Maxims, rules of thumb and other observations on human cognition and sociocultural affectations

This will be added to on an irregular basis...
  • What is said to humans directly is received with skepticism and considered with dubiousness while that which is heard in passing, especially that which most conforms to their mentality or prejudices, is readily believed.
  • Humans have a certain cognitive latency between exposure to new information or experiences and the ability to think dispassionately and intellectually about it.
  • Humans have a certain cognitive spectrum starting with the moment of exposure to new information or experiences and ending with some point at which the thing is effectively "in the past" for them.
  • This cognitive spectrum is linked to the emotional process often referred to as shock, anger, denial and acceptance.
  • The more and faster information or experiences are presented to people and the closer the quarters and the lesser the distance between people, the more their early reactions in the passionate emotional stage are reflected back to them in the manner of responses to those reactions from others in light of those responses.
  • The more outrages which are suffered without sufficient time to allow emotional bleed-off, the farther the bar for subsequent reaction and outrage are pushed, and the more further events must progress before reaction and outrage.
  • It is possible for serious detriments to eventually sit below this threshold for long enough for their damaging effects to build and multiply until their entire society undergoes some reactive convulsion.
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Friday, January 09, 2009

Hamas != Palestinian

The endless conflating of those two wholly separate terms is continuing with gay abandon on the net and in the media and I felt it would be good to point out a few things.

Hamas is an Islamist organization which has committed and taken responsibility for numerous acts of violence involving grievous injury and death specifically meted out to civilian non-combatants.

Their primary goal is that of creating an Islamic theocratic state in place of what are currently Gaza, Israel and the West Bank.

Their secondary goal is the elimination of all Jews and other non-Muslims from that land.

They have publicly and repeatedly called for the death of Jews, Israelis, Americans, westerners, and non-Muslims.

They have publicly and repeatedly not only stated an approval of violence including maiming and murder, but have stated that these things are necessary and righteous in the course of pursuit of their causes.

They are largely composed of Muslim Arabs from the West Bank and Gaza strip and were put into power through (somewhat) Democratic action (of questionable legitimacy). Thus far, they have enjoyed the support of a plurality of Gazan citizens who vote, but are reported to freely intimidate those suspected of having opposing sympathies into not voting through implied threat to life and limb.

Palestinians are a relatively new sociopolitical grouping having changed over the years from meaning anyone living in the land of Syria Palestina as created by Rome following the destruction of Israel and the Second Temple to specifically those living in mostly the same area, short of Jordan, Syria, and Egypt, and being mostly Muslim and Arab.

At one time Palestinian also included Jews who lived within the same area as well as Samaritans, Druse, Christians, and Karaite. The common meaning of 2009 is Arab Muslim from Gaza or the West Bank but this is of course extremely deceptively limited in scope given the actual demographics.

The Gazans are the people of the area known as "the Gaza strip", a section of land laid out a long time ago and codified as recognized in UN resolutions. Largely Muslim Arabs, there are also Persians and east Asians there as well to smaller degree. The Arabs are broken down to Egyptian, Arabian, Syrian, and other descent. The vast majority of the current Muslim Arab population is perhaps two generations removed from an immigrated ancestor. Said immigrants came on the pretext of working on building the area up during the British Mandate but that pretty much went nowhere right quick.

Okay, now that we've separated them, it is clearer what is going on now. Hamas and its operatives were put into power by the Palestinian people, and kicked out of power only in the West Bank (like Gaza but up north near Syria). In Gaza, they continue to hold official power and before and after the taking of that position of governance have seen fit to intimidate, threaten, harass, and assault a neighboring state, Israel.

It should be obvious that in nature, when faced with an attack from a predator, the prey of the moment must either flee or fight back or be destroyed whether instantly or slowly over time.

If the USA saw fit to put a given political party with well known beliefs and philosophies into power who espoused the righteousness of the destruction of Canada, the hatred of Canadians, and then engaged in violent assault on Canada and its citizens, the obvious result after the first American rockets were fired would be complaint by Canada, then military action by Canada.

It would be illogical and irrational to assume that anyone not acting out of other ulterior motives would seriously believe any American civilians killed in the reciprocal attack by Canada were entirely innocent. They are citizens of a nation and society who saw fit to empower or not stand against the empowerment of an organization which made promise of violent aggression and then carried it out.

It is and has been held for thousands of years that the citizens of any aggressor nation hold joint and several liability for the actions of their government as no government can effectively govern without the tacit cooperation of its citizens nor against their actual opposition.

The passivity or ineffective opposition of the citizenry of Gaza with regard to Hamas is irrelevant. That all citizens of any nation stand with, for, and to that nation and its fate is at the cornerstone of nationality and allegiance. It is not possible to tactically target with anything resembling a guarantee only those whose ideology and actions in concert with same make them what one would believe are legitimate targets, as opposed to some average Joe on the street.

Attempting to do so is to allow the other side freedom to operate, attack, and kill, and is therefore detrimental from the entire point of the exercise which is defense against an aggressor. If one attempts to do so for whatever reason, one must understand the disadvantage they invite and the risk they bring upon themselves and their cohorts.

Israel engaged in exactly this fundamentally risky strategy for several years, responding with extremely limited military actions, and targeted attacks on specific Hamas individuals whose guilt and complicity in the death of Israelis and others was beyond question. They tolerated assaults via rocket, machine gun fire, and suicide bombings from Hamas and tried to get third parties to intercede as well as relied upon the dim chance that some other party would pressure Hamas to cease its behavior, if only for the sake of the civilian populace.

This did not work and Hamas left Israel with no choice but to respond with military force.

Hamas, Gaza, and Palestinians are tied together by the willful decisions and actions of individuals. Hamas to engage in violence, and Gazan Palestinians to support that organization and their activities. They are not the same, but they make their fate under fire linked by choice. Israel is attacking the Palestinian Gazan state governed by Hamas. That civilians are being killed is entirely to be expected because those civilians either embraced and supported that government or did nothing to oppose it.

To claim that calls for the elimination of Hamas as a pernicious predatory player in the world arena is the same as calling for the destruction of Palestinians or Muslims in general is the same as claiming that the call to destroy the Nazis was necessarily in and of itself a call to destroy Germans.

Today, we have a Nazi-free Germany and although many German civilians were killed it was still less than the ancient tactic of slaughtering most of the population and thoroughly destroying the cultural continuity of the survivors. The modern concept of joint and several liability of a society in the consequences of its governments actions was held to with reservations and regrets, but with understanding that it cannot be reasonably avoided in the course of the action to defend against that aggressor force without effectively eliminating that reason altogether. That is, you can only be so lenient and picky in your response before your response degenerates to ineffectiveness, making the death and destruction that does happen pointless.

If there's one thing that most modern people can agree, that is that if one is going to engage in war, then for the sake of all involved including the citizenry of the other side, the action must not be for nothing. All humanity shares in this concept that things should be for a reason and actions not done half way so as to squander the sacrifices made.

The result of the war against Germany not being done in half measure was the salvation of the German people from the Nazi menace within, a continuance of German culture past the war to stop their aggression, the salvation of their victims not yet killed, the rebuilding of their society and its infrastructures, and the salvation of their honor in posterity not just by leaving survivors to make good on the chance to redeem themselves, but aiding them in doing just that in rejection of the defeated force of the past.

Today, Germany is better off for its defeat than had it been surrendered to, which would have left the German people to the tender mercies of the Nazis, who nihilistic tendencies and philosophies would in the end have resulted in a rapid downward degenerate spiral of internecine warfare within their society until most of them were dead and the rest thoroughly detested by the rest of human society for all time for the actions of their nation.

That last part, rehabilitation, is a necessary part of bringing about a true peace. When nations do battle and do not commit to rehabilitation of the defeated to rejoin the world community as a contributing member of world society, they do so at the peril of leaving a battered and dejected populace to stew in their defeat, and any economic deprivation resultant, and thus be open to the most fantastic promises of salvation by a would-be leader seeking their following to empower them towards another aggression.

The powers did that with Germany the first time and paid for it mightily in the Second World War. If Israel and the moderate Arab entities do not rebuild Gaza and teach them a path to keeping their mind on building their nation and making all the Palestinians and Gazans specifically comfortable and prosperous and none of this being some long off in the future dream hinging on their neighbor's destruction, then there will be more bloodshed to come.

This can't be in half measure. If you're going to join the battle, then the enemy dead should be done honor by making those deaths count. They cannot be killed with as much caring for the act as a mass murderer or serial killer has, and the deaths serving no concrete purpose. You must do your enemy the honor of accepting their choices, taking them seriously, and responding appropriately. If they will not be deterred, then at least do them the honor of bringing them swiftly to the fate they've chosen, and in your victory be merciful to the surviving defeated, and teach them well and better than their previous leaders, and make of their successors better than you found them.