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June 21, 2004

The Birth of a Meme: "Punitive Liberalism"


James Taranto teases the notion:

Writing in The Weekly Standard, James Piereson offers a useful addition to the American political glossary: "punitive liberalism." This "bizarre doctrine," which found its fullest expression in the presidency of Jimmy Carter, holds that "America had been responsible for numerous crimes and misdeeds through its history for which it deserved punishment and chastisement." Those who disagree "were written off as ignorant patriots who could not face up to the sins of the past."

This makes so much sense I am physically angered that I didn't think of it first. I am beating the stuffings out of my therapist-prescribed "Anger Puppets." My Anger Puppets are supposed to teach me the difference between "good touching" and "criminal assault." But I've stripped the clothes off them and I'm now arranging them in a naked puppet pyramid.

I may force one puppet to have sex with a Kenner(TM) Jabba's Prisoner Princess Leia figure. That'll show him.

Why do liberals always support military action when there is no national security threat implicated (Kosovo, Haiti, etc.) but start preaching pacificism when there is (Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, North Korea)?

Because we have sinned. We have to send troops to Haiti as pennance for our sins. We have to bomb Serbia for 77 days because we stole this country from the Indians.

But when a country actually threatens us?

Heavens! We daren't take military action. That would inure to our national-security self-interests, and we're not deserving of acting in our own best interests.

Perhaps, one day, after we've transferred one half of the country's wealth to Africa and the Middle East, then the ledger will be evened-up and we will be able to occasionally act in our own interests, as non-sinful countries like France are allowed to do.

But until that day-- we can act only in order to vindicate someone else's interests. Never, never, never our own.

posted by Ace at 04:50 PM

It's an interesting theory, but explain to me how, exactly, our actions in Somalia (for example) were in anyone's interests? The military disasters you listed weren't just examples of American altruism, they were examples of us sending troops to places without considering anyone's interests whatsoever.

Posted by: Aaron on June 21, 2004 05:17 PM

"My Anger Puppets are supposed to teach me the difference between "good touching" and "criminal assault." But I've stripped the clothes off them and I'm now arranging them in a naked puppet pyramid. "

Just.F*ing.Brilliant! Haven't laughed this hard since Allah went all gloomy. Poor dear!

Speaking of the beloved deity, someone needs to go and get him drunk, and possibly laid. I'd volunteer, but I have some,er, moral constraints about consorting with a deity.

Meanwhile, I have no constraints about reading your blog....and liking it.

Posted by: Joan of Argghh! on June 21, 2004 05:27 PM

Hey Joan...I'm feeling down, and I'm not a Diety (or an angel for that matter)...nudge, nudge.

Be careful with those puppets Ace! Sully might get wind of their "torture" and spend 3 weeks agonizing over whether he should read your blog or Oliver Willis'.

Posted by: on June 21, 2004 05:51 PM

Grrrr... I had the last post (hitting on poor Joan)..but forgot my info, as is typical these days.

Posted by: Senator PhilABuster on June 21, 2004 05:52 PM

"President" Clinton echoed this theme at a talk at Georgetown University, saying in essence that we deserved 9/11 due to our past sins. The WaPo was there and declined to report on this outrage.

Posted by: dib on June 21, 2004 05:52 PM

I'm willing to bet Jimmy Carter and those who share his beliefs were laughable dodge ball players. They were the tubby kids who got consistently clipped on the skull or on the back of the knees as they fled in terror from that screaming, redrubber alpha male decider.

This is just a theory I'm working on, mind you, but anecdotally at least, it's ironclad.

Posted by: Jeff G on June 21, 2004 05:57 PM

I heard someone compare Republicans to a good parent who encourages the kids to keep trying. Then they compared liberals to an abusive parent who tells the kids they'll never amount to anything and that they'll always need help.

Posted by: rdbrewer on June 21, 2004 06:11 PM

Hey Ace, I think you missed the real story on WSJ's OpinionJournal:

Parkhudin, a 26-year-old Afghan farmer who was held at Guantánamo from February 2003 to March 2004, said in an interview in Khost that he had been questioned for up to 20 hours at a time under uncomfortable conditions at Guantánamo. He said he had been shackled with a small chain during questioning. ''They made me stand in front of an air-conditioner,'' he said. ''The wind was very cold.''

First, we rape them, then we turn on the fans? Will the horror never cease?

Posted by: Shawn on June 21, 2004 08:49 PM

Yep, very well written piece, although I'm with Taranto - it ain't dead yet.

But Reagan made it look boneheaded to hate America for 8 years.

Posted by: Dave in Texas on June 21, 2004 09:03 PM

Wait, let me get this straight. A native of Afghanistan (mountainous country with balls-shatteringly cold weather) imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (Island country with balls-scorchingly hot weather) is complaining about AC?


Posted by: Brian B on June 21, 2004 09:03 PM

I'm willing to bet Jimmy Carter and those who share his beliefs were laughable dodge ball players. They were the tubby kids who got consistently clipped on the skull...

So that's how Carter got that way.

It's an interesting theory but it doesn't hold up: I was a nerdy wuss in school too and look at me: all conservative and everything! I must've been one of the lucky ones...

Posted by: Smack on June 21, 2004 11:34 PM

I was also a nerdy wuss who got beat at Dodgeball all the time.
It taught me that pain means nothing if there is no actual injury, and to keep trying against impossible odds and that "losing less badly than before" is still a victory of sorts, and better than giving up or whining about it.

Posted by: nathan on June 22, 2004 01:28 AM

So, sorry, they theory doesn't hold. I sucked at dodgeball too. Got clipped all the time. All it taught me was that when the other kid has a red rubber ball, get yourself a JDAM.

Through that red rubber ball, sucker, I dare you.

Posted by: Brock on June 22, 2004 10:14 AM

So when does the War on Liberals/Leftists begin?

Posted by: recon on June 22, 2004 12:49 PM
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