Postmodern classic?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Fear and Treason in the Republic

Reading one of todays Belmont Club posts, I was struck by how perception of strength has played a critical force in war- not just in the 20th century against the Communists, but of course throughout history. We should not let our media pull us into the deception our enemies would lead us to.

Weak and otherwise poorly led tribes, federations or generals have sometimes gotten away with their bluffs. Except when they were called on it- and I point to the notable Roman defeats at Cannae and Tarentum by Hannibal and Pyrrhus. There was a great speech in Plutarch describing a certain Appius Claudius (not Clodius of Caesar's time), an old, blind but greatly respected Roman noble come to address the Senate while they deliberated on how to deal with Pyrrhus's victory. Many were seriously discussing surrendering the city and accepting his terms.

But 'his sons and son and sons-in-law took him in up in their arms, and, walking close round about him, brought him into the senate. Out of reverence for so worthy a man, the whole assembly was respectfully silent.

And a little after raising up himself: "I bore," said he, "until this time, the misfortune of my eyes with some impatience, but now while I hear of these dishonourable motions and resolves of yours, destructive to the glory of Rome, it is my affliction, that being already blind, I am not deaf too. Where is now that discourse of yours that became famous in all the world, that if he, the great Alexander, had come into Italy, and dared to attack us when we were young men, and our fathers, who were then in their prime, he had not now been celebrated as invincible, but either flying hence, or falling here, had left Rome more glorious? You demonstrate now that all that was but foolish arrogance and vanity, by fearing Molossians and Chaonians, ever the Macedonian's prey, and by trembling at Pyrrhus who was himself but a humble servant to one of Alexander's life-guard, and comes here, not so much to assist the Greeks that inhabit among us, as to escape from his enemies at home, a wanderer about Italy, and yet dares to promise you the conquest of it all by that army which has not been able to preserve for him a little part of Macedon. Do not persuade yourselves that making him your friend is the way to send him back, it is the way rather to bring over other invaders form thence, contemning you as easy to be reduced, if Pyrrhus goes off without punishment for his outrages on you, but, on the contrary, with the reward of having enabled the Tarentines and Samnites to laugh at the Romans."

And of course, like at Cannae, the Romans raised an Army twice as big as the previous and set about to put the Macedonian pretender to flight.

So, our fear of the Other, in the fashion of Edward Said, fogs our ability to make strategic decisions. A media that exalts our enemy is dangerous, appealing to our natural fears. Bring back treason charges, I say- that is a good way to deal with journalists along with Islamic fifth-columnists who claim that their preaching is just 'First Amendment' practice. We can read that kind of commentary on the pages of our enemies papers as the state-run propaganda it is.

Chances are, our journalists will be savvy enough to elude this- but situations like Jane Fonda in Vietnam, or the Human Shields in Iraq, or the martyr Rachel Corrie in Israel; sedition such as that proposed by these notable 'celebrities' should be shown and exposed for the treason that they are. Let people burn the flag, let us talk freely, but we should all have the strength of our nation as the compact between us.


  • Had to change the link- different Belmont Club post. Treasonous is how I refer to George Galloway. Sorry for the mixup.

    By Blogger sunguh5307, at 11:13 PM  

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