10.27.2009

"isn’t war the most offensive of hate crimes?"

Dennis Kucinich, as quoted by Chris Hedges.
Every thinking person wants to take a stand against hate crimes, but isn’t war the most offensive of hate crimes? ... To have people have to make a choice, or contemplate the hierarchy of hate crimes, is cynical. I don’t vote to fund wars. If you are opposed to war, you don’t vote to authorize or appropriate money. Congress, historically and constitutionally, has the power to fund or defund a war. The more Congress participates in authorizing spending for war, the more likely it is that we will be there for a long, long time. This reflects an even larger question. All the attention is paid to what President Obama is going to do right now with respect to Iraq and Afghanistan. The truth is the Democratic Congress could have ended the war when it took control just after 2006. We were given control of the Congress by the American people in November 2006 specifically to end the war. It did not happen. The funding continues. And while the attention is on the president, Congress clearly has the authority at any time to stop the funding. And yet it doesn’t. Worse yet, it finds other ways to garner votes for bills that authorize funding for war. The spending juggernaut moves forward, a companion to the inconscient force of war itself.


Hedges:
Violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is wrong. So is violence against people in Afghanistan and Iraq. But in the bizarre culture of identity politics, there are no alliances among the oppressed. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the first major federal civil rights law protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, passed last week, was attached to a $680-billion measure outlining the Pentagon’s budget, which includes $130 billion for ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Democratic majority in Congress, under the cover of protecting some innocents, authorized massive acts of violence against other innocents.

It was a clever piece of marketing.

"War Is A Hate Crime"

7 comments:

James said...

This plays a little fast and loose with the definition of "hate crime", which is a crime intended to intimidate a group by making an example of a member of that group. There's definitely a lot of that in war, but it's not the same thing as war.

L-girl said...

Perhaps that's a hate crime as defined by Canadian law, but that's not the only way hate crime could be defined. I maintain that rape is a hate crime - not only rape within the context of war, when it is certainly used as a way to intimate and make an example of a member of a group - but that rape by definition is an expression of hatred of women.

In any case, Hedges is using hate crime metaphorically here, not in a legal or legislative sense.

James said...

Hedges is using hate crime metaphorically here, not in a legal or legislative sense.

Not quite -- he's talking about a piece of legislation concerning "hate crimes", then turning that legislative term into a metaphor, mixing forms and possibly exacerbating the confusion that already exists about just what "hate crimes" means in the law. Religious organizations in the US are having a field day deliberately conflating the hate crimes law with an imagined "hate speech" law, complaining that the new law will make it illegal for them to condemn homosexuals as child-raping perverts -- a blatant, but popular, lie that makes me leery of anything that might confuse readers about the actual nature of the law.

Not that I disagree that it's darkly ironic that a law aimed at punishing social terrorism is attached to a bill that funds mass slaughter; I'm just commenting on the rhetorical means Hedges is using to make his point.

L-girl said...

I would also argue that

intended to intimidate a group by making an example of a member of that group

is not a bad definition of what happens, in part, when richer, more powerful nations invade smaller, weaker nations. It shows other nations that it's easier and less costly to make decisions that favour US interests.

James said...

I would also argue that

intended to intimidate a group by making an example of a member of that group

is not a bad definition of what happens, in part, when richer, more powerful nations invade smaller


No argument there -- especially not with regard to recent US military efforts. For that matter, Bush took credit for doing exactly that when Libya capitulated on some issue or other, claiming that invading Iraq had essentially terrorized Libya into cooperating.

But the "in part" part is important: as I said, there's a lot of that in war, but it's not synonymous with war. Greed for land, resources, or wealth is also a major motivator in war, with no message intended for any third party.

Again, I'm only critiquing his rhetorical approach, not his overall argument.

L-girl said...

War is complicated and serves many purposes. No one definition could suffice.

But then, I really like the analogy. :)

James said...

But then, I really like the analogy. :)

Like I said, he's absolutely right that it's a nasty irony.

Even more so considering that violence against gays & lesbians in Iraq & Afghanistan -- including legally sanctioned violence -- is way up since before the wars.