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Saturday, July 21, 2012


Description of a mass murderer: "super nice kid," "kinda quiet" and "really smart."

"super nice kid," "kinda quiet" and "really smart." This is how Holmes is described by a classmate to the LA Times.

Reading an essay by Dan Miller Enlightened self-interest and international relations about Bertrand Russell somehow made me think about James Holmes the “Batman Killer.”  [edited]

We know so little about what motivates people, but we think we know so much. It’s called projection. We assume that there are universal aspirations and that they match our own. That error is the cause of both personal and global tragedy.

On a personal level people assume that if we love someone that love will be reciprocated, and too often men and women find that not to be the case. The assumption of basic honesty is what Bernie Madoff used to defraud people out of billions of dollars.

Neville Chamberlain returned to England with an agreement signed by Adolph Hitler and pronounced that it meant "peace for our time" because he profoundly wanted peace and assumed that only a madman wanted war after the horrors of World War I.   He chose poorly. 

The foolishness never ends. The “Arab Spring” was interpreted by opinion leaders throughout the West as if the majority of Arabs shared the values of the West.  Even the West – despite its cultural heritage – today lacks a uniform belief system, thanks in large part due to the Left's takeover of many of its cultural institutions. It has come as a shock to the chattering classes that only a small and powerless minority in Egypt shared their views and a large majority did not. 

Suppose the Egyptian elections reflect the views of the majority of the Egyptian people. What then can we expect of the results of the Obama administration's policies?
President Barack Obama’s view of the Muslim Brotherhood is based on his — and his advisors’ — apparent rationale that the Islamist group is reformed and much more like the American and European models of pluralistic societies.
However, experts on Islam and terrorism claim that the Muslim Brotherhood’s — and the radical Salafists –dominance of the Egyptian government, by virtue of its recent parliamentary election victories, will eventually lead to the imposition of Sharia law on Islamic Arabs and jihad against infidels.

Miller notes that:
One problem with Russell’s enlightened self-interest thesis, and with the Obama Administration’s apparent perception of what people want, is that people of different cultures and ideologies have different perceptions of their own self-interests than do we.

The view of America from the Middle East is different; our histories, cultures, religions, social structures and senses of morality are quite different. To take one example, suppose the people of Egypt think that our indulgence of Paris Hilton, her rewards for her sex videos and showing her “naughty bits” is not just wrong, but an abomination to an Allah that demands our destruction? While sophisticates may scoff, just such beliefs caused the 9/11 hijackers to become the guidance systems of improvised missiles to kill thousands on that day.

Our leadership’s failure ... no, our leadership’s unwillingness, to recognize that our culture and belief systems are so totally different is leading to a terrible tragedy. A large part of the problem is political correctness which demands respect for all cultures, no matter how brutal by our standards.  I am not pointing fingers just to Team Obama. George Bush believed that the people of the Middle East shared our values. They do not; and our failure to understand that led to the “light footprint” in Iraq which led to the bloody insurgency.

Miller asks:
Do the unfortunate denizens of North Korea and Iran, for example, desire freedom or might they have learned to love despair? If they desire freedom, for whom do they desire it? Are they willing to risk what little they have to secure the freedoms few of them have experienced? Should we risk the freedoms we have in order to give them theirs? Freedoms can rarely be “given” to those with little interest in having them. Efforts to do so have not always worked as we desired. …[in Mogadishu, for example] “Americans reacted to the spectacle of dead U.S. soldiers being dragged through the streets by cheering Somali mobs — the very people Americans thought they had rescued from starvation.”

We have seen images of people starving in North Korea.  But not all starve and who can say that if given the chance to live like the girl and her family in the video below, they would not sit before cameras to sing, dance and clap in unison like trained seals, extolling the virtues of the Dear Leader?

Which brings us to the belief expressed by Russell
I would say, in conclusion, that if what I have said is right, the main thing needed to make the world happy is intelligence. And this, after all, is an optimistic conclusion, because intelligence is a thing that can be fostered by known methods of education.

Miller doubts:

Optimistic? Well, yes; excessively so. Methods of education commonly used to foster intelligence — if by that is meant rational thought — often foster little. In any event, information — knowledge — beyond what can be secured by rational thought is needed if we are to act in our own best self-interests. Rational thought can permit us to reject false information, but alone cannot help us to obtain the valid information we need.

Repeat:  "Methods of education commonly used to foster intelligence — if by that is meant rational thought — often foster little."

Exhibit “A” appears to be James Holmes who has spent the majority of his life in the process of being educated, fostering his intelligence, developing "rational thought."  A PhD candidate at the University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus. From his actions we may conclude that he decided that it was rational to enter a crowded movie theater at midnight and kill as many people as he could.  This does not pass for what most people would define as a rational thought, but to James Holmes it certainly did.  What if, based on what Holmes has been taught, it was totally rational?  Just as rational as Mohamed Atta, graduate of Cairo University and the Technical University of Hamburg, knew himself to be?  

It will be interesting, as time passes and more information is made available, to see what Holmes' value system is, and where he acquired it. One thing we know, it wasn’t with the Tea Party.

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Thanks for the link and your thoughtful expressions of opinion.
You are welcome Dan. I thought your essay was excellent.
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