Regarding the Paris Attacks

Published at 08:45 on 14 November 2015

One simple sentence basically sums it all up:

The West is less morally superior than it pretends to be.

If you’re flying off the handle about that statement being a justification for what just happened, then you didn’t actually read what I just wrote. Go back and re-read the sentence. It’s actually very nuanced and sums up a lot in a few words.

For openers, it actually states that the West is in fact morally superior to ISIS. The wording is goes “…less morally superior than it pretends to be.” It does not go “…not morally superior,” “…morally equivalent to,” or “…morally inferior.”

It’s just that the actual level of moral superiority is significantly lower than the professed one.

For example, there is no rejection on either side over the principle of engaging in actions which cause civilian deaths. Drone strikes have been accomplishing the latter for decades. And doing so routinely; they’re remarkably imprecise. How can they be otherwise, given how they are conducted remotely? If all one is going on is a fleeting image from above of a fairly distant group of people, you’re going to be misjudging the nature of those people fairly often.

Sure, ISIS deliberately sets out to cause civilian deaths whereas in the drone strikes they happen incidentally as part of efforts targeted at combatants. But dead is dead, so rhetoric like “we value life and they don’t” is, well, B.S.

And the West, despite those somewhat higher standards, is the party that is far more heavily armed, and thus far more likely to inflict actual civilian death. Terrorism has killed far fewer civilians in recent decades than the war in Iraq did, for example.

Mind you, I’m very glad I live where I do and not someplace controlled by ISIS (or by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is just about as bad). But please, spare me the “we’re good, period and they’re evil, period” rhetoric.

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