Friday, June 03, 2005

Motives and Effects

One characteristic of the left which leads to many of its bizarre contradictions is an overwhelming attachment to motives rather than effects in its ethical calculus.

That's why the actual removal of grossly backward, anti-human regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan which are leading to concrete and extraordinary reforms, are not given any credit -- because the motives of Bush's advisors are (Halliburton!) suspect.

That's all that matters.

Rather narrow point of view, no?

Kind of disregards the person-hood of the liberated, doesn't it?

It all becomes an intellectual parlor game.

That's also why they defend and romanticize horrible mass executioners of the innocent, such as Che Guevara:
The fog of time and the strength of anti-anti-Communism have obscured the real Che. Who was he? He was an Argentinian revolutionary who served as Castro's primary thug. He was especially infamous for presiding over summary executions at La Cabaña, the fortress that was his abattoir. He liked to administer the coup de grâce, the bullet to the back of the neck. And he loved to parade people past El Paredón, the reddened wall against which so many innocents were killed. Furthermore, he established the labor-camp system in which countless citizens — dissidents, democrats, artists, homosexuals — would suffer and die. This is the Cuban gulag. A Cuban-American writer, Humberto Fontova, described Guevara as "a combination of Beria and Himmler." Anthony Daniels once quipped, "The difference between [Guevara] and Pol Pot was that [the former] never studied in Paris."
So as long as the people who are working for a "progressive" society free from class differences and full of "social justice", whatever that is, maintain that motive, it doesn't matter that the effect they achieve is just to murder 100 million people.

We see this same inversion in the question of the internment of some Japanese-Americans on the West Coast during WW2, in case they were spies.

This is taken as one of the most horrible violations of human rights imaginable, a real stain on the history of the United States, and a source of shame and a clear diminution of anything positive we might ever have achieved.

I submit, and will prove conclusively below, that such a view is utter nonsense and completely absurd.

The mistake made here is again to confuse motives with effects.

Let's assume the worst: that those who planned and ordered the detention (these people were merely detained, not tortured or harmed in any way) did so purely out of racist malice and xenophobia in their hearts towards people of Japanese origin.

Then, it would only be those specific persons who would have any ethical issues to answer for; but that says nothing about the effectiveness or ethicality of the policy itself.

The policy should be judged not by the motives possibly behind it by some of its architects, but by its effects.

And consider, in time of war, we normally have no problem at all with accepting that the government can draft people totally against their will, and then force them to go into harm's way in battle zones, thrusting them into a kill-or-be-killed situation.

So if that's the case, can not the government then also essentially "draft" people against their will, and then tell them to sit in a comfortable camp far from danger as their part to perform in the war effort?

The effect of the policy was thus less burdensome to the detainees than it was to the much larger group of draftees!

So what's the harm?

Aha, I can hear it already, the disagreement is welling up that the practice was wrong, because, well, because of the motivation behind it.

Like that really matters. It may be an issue to someone sitting at home, but to someone in a foxhole, they might wish to have been treated in such a "disrespectful" and "inhumane" fashion as the detainees!

I don't deny many or even most or even all of the detainees were good, patriotic upstanding citizens. But just to be sure there weren't spies among them (and there were indeed spy networks among the Asian population of Hawaii, I believe), why wouldn't they stride forth and gladly accept, for the safety of the country, that their part in the war effort is to be "drafted" into a detention camp to increase the chance of neetting the possible spies? And why must we now grovel and apologize for this?

There's not even any "big principle" to worry about here; it's legal to suspend habeus corpus in time of war according to the Constitution, and the Supreme Court has found that according to common sense, being drafted does NOT equate to "involuntary servitude" (which is prohibited).

It's only the armchair revolutionary intellectual or hollywood pundit, distanced from the brutalities of reality, that can indulge the luxury of worrying about motives rather than real effects. It makes getting real results in the real world -- a difficult thing to do -- not be required to claim membership in the smug club.

It also allows for the maintenance of the cognitive dissonance of living a material life exceeding the wildest dreams of the kings of old, and driving an SUV and wearing sweat-shop shoes, because it is not the real effects of their lifestyle on which they are judged, but rather by the cocktail-party conformist motives in their heart, and the authenticity of their hatred for Bush.

Leftism is nothing but a poisonous combination of laziness and infantile narcissism.

Oh, by the way, Michelle Malkin has written a book on the topic (which I haven't reaad, because I'm sure I already agree 100%):
In Defense of Internment: The Case for 'Racial Profiling' in World War II and the War on Terror
Book Description
This diligently documented book shows that neither the internment of ethnic Japanese--not to mention ethnic Germans and Italians--nor the relocation and ecacuation of Japanese Americans from the West Coast were the result of war hysteria or race prejudice as historians have taught us.

From the Publisher
Everything you've been taught about the World War II "internment camps" in America is wrong: - They were not created primarily because of racism or wartime hysteria
- They did not target only those of Japanese descent
- They were not Nazi-style death camps In her latest investigative tour-de-force, New York Times best-selling author Michelle Malkin sets the historical record straight-and debunks radical ethnic alarmists who distort history to undermine common-sense, national security profiling. The need for this myth-shattering book is vital. President Bush's opponents have attacked every homeland defense policy as tantamount to the "racist" and "unjustified" World War II internment. Bush's own transportation secretary, Norm Mineta, continues to milk his childhood experience at a relocation camp as an excuse to ban profiling at airports. Misguided guilt about the past continues to hamper our ability to prevent future terrorist attacks. In Defense of Internment shows that the detention of enemy aliens, and the mass evacuation and relocation of ethnic Japanese from the West Coast were not the result of irrational hatred or conspiratorial bigotry. This document-packed book highlights the vast amount of intelligence, including top-secret "MAGIC" messages, which revealed the Japanese espionage threat on the West Coast. Malkin also tells the truth about:
- who resided in enemy alien internment camps (nearly half were of European ancestry)
- what the West Coast relocation centers were really like (tens of thousands of ethnic Japanese were allowed to leave; hundreds voluntarily chose to move in)
- why the $1.65 billion federal reparations law for Japanese internees and evacuees
was a bipartisan disaster
- and how both Japanese American and Arab/Muslim American leaders have united

to undermine America's safety. With trademark fearlessness, Malkin adds desperately needed perspective to the ongoing debate about the balance between civil liberties and national security. In Defense of Internment will outrage, enlighten, and radically change the way you view the past-and the present.
Start profiling now.

We can start now or we can start later. The only question is, will it be your family that becomes the sacrificial object lesson that finally wipes away resistance to the idea?


Anonymous RBS said...

You said, "social justice, whatever that is." Here's what social justice is to me.

Social justice is that state attained when a society adheres to the ideal that all of its members are politically equal and have certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and enforces rules that were designed in good faith to achieve the ideal.

Naturally I believe that the United States of America is the nearest exemplar of a just society the world has ever known.

That is why the internment of US citizens of Japanese ancestry during WWII so saddens me. (I see no problem with the internment during war time of non-citizens of any ancestry if their ancestral country is an enemy.)

Our rules that members of our society are innocent until proven guilty and that they should not be deprived of property and liberty without due process of law were not followed.

Whether the internment was motivated by racism is irrelevant to me. Whether some citizens of Japanese ancestry willingly and eagerly complied is irrelevant to me.

What we should have done is found those specific citizens who were spying for the enemy, tried them for treason and then executed them. Instead, we in effect presumed that a class of citizens were guilty and proceeded to deny them of liberty and property without due process of law.

None of this is to say that I am against profiling. I agree that it is sensible to conduct investigations of people who fit a profile, but we should have evidence that the specific individuals are guilty before depriving them of liberty or property or life.

10:50 AM, June 05, 2005  
Blogger RDS said...

You raise an interesting point that I'll detail further in a new posting.

If this had been a criminal matter, it would obviously be problematic.

Or if it had not been temporary, that would also be problematic.

But as I said, draftees are in some sense deprived of liberty, property, and (sometimes) life, but that doesn't violate due process. In this case, there was also a process, in which a form of martial law was essentially declared, according to Acts of Congress and Executive Order 9066:
authorizing the secretary of war to prescribe military areas

WHERE AS the successful prosecution of the war requires every possible protection against espionage and against sabotage to national-defense material, national-defense premises, and national-defense utilities as defined in section 4, Act of April 20, 1918, 40 Stat. 533, as amended by the act of November 30, 1940, 54 Stat. 1220, and the Act of August 21, 1941, 55 Stat. 655 (U. S. C., Title 50, Sec. 104):

NOW, THEREFORE, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of War, and the Military Commanders whom he may from time to time designate, whenever he or any designated Commander deems such actions necessary or desirable, to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he or the appropriate Military Commanders may determine, from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with such respect to which, the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion. The Secretary of War is hereby authorized to provide for residents of any such area who are excluded therefrom, such transportation, food, shelter, and other accommodations as may be necessary, in the judgment of the Secretary of War or the said Military Commander, and until other arrangements are made, to accomplish the purpose of this order. The designation of military areas in any region or locality shall supersede designations of prohibited and restricted areas by the Attorney General under the Proclamations of December 7 and 8, 1941, and shall supersede the responsibility and authority of the Attorney General under the said Proclamations in respect of such prohibited and restricted areas.

These citizens (many of dual citizenship with the Empire of Japan) were subjected to something similar to a draft, and their task was to go live in the apointed place. I can't see how that situation produces a moral problem unless one gets to the reasons or motives behind it, and finds them racist.

It may have been unnecessary or excessive, and isn't necessarily what I might have advocated at the time, but war is always a wasteful, suboptimal, and inherently unfair process.

The real problem to me here was always that they (who had been held to restricted areas, as opposed to those merely subject to curfews or excluded from certain areas) of course should have been paid wages like anyone else called into service who did their duty for a job well done. The (long) delay in that was outrageous.

The courts reviewing this action at the time were sensitive to the racial issue, but were also aware of the fact this was a temporary wartime order and not a civil or criminal one. For example, in Korematsu v US of 1944:
The petitioner, an American citizen of Japanese descent, was convicted in a federal district court for remaining in San Leandro, California, a 'Military Area', contrary to Civilian Exclusion Order No. 34 of the Commanding General [323 U.S. 214, 216] of the Western Command, U.S. Army, which directed that after May 9, 1942, all persons of Japanese ancestry should be excluded from that area. No question was raised as to petitioner's loyalty to the United States. The Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed,1 and the importance of the constitutional question involved caused us to grant certiorari.

It should be noted, to begin with, that all legal restrictions which curtail the civil rights of a single racial group are immediately suspect. That is not to say that all such restrictions are unconstitutional. It is to say that courts must subject them to the most rigid scrutiny. Pressing public necessity may sometimes justify the existence of such restrictions; racial antagonism never can.
The 1942 Act was attacked in the Hirabayashi case as an unconstitutional delegation of power; it was contended that the curfew order and other orders on which it rested were beyond the war powers of the Congress, the military authorities and of the President, as Commander in Chief of the Army; and finally that to apply the curfew order against none but citizens of Japanese ancestry amounted to a constitutionally prohibited discrimination solely on account of race. To these questions, we gave the serious consideration which their importance justified. We upheld the curfew order as an exercise of the power of the government to take steps necessary to prevent espionage and sabotage in an area threatened by Japanese attack.

In the light of the principles we announced in the Hirabayashi case, we are unable to conclude that it was beyond the war power of Congress and the Executive to exclude [323 U.S. 214, 218] those of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast war area at the time they did. True, exclusion from the area in which one's home is located is a far greater deprivation than constant confinement to the home from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Nothing short of apprehension by the proper military authorities of the gravest imminent danger to the public safety can constitutionally justify either. But exclusion from a threatened area, no less than curfew, has a definite and close relationship to the prevention of espionage and sabotage. The military authorities, charged with the primary responsibility of defending our shores, concluded that curfew provided inadequate protection and ordered exclusion. They did so, as pointed out in our Hirabayashi opinion, in accordance with Congressional authority to the military to say who should, and who should not, remain in the threatened areas.
That there were members of the group who retained loyalties to Japan has been confirmed by investigations made subsequent to the exclusion. Approximately five thousand American citizens of Japanese ancestry refused to swear unqualified allegiance to the United States and to renounce allegiance to the Japanese Emperor, and several thousand evacuees requested repatriation to Japan.
It is said that we are dealing here with the case of imprisonment of a citizen in a concentration camp solely because of his ancestry, without evidence or inquiry concerning his loyalty and good disposition towards the United States. Our task would be simple, our duty clear, were this a case involving the imprisonment of a loyal citizen in a concentration camp because of racial prejudice. Regardless of the true nature of the assembly and relocation centers-and we deem it unjustifiable to call them concentration camps with all the ugly connotations that term implies-we are dealing specifically with nothing but an exclusion order. To cast this case into outlines of racial prejudice, without reference to the real military dangers which were presented, merely confuses the issue. Korematsu was not excluded from the Military Area because of hostility to him or his race. He was excluded because we are at war with the Japanese Empire, because the properly constituted military authorities feared an invasion of our West Coast and felt constrained to take proper security measures, because they decided that the military urgency of the situation demanded that all citizens of Japanese ancestry be segregated from the West Coast temporarily, and finally, because Congress, reposing its confidence in this time of war in our military leaders-as inevitably it must-determined that they should have the power to do just this. There was evidence of disloyalty on the part of some, the military authorities considered that the need for [323 U.S. 214, 224] action was great, and time was short. We cannot-by availing ourselves of the calm perspective of hindsight-now say that at that time these actions were unjustified.


3:22 PM, June 05, 2005  

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