4.0888 War: Is it an Appropriate Topic for Humanist? (2/65)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 14 Jan 91 18:33:30 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0888. Monday, 14 Jan 1991.

(1) Date: Wed, 9 Jan 91 12:14 +0200 (16 lines)
Subject: RE: 4.0870 Use of Metaphor in Justifications for War

(2) Date: Mon, 14 Jan 91 11:12:25 +0100 (49 lines)
Subject: War and Peace (not Tolstoy's)

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Wed, 9 Jan 91 12:14 +0200
Subject: RE: 4.0870 Use of Metaphor in Justifications for War (1/80)

I feel that there is no room for a politically motivated paper
- of such inordinate length, no less - as that of Prof. Lakoff's
on the Humanist Net. I voice my strongly felt disgust and
disappointment that the Net be used cynically for such unscholarly

__Bob Werman
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------65----
Date: Mon, 14 Jan 91 11:12:25 +0100
Subject: War and Peace (not Tolstoy's)

I have been reading Humanist mail even more avidly than usual in the
last week and have been almost deafened by the silence on what is surely
the most important topic for us all at the moment, the prospect of a
major war. Apart from the placing of a piece by Professor Lakoff on the
LISTSERV and a query from James O'Donnell (?) about a JAN15-L there has
been _nothing_, and I'm beginning to feel lonely. It's not that I feel
in desperate need of information - we've all been flooded with that in
the last three months. Nor do I need arguments. I know pretty well
what I think (and will say what it is in a moment) - but I would like to
know whether my views are generally shared or whether I am sitting here
alone (and possibly quite wrong-headed). Or are we all talking about
other things so as not to have to take notice of what is going on? I
find myself staring incredulously at the sight of _both_ sides busily
painting themselves into corners, corners from which they can now (in
their own estimation) only escape by carpeting the floor with corpses.
I am horrified at the seeming ease with which Western politicians (and,
on paper, commentators) are prepared to lay down _other people's_ lives
(of soldiers, and still more of the civilian populations of Kuweit and
Iraq) for their _own_ professed principles - principles which they have
repeatedly failed to practice themselves in the last two decades.
However necessary it is to stop aggression I am wholly unconvinced that
the point has been reached at which this can only be done at the cost of
possibly millions of lives, or that the best way to defend Kuweit is to
reduce it to a heap of smoking rubble. And I would like to know whether
virtually everyone on this list feels the same way and simply finds the
above too platitudinously obvious to be worth saying (or perhaps finds
life and death a theme not appropriate for HUMANIST), or whether the
silent consensus is quite different? I would like to know this even at
the risk that for a little while the discussions on Voltaire, the
eucharist, Aramaic and Old Egyptian fonts for WP 5.1, multiculturalism/
racism and all the other things we rightly and properly concern
ourselves with get crowded out.

Timothy Reuter, Monumenta Germaniae Historica

P.S. One point I would make as a historian: parallels between now and
Munich 1938 are more revealing than those who make them suppose.
Chamberlain and Daladier didn't invent appeasement in the autumn of 1938;
they and their parties and associates had been practising it for years,
and they had been giving tacit support to "Herr Hitler" not just out of
a bad conscience over Versailles but because they saw him and his regime
as a valuable bulwark against the much more dangerous threat of
Bolshevism. Does that sound kind of familiar? A.J.P.Taylor's point on
1938 and 1939 is also worth making again (I quote from memory): "In
1938 Czechoslovakia was betrayed; in 1939 we went to the defence of
Poland. In World War II, a quarter of a million Czecho-Slovaks died;
more than six million Poles were killed. Was it better to be a saved
Pole than a betrayed Czech? I do not know".