Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 15, 2005
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*Go vote in Mac Thomason's tournament to determine the most annoying ESPN on-air personality!
*Dr. Weevil notes the loathsome Juan Cole's insistence on using the term "guerilla" to describe what any sane person would call terrorism:
When you're firing mortars at a market full of unarmed civilians, or murdering unarmed barbers, you are a not a guerrilla, or even an unlawful combatant, but a common murderer. And when you do it to terrorize the general population, as is quite obviously the case here, you are a terrorist. Why can't Cole use that word?
This is of a piece with the BBC's decision to declare the term doubleplus ungood. I didn't necessarily think it was accurate for the Bush Administration to call the insurgents "terrorists" when they first started attacking US troops, but given that the bulk of the attacks these days are aimed at Iraqi civilians (indeed, if they weren't, we could leave without much consequence), the term obviously fits.
You know, I understand why there can't be universal agreement on a truly comprehensive definition of terrorism, but there's no morally defensible reason why there can't be common agreement on a minimum definition of terrorism: when non-regular combatants (i.e., no uniform, no accountable chain of command, etc.) direct violence at primarily civilian/non-combatant targets, that's terrorism, period. (When the same violence is directed by regular combatants in a declared war between combatant nations, that's a different story, albeit in most cases equally objectionable - different, because the offending nation and its own populace can be held directly accountable). People like Cole just can't bring themselves to condemn terrorism because that would undermine the noble and treasured endeavor of suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.
*You would think that this case is more important and interesting than the Aruba Police Blotter. And this may have been missed by the media altogether, and may not lend itself to any obvious solution, but that doesn't make it any less tragic.
*Tom Elia says rooting for both the Cubs and the White Sox is a sign of the sickness of our age.
*The list of things potentially (a) classified or (b) harmful to national security that have been leaked through the NY Times in the past five years would be so long as to defy enumeration; Powerline notes a prominent and egregious example. Yet, somehow, only one riles.
*When they get to the movie of "Namor the Sub-Mariner," it's time for Hollywood to just throw in the towel.
*The Pope thinks the Harry Potter books offer "subtle seductions that work imperceptibly, and because of that deeply, and erode Christianity in the soul before it can even grow properly. This was written by then-Cardinal Ratzinger in apparent approval of a book arguing that the Potter books (1) "blur the boundaries between good and evil and impair young readers' ability to distinguish between the two" and (2) "glorify the world of witches and magicians at the expense of the human world."
With all due respect to the Holy Father, the latter charge is silly - that's the nature of fantasy and sci-fi stories, even those written by ardent Catholics like Tolkein, and isn't a problem because in the real world there are no wizards - and the former charge just doesn't withstand contact with the actual books, which paint a very clear contrast between good and evil in all its forms, including cowardice, prejudice, snobbery, malicious gossip, jealousy, paranoia, overweening ambition, and joy in inflicting pain.
*John Cole has the latest on Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, with some news reports that bear very careful reading before you jump to conclusions.
*They've dropped baseball and softball from the Olympics. Sad, but Olympic baseball was really never a main event in the baseball world. There's something to be said for my older brother's view that no sport should be in the Olympics if winning an Olympic gold medal isn't the biggest event on the sport's calendar.
*I missed this whole Jeter-A-Rod fight story when it happened, as well as the 100th anniversary of Moonlight Graham's cup of coffee.