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Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Village lives. (And it's as silly as ever)

by digby

I didn't bother to write about the notoriously inane Jim VandeHei piece in the Wall Street Journal calling for a third party run by a billionaire (and clearly trolling for venture capital) because I just couldn't find it in myself to write another piece about Villager stupidity at the moment. But I suppose it's good to know it's still alive and well. 

Dylan Matthews at Vox challenged VandeHei on the substance of his piece and even got him to respond in some detail. You can read the whole thing at the link, but this stuck out for me:

DM: VandeHei declares, "Terrorism is today’s World War." Does VandeHei know how many people died in the World Wars? It's over 17 million for World War I, over 60 million for World War II. Does he know how many people die from terrorism? It was about33,000 in 2014; only 3,503 Americans were killed between 1995 and 2014, and only 107 from 2005 to 2014. How is that in any sense comparable to the World Wars? 
JV: We are assassinating terrorists in multiple countries at any moment. Ask your friends in Paris, Brussels, and New York if they feel that a war that was started more than 10 years ago has come to an end. Ask the military and those deployed to the Middle East if they feel at war. Ask yourself if ISIS is retreating and receding and stability will return to Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. 
It would be naive to think this isn't a war that get worse before it ends, if it ever does. Clearly, the war on terror does not approximate previous world wars in terms of casualties, but it's only just begun. None of us know what's next. Debating how we guard against it, authorize it, protect civil liberties during it, seems worthy. That is why military expertise strikes me as very important.
That phrase "Terrorism is today's World War" was actually part of a much more cynical political proposition. This is what VandeHei wrote in his original piece:
Exploit the fear factor. The candidate should be from the military or immediately announce someone with modern-warfare expertise or experience as running mate. People are scared. Terrorism is today’s World War and Americans want a theory for dealing with it. President Obama has established an intriguing precedent of using drone technology and intelligence to assassinate terrorists before they strike. A third-party candidate could build on death-by-drones by outlying [sic] the type of modern weapons, troops and war powers needed to keep America safe. And make plain when he or she will use said power. Do it with very muscular language—there is no market for nuance in the terror debate.

This is your standard villager folks. I think people forget what they really are.

His political prescription aside, as atrocious as it is, is not as bad as his insanely hysterical insistence that terrorism is like a World War (or even that it's likely to become as bad as World War II.)  This nonsense has pervaded our media since 9/11 --- the deep an abiding desire to be a "greatest generation" and fight an existential battle. Islamic terrorism is not that. Pretending that it is is a recipe for overreaction and stupid decisions. There is no danger of the US being taken over by Islamic fundamentalists and instituting Sharia law on Americans. It's fatuous nonsense.

Terrorism a challenge and it's dangerous. But we are irrational on the subject as President Obama pithily put it many months ago:
I would ask news organizations — because I won't put these facts forward — have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who've been killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade and the number of Americans who've been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side on your news reports. This won't be information coming from me; it will be coming from you. We spend over a trillion dollars, and pass countless laws, and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so. And yet, we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. 
From Vox:

Part of the reason we are so irrational about this is because of Villagers like Jim Vandehei.