If I tell you that I’m Charlemagne or the King of Prussia, you’ll probably figure that it’s my conception of myself, not anyone else’s understanding of who I am. If, however, I tell you that I’m part of a citizen militia campaigning to wrest control of the Western range from an oppressive, tyrannical federal government, and I make this claim while bearing arms as part of an organized, heavily armed group that has seized control of a Bureau of Land Management building in an Oregon wildlife refuge that my group is trying to reclaim from the federal government for unimpeded private use, you may recognize that, tactically at least, I’m straying into reality-based living. That’s what a militia is: a group using paramilitary tactics and equipment to seize, hold, and control territory. The lunacy of a militia’s philosophy or goals is separate from its constitution and its ability to pursue and achieve these goals. So, it should go without saying, is any hatred that a militia’s opponents have for its agenda.
On NPR, nothing so basic goes without saying. Its news bulletins have started describing the Bundy and Buddies #YallQaeda crew as “the self-described militia” holding the BLM building. Get it? That’s how those poopy buttheads describe themselves, hurr durr, but we have no need to dignify them with that title. Just because they’re an actual militia preparing to mount a military defense of property that they seized doesn’t mean that we members in good standing of the Outer Party are justified in matter-of-factly describing them using a common term for what they functionally are as a group. There’s no cause for any of us to dignify our enemies by soberly recognizing them for what they are and for the damage they are capable of visiting on us or our allies. No, much better to talk shit about them until they magically conform to our insults.
We’ve been down this road with NPR before. We’ve been told the same insipid thing in every fucking news bulletin from the geographies formerly known as Mesopotamia and the Levant. It isn’t the Islamic State; it’s the Self-Described Islamic State. This is coming from the same cancerous mass of mandarins that wrung its hands over whether to call the new thugs on the block ISIS, ISIL, or IS, which suggests a certain nitpicking incoherence, but in the matter of self-descriptions the propaganda is smooth and pervasive. Some months ago, the news bulletin cyphers and the program hosts all started qualifying the Islamic State as self-described. I recall this happening some time after this army of beards had started seizing territory and committing atrocities against civilian populations in earnest, that is, proving itself a capable army exercising de facto sovereignty over a significant territory. Suddenly, everyone at NPR was all like, well, they say they’re the Islamic State, but that’s just what they say.
The memos have gone out to the on-air talent from on high. They are to use right language for the edification of the cadres. This isn’t the sort of dumbass turn of phrase I can imagine Scott Simon independently devising for use as a sort of curse by public relations on an enemy military, but he didn’t have to devise it; someone else devised it and gave it to him as a generous intellectual gift, no backs if you value your career, son.
And now the latest armed cracker rally: it, too, is the work of a self-described militia carrying what any Anglophone would describe as guns. It calls to mind the historic three-way gang warfare between the self-described Crips, the self-described Bloods, and the self-described Los Angeles Police Department.
This is all of a piece with the bad habit, suddenly prominent after 9/11, of reflexively calling the victims of terrorism heroes and the perpetrators of terroristic attacks cowards. Expecting heroism of terrified, helpless civilians trapped in violently burning buildings with no discernible escape path is excessive; it isn’t their fault that they died terrorized and helpless, but the fault of subversive elements in the US and Saudi governm–I mean, non-state actors having absolutely no ties whatsoever to the CIA, the Mossad, or the Saudi government, the last also being free of culpability for the mass execution of 47 political prisoners and in sovereign possession of a fully intact embassy in Tehran. The firefighters and cops who ran into the burning buildings on 9/11 to rescue others were and are heroes, and they deserve credit for their heroism, but it shouldn’t be held against helpless victims of a horrific attack that they did not behave heroically themselves; they suffered enough.
Conversely, the attackers were not cowards. Cowardice is not a synonym for depravity or psychopathy. Well, I guess it is these days. It takes great physical courage to fly a jet aircraft into a building on a suicide mission. This courage is completely separate from the good or the evil of one’s cause.
We’re still intelligent and honest enough as a people not to denigrate the most competent and ambitious military commanders on the disfavored sides of the old-timey wars as cowards: Lee, Grant, Rommel, Yamamoto, what have you. It’s more that we officially have a huge beef with the guys who’ve been blamed for 9/11, and courage is a virtue, so QED, none of them had a lick of it. We used to look at our enemies and, if they were not handily defeated, pronounce them committed and dangerous enough to threaten our security. We used a lot of racial slurs, and we still do, as it happens, although the boots-on-the-ground references to towelheads and sand niggers are generally sanitized from PR copy about the current long war in Asia. There was not, however, much in the way of smack talk about how the Krauts and the Japs were a bunch of lilly-livered nancyboys. We were too honest and sensible a society for that, and so were our leaders.
We were certainly too honest and sensible to pretend for a second that Germany and Japan were anything other than sovereign powers with great military capabilities and control over large territories. No one in the US government should be befuddled by the fact that it is militarily engaged with a second proto-state militia filling a power vacuum in two failed Middle Eastern states after a two-decade engagement with the Taliban, first as allies, then as enemies. Yes, these are deeply ugly, reprehensible organizations. Tough shit, though: they control large swathes of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. One does not simply defeat the pashtunwallah by thinking unkind thoughts of illegitimacy and weakness about one’s enemies.
Meanwhile, Washington continues to act like the treacherous chop-chop-bang-bang tyrants running the House of Saud are bae as shit. Saudi Arabia is the Sunni equivalent of a dominant mob family exercising internationally recognized sovereignty over all of Sicily, with mainland Italy in the position of the United States as the codependent superpower that just won’t stop giving guns, tanks, and planeloads of money to the family of thugs. The current Iranian regime is objectively more morally and civically legitimate than the House of Saud, and more temperate, too, for the most part, but it’s on the Western government shit list for inexcusable geopolitical reasons. The Western deep state is hellbent on allying with the worst regional elements in that part of the world and marginalizing the reformists.
At least the Iranian mobs have had the good sense to engage in diplomacy by other means against the Saudi government for the politically motivated execution of Nimr al-Nimr. General Sherman has not entirely abandoned Creation; in places, his spirit still abides. No, not all spirits are holy, nor should they be. The meek shall not in fact inherit the earth of Arabia; the psycopaths who currently rule it know nothing but extortion, blackmail, and brute force. At least one dynasty among them has finally suffered immediate consequences for sticking its big swinging dick in a hornets’ nest. It was about time.
It’s still about time for the State Department and the rest of the US foreign policy establishment to start referring to the House of Saud as the self-described guardians of Islam and its holiest sites. The Wahhabi mullahs, after all, know that this is just a self-description, and they collect regular tribute from the Saudi government in consideration of this knowledge. By now, though, the Foggy Bottom types are much more accustomed to helping the Saudi military pulverize Shiite parts of Yemen and no telling what ragtag ad hoc force of “moderate” militiamen dick around with ISIS in the middle Euphrates, and their stenographers at NPR are much more willing to question the legitimacy of several dozen armed rancher blowhards doing a Waco LARP in a wildlife preserve than the legitimacy of a foreign monarchy that keeps chopping off the heads of political prisoners and adultery convicts and orchestrating extreme military chaos in neighboring countries because it’s butthurt.
Home, home on the range, where the derp and the antelope play….