Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Coalition returns for the new year!

I have been away from the holidays, and thus have missed Mark's latest anathema sits against all of St. Blogs and the entire conservative blogosphere for disagreeing with him over the issue of Saddam's execution and the death penalty in general. So let me just try to state this as succinctly as possible.

Irrespective of the numerous political reasons why Saddam needed to be killed, I think that trying to argue that his execution is unwarranted as a matter of Catholic teaching is exceedingly wrong-headed. As long as he was alive, he continued to serve as an active and willing rallying point for his followers that sought to restore him to power. That was the whole goal of al-Awda (the Return, i.e. the Return of Saddam), which back in 2003 was one of the leading Baathist groups in the insurgency. And while they have since been replaced by al-Qaeda in Iraq, they are still active and still killing people today. So even without taking into account his enormous crimes against the people of Iraq and their neighbors, I think you can make a fairly compelling case for executing Saddam on grounds of the public good. Your average criminal is not going to have followers carrying out violence with the goal of securing his release as long as he was imprisoned, whereas Saddam's were. Under the circumstances, I'm not seeing a problem here. The idea that to execute someone is to deny the efficacy of God to carry out justice is both a red herring and very bad theology - taken to its logical conclusion, that would mean that we shouldn't have any laws or punishments whatsoever. As I believe it says in the Catechism, God has chosen not exercise all sovereignty Himself.

Also, this has been bugging me for some time but Mark really needs to cool his inner integralist the next time he denounces conservative blogosphere for not following the teachings of the Catholic Church. As he seems to recognize whenever he is dealing with, say, Jonah Goldberg (unless he's also be subject to anathema sit), a lot of conservatives aren't Catholics, so it isn't surprising that they aren't going to be in synch with the Church when it comes to issues of morality. A lot of them probably don't follow the Church's teaching on Petrine primacy or contraception either. Why we should expect otherwise when we believe that the Church is the summit of truth (thereby implying that others would have less access to it than we do) is beyond me.

Now that all said, the manner in which Saddam's execution took place was extremely bad politically. Here's why: beyond angering all the usual suspects in the West (of whom Mark is now unfortunately among, given his creeping paleoconservatism), by allowing Muqtada al-Sadr's thugs (and al-Sadr himself?) to oversee the execution, al-Sadr and not the Iraqi government are going to get credit for killing Saddam Hussein, giving him even further prestige as he seeks to position himself in a position of leadership in Iraq.

I really can't add much to Tom Connelly's response (quoting David Frum) to Mark's idiotic remarks about neocons now being critical of President Bush:
Where did this idea come from that either you must support and applaud everything the administration has done in Iraq - or else you must turn your back on the whole thing? Intense debate over strategy and tactics is exactly what you would expect in a democracy at war. Those who support a war's aims do not always or even usually support every element of a war's execution.

Of course, if Mark care enough to pay attention to what the neocons were saying, he might recognize that Bill Kristol and the Weekly Standard have been calling for more troops and Rumsfeld's removal since the summer of 2004. And then there is the issue (unanswered in the combox) as to why neocons becoming critical of the administration's conduct of the war is any different from Mark. The answer: because the neocons still want to win in Iraq, whereas Mark appears to have more or less given up on victory in the war on terrorism as a practical matter until Western culture readjusts itself to a point he regards as healthy. Thank God his attitude was not prevalent in the 1940s, when all manner of religious, racial, and class bigotry every bit as inimical to Catholic values predominated American society.

As for this, Mark makes a false conflation between prisoner abuse and torture (there is a difference between the former and the latter), just as he conflates disagreement with him and his bad arguments on Catholic teaching to a desire to condone torture. Until he can wrap these differences around his head (an event I expect will result in a Nomad-like collapse of his internal reasoning), he isn't going to be able to do more than demagogue when it comes to this issue ... which has pretty much been what he's been doing since it became clear that he isn't willing to argue substantively because he believes that anyone who disagrees with him (and isn't a prominent Catholic apologist) is motivated only by politics.

6 comments:

Mark said...

"It is legitimate to ask whether, say, Saddam really constituted such an ongoing threat to the public good that it was necessary to execute him."

Some anathema. Do you even read before you jerk your knee anymore, Chris?

Christopher Fotos said...

Well Torq, considering Mark recently announced that the withdrawal of some classic literature from a local library is "Proof that the Greatest Threat We Face, on a Daily Basis, is not Radical Islam but democratic capitalism untethered from the Judeo-Christian tradition," it is just possible we are not dealing with a highly refined instrument.

Because personally I'm more concerned about heads being separated from bodies, or my community being incinerated, than with the deep collapse of society represented by a library that now only will supply books if I ask for them.

I wonder who "Chris" is, by the way?

Victor said...

Mark Shea wrote of someone else:

Do you even read before you jerk your knee anymore...

I tried to think of a response ... But. Just. Couldn't.

No response could be worthy of this ... this ...

It's like being called a slut by Paris Hilton, insane by Ahmedinejad, litigious by Richard Comerford.

That quote deserves to be bronzed.

Anonymous said...

JOSEPH D'HIPPOLITO SAYS...

Shea's position on papal prudential judgements can be best summarized by Stuart Koehl, who said the following in a discussion I had with him on Touchstone Magazine's "Mere Comments" blog:

There is in fact a brand of Catholic who can only be called "Papist", because he cares not one whit for Tradition, not one whit for common sense, but asks always, "What did the Pope say?" He knows ever Papal Bull and Encyclical on the most trivial of issues, but has no familiarity with the Fathers, and knows that the Pope can cut the line ahead of Jesus if he needs to speak with God the Father. The lovely lads at "New Oxford Review" fall into this category--though, interestingly, they sometimes bend over backwards to make recent Popes say things they never said.
A somewhat broader subspecies of Catholic are those who engage in "ecclesiolatry"; i.e., putting the Church ahead of God, meaning the institutional structure, not the sacramental reality (with which most have only passing familiarity). They seek to preserve appearances and reputations at all costs, and never, ever want to see the Church "apologize" for anything at any time. The Church has never erred, and if it has, well, it just doesn't, OK?

Anonymous said...

JOSEPH D'HIPPOLITO SAYS...

This just in from Teheran, Victor...

In an impromptu news conference this morning, Iranian President Mahmood Ahmadinejad said, "Mark Shea is an insane tool of the Zionists and their American lackeys who will meet his just desserts when the 12th Imam comes to bring peace and justice to all.

As the president spoke, a green aura surrounding his head appeared visible to all present.

Courtesy Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). All rights reserved, you Zionist infidel copyright violators and plagerizers.

Anonymous said...

JOSEPH D'HIPPOLITO ADDS...

By the way, Victor, is it true?

Paris Hilton is...dare I say it?...a SLUT?!?!?!?!?

Oh, horror of all horrors! My fantasies of innocence have been destroyed....

Burma Shave

;D