Show Me Something

They think it’s for their benefit:

I am in no way unhappy with the outcome of Nuremberg, but my
understanding is that most international lawyers regard them basically
as show trials. I’m not sure they’re a great example to use.

[snip]

[The Nuremberg Trials] may well be the most significant action taken by
the American government in the 20th to establish ourselves as defenders
of the rule of law. The Bush administration has done immeasurable
damage to our standing in the world by approving policies of torture,
extraordinary rendition, and secret prisons – among many, many other
things. McArdle’s glib dismissal of history and law is only shocking to
the extent that she purports to be a libertarian. Otherwise such a
passive acceptance of the abandonment of the rule of law in America is
fairly indicative of what we have seen fromthe American press, a fact that goes a long way to explaining why the Bush administration has not been held accountable for their lawlessness.

You know, we are rapidly getting to a point where people cannot conceive of anything being done because it’s right, is the truly frightening thing about all this. For years we’ve had these structures, these assurances, these ways of pulling ourselves back from the edge, and now we think, let’s just declare “game over” and say it’s time to “move on” and not worry so goddamn much about the “past” and all that, because it’s just a show, really. It’s just something to watch on TV. It’s just something we can all look at, from the outside, from the other side of the plexiglass window, and watch, and feel things about. It doesn’t really mean anything. Show trials. Jesus Marie Antoinette Christ, show trials, she says.

Because this is the end result of all our focus on how we, as a nation, fucking feel today. This is the result: people seriously advancing the argument that the Nuremberg Trials were for show, because … what else could they be for? Justice? Mercy, even? Fuck no. The only purpose of anything is to make us feel a certain way, nothing is real, the cake is a lie, it’s all just a dream Sue Ellen had and Bobby’s in the shower or something. Show trials. SHOW trials.

A.

17 thoughts on “Show Me Something

  1. virgotex says:

    McArdle is fulla shit.
    I can’t speak for the law but I do from research ethics. It’s my job.
    The Nuremberg Trials are part of the foundation of modern research ethics. No exaggeration.
    That woman has no wisdom

  2. A writes:
    Because this is the end result of all our focus on how we, as a nation, fucking feel today. This is the result: people seriously advancing the argument that the Nuremberg Trials were for show, because … what else could they be for? Justice? Mercy, even? Fuck no. The only purpose of anything is to make us feel a certain way, nothing is real, the cake is a lie, it’s all just a dream Sue Ellen had and Bobby’s in the shower or something. Show trials. SHOW trials.
    I actually think it is something a bit different and probably worse. To McArdle, authenticity is dead. Good faith is dead. Arguments made by Glenn Greenwald or Chris Dodd or you or me are therefore, by definition, suspect. What’s more, as her assessments can only be made from a self-inflicted perma-freeze in bad faith, she does not even notice the profound lack her world view assures for the rest of us.

  3. Nora says:

    I realize that the woman is incapable of reading, or else I would recommend the book, The Nuremberg Legacy: How the Nazi War Crimes Trials Changed the Course of History.
    Churchill wanted no trials at all; he wanted the Nazi leaders to be executed immediately. It took a tremendous fight to establish the principal that there should be real trials — fair trials, with advocates for the defendants as well as prosecutors — for the people responsible for World War II.
    I suppose the concept of the rule of law, the concept of there being something by which to judge a leader’s conduct beyond the inane polling and media narratives, is utterly alien to her. She (and those who think the way she does) is a mere shell of a rational human being.

  4. MapleStreet says:

    Fortunately or unfortunately, one characteristic of the millenial generation is that the rules of cheating that us older folks are used to, just don’t apply.
    Saw a South Park episode the other night where through a series of improbable events, Cartman is sent to teach disadvantaged, inner city high school types to improve their test scores. He teaches them the White Man’s way of success – which is to cheat. He uses the example of the Patriot’s coach and that he was a succes because he answered “I must have misinterpreted the rules.”
    Admittedly, it was South Park and possibly a parody. But I’m still bothered that the episode made it appear that teaching the kids to cheat was a success.

  5. pansypoo says:

    the gnews didn’t DEMAND it. i laay this at THEIR feet.
    because only a BJ will do.

  6. Interrobang says:

    Fortunately or unfortunately, one characteristic of the millenial generation is that the rules of cheating that us older folks are used to, just don’t apply.
    I think this is essentially true, but it isn’t a “millennial generation” thing so much as a post-Reagan thing — the so-called Millennials are the first generation where the operative rules of Reaganism are the only reality they know, so they really can’t help, I think, having been formed the way they are.
    I think if I had to nail down the core problems, I’d say they’re these:
    There’s No Such Thing as Right and Wrong: The ideological Reaganites don’t really have what we’d consider a fixed ethical compass, or even much of an ethical compass at all; right, wrong, doesn’t matter, so long as it’s the advantageous thing to do at the time.
    The Ends Justify the Means: When I was teaching community college, I was trying to teach a unit on business ethics, and my students just completely failed to grasp the idea that there might be such a thing as “right conduct” in business (see #1), largely because, as one student put it, “The purpose of business is to make money, so if you do something that makes you money, it can’t be wrong.” You see this same fallacy in arguments about torture that invoke the “24” scenario, as well.
    Cognitive Dissonance, What’s That? People with this mindset have absolutely no trouble believing mutually-contradictory things (because nothing’s right, or wrong, just convenient). This is, I think, part of the reason why right-wingers are not only comfortable with hypocrisy, they don’t even really see it. (How many times has some troll said, “But I thought you liberals were in favour of…” when some sort or other hypocrisy comes up, particularly ones involving, say, anti-gay Republicans being caught having gay sex.)
    Reality is What I Say It Is: Anybody who remembers the genesis of the phrase “reality-based community” knows where I’m going with this, but it applies equally as much in popular culture (that is, the pernicious effects of creeping Reaganism), in that the subtexts of “24” don’t really matter, because they’re not real, misogyny in the media doesn’t matter, because it’s not real, nothing that happens on the internet is real, so it doesn’t matter either (I’ve heard that one a lot, usually by dim bulbs explaining why they troll), and so on. Invocations of the “it’s not real” meme are usually followed by “you take this way too seriously — lighten up.”
    In this mindset, everything is trivial unless it’s useful, and anything non-trivial is only non-trivial as long as it is useful, at which point it’s discarded into trivia again.

  7. spocko says:

    Interrobang. Goodness that was brilliant.
    Well said!
    Hey folks, I know this woman!

  8. Michael says:

    What Spocko said. Wonderfully written. Great punctuation, spelling, and intelligent. Not what I’m used to reading on the Internets.
    My only disagreement is with the idea that any generation “can’t help” being a product of their times. Those of us who know better, or different, just have to educate them (or show them creative, non-baseball uses for a bat ;-). And even if they still don’t get it after being taught, at some point people have to wake up on their own, no?
    Especially if one “…hold[s] these truths to be self-evident…”

  9. MapleStreet says:

    Interesting Interrobang.
    Let me ask one thing about this that has the cognitive dissonance of a bomb going off: The Reaganites cemented a relationship between the fundamentalist church groups and the Reagan administration.
    OTOH – one thing the fundamentalists hate is the thought of a lack of firm ethical principles. (Part of the constellation of the Word of God says exactly what it literally says and nothing else. Kind of like the Bush Supreme court constitution vs constructionist judges). Just the name “Situational Ethics” can light a fuse (although I doubt any have read Fletcher). The extreme parody is the fundamentalist who dresses in prayer shawls as given in the Pentateuch.
    Admittedly, you said “cognitive dissonance” above. But how can one simultaneously hold the two extremes of a morality based on what seems right at the time while still decrying any sort of expansion beyond the original words of the constitution / a strict fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible?

  10. MapleStreet says:

    Oh, I should probably add, I’m in Medical Education. Try thinking of your Doctor showing the characteristics Interrobang listed.
    Scary, huh?
    But how do you imbue ethics if there are no agreed on ethical principles????????

  11. Interrobang says:

    But how do you imbue ethics if there are no agreed on ethical principles?
    I think you’re overlooking it; it’s actually really easy. If you can simultaneously believe several contradictory things at once, it’s pretty easy to blather on about morality and have none. It’s also pretty easy to teach the morality (as opposed to ethics, which I’d say are inner-derived rather than outwardly-imposed, just so you know what definition I’m using) — think of the way those types use those terms.
    OTOH – one thing the fundamentalists hate is the thought of a lack of firm ethical principles.
    No, what the fundamentalists hate is the thought of a world without a group of strict behavioural codes that theythink are ethical principles. They love totalk about things being “right” and “wrong,” but their standards for right and wrong aren’t based on any even semi-rational standards, for the most part (like reducing harm), just more like the black-and-white division between “conforming” and “nonconforming.”
    They don’t care what peoplethink about things; they don’t even care what peopledo about them, so long as peoplegive the appearance of behaving the way they want. Their idea of “morality” isn’t so much “knowing what’s right and wrong” as setting up an arbitrary set of behavioural directives and the imperative that everyone follow them.
    Add in a little bit of authoritarianism, which is another defining characteristic of the post-Reagan era, and you wind up with a bunch of people who are ready, willing, and able to forgive any behavioural transgression they even see (never mind for a moment the ones, like hypocrisy, that they’re basically conditioned out of seeing) on the part of people they consider to be their leaders or superiors.
    Also, if the ends justify the means, they become more than willing to violate their own code of behaviour in service to a “larger” goal. (See the Straussians and their idea that it’s not only ethically permissible but encouraged to lie to “the little people” to achieve one’s ends.)

  12. Interrobang says:

    Oh, afterthought, because I wanted to address what Michael said, which was, “My only disagreement is with the idea that any generation ‘can’t help’ being a product of their times. . Those of us who know better, or different, just have to educate them (or show them creative, non-baseball uses for a bat.”
    Yes, I think that’s actually reinforcing my original argument, which is that the Millenials can’t really help having picked up these ideas out of the zeitgeist. (It isn’t strictly a Millennial problem by any means; I see it in people my age as well, inasmuch as there are any people my age — I was born in the nadir of the Baby Bust.) What that gets you is that you have a cohort of people for whom the post-Reaganite mindset is thedefault setting, so to speak, and have to be whacked on the nose with a clue-by-four to shake them out of it.
    That’s also why my homeboy Lakoff’s idea of framing is so powerful a tool to use, especially right now. Framing is a key for (forcibly) shifting someone’s paradigm (worldview) so that they can perceive it in an unfamiliar way and reanalyse it. One thing I’ve learnt from being overeducated (and underpaid) is that having multiple analytical framework at your disposal gives you areally good perspective on any given topic. For instance, running the same economics problem through a Marxist, Keynesian, Vickreyan, and Straussian analysis is going to give you wildly different results, but where those sets overlap is probably where you’re going to find most of your hard facts.
    Just a thought.
    Thanks ever so much for the nice commentary and the excellent analysis. You guys are great. 🙂

  13. MapleStreet says:

    Interrobang – Thank YOU. This is a lot for me to chew on for a while. At this point, I’m musing on the situation that while we’re discussing the millenial generation (still wet behind the ears) – the Reagan revolution and fundamentalist support of it were heavily from the older folks. They abandoned their moral absolutes.
    Of course, a lot of that was the promise to regain the new Jerusalem, USA as theocracy, etc. of myth.

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