Rant 2006-12-21: Lincoln, Irak and Quoting

Notes before reading:
*For an explanation on how this rant is organized, please: read this.
*This rant is posted in this thread, under "Privacy only goes so far...", then "too many people are ready to accept erosion...", then "You will have a lot less freedom once America...", then "Terrorist will never destroy this country...", then "'Whereas, it has become necessary to...", and finally "Wonder why he was..." Sorry, Wired.com commentary section is kinda weird, I'll post the relevant parts here.
*The discussion is about an article that talks about USA's government practices during 2006 (like imprisoned journalists, torture and the Patriot Act).
- The conversation turned from the war to quoting... I don't know what to think anymore, hehe.
- A guy that goes by the name of Pacothelovemonkey posted the following as a response for the article:

Privacy only goes so far.. We are at war here and a lot of people forget that. I don't know what kind of a person you are but clearly you have no idea what has to be done to win. It seems by you anger about all these 'violations of civil liberties' you don't' care for us to win. I don't know where your head is, or what you are thinking or if you have any real idea what is going on in the world. I hope one day you can open you eyes and realize that the with our great president tapping everyone's phones (he's not get over it) to catch people trying to kill us isn't a bad thing. He's not arresting you for hate him, or hugging a tree. He's doing the right thing. Which is more then I can say about (the little) i know about you.

- Then jayh replied:

too many people are ready to accept erosion of our constitutional and moral standards while the sit around and munch their 'freedom fries'

I believe in freedom. I believe in the America envisioned by the founders, who realized that in the long run, the unrestrained state itself is a serious danger. I do not accept sacrificing freedom or our lowering our standards of behavior (torture etc) because some people are scared.

- Then mmichaels1970 said:

You will have a lot less freedom once America has been destroyed by our enemies who are using sympathies like yours against us. The founders didn't envision their citizens sitting by while our enemies plotted to blow us up and manipulate our legal system to enable them to do so.

- To which jdiaz1 beautifully responded with:

Terrorist will never destroy this country. The country will destroy itself by feeding the fear. Turn on your TV and it's Fear 24-7. People forgot what this country great. Turning over our sacred rights and making America a police state will not make you safe.

"Those who give up liberty for the sake of security deserve neither liberty nor security."

Benjamin Franklin

- But the same mmichaels1970 came back with the next Lincoln quote during the Civil War:

"Whereas, it has become necessary to call into service not only volunteers but also portions of the militia of the States by draft in order to suppress the insurrection existing in the United States, and disloyal persons are not adequately restrained by the ordinary processes of law from hindering this measure and from giving aid and comfort in various ways to the insurrection;

Now, therefore, be it ordered, first, that during the existing insurrection and as a necessary measure for suppressing the same, all Rebels and Insurgents, their aiders and abettors within the United States, and all persons discouraging volunteer enlistments, resisting militia drafts, or guilty of any disloyal practice, affording aid and comfort to Rebels against the authority of United States, shall be subject to martial law and liable to trial and punishment by Courts Martial or Military Commission:

Second. That the Writ of Habeas Corpus is suspended in respect to all persons arrested, or who are now, or hereafter during the rebellion shall be, imprisoned in any fort, camp, arsenal, military prison, or other place of confinement by any military authority of by the sentence of any Court Martial or Military Commission.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington this twenty fourth day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, and of the Independence of the United States the 87th."


Wonder why he was assassinated?

That political move was very difficult for him, and the Civil War was a heavy weight over his shoulders. A lot of chaos happenned, and, was it necessary? I certainly don't know, but the hit in America because of it is still felt throughout the South. It's a big scar, to say the least, caused by an abandon of a principle for an apparent greater truth: they were at war back then in their own soil, battling at face level, chaos was everywhere. Lincoln needed to act quickly to recover peace, and he did at a great expense.

You say you're at war, war against what? Do you see your enemy's face? Do you know who your enemy is? If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions, the fear has brought you to a belief of despair that isn't really there, and your government is the only one to blaim for that. Yes, you may be attacked at any time (the probability of such, although infinitely slim, is still there, so, fine, I'll give you that one); what happenned in the World Trade Center was a complete tragedy and abomination, but that isn't the first time it has happenned, and you don't have to go back that far to realize the enormity of the amount of terrorist attacks you have received throughout your history which were also tragedies and abominations. But those attacks back then were dealt in a manner that was up to the circumstances: dignified and not blown out of proportion (pardon the pun). There are scumbags out there who take their religion/beliefs too seriously, and only a small group of them speak arabic. They do not represent a country, they represent a way of thinking, which, like the Ku Kux Klan, is extremist: they won't be eliminated by war, if you kill one, the children, spouses, brothers, sisters, etc. will become extremist as well (eye for an eye, and everybody ends up blind). I have no clue how Irak came into the picture here; how this small country was suddenly the target because of the "terrorist threat that dwellt within it" makes as much sense as beating the crap out of a guy because he MAY have cancer.

The renounce of a principle so basic as Habeas Corpus and the right to privacy has to be called for as the very last resource during a war (as Lincoln did, and payed with his life for it), but this administration threw it out the window in the first few months! And you caved, spewing out the same argument your government told you to spew: "We're at war. It's necessary." No, you're not. No, it isn't. War is bilateral, war is chaos, war is fear down your throat by the enemy: veterans out there must be so hurt when people around them scream this kind of bull without knowing what a war is. What you need to be doing, instead of worrying about what principles to give up to win the war (how stupid does that sound?!), is to be weary of the persons that are fighting FOR you, y'know, the persons that are over there, overcoming a real fear (death) of a real threat (a hidden bomb), under the unfortunate impression that they are there preserving your freedom, which over here you're flushing down the toilet because of a make-believe fear of a make-believe threat. Pray for them, ask God (and your government) to give them the tools to pass through what they're dealing with and have them come back safely soon; either that, or just shut the hell up.

I'm Mexican, by the way... shame that a person like me has to point that out for you.

mmichaels1970's Reply:
Wow. That quote must have touched a nerve. Considering I only posted it verbatim and provided no opinion, you must be a psychic.

My point is that people are too quick to throw quotes around like those that are alleged to come from people like Benjamin Franklin (see http://www.futureofthebook.com/stories/storyReader$605 for some good research, in my opinion).

By the way, the quote I provided was accurate. For every quote someone can attribute to an American hero, another can be found from someone who is arguably just as or more heroic.

My Reply:
Hehe, yes it did. Although, the reply wasn't just for the quote, but for your previous post as well (I thought I made that clear in there, sorry for that). And in your previous post you did provide an opinion which I was commenting about, which goes along the same way of thinking of paco and others here, so it's for them as well (and I really didn't made that clear, apologies).

Anyway, I agree about your point about people throwing quotes. I understand that Benjamin Franklin himself in a letter to David Hulme actually wrote that it wasn't his quote at all; some people believe that Richard Jackson it's the author (yeah, wikipedia rocks!). This is probably also stated in the link you provided, but I couldn't read anything in it as it failed to open.

And you are correct about "For every quote someone can attribute to an American hero, another can be found from someone who is arguably just as or more heroic", because people think differently, specially in different eras. Throwing quotes around is not a way to argument a point and it shouldn't be perceived as such, is just for dramatic purposes, really.

Furthermore, there's the case in which they don't even make sense! For example, as an argument against war, I can throw something like:

"To place any dependence upon militia, is, assuredly, resting upon a broken staff."
- George Washington, 1776

And you, argumenting for it, can throw it back at me with:

"Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive. And with it, everything honorable and glorious."
- George Washington, 1781

BOTH ARE FROM THE SAME PERSON! And then we'll both say "what the f...?" The thing is that a person, being heroic or not, changes throughout their life (those quotes are five years apart), and you can't expect that they will think the same way from their birth till their death: rendering the whole concept of quoting as an argument useless.

The only way that it may be useful is to provide the historical context of the quote (which I tried to give to the one you provided from Lincoln, in my last post). But, as you may have seen, to provide it while argumenting is not only very impractical, but also kills the drama that you may want to build with the quote, so what's the use?

So, yeah, agreed, hehe... when I start writing, I can't find a way to stop, sorry =P

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