Patterico's Pontifications


Grahamnesty Out

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:58 am

Na na na na, hey hey, good bye.

Sen. Lindsey Graham is dropping out of the presidential race, his campaign announced this morning.

He was awful for many reasons but he’s out so why waste time listing them? So long, sucker.

Poll: Let’s Bomb This Fictional Place!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:12 am

By now you have probably seen the story that 30% of GOP voters support bombing “Agrabah,” the fictional town from Aladdin. 19% of Democrats agree. 45% of those who support this nonsensical proposition support one particular Republican candidate, and 41% of that candidate’s supporters would bomb the non-existent Arabic-sounding town.

Tribalism calls on me to ignore or dismiss the story. I have seen it widely dismissed on Twitter as a silly question or a hit job on Republicans. (It’s both, but more about this below.) Ilya Somin uses the poll to mount his hobby horse about the rational ignorance of voters — a proposition with which I quite agree. I’ve seen people justify the answers by reference to the assumptions that respondents made, which include an assumption (misguided, of course) that the pollsters were acting in good faith. I’ve seen people try to argue that there are tiny towns in places like Jordan with names that sound a little like Agrabah and maybe the respondents meant that town. In one amusing post I saw a full-throated if satirical defense of bombing Agrabah, a police state run by a ruthless dictator where dangerous magic and tolerance of slavery run rampant.

Very cute. This is what you do when tribalism calls. Either you pretend the story didn’t happen, or you go into spin mode.

But I can’t bow to the call of tribalism. I can’t ignore the story. And so, I feel compelled to write this post — a post that I assume will annoy many of you. So be it. I don’t blog to pander.

Let me start by saying that the question is obviously one-sided and designed as a hit on Republicans. You could ask any number of silly questions designed to embarrass Democrats by exploiting their own silly prejudices. For example, you could ask whether we should welcome Daleks as refugees, and I guarantee you that a plurality of Democrats would support welcoming within our borders this Nazi-like group of mutants from Doctor Who, bent on exterminating inferior races. If I were rich, I would commission a poll to ask this very question.

Clearly, Agrabah sounds vaguely Arabic, and people are aware that many people from Arabic countries have been posing a threat. If you’re making a guess, it’s not totally out of the blue to guess the way these respondents did.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s confront the reality that many on the right don’t want to talk about. Typically, we know that bombing enemies involves killing people. I know of no bombing campaign in war where we have bombed cities and killed nobody. This means that there is a large group of Americans out there who are in favor of killing people about whom they, provably, know absolutely nothing.

I recently posted some thoughts about Hugh Hewitt’s insisting to Ben Carson that it is a qualification to be President of the United States that one be willing to kill thousands of innocent children. In the same debate, candidates discussed an insane plan by one of the candidates to target terrorists’ families — not because they thought they were terrorists, but as a way to influence the terrorists by targeting their families.

Our country has the most mighty military in the world, and our citizens apparently like to see it used. I don’t think there has been a decade in our history where we haven’t been at war in some sense. And this poll shows that likely millions of Americans can be talked into supporting the killing of people when they cannot possibly have a legitimate grievance against those people, because they don’t exist.

This, in my view, is murderous and barbaric. We have become so callous that we live in a country where millions agree to killing people for absolutely no reason that they can articulate or defend.

And then we’ll justify such attitudes with a heaping helping of “this is war.”

War is sometimes necessary. For example, in my view, World War II and Afghanistan were justified. In both cases, we were well and truly attacked and had to do something in self-defense.

But I think poll responses like this should cause everyone to think twice about casual support for killing people. Increasingly, however, we support killing people for all sorts of other reasons that really aren’t our business. And all this nonsense is supported by an electorate so ignorant that huge chunks of that electorate — representing millions of people — will support bombing literally anyone, including made-up places.

So, for all the annoying features of this poll, I think it teaches something sobering and distressing.

I fully expect 95% of you to disagree, and I expect a lot of invective to come my way. So be it. Where’s the fun if I’m only saying things you agree with all the time?

And if I get just one person to second-guess our bloodthirsty foreign policy . . . well, then, we’ll still be screwed, because one person is nothing compared to the ignorant mass of millions who will outvote you.

But it would still be nice. Unexpected, to be sure. But nice.

UPDATE: There is a real Agraba: a suburb of Damascus. Thanks to JP for the pointer. Take that, Guardian! Take that, PPP! Ya smug bastidges!

Chances any of the poll respondents had that actual location in mind? Zero. The argument of the post remains untouched. But it’s still a nice comeuppance for the smug set.

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