. Or one is pregnant. Or one has small children. I reserve the right to think cowards are cowards regardless of my personal military service (or lack thereof). But it doesn’t make ME a coward for pointing it out.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  80. I’m not sure if I were forced to convert that I wouldn’t come home and scream bloody murder about it if I didn’t mean it.

    Not all people think that religion is such a big deal.

    actus (6234ee)

  81. To Pat:

    It is not hypocritical to advocate that volunteers fight a war, even if you are not personally fighting it. But if you call them cowardly for *not* fighting in it, and you’re not fighting in it — now you’re a hypocrite.

    I can’t say it any better.

    Because there’s no good way to say it. The issue is not that some people are not fighting. It’s the fact that when in a situation where “fighting” (or more accurately, resistance) is an option, Centanni and Wiig behaved as they did. That decision is open to criticism or praise. But it IS open.

    They are as much “volunteers” to that particular risk as is a soldier. To permit commentary about the latter but preclude it for the former from those that lack personal experience is what’s hypocritical.

    To XRLQ:

    No one is saying you can’t take a position on what hostages ideally should do when taken hostage.

    I’m sorry, I guess I missed the nuance of “If [a critic] wants to run off to the Middle East so he can die like a good Italian, let him. Otherwise, he should STFU.”

    What we are saying is that someone who has never exhibited anywhere near the courage that Wiig and Centanni did merely by being in Gaza, is in no position to be a dick about it.

    But those without a similar exhibition of courage are free to PRAISE Centanni and Wiig? No.

    That’s the principal objection, not that Warren is wrong on the merits, but that he’s a self-righteous prick

    Ok, Warren’s a prick. Got it. Agreed. So IS he wrong on the merits? Is any criticism of Centanni/Wiig permissible from those who haven’t been themselves hostages?

    Army Lawyer (498217)

  82. I’m sorry, I guess I missed the nuance of “If [a critic] wants to run off to the Middle East so he can die like a good Italian, let him. Otherwise, he should STFU.”

    I guess you don’t do nuance, then. Somehow, in your quest for nuance you managed to mangle my quote, substituting a generic reference to “a critic” for what I actually wrote, which was specific to David Warren. On what planet does an attack on Warren personally translate into an all critics generically? You want a generic version of that quote? I’ll give you a generic version of that quote:

    If any self-righteous prick with a bug up his ass, who has never been near a war zone much less been taken hostage, yet who somehow considers himself qualified to sit in judgment of two journalists for doing what they had to in order to to continue living like Americans rather than dying like Italians, wants to put his money where his mouth is and run off to the Middle East to die like a good Italian himself, let him. Otherwise, he should STFU.

    Happy?

    Ok, Warren’s a prick. Got it. Agreed.

    Then why were you so eager to misquote an attack on him personally and make it appear as though it were an attack on anyone who criticized Wiig and Centanni on any basis?

    So IS he wrong on the merits?

    Hell yes.

    Is any criticism of Centanni/Wiig permissible from those who haven’t been themselves hostages?

    From where I sit, Centanni and Wiig didn’t do anything wrong, so any criticism of their behavior during captivity is, ipso facto, wrong. That such criticism appears to come primarily (entirely?) from people who have never been in their position themselves only goes to further underscore just how brain-dead such criticism is. To flog your stillborn pet horse one last time, one of the strongest counterarguments to the usual chickenhawk argument is to point out that those who have served in wars and the military generally support modern war efforts by at least the same margin as the general population, usually to a greater extent. Conversely, if a future administration pushed some war that was popular among the population at large but exceedingly unpopular among military and ex-military types, that would be reason to think twice, and a third time, before going forward. While we have no trouble locating ex-Vietnam vets willing to stand up and support of the war in Iraq, I am not aware of a single ex-hostage who has publicly criticized Wiig and Centanni or expressed any support for either the tone or the substance of David Warren’s screed. Are you?

    Xrlq (f52b4f)

  83. I guess you don’t do nuance, then. Somehow, in your quest for nuance you managed to mangle my quote, substituting a generic reference to “a critic” for what I actually wrote, which was specific to David Warren.

    I didn’t “mangle” a thing. Clearly you are willing to consider non-Warren criticism of Centanni and Wiig. Except for the fact that you aren’t:

    What the guys say or do after captivity is fair game. Attacking them for saying what they had to say while in captivity rather than dying like Italians, is not.

    I don’t see a limitation there that applies only to criticism coming from Warren.

    Happy?

    Yes, it’s a full throated chickenhawk argument and it’s out in the open. I’m positively giddy. Huzzah.

    Then why were you so eager to misquote an attack on him personally and make it appear as though it were an attack on anyone who criticized Wiig and Centanni on any basis?

    I don’t know, why were you so eager to invoke the “STFU” line of “argument” against Warren and, more importantly, his (nominal) defenders?

    You’re trying to limit your criticism to Warren, yet your response to anyone who even suggests that Warren may have a point (even if the douche isn’t smart enough to write it effectively), is “you don’t know, man….you. don’t. know.”

    [Is he wrong on the merits?] Hell yes.

    One day we’ll get to a “why” beyond “well, you haven’t been there”

    From where I sit, Centanni and Wiig didn’t do anything wrong, so any criticism of their behavior during captivity is, ipso facto, wrong.

    Ok, from where I sit, they did. And since I am “closer” to the sort of risk faced by Centanni and Wiig than you are by virtue of my profession, I win. If it sounds ridiculous, it’s because it is. I reject such an argument out of hand. You, however, embrace it when you think it favors you.

    That such criticism appears to come primarily (entirely?) from people who have never been in their position themselves only goes to further underscore just how brain-dead such criticism is.

    So your argument ON THE MERITS is “well, their critics haven’t been, hence they are necessarily wrong”?

    I am not aware of a single ex-hostage who has publicly criticized Wiig and Centanni or expressed any support for either the tone or the substance of David Warren’s screed. Are you?

    Nope, but as I haven’t relied on an appeal to authority to make my argument, I don’t need to.

    But what about say…the actions of Giuliana Sgrena? Was her conduct open to criticism? Or is she, ipso facto, a hero to you?

    Army Lawyer (498217)

  84. “Not all people think that religion is such a big deal.”

    This isn’t about whether “religion is a big deal.” They were held hostage and forced to convert to Islam by terrorists. THAT’S a big deal. And the fact that they haven’t renounced their conversion is terrific propaganda for the terrorists.

    sharon (03e82c)

  85. Tom Cruise should abduct them and force them to convert to Scientology. While it’s a much weirder religion, their practioners aren’t known for chopping heads off (at worst they’ll sue you). And I think these two deserve a vacation in the Hollywood hills.

    Frank N Stein (38ff57)

  86. I didn’t “mangle” a thing.

    No, you just took a quote aimed directly at Warren, misrepresented it as one directed at any or all Wiig/Centanni critics, and hoped no one would notice.  Then, when called on it, you changed the subject by quoting a different statement that was directed at critics more generally, which also didn’t go nearly as far, and which specifically approved (in principle, at least) criticism of anyone’s behavior while free.

    I am not aware of a single ex-hostage who has publicly criticized Wiig and Centanni or expressed any support for either the tone or the substance of David Warren’s screed. Are you?

    Nope, but as I haven’t relied on an appeal to authority to make my argument, I don’t need to.

    Oh, I see.  So in other words, when you made that bogus comparison to the chickenhawk argument, you didn’t really mean it was anything like the chickenhawk argument, or that the two arguments had anything substantive in common whatsoever.  All you really meant to say was “I don’t like the chickenhawk argument, and I don’t like this argument, either,” and besides, what do ex-hostages know about life in captivity that the rest of us can’t figure out by contemplating our navels?  Plenty, I imagine, but then again, I’m just one of those silly reverse-chickenhawks who are loath to support a war supported by 0% of the military, or to condemn a crime victim for failing to adhere to standards supported by 0% of known crime victims.

    But what about say…the actions of Giuliana Sgrena?

    But what about say … sticking to the friggin’ topic?!  That one comes out of left field.

    Xrlq (f52b4f)

  87. No, you just took a quote aimed directly at Warren, misrepresented it as one directed at any or all Wiig/Centanni critics, and hoped no one would notice. Then, when called on it, you changed the subject by quoting a different statement that was directed at critics more generally, which also didn’t go nearly as far, and which specifically approved (in principle, at least) criticism of anyone’s behavior while free.

    You’re the one saying any criticism of Centanni/Wiig is NECESSARILY wrong. Yet somehow, that pronouncment ONLY applies to Warren? Ok, sure, fine.

    The second statement I used was the supporting basis on which I quoted the first. Same subject. You yourself broadened your criticism beyond Warren to include any negative commentary re Centanni/Wiig.

    Accordingly, there’s nothing “mangled” or misrepresented in my quotation of you. You’ve said that any criticism of C/W is out of bounds, that it is ipso facto wrong, regardless of whether it’s coming from Warren. Moreover, when you “defend” that criticism you appeal to the alleged authority of former hostages. I.E.–those that have not been, cannot comment.

    That’s your “STFU” argument applied to everybody. That I used the most “colorful” example of that argument is not misleading at all, just damaging to your position.

    Oh, I see. So in other words, when you made that bogus comparison to the chickenhawk argument, you didn’t really mean it was anything like the chickenhawk argument, or that the two arguments had anything substantive in common whatsoever.

    Ummm…no. Try again. You are making a chickenhawk argument. You have been this entire thread. You still are. I’ve never suggested otherwise. (and the form of a CH argument is an appeal to authority–the authority of the soldier, and he alone, to speak on matters of war)

    All you really meant to say was “I don’t like the chickenhawk argument, and I don’t like this argument, either,”

    As they are the same argument, the second clause is redundant.

    and besides, what do ex-hostages know about life in captivity that the rest of us can’t figure out by contemplating our navels? Plenty, I imagine

    I never suggested otherwise. I never said their experience is not relevant. it’s relevant, not dispositive. But I also never took the Maureen Dowd route of imbuing them with “absolute moral authority” that you are doing.

    but then again, I’m just one of those silly reverse-chickenhawks who are loath to support a war supported by 0% of the military, or to condemn a crime victim for failing to adhere to standards supported by 0% of known crime victims.

    This is dross.

    As for my reference to Sgrena being “out of left field”–here’s why it isn’t:

    You think any criticism of THESE hostages is out of bounds (or not “fair game”)–asking what you think about a similar hostage scenario is rather relevant to your credibility (I mean, since we’re talking hypocrisy and all). If it’s permissible to criticize Sgrena, but not Centanni/Wiig, you gotta say why. If you want to say criticism of ANY hostage is out of bounds, fine. That’s at least consistent. Wrong, short-sighted, and naive, but consistent.

    Army Lawyer (498217)

  88. It never occurred to me until now that I had to say this, but I suppose I should: even though I categorize Wiig and Centani’s behavior as technically cowardly, I don’t endorse Warren’s offensve remarks about not forgiving the hostages or not being willing to say their names. Their actions were both understandable and forgivable. What they have done since is considrably less understandable and forgivable.

    Doc Rampage (47be8d)

  89. I agree with Doc.

    sharon (03e82c)

  90. You’re the one saying any criticism of Centanni/Wiig is NECESSARILY wrong.

    Substantively, sure, but not on the same level as Warren’s self-righteous drivel.

    Yet somehow, that pronouncment ONLY applies to Warren?

    Yes, that particular pronouncement – a suggestion he go die like an Italian or STFU – was a very specific response to a specific statement by a specific individual. It was not a general response to anyone who happens to be wrong on any level.

    Moreover, when you “defend” that criticism you appeal to the alleged authority of former hostages.

    So friggin’ what? And what’s up with the sneer quotes, anyway? Whether you happen to agree with a particular defense or not does not determine whether it IS a defense.

    That’s your “STFU” argument applied to everybody.

    No, that’s YOU taking my STFU argument, and editing it to make it look as though it applied to everyone rather than the specific individual it named. That doesn’t damage my argument, just your credibility.

    You are making a chickenhawk argument.

    See, most of us learned after second grade that you can’t win an argument simply by repeating your assertion over and over. You have to show that it is correct. You haven’t done that because you can’t. In fact, you’ve pretty much shown it was not true by brushing off an appeal to authority of other ex-hostages. The problem with the real chickenhawk argument isn’t the appeal to authority per se, but the false appeal to an authority which, whenever polled, overwhelmingly says the opposite of what the chickenhawk arguers imply.

    I never suggested otherwise. I never said their experience is not relevant.

    On the contrary, that’s precisely what you’ve done, by equating a legitimate (or apparently legitimate) appeal to authority with an obviously phony one. Then again, given your lame denials of having doctored my quote, even after being caught red-handed in the act, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised you’re denying this, too. Might as well just deny everything, I suppose.

    But I also never took the Maureen Dowd route of imbuing them with “absolute moral authority” that you are doing.

    Please cite the comment were I said anyone had “absolute moral authority” about anything. The closest I said to that was that a hypothetical war that was popular among the general populace but highly unpopular among the military would be one we should all take a second or third look at before going forward. To go from “think twice, and a third time” to “dispositive” is almost as big of a logical leap as your buffoonish claim that my objection to David Warren is a chickenhawk argument because … well gee whiz, you’ve said so a gazillion times, so dammit, it must be.

    You think any criticism of [Wiig and Centanni] is out of bounds (or not “fair game”)

    No, your phony “STFU to everybody” caricature of me thinks that. The “fair game” quote you copied and pasted – but apparently neglected to read – expressly stated that what Wiig and Centanni say or do after captivity is fair game. So too is all the crap Giuliana Sgrena pulled after she was freed from captivity. The difference is that Wiig and Centanni didn’t do anything terribly wrong after captivity, while Sgrena’s post-captivity behavior was downright disgraceful (assuming that her “captivity” was genuine to begin with, and last I recall the jury’s still out on that).

    If it’s permissible to criticize Sgrena, but not Centanni/Wiig, you gotta say why.

    Well, golly gee that one’s a thinker. How about this: it’s OK to criticize people who voluntarily do outrageous things when no one has a gun to their heads, but it’s not OK to criticize people who only do strange things when people do have a gun to their heads, and go back to acting normally once they don’t. Too “nuanced” and chickenhawky for you, I imagine, but right, nonetheless.

    Xrlq (f52b4f)

  91. I delurk to make one quick point:

    This is a thread; we can all read the back-and-forth, so it’s really rather silly to argue who said what when we can simply scroll up and read it.

    Well, two quick points:

    Isn’t the whole basis of our legal system that people are fit to judge other people based on available evidence even when they were not present when the crime was committed?

    Don’t we in fact tend to eliminate people from juries who have specialized knowledge which might be relevant to assessing guilt or innocence beyond the evidence presented?

    It seems a curious thing to me to insist that one cannot judge behavior or character unless one has been in the precise situation of the person whose behavior or conduct is in question.

    We may differ from Mr. Warren in our definition of cowardice or in whether Centanni and Wiig meet that definition (I do not think they are cowards; I do think they engaged in dishonorable behavior). But is Warren really deserving of all the opprobrium for pointing out that he thinks they are?

    Put another way, is the fact that we’ve all told lies a barrier to calling Bill Clinton a liar? Can we even do so having not been President of the United States and subject to the unique pressures of Hillary holding a cocked lamp aimed our way if the truth were revealed?

    Teflon (c27f39)

  92. ***response was delayed due to internet problems at my installation***

    Yes, that particular pronouncement – a suggestion he go die like an Italian or STFU – was a very specific response to a specific statement by a specific individual. It was not a general response to anyone who happens to be wrong on any level.

    Then explain this: From where I sit, Centanni and Wiig didn’t do anything wrong, so any criticism of their behavior during captivity is, ipso facto, wrong.

    That shore dun seem mighty broad and there’s no “only applies to self-righteous pricks named Dave Warren” disclaimer.

    No, that’s YOU taking my STFU argument, and editing it to make it look as though it applied to everyone rather than the specific individual it named. That doesn’t damage my argument, just your credibility.

    Again and with feeling: …any criticism of their behavior during captivity is, ipso facto, wrong.

    While we’re at it: If any self-righteous prick…who has never been near a war zone much less been taken hostage, yet who somehow considers himself qualified to sit in judgment … wants to put his money where his mouth is and run off to the Middle East to die like a good Italian himself, let him. Otherwise, he should STFU.

    Apparently having been near a warzone or having been taken hostage is the only thing that qualifies one to sit in judgment. Indeed, you can’t even CONCEIVE of how one could otherwise be qualified (as evidenced by your exasperated “somehow” swipe).

    This plus your other attempts to put the kibosh on criticism of C/W–I can’t IMAGINE where I’m getting the idea that this is “STFU” approach applied writ large. Or does this only apply to self-righteous pricks? If so, how do you square that with your “ANY criticism is wrong” comment?

    Based on what you’ve staked out thus far: Either everything from Warren is crap (fine), but criticism from non-Warrens is permissible. Or no criticism is permissible. Pick one.

    In fact, you’ve pretty much shown it was not [a true chickenhawk argument] by brushing off an appeal to authority of other ex-hostages.

    Ummm…no. Brushing off the appeal to authority means I don’t give credence to chickenhawk arguments (which are appeals to authority). Not that the argument isn’t a chickenhawk argument.

    The problem with the real chickenhawk argument isn’t the appeal to authority per se, but the false appeal to an authority which, whenever polled, overwhelmingly says the opposite of what the chickenhawk arguers imply.

    Ahhh…so the chickenhawk argument isn’t invalid because it’s a logical fallacy and a slur, but because the poll numbers don’t back it up (distinct from a logical fallcy)? So you’re not opposed to the use of such a slur, so long as the numbers favor you. Good times.

    On the contrary, that’s precisely what you’ve done

    Quote me making any such a suggestion that the experience of hostages is not relevant. Find ANY textual evidence of such by me. You can’t. Because you’re just making shyte up now.

    And again, I “doctored” nothing. I’ve quoted you several times and have not misrepresented a thing you’ve said. You’ve stated that any criticism of C/W is per se wrong. You’ve also stated that Warren should get captured or STFU. You didn’t say “any criticism from David Warren is wrong”–you said any criticism–independent of who the critic is.

    Given that such criticism is per se wrong, you’ve left no room for debate have you? What is a critic to then do but STFU?

    You’re jumping through hoops now to try to find a way out of your position that “all criticism is invalid, especially if you’re David Warren, but not if you’re a non-Warren, but even then, it’s still invalid because you haven’t been a hostage”

    Better stated: any criticism is per se invalid because it is not coming from a former hostage.

    Not a lot of room for discussion with that one, is there?

    Please cite the comment were I said anyone had “absolute moral authority” about anything.

    “any criticism is ipso facto wrong but that which comes from former hostages” sounds rather absolute. (of course you never placed all 13 of these words together at the same time–so I eagerly await the charge of “mangling.”)

    The “fair game” quote you copied and pasted – but apparently neglected to read – expressly stated that what Wiig and Centanni say or do after captivity is fair game.

    That’s true and it also stated that criticism of their conduct during captivity was NOT fair game. Which was the rather obvioous point in referencing it.

    Army Lawyer (6853dd)

  93. And the fact that they haven’t renounced their conversion is terrific propaganda for the terrorists.

    But maybe they don’t think conversions are a big deal. Its just that it was forced.

    Or perhaps, like many victims, they decide that its better to leave it alone.

    actus (6234ee)

  94. Centanni & Wiig were told to assert their ‘conversion’ to Islam on video, in order to spare their lives from execution.
    Because they each value their life, they therefore feared being executed, and thus asserted their ‘conversion’ to Islam.

    Anyone who values his or her own life, generally FEARS a premature conclusion to their life—and in order to spare it, will probably eat worms, do karaoke to Milli Vanilli, pat their own head while rubbing their tummy, or say, “Allah akbar !” in front of a video camera.
    And I’m sure Barry Bonds would gladly stand in front of a video camera wearing a Dodgers jersey and say, “I bleed Dodger Blue !” if it meant sparing himself from being executed.

    So, a couple of dudes are afraid to die at gunpoint—ok, so who among the Western world DOES want to die at gunpoint ?
    C’mon, gimme a show of hands !

    I cannot comprehend that some people are actually crawling around on their bellies crowing, ‘chickenhawk-this !,’ ‘chickenhawk-that !’
    Or ‘here’s a coward,’ ‘there’s a coward’ !

    Centanni & Wiig are neither Muslims nor cowards—they’re ALIVE, that is ‘what’ they are.

    Desert Rat (d8da01)

  95. Army, I was on your side in the beginning, but you are going overboard. Xrlq, claims he didn’t intend the STFU statement to apply to anyone but Warren. I believe him, and so should you, regardless of any lawyerly analysis of his exact wording.

    Which analysis is problematic, anyway. In particular, you seem to be taking the word “wrong” in only one sense in this quote

    From where I sit, Centanni and Wiig didn’t do anything wrong, so any criticism of their behavior during captivity is, ipso facto, wrong.

    I propose that Xrlq is using the word “wrong” with a different meaning in each of its two occurences. To translate into a less confusing (and less literary) form:

    From where I sit, Centanni and Wiig didn’t do anything blameworthy, so any criticism of their behavior during captivity is, ipso facto, mistaken.

    Doc Rampage (47be8d)

  96. Doc:

    I’m focusing moreso on the “any” in the quote. Whether you define “wrong” as “incorrect” or merely “mistaken”–the fact that any criticism falls under that definition (whatever it is) is what’s problematic and what makes the statement applicable beyond Warren.

    If you can read a more charitable definition into “any”–I’m certainly willing to listen.

    Army Lawyer (6853dd)

  97. My position remains that Centanni and Wiig’s conduct is open to criticism (or praise) regardless of whether one has been a hostage or not.

    That’s it.

    Army Lawyer (6853dd)

  98. Based on what you’ve staked out thus far: Either everything from Warren is crap (fine), but criticism from non-Warrens is permissible. Or no criticism is permissible. Pick one.

    Neither. Doc summarized my position pretty well. Basically, it’s that self-righteous chest-beating over how Wiig and Centanni acted during captivity is beyond the pale, while criticism of their behavior after their captivity is not inherently objectionable, just erroneous in this instance.

    Ahhh…so the chickenhawk argument isn’t invalid because it’s a logical fallacy and a slur, but because the poll numbers don’t back it up (distinct from a logical fallcy)? So you’re not opposed to the use of such a slur, so long as the numbers favor you.

    Precisely. It’s the difference between accusing Richard Jewell of terrorism vs. leveling the same charge Osama bin Laden. The Army Lawyers of the world may resort to facile “but it’s the same logical argument, blah blah blah” rejoinder, but the rest of us are smart enough to know the difference.

    Xrlq (3eed8d)

  99. Neither. Doc summarized my position pretty well.

    Which I stated accurately: Any criticism of conduct during captivity is off limits.

    You’ve never disputed that characterization. Hooray.

    The Army Lawyers of the world may resort to facile “but it’s the same logical argument, blah blah blah” rejoinder, but the rest of us are smart enough to know the difference.

    Perhaps that’s a benefit of commenting “from where you sit.”

    You speak so lightly of herosim–you see it in this instance–yet are so dismissive of people like Quattrocchi of whom you wrote:

    Quattrocchi didn’t have life and freedom as an option; his only choice was to either die like Nick Berg in a propaganda video or to die like an Italian, ruin the propaganda value of the film, and die a relatively quick and painless death to boot. Good for him; he made the best possible choice given two horrible alternatives. But anyone who deliberately chooses to die like an Italian rather than live like a normal person is an idiot, not a hero.

    It’s the very nature of heroism that leads men like Quattrocchi to choose to act honorably even when faced with certain death.

    Pity they won’t rank much beyond “idiot” in XRLQ’s pantheon.

    Army Lawyer (6853dd)

  100. “But maybe they don’t think conversions are a big deal. Its just that it was forced.”

    You really think it’s possible that they think forced conversions aren’t “a big deal”? Whether you are religious or not, it really cuts to the heart of the 1st Amendment’s freedom of religion clause, doesn’t it? Regardless of their religiosity (or none at all) it’s beyond reason that they wouldn’t consider a forced conversion to be “a big deal.”

    sharon (dfeb10)

  101. They may not want to make a big deal out of it, for a variety of reasons, including embarrassment, or concerns that doing so will cause them difficulty or even danger if they return to the Middle East.

    Patterico (de0616)

  102. Army Lawyer: “My position remains that Centanni and Wiig’s conduct is open to criticism (or praise) regardless of whether one has been a hostage or not.”

    My position remains the same as that.

    I also agree with Sharon: the change of religion, officially made in a way that is legitimate according to the religion they converted to, and never officially renounced even when it was safe to do so, is a problem.

    Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig may have chosen to let their conversions to Islam stand for a while bearing in mind their desire to work in the Middle East in future. But I don’t think remaining officially of the same religion as jihadists who have captured you for a reason like that is creditable behaviour. It might be profitable or otherwise convenient to visit the Middle East again, but that doesn’t make it more honorable than renouncing Allah and not going back to the Middle East.

    On thing I think should be said for Olaf Wiig though: he is a new Zealander. I would be more critical of his behaviour if he was an Australian. I would say his behaviour was unpatriotic if he was an Australian. If I was an American I would be more critical of Steve Centanni. But since the mid 1980s, New Zealand has ceased to be a real ally of the United States of America.

    While the government of Australia does still promote the strongest relationship available with New Zealand (which I support), that only goes so far.

    So Olaf Wiig may legitimately feel that Australia’s enemies and America’s enemies are not his nation’s enemies. And if he is not Christian and feels that militant Islam is not an enemy of anything that he supports, then he might have reasonable argument, if he chose to give expression to it, that he has no dog in this fight.

    David Blue (d2b4bd)

  103. Neither. Doc summarized my position pretty well.

    Which I stated accurately: Any criticism of conduct during captivity is off limits.

    Well, sort of. A more accurate statement would have been “which I stated a gazillion ways, one of which happened to be accurate, while the rest of which were all over the map.” Here’s a brief summary of your somewhat less accurate characterizations:

    Chickenhawk, chickenhawk, chickenhawk. God I’m so fucking brilliant, I said “chickenhawk!” Did anyone notice I said “chickenhawk?” I think I’ll say it a few more times just to be sure.
    “If [anyone who criticizes Wiig and Centanni’s actions before, during or after their captivity] wants to run off to the Middle East so he can die like a good Italian, let him. Otherwise, he should STFU.”
    If you can’t criticize Wiig and Centanni for what they did when terrorists had guns to their heads, then dammit, how can anyone criticize Giuliana Sgrena for what she did when she was back home, safe in Italy?
    Speaking of Italy, anyone who doesn’t want to die like an Italian is a coward. Why can’t he be more like Quattrocchi? Not the real Quattrocchi, who made a rational choice to die like an Italian rather than die a more pathetic death when it was clear he was going to die anyway, but the mythical Quattrocchi who died like an Italian to avoid freedom. A true hero, fake-Quattrocchi was.
    Did I mention chickenhawk?

    Xrlq (3eed8d)

  104. “They may not want to make a big deal out of it, for a variety of reasons, including embarrassment, or concerns that doing so will cause them difficulty or even danger if they return to the Middle East.”

    Meanwhile, the terrorists have great tape.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  105. Meanwhile, the terrorists have great tape.

    Sharon-

    That’s the heart of it, isn’t it? The terrorists got everything they wanted—a nice, juicy propaganda tape of a very visible American media personality surrendering, making propaganda statements, and joining the Islamist cause. We may ignore the tape, but it will have quite a different impact in the Muslim world, and undoubtedly convince more Muslims the jihadis are winning.

    But preserving Centanni’s career is more important, isn’t it? Better not renounce Allah, Steve.

    Can you imagine Shirer or Murrow appearing on Lord Haw Haw, spouting Nazi propaganda, then resuming their broadcast careers?

    In a related note, has anybody noticed how the Palestinian PM has come out of this smelling like roses with power broker status?

    Anybody want to take bets on who directed the kidnapping in the first place?

    Teflon (c27f39)

  106. XRLQ:

    Odd that you don’t actually quote me once in that little rant there. Cute. Keep retreating like this and you may trip over your own skirt.

    Of course, who am *I* to talk–I am not the Alpha and Omega of honor that you are.

    Enlighten me, dear sir on the vagueries of both your mind and what gives YOU the authority to praise Centanni/Wiig or Quattrocchi or any other hostage (and note your backtrack from he being an “idiot” to having made a “rational choice”–nice one, that).

    On what basis do you claim the authority to say “No MORE shall be uttered!”

    I mean, other than the rarified air of commenting “from where you sit” (or your time as a hostage, I forget which is more important now).

    Deliver us unto dishonor XRLQ, deliver us.

    Army Lawyer (498217)

  107. Whether you are religious or not, it really cuts to the heart of the 1st Amendment’s freedom of religion clause, doesn’t it?

    Sure. But for some of us who dont believe in this stuff, we’ll say it under a gun. Which doesn’t make being under a gun nice. But it does mean that we don’t believe we’ve actually “converted.” Being against it is the same as being under a gun or coerced.

    But I also mentioned that victims may not want to make a big deal out of something. Even though every tough person on the internets wants them to.

    actus (6234ee)

  108. Enlighten me, dear sir on the vagueries of both your mind and what gives YOU the authority to praise Centanni/Wiig or Quattrocchi or any other hostage (and note your backtrack from he being an “idiot” to having made a “rational choice”–nice one, that).

    You know goddamned well that I never called Quattrocchi an idiot, so there was nothing for me to “backtrack” from. It’s bad enough that you argue badly, but if you can’t or won’t debate honestly then frankly, I see no purpose in debating you at all. Have a nice day.

    Xrlq (f52b4f)

  109. “That’s the heart of it, isn’t it? The terrorists got everything they wanted—a nice, juicy propaganda tape of a very visible American media personality surrendering, making propaganda statements, and joining the Islamist cause. We may ignore the tape, but it will have quite a different impact in the Muslim world, and undoubtedly convince more Muslims the jihadis are winning.”

    Yep, that’s the point. But, hey, keeping your credentials with Middle Eastern thugs is more important, right? Isn’t that what CNN thinks?

    “Sure. But for some of us who dont believe in this stuff, we’ll say it under a gun.”

    I never condemned them for saying it. Not renouncing it or condemning their captors is a different story.

    “Which doesn’t make being under a gun nice. But it does mean that we don’t believe we’ve actually “converted.””

    So you DO believe you’ve been converted. Well, I guess the jihadis got more than what they asked for then, didn’t they?

    “Being against it is the same as being under a gun or coerced.”

    Not really. Islamists have done this sort of thing for a cpl of thousand years and, unlike Christians who don’t do this and haven’t for several centuries, obviously still think it’s effective.

    “But I also mentioned that victims may not want to make a big deal out of something.”

    Yes, you did. You have a habit of repeating yourself when anyone counters your argument. I also said it was odd that they would decide not to make a “big deal” out of something so unusual and, dare I say it? Barbaric.

    “Even though every tough person on the internets wants them to.”

    Ah, the pithy Actus ending. It’s not about “every tough person on the internet” wanting them to condemn it. It really goes against human nature not to come out against barbarity such as this, particularly when the victim knows he’s been used as propaganda for the enemy. Unless, of course, he doesn’t consider the enemy his enemy.

    sharon (03e82c)

  110. XRLQ:

    I suppose when your method of argument consists of sticking your fingers in your ears and proclaiming “I will entertain NO argument!” –Then yeah, most people will fair “badly”

    Of course, that it took 100+ comments for you to acknowledge that that is your approach–one might question who is arguing honestly.

    A fine denouement to a rather lacking performance on your part.

    Carry on. (I think I hear a Greenwald post that demands an XRLQing–so bring the fire, man. Bring. The. Fire.)

    Army Lawyer (498217)

  111. Not renouncing it or condemning their captors is a different story.

    I understand. You have a certain view of how victims should act, and they’re failing to act that way. Very nice.

    So you DO believe you’ve been converted.

    If you say so. It certainly wouldn’t feel any different.

    actus (6234ee)

  112. Sharon wrote:

    This isn’t about whether “religion is a big deal.” They were held hostage and forced to convert to Islam by terrorists. THAT’S a big deal. And the fact that they haven’t renounced their conversion is terrific propaganda for the terrorists.

    No, they were held at gunpoint and forced to say they had converted to Islam. To actually have converted to Islam would have required a mental acceptance of Islam and some understanding of the faith of that religion; it’s not just the mouthing of words.

    I don’t know if Messrs Centanni and Wiig were Christians or Buddhists or nothingists prior to their captivity; maybe they don’t feel they’ve anything to renounce. But by keeping their mouths shut at this point, they have left the same method of “escape” open to others who get captured.

    Dana (1d5902)

  113. Sharon also wrote:

    You really think it’s possible that they think forced conversions aren’t “a big deal”? Whether you are religious or not, it really cuts to the heart of the 1st Amendment’s freedom of religion clause, doesn’t it? Regardless of their religiosity (or none at all) it’s beyond reason that they wouldn’t consider a forced conversion to be “a big deal.”

    To you, Sharon, to you.

    They know that the First Amendment doesn’t hold any weight beyond our shores, and they know that the men who captured them would find the entire idea of freedom of religion laughable.

    Now, were I in such a situation, I’d hold it as damned serious that I had to mouth such words (and mouthing unmeant words is not a conversion), and I’m sure that I’d visit my priest when I got home. But that’s me; I have no idea how deeply religious Messrs Centanni and Wiig are — and I’m guessing that you don’t, either.

    It seems strange to me that people are taking assumptions based on their own faiths and views and depth of faith. I’d guess (guess, mind you) that most of us here would have been thoroughly pleased if Messrs Centanni and Wiig had gotten the opportunity to seize a gun and send their captors to their seventy-two white grapes. But an observant Orthodox Jew might see it far differently, based on the Talmudic teaching, “let yourself be killed, but do not kill.”

    That’s what happens when you judge the actions of others from your perspective, rather than from theirs.

    Dana (1d5902)

  114. Sharon also wrote:

    Meanwhile, the terrorists have great tape.

    Sharon, do you believe that tape? Do you, or anyone else here, seriously believe that those gentlemen actually converted to Islam?

    Everyone here understands full well that they said what they had to say, to keep from getting their throats slit. Does anyone in this “room” seriously think that the Muslims who see that tape won’t understand exactly the same thing?

    Dana (1d5902)

  115. God save me when I agree with actus! 🙂

    Not meaning to pick on Sharon, but she also wrote:

    Ah, the pithy Actus ending. It’s not about “every tough person on the internet” wanting them to condemn it. It really goes against human nature not to come out against barbarity such as this, particularly when the victim knows he’s been used as propaganda for the enemy. Unless, of course, he doesn’t consider the enemy his enemy.

    Sharon, Messrs Centanni and Wiig actually went through this, and you did not; you might wish to consider the possibility that they have concerns which you do not realize.

    They got out of this mess by making a coerced statement that they had converted to Islam. OK, none of us here believes that to be true. But they also know other journalists, working in the same area, who might also be unfortunate enough to get themselves captured. Perhaps, just perhaps, they thought, “You know, if we just don’t make a big deal out of this, when Katie Couric gets herself captured, she can put on an abaya and say she’s converted, and they’ll let her go, too.”

    How would they feel if, having loudly denounced their captors and saying in no uncertain terms that they had lied through their scummy teeth just to get away, the next reporter to get captured got sent home in two pieces? Do you think that they might just think that their loud statements that their conversions were never real might have foreclosed that escape route for someone else?

    You know, I’d love to believe that if I were ever in that situation, I’d be strong and brave, putting up with my captors insults by spitting in their eyes, and never giving in an inch. But I’ve never had someone holding a knife to my throat, never really faced a choice which could mean my life or my death, and have no way on God’s earth to know, beforehand, that I wouldn’t wind up a sniveling mass of jello on the floor, begging for my life.

    I won’t condemn Messrs centanni and Wiig for not dying.

    Dana (1d5902)

  116. Unless, of course, he doesn’t consider the enemy his enemy.

    This is what’s animating you. And its sick.

    actus (6234ee)

  117. “I understand. You have a certain view of how victims should act, and they’re failing to act that way. Very nice.”

    Yes. They have behaved in a very strange way.

    “If you say so. It certainly wouldn’t feel any different.”

    Glad to see you agree.

    “No, they were held at gunpoint and forced to say they had converted to Islam. To actually have converted to Islam would have required a mental acceptance of Islam and some understanding of the faith of that religion; it’s not just the mouthing of words.”

    There’s a long history in Islam in particular (and other religions, such as Christianity in the distant past) of forced conversions. Those conversions were considered to be real unless renounced. I’m still waiting for the evidence that they didn’t convert.

    “I don’t know if Messrs Centanni and Wiig were Christians or Buddhists or nothingists prior to their captivity; maybe they don’t feel they’ve anything to renounce. But by keeping their mouths shut at this point, they have left the same method of “escape” open to others who get captured.”

    Possibly. It will make great tape for the jihadis if they do.

    “They know that the First Amendment doesn’t hold any weight beyond our shores, and they know that the men who captured them would find the entire idea of freedom of religion laughable.”

    I didn’t bring up the 1st Amendment in reference to the jihadis. I brought it up in reference to the American reporter, as well as Actus, who said that they didn’t think it was a “big deal.” The “big deal” is that in this country we are supposed to respect freedom of religion. That’s why forced conversion is so shocking to Americans.

    “Now, were I in such a situation, I’d hold it as damned serious that I had to mouth such words (and mouthing unmeant words is not a conversion), and I’m sure that I’d visit my priest when I got home. But that’s me; I have no idea how deeply religious Messrs Centanni and Wiig are — and I’m guessing that you don’t, either.”

    Let me repeat: this isn’t about their religiosity. It’s about the propaganda produced by a forced conversion on tape that hasn’t been renounced.

    “It seems strange to me that people are taking assumptions based on their own faiths and views and depth of faith.”

    It isn’t about their faith or lack thereof. It’s about propaganda.

    “I’d guess (guess, mind you) that most of us here would have been thoroughly pleased if Messrs Centanni and Wiig had gotten the opportunity to seize a gun and send their captors to their seventy-two white grapes. But an observant Orthodox Jew might see it far differently, based on the Talmudic teaching, “let yourself be killed, but do not kill.””

    Of course I would be glad had they killed jihadis. But this isn’t about killing jihadis. I’m simply stating my opinion that it is odd they never renounced their forced conversions and, in fact, have spoken, if not sympathetically, at least neutrally about the thugs that captured them.

    “That’s what happens when you judge the actions of others from your perspective, rather than from theirs.”

    I’d be happy to know about their perspective if they want to give one.

    “Sharon, do you believe that tape? Do you, or anyone else here, seriously believe that those gentlemen actually converted to Islam?”

    The propaganda tape was not made for American consumption (other than the night it was released). It was made for the jihadis.

    “Everyone here understands full well that they said what they had to say, to keep from getting their throats slit. Does anyone in this “room” seriously think that the Muslims who see that tape won’t understand exactly the same thing?”

    I think you should go look up the history of Islam and forced conversions. The idea is well-founded in history (not just ancient but modern). The tape was made to encourage the jihadis by showing Westerners as inferior and weak.

    “Sharon, Messrs Centanni and Wiig actually went through this, and you did not; you might wish to consider the possibility that they have concerns which you do not realize.”

    Wow, how novel! I never thought of that! /sarcasm off.

    “But they also know other journalists, working in the same area, who might also be unfortunate enough to get themselves captured. Perhaps, just perhaps, they thought, “You know, if we just don’t make a big deal out of this, when Katie Couric gets herself captured, she can put on an abaya and say she’s converted, and they’ll let her go, too.””

    Here’s a thought for you: What if, because these journalists participated in forced conversions on tape, more journalists are kidnapped and forced to convert to make more propaganda tapes showing how effective kidnapping journalists and forcing them to convert to Islam is? Just a thought.

    “How would they feel if, having loudly denounced their captors and saying in no uncertain terms that they had lied through their scummy teeth just to get away, the next reporter to get captured got sent home in two pieces? Do you think that they might just think that their loud statements that their conversions were never real might have foreclosed that escape route for someone else?”

    No doubt it would be tragic if this happened. I am of the opinion that it would be equally tragic if the propaganda tape produced from this incident caused more kidnappings.

    “I won’t condemn Messrs centanni and Wiig for not dying.”

    Nor do I. I just think it is peculiar that they haven’t renounced their conversion.

    “This is what’s animating you. And its sick.”

    LOL What a hilarious snark. You have no idea what is animating me. I knew when I left my post this way that you would jump into the noose and assume that I was saying they were sympathetic to the jihadis. That they may not consider them enemies doesn’t mean they agree with them, pathetic little man.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  118. Those conversions were considered to be real unless renounced.

    By who? you? Or the two fox journalists? Maybe they have renounced them. Do they have to do it on TV? Or is religion something more personal?

    I knew when I left my post this way that you would jump into the noose and assume that I was saying they were sympathetic to the jihadis.

    Oh its clear you’re not saying that. Its just that you want to make sure that you covered that possibility, since its so hard for you to grasp why they are acting otherwise. Its very nice.

    actus (6234ee)

  119. “By who? you? Or the two fox journalists? Maybe they have renounced them. Do they have to do it on TV? Or is religion something more personal?”

    Why would I have to renounce it? I wasn’t forced to convert to Islam.

    “Oh its clear you’re not saying that.”

    It is? I guess that’s why I said that I said that you would assume that.

    “Its just that you want to make sure that you covered that possibility, since its so hard for you to grasp why they are acting otherwise.”

    It’s not a matter of “covering” any possibility. But this is: Perhaps they are sympathetic. Perhaps they are neutral. Perhaps they are scared. Perhaps they are sincere converts.

    “Its (sic) very nice.”

    Yes, it is.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  120. Why would I have to renounce it?

    You wouldn’t. we’re talking about whether the conversions are valid. Do you think they are? Do think these men are muslim?

    Perhaps they are sincere converts.

    Ya. You just have to cover your bases.

    actus (6234ee)

  121. “You wouldn’t. we’re talking about whether the conversions are valid. Do you think they are? Do think these men are muslim?”

    I have no idea. They haven’t said, other than they “learned a lot about Islam.”

    “Ya. You just have to cover your bases.”

    You said this already. And I said I didn’t.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  122. BTW, Actus, to stave off your next tangent, try reading my post:

    “There’s a long history in Islam in particular (and other religions, such as Christianity in the distant past) of forced conversions. Those conversions were considered to be real unless renounced. I’m still waiting for the evidence that they didn’t convert.”

    The forced conversions throughout history were considered to be real unless renounced. It was a historical reference about Islam’s predilection for forcing conversions throughout history, including the present day. I’m still waiting for the evidence that they didn’t convert.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  123. The forced conversions throughout history were considered to be real unless renounced.

    Its a simple question. Do you think they’re muslims until they renounce? Is that why you’re waiting for evidence they didn’t convert? I’m not asking about history. I’m asking what you think. Because if you don’t know if they’re musims, then they didn’t really convert.

    actus (6234ee)

  124. “Its a simple question. Do you think they’re muslims until they renounce? Is that why you’re waiting for evidence they didn’t convert? I’m not asking about history. I’m asking what you think. Because if you don’t know if they’re musims, then they didn’t really convert.”

    It’s not for me to prove either way, Actus. The simple question is, if they didn’t convert, why not renounce?

    sharon (dfeb10)

  125. The simple question is, if they didn’t convert, why not renounce?

    It would seem that renunciations are for those that do convert.

    Do they have to renounce to the media? or just to a smaller circle, say, themselves, or family, or a clergyman, or their god?

    actus (6234ee)

  126. Sharon suggests:

    Here’s a thought for you: What if, because these journalists participated in forced conversions on tape, more journalists are kidnapped and forced to convert to make more propaganda tapes showing how effective kidnapping journalists and forcing them to convert to Islam is? Just a thought.

    Do you really think that the Muslims are that stupid? Everyone here, you included, thinks that the most probable truth is that Messrs Centanni and Wiig simply said what their captors wanted them to say to save their necks, and that they didn’t really convert to Islam. Do you honestly believe that the Muslim populations looking at that tape won’t understand exactly the same thing? This was just a face-saving way for the captors to release two hostages when they finally realized they’d be better off not killing them.

    The forced conversions throughout history were considered to be real unless renounced. It was a historical reference about Islam’s predilection for forcing conversions throughout history, including the present day. I’m still waiting for the evidence that they didn’t convert.

    The holding of faith, in any religion, is something internal, is something that is part of the self and the soul. It doesn’t matter whether other people think that someone else’s forced conversion is real or not; what matters is what is within the person. I don’t have to look for evidence that they haven’t converted, because it is not credible to believe that they did, absent other evidence.

    Heck, John Kerry mouthed the words to tell us that he was Catholic, without a knife to his throat, and a whole lot of people (including a majority of Catholics) didn’t believe him.

    Dana (3e4784)

  127. “Do you really think that the Muslims are that stupid? Everyone here, you included, thinks that the most probable truth is that Messrs Centanni and Wiig simply said what their captors wanted them to say to save their necks, and that they didn’t really convert to Islam. Do you honestly believe that the Muslim populations looking at that tape won’t understand exactly the same thing? This was just a face-saving way for the captors to release two hostages when they finally realized they’d be better off not killing them.”

    Actually, I think that they decided not to kill them but wanted to humiliate them and show how weak and inferior Westerners are. There is historical precedent for this behavior and making a tape of this event is terrific propaganda for our enemies.

    “The holding of faith, in any religion, is something internal, is something that is part of the self and the soul. It doesn’t matter whether other people think that someone else’s forced conversion is real or not; what matters is what is within the person. I don’t have to look for evidence that they haven’t converted, because it is not credible to believe that they did, absent other evidence.”

    *sigh* I will repeat myself on this point of whether their conversions were “real.” It is irrelevant to this discussion. You can argue that religion is “internal,” but most religions have “external” proofs of conversion, one of which is profession of faith. It is odd that they have said nothing contrary to this conversion if it isn’t real. I am surprised that some of you actually think this is normal behavior. Instead of trying so desperately to normalize their behavior, try thinking about this from the view of their captors. I thought we were supposed to “understand” the enemy.

    “Heck, John Kerry mouthed the words to tell us that he was Catholic, without a knife to his throat, and a whole lot of people (including a majority of Catholics) didn’t believe him.”

    And the people who saw this thought of him as contemptable, right?

    “It would seem that renunciations are for those that do convert.”

    Actually, it would seem that renunciations are for those who do NOT convert.

    “Do they have to renounce to the media? or just to a smaller circle, say, themselves, or family, or a clergyman, or their god?”

    You might want to look this up in some literature or ask a priest or imam, if you are really that interested. Which I don’t believe you are.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  128. Dana: “The holding of faith, in any religion, is something internal, is something that is part of the self and the soul.”

    Different religions have very different rules.

    In Christianity, faith is important, because it is bound up with a doctrine salvation through faith, but calling a religion “a faith” works for Christianity and religions with analogous quirks, not for religions in general.

    Instead, Judaism calls for the fulfillment of divine commandments. This is typical of religions of the ancient world, which called for the performance of rites or duties approved by various gods, without necessarily any demand that you believe something. A pious man performed the right ritual in the right manner on the right occasion, end of story.

    Islam demands submission. For a religion that was built up and increased on a basis of aggression and compulsion by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself, this is logical.

    David Blue (08c619)

  129. Mr Blue wrote:

    Islam demands submission. For a religion that was built up and increased on a basis of aggression and compulsion by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself, this is logical.

    I’m not quite certain at what you are getting. Are you suggesting that the doctrines of Islam, a faith I doubt many people in this forum share, are the rules by which we ought to judge the forced conversion of the Fox reporters?

    Sorry, I don’t care what the prophet Muhammad (piss be upon him) wrote: I’ll form my judgements based upon my own perceptions, not upon those of others.

    Dana (1d5902)

  130. Actually, it would seem that renunciations are for those who do NOT convert.

    I’m not following your logic. Mine is: if you didn’t convert, theres nothing to renounce. If you DID convert, then you renounce it, to return to your pre-conversion status.

    You might want to look this up in some literature or ask a priest or imam, if you are really that interested.

    I’m interested in why you’re asking for a renunciation. Is it enough if they don’t tell you, or the media?

    actus (6234ee)

  131. “I’m not following your logic. Mine is: if you didn’t convert, theres nothing to renounce. If you DID convert, then you renounce it, to return to your pre-conversion status.”

    If it isn’t a real conversion, most people would say so when asked about the ordeal.

    “I’m interested in why you’re asking for a renunciation. Is it enough if they don’t tell you, or the media?”

    Actus, scroll up and read all my posts. I already answered this question. Perhaps it was put slightly differently, but nonetheless, I answered it.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  132. If it isn’t a real conversion, most people would say so when asked about the ordeal.

    I really dont know what most people would do, because this situation does seem pretty unique. But perhaps they have said so. To themselves, to their god, their family, their clergy.

    actus (6234ee)

  133. I think we’ve pretty much staked out the positions here. It’s peculiar that they never renounced the conversions. In public. When asked about their ordeal by the press. If you are satisfied with that, good for you.

    sharon (03e82c)

  134. It’s peculiar that they never renounced the conversions. In public. When asked about their ordeal by the press.

    I suppose. Not so much to me, but then again, religion isn’t that big a deal to me. Perhaps its not to them either.

    actus (6234ee)

  135. “I suppose. Not so much to me, but then again, religion isn’t that big a deal to me. Perhaps its not to them either.”

    I think you’ve pretty much made it clear that this is your position. I disagree with it, not so much because their behavior is offensive to me personally, but because I hate the signal it sends our enemies: that Westerners are weak and inferior, so weak that they refuse to even stand up for themselves. It’s really quite irrelevant whether we think the conversions are real or not. The confessions and the tape were not done for the benefit of Westerners, but for those in the Middle East, particularly those fence-sitters who might think we’re not so bad. In a culture which values strength and adherance to religious teachings, saying it isn’t a “big deal” is tantamount to admitting weakness.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  136. I disagree with it, not so much because their behavior is offensive to me personally, but because I hate the signal it sends our enemies: that Westerners are weak and inferior, so weak that they refuse to even stand up for themselves.

    Its not that it offends you personally. Its that you personally think these victims shold react in a certain way, in order for them to show “our” strength.

    In a culture which values strength and adherance to religious teachings, saying it isn’t a “big deal” is tantamount to admitting weakness.

    Too bad. But I don’t think its a good idea to appease them and act the way they want us to.

    actus (6234ee)

  137. “Its not that it offends you personally. Its that you personally think these victims shold react in a certain way, in order for them to show “our” strength.”

    I’m so glad you finally admitted (after insinuating the opposite in several posts) that none of this is about my personal feelings. It’s my opinion that their behavior is peculiar.

    “Too bad. But I don’t think its a good idea to appease them and act the way they want us to.”

    You mean like converting to Islam on tape?

    sharon (dfeb10)

  138. […] So the other day, the Pope criticized violent conversion to Islam (not that such a thing would ever happen — right, Steve Centanni?) and said: “Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul.” […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Pope Criticizes Islam’s Violence; Islam Reacts Violently (421107)

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