Archive for July, 2009

This Gates Bullshit

July 30, 2009 Leave a comment

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Yeah, I’m going to have to offer a rant on this as this coupled with another event have made it apparent that my pleas for a change in the way news is reported are going thus far ignored.


I’m not going to bother, or bore, anyone with a recap of events. The only thing I would like to point out is that the woman who called in to 911 did not identify the race of the person in question. This matters a great deal, because the liberals are all claiming police racism…which is to be expected at that is what liberals do, blame authority especially when one of the people involved is of a minority race. Let’s think about it this way: do you live in a neighborhood where if someone was milling about outside of a home one of the neighbors would call the police? I don’t, I know this because I am often the one milling about outside.


No one is blaming the woman, that is a matter of fact, nor should they—she did her duty seeing something suspicious and then calling the police. Think of what the crime rate in the country would be if everyone acted in this manner.


Then there is the conservative response towards the president when he said the police acted stupidly. These people should get a clue, the president himself said that he was going to biased since Gates is a friend of his. I don’t know of anyone that thinks their friend is to be responsible when there is a police “misunderstanding.”


My biggest issue with this whole thing is the reason the president made this comment to begin with. He was giving a press conference on the healthcare proposal when some jackoff reporter asked him about an event that is not national news, it’s a local issue in Cambridge. That’s where it should have stayed, the fact that it has been given such media attention is such complete bullshit that Penn and Teller should devote a show to it.


Which brings us to the second event: the death of Walter Cronkite, the media has been jerking itself off over his death claiming that it is the end of an era. The era of the trusted news source which apparently began and ended with him. I can’t besmirch nor laud his reputation as his era was over before mine began, but from the various testimonials and clips I have heard it sounded like the man actually reported stories worth knowing about. Would he have spent his breath on such a waste of time as this?


I don’t know. A part of me wants to say ‘no’ but a practical part of me thinks ‘yes.’ Not because of him, mind you, but because of the state of news now. I have said it many times before and I will repeat it again: the news doesn’t tell us what we need/want to hear, they tell us what we want then report that. The current “problem” is the latest example, when we should be debating healthcare we end up having a president waste his time mending fences between two people that are not of any national concern. I was afraid to watch the BBC News because I had the fear they might even be talking about this bullshit. I’ve tried turning the television off, but that doesn’t help; I just don’t know what else to do.

Categories: current events, rant

10 Books…Part XV: Nietzsche

July 28, 2009 Leave a comment

To begin this final post on Wiker’s chapter regarding Beyond Good and Evil, I will do something that I rarely find myself doing while reading this book: whole-heartedly agreeing with him. Wiker mentions a few times the following that Nietzsche has, he goes so far as to call it a “Nietzsche cult” which I don’t necessarily agree with that but there is something about the followers of Nietzsche that is very interesting and oddly Wiker says it best, “They want all the benefits of not having a god looking over their shoulders exacting moral demands, but they also want a universe with moral structure.”

In other words, they want to be the Joker or Tyler Durden as long as no one else gets to be as well. I remember in Grad school I was having an informal debate with the token Marxist and I asked him if he really thought that everyone should be considerred equal. He said yes, I then asked if he thought himself as no better than anyone else and again he said yes. Then I asked him if he thought that the budweiser drinking, Nascar watching, Bush voter was just as valuable to society as he was; which in case he shifted in his chair then tried to debate me on some other aspect of why the WTO sucks. Whenever, in the remaining semesters of grad school I brought this up I received pretty much the same response. Then the war began and it was harder to maintain the subject.

Marxists seem to think that they have a kinship with Nietzsche which is odd since Nietzsche attacks them directly saying that they “take pleasure in crying.(actual quote)” but aside from that they all want to be the leaders of the new order. Marxists don’t want to be workers they want to be the revolutionaries like Guevera (oddly not Castro). Nietzscheans want to be the ubermensch but they want it so badly they end up being the last man. As much as the fans of Nietzsche want things to change, they more likely want to be wandering Zarathustra not realizing the consequences of success–a world without normative rules. I get it, I understand it, but I’m not such a fan of Nietzsche’s philosophy as I am of another philosopher with whom I am fully prepared to accept all consequences of his ideas.

That agreement aside we can now get into the split between Wiker and myself. Nietzsche’s lesson in this book is that society and culture have been weakened by a morality that promises reward for the being nothing. In fact the more humble you are the more you get to inherit the earth. Nietzsche hates this mindset and focuses on the religion of the Christians as being responsible for it. So it’s not odd that Wiker picks him for his book. Yet Wiker gets it wrong because he seems to think that Nietzsche is only criticizing “liberal Christianity.”

Being raised Catholic I understand the difference between some of the strange sects of the religion. However I am not certain as to what “liberal Christianity” can be, Christians have to believe certain core tenets which circle around the actual words of Jesus. Care for the poor, the meek, the downtrodden, help those in need, refrain from violating the ten commandments, love thy neighbor, and no abortions. Also you have to believe in Jesus as the Son of God but that kind of goes without saying.

I am pretty sure about all of that being a good summary so don’t flame me if I have anything completely wrong, that was in earnest. Wiker however seems to think that there was a different Christianity once upon a time: “Historically, then Christianity in its original form was transformed into liberal Christianity, and finally godless utilitarian liberalism. In this transformation, all the original asceticism, the absolute demands, the passionate desire to suffer with and for Christ, the difficult virtues, the awe before the divine, the self abnegation, and saintly heroic struggle were degraded through liberal Christianity and then through godless utilitarian liberalism into a kind of charity of softness that demanded nothing while it provided for every earthly comfort.”

Maybe it’s because I was raised Catholic but the “historical Christianity” that Wiker describes is pretty much how I remember the church being, now. I don’t know what has changed and I also don’t understand this new “charity of softness” that doesn’t require anything. You still have to believe that you are powerless in front of the divine, that your suffering will be rewarded, and follow virtues which are difficult to adhere to. If anyone feels like Wiker that new Christianity is soft or whatever let me know, although I think I would have preferred the Latin mass so maybe it’s soft in the vernacular.

Regardless of all that the so-called old Christianity is still harmful to the culture of the world according to Nietzsche. It makes everyone think that they are worthy of greatness, it levels an obviously unlevel playing field, and asks you to “crawl up the stairs on your knees ye wretched.” Wiker engages in a bit of populism by asserting that Nietzsche thinks the division of master/slave morality is between the aristocratic and the democratic. The latter being the commoners, but this is merely to appeal to his conservative readership. Nietzsche believed that some people were capable of greatness, the profound for the profound the deep for the deep, he said (I’m paraphrasing).

The blunt fact is that he was right in this respect and to the chagrin of the Marxists. Not everyone is going to be a writer, philosopher, or artist. Some people have it, some do not. The marxists don’t understand that someone has to mop floors and lay bricks. Not everyone can, nor should be designing buildings, working in the ER, or arguing law. Look at the average college classroom, not every person should be there and you can separate them by who wants to be there.

Wiker offers a good explanation of master and slave morality but then says that it doesn’t apply to “old christianity.” However, it is precisely the Christian morality that is the model of slave morality. Wiker explains that slave morality looks like Christianity but then says that it isn’t that. In such short chapters this isn’t really excusable. I enjoyed the writing of the Nietzsche chapter so it wasn’t a complete loss, but the blatant appeal to people already agreeing with him doesn’t work here as he tries too hard to imply that Nietzsche can work in that world view.

Ten Books…Part XIV: Nietzsche/Machiavelli

July 28, 2009 Leave a comment

We have to do the chapter on Nietzsche in three parts instead of the usual two (or one) because of the odd tone in Wiker’s prose. The process for me in doing these entries is to read the chapter once through, then go in a second time with my notebook and mark down quotes, if needed a third time happens just to re-check the context of the quotes. This time the third repeat was not for contextual sake it was tonal.

Most of the previous chapters had a smugness in the town. The sort of pretentiousness that is usually contained in a person that believes they know “the truth” and has to subject themselves to the trial of dealing with something that is so false it is contemptible to them. I know when I am guilty of it so I can easily see when another person is as well. Those remaining chapters that are not smug, or full of visceral spite. The chapter on Marx is a good example of it. Not only does Wiker not understand why a person would like Marx he automatically hates that person as well.

Which then brings us to this chapter–which is unique in that it possesses neither of these tones. The chapter itself is hardly specific to Nietzsche’s classic Beyond Good and Evil instead containing polemics against Mill, Darwin, Machiavelli, and Hobbes. A nice recap, but like most recaps (i.e. good portions of the show Lost) it is unnecessary, in fact it seems like filler. There are long portions where Wiker uses Nietzsche to level attacks on Utilitarianism. Which is good and bad.

Good because it allows us some real criticisms of Mill’s theory, unlike Wiker’s which states that it wanted the benefits of Christianity without the religion to sustain it. It’s bad because it simply isn’t needed here. Neitzsche’s criticisms of Utilitarians centerred around the idea that they attempted to remove suffering from the world, an idea that Nietzsche thought would remove the struggles from society. Wiker correctly summarizes this point, but having already dealt with Utilitarianism why go back to it?

And that is why we have the third read through. I missed it the first time because I was mentally checking off mistakes, I missed it the second time because it was subtle, on the third time I caught it. Wiker admires Nietzsche. Believe me it’s there, the tone is one of admiration. I can appreciate a good enemy, or villain, and until now I didn’t think that Wiker could. He hadn’t so far so why would he start now? I don’t know, but the careful handling of the Nietzsche chapter the use of his philosophy to attack Hobbes, Mill, and Darwin all points to a reverance that does not exist in the other chapters. Although Nietzsche hates his Christian worldview and Wiker likewise to Nietzsche’s atheism there is something here which is an odd respect. Like Batman for the Joker, or Magneto for Professor X, or Patton for Rommel. It is, in effect very Nietzschean to respect one’s enemies.

It’s also Machiavellian, which is not the most subtle of seques but it will work here. This side note has to happen because I am sick of hearing something from Machiavelli’s detractors. This is one of the most popular attacks on the Florentine ambassador, “power was more important than moral distinctions.”

To make that sentence correct we can’t simply negate it, nor can we reverse it, hell, even the contrapositive won’t work. It’s simply not correct. We have to replace “power” with “the state.” The state, or expedience as Cicero would say, was more important than moral conventions. This not only existed in the Renaissance but before that as St. Augustine had to justify how followers of a religion that said “turn the other cheek” and “if someone steals your coat, give him your cloak as well*” could go to war, or punish a criminal.

Before the Renaissance, Dante Alligheri in the sublime “Divine Comedy” placed kings and leaders of state on the shores of Purgatory (Canto VII) even though they were responsible for numerous deaths and other sins. They were left there because they had other duties to perform. One could not be a true Christian and expect their state to maintain itself. It would be quickly overrun by criminals and invaders.

Dispatching with this…again, we can move on to Wiker’s actual criticism of Nietzsche tomorrow.

*Although for the life of me I could never figure out why you would wear your coat over your cloak and not the other way around.

Ten Books… Part XIII: Nietzsche

July 27, 2009 Leave a comment

With the book back I hit chapter 8 like a long lost acquaintenance that owed me money and I couldn’t stand to begin with. This chapter begins a polemic on Friedrich Nietzsche’s work Beyond Good and Evil: A Philosophy of the Future.

Nietzsche is one of the most debated and thus misunderstood philosophers in the history of the West. He is also one of my personal favorites (which it is curious to note that my top three appear in this book: Machiavelli, Mill, and Nietzsche) I wrote my best paper in Grad school on his and Machiavelli’s work, later turned that into a publication that is due out in November, and would have written my thesis on the subject of their mutual advocation for Humanism had I not had…the troubles.

Nietzsche is a hard philosopher to pin down, he can be lumped in to as many classes as Plato’s allegory of the cave (it slices, it dices) with almost no stretching. I personally taught him in everything but Political philosophy, but even there his work can be used. His work is claimed by all major schools of Philosophy, despite what Dr. Ben Pryor says about him definitely not being an existentialist. Nietzsche is so oft-quoted by so many people that his appearance in this book wasn’t so much of an “if” as a “what book is Wiker going to use.” I had predicted that Genealogy of Morals, or Zarathustra was going to be the choice. I was wrong.

Beyond Good and Evil is one of the most popular books in Philosophy read by those not in Philosophy. It’s famous, long, deep, and offers a biting criticism of the world that Nietzsche inhabited. Most especially of the morality and religion of that culture (German) that he loved so much.

Interestingly Wiker begins the chapter not completely wrong and also not predictably. The common assault by those who hate Nietzsche is to take the word “Ubermensch” and remind people that the Nazis used the same word thus following Nietzsche’s advice. Historically this isn’t the case, nor is it perpetrated by any professional academic. One of the facts about his Philosophy is that the Nazis, needing justification for their movement borrowed whatever they could from whereever they could to get it. Those expeditions in the Indiana Jones movies were things the Nazis actually searched for.

Wiker begins the chapter by explaining that the one thing most people know about Nietzsche is that he said, “God is dead.” This is pretty much the case. Wiker goes on, “It was not a cry of triumph, but of despair utterred against an ever more trivial and dwindling civilization that Nietzsche thought was sapping humanity of all greatness, producing something just barely above the animal: the Last Man.”

I wish the book was filled with sentences like this, sentences that are well written, fun to read, and philosophically correct. For once Wiker has gotten it. Nietzsche was not lamenting the death of god, nor was he proclaiming that it was a great thing. What Nietzsche was doing, placing the proclamation in the mouth of the wandering prophet Zarathustra in the book Thus Spoke Zarathustra, was shouting for the need to stop being ordinary, stop following and worshipping in the tombs and sepulchers of the dead. In effect, Zarathustra tells the people that being tied down to the past, to the old superstitions, ethics, and beliefs is producing nihilism with which a new morality needs to take its place before it bleeds all of human civilization dry.

Wiker isn’t getting this much as he calls Zarathustra a madman, which isn’t exactly wrong. Zarathustra is called a madman by those in the town, but he knows that they aren’t ready for him yet as the joker knocks down the acrobat walking the tight rope asking the acrobat if he knows enough to get out of the way of one greater. The whole book of Zarathustra is a parable about the coming of a new way of thinking. Wiker can’t understand this because the way of thinking arrived in the year 0, or 15, or 45, or whenever he feels that Christianity was fully established. It coulds his thinking to the point where he makes a terrible accusation.

Nietzsche (as Zarathustra is that madman. And indeed, he died a madman, having grasped and then been torn apart by the terrible implications of his words. Unlike most other atheists, Nietzsche was brutally honest about what atheism really meant, and that honesty ultimately cost him his sanity.”

Yes Nietzsche did portray himself as Zarathustra…a little bit. The above sentence has a few mistakes. First off let’s take the phrase “unlike most other atheists” as it illustrates a misconception that most theists have about atheists, that misconception is that we are kidding ourselves. The other atheists that Wiker has mentioned (and if we go by the previous chapters in this book: we only have one proclaimed atheist, Marx) have failed to illustrate to Wiker that they are not lying to themselves. I am an atheist, it’s not as though I deny the existence of god so as to do whatever I want without having to go to church, I really don’t believe that anything else exists. I don’t know what happens when I die, but I don’t really picture myself being in heaven, hell, or whatever. Other atheists have this implication in their head, Hitchens does, Dawkins does, so does Bertrand Russel. I have grasped the implications of not believing in god and have kept my sanity…how? Am i smarter than Nietzsche? Well yes and no.

I don’t claim to be a better philosopher than him, so he’s smarter than me there. But I do have the intelligence not to catch Syphillis. Nietzsche’s sanity ebbed away not because of the implications of his own philosophy but because he had a disease that was incurable until the early 20th century. There isn’t a single person, aside from Wiker, I have ever heard/read that has made any other assumption about why Nietzsche went insane. As much as Wiker and his ilk would like to believe, being an atheist does not make you insane in fact I don’t think it really has any impact on you psychologically.. Of course how religious your family is and how being an atheist comes into conflict with that can, but that isn’t about god it’s about practice.

We continue with Wiker’s conspicuous avoidance of Nietzsche and a long winded continued attack on Darwin.

We finally return to our series…

July 23, 2009 Leave a comment

First off you might want to check out this link to get re-acquainted with one of my favorite sequence of blog entries, despite the fact that it may or may not be one of yours.

To summarize what we have done thus far: we have gone through eight chapters, eight books of Benjamin Wiker’s list of ten that have screwed up the world. He also added five that didn’t help because if the title would have happened to be “15 Books That Screwed Up the World” it wouldn’t have made any sense and confused possible readers. Since I doubt that anyone new to this blog is going to read the whole thing I will briefly skim over 11 journal entries to summarize where we are.

Bejamin Wiker “Ph.D.” has been established as a conservative Christian Right winger, which isn’t an intrinsic problem itself depending on how far to the right he lands. I listen to Dennis Miller and Fred Thompson on the radio so I am quite tolerant of the right wing/conservative ideas going so far as to sometimes agree with them (For example I’m not so convinced that Dick Cheney’s assassination squad idea was so bad), however there are the Pat Robertsons and Ann Coulters of the world that take it a bit too far. For any right wingers out there the equivalent would be trying to argue…or talk to Jeanine Garafolo or Noam Chomsky. I wouldn’t say the Wiker is so far to the right as a Pat Robertson but he lands somewhere between him and Sarah Palin (note to Palin fans: that’s a compliment).

The first book he started with was Machiavelli’s “The Prince,” which he mischaracterized as being a lesson in how to do evil whereas Machiavelli himself advocated restraint for practical reasons saying that one should be cruel to your enemies and not to the general public. He adds a false dilemma asking what Machiavelli would do if the choice were to skin your grandmother alive or blow up NYC. To Wiker the immoral choice is to skin grandma to everyone else: well maybe the least selfish of the choices is to skin one person and save ten or so million people.

Wike then did the unthinkable in chapter 2: he forced me to defend Rene Descartes after calling skepticism a disease. It is apparently against his worldview to question authority.

Chapter 3, he made the mistake of thinking that Thomas Hobbes’ state of nature, a thought experiment describing a theoritical time when humans had no government and no laws, was Hobbes recommendation. This could not be further from the truth as Hobbes used it to illustrate how we arrive at government and the law.

Chapter 4 while superficially an attack on Jean-Jacques Rosseau is only a veiled attack on Marx, who according to Wiker is not the father of Socialism, Rosseau is. Obviously untrue Wiker then launches into a discourse on why marriage is important and how Rosseau is apparently against it.

Chapter 5, the actual Marx chapter has Wiker saying an interesting thing, “If Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and other professing Marxists were responsible for such egregious mutilations of humanity, then it is certainly legitimate-and even morally mandatory-to ask what is it about their master’s words that inspired them to such epic crimes. One would have to be a fool to ignore such an inquiry.” He says this in response to anticipated counters that Marx never advocated the purges of Stalin, the programs of Mao, or the genocide of Pol Pot. That Marx should be let off the hook because no such indication or call to action took place, but Wiker doesn’t think so. Which is nice because that means he is going to want to talk to writers of the Bible, Moses, Jesus, and David about the numerous deaths they have incurred by people using their words. Wiker doesn’t even allow for misinterpretation to let Marx off the hook.

In chapter 6 he falsely accuses the English utilitarians (Mill and Bentham) for wanting a Christian based society without Christianity. Which is kind of counter to their goal of setting up a religiously independent system of ethics. Even more so when you understand that Bentham wasn’t trying to develop ethics he was attempting to create a guideline for the passage of laws.

Chapter 7, gives us Darwin which Wiker thinks automatically leads us to eugenics and mandated breeeding programs despite the fact that Darwin’s theory of evolution has been accepted for many decades now and no programs have seen widespread use or practice. Even among those godless French and English.

Also we must indicate that Wiker has falsely accused many of the philosophers as atheists which makes me wonder why Spinoza isn’t on this list, that anyone’s work is up for attack if they lived a less than exemplary Christian life, and apparently the first 5 books of the bible are fact, not to be looked down on even though they contain enough killing, rape, and incests to clearly outshine the lives of these authors. I’m glad we’re back into it.

God is not Great part III: the odd history–and the final installment of this review

July 21, 2009 2 comments

If you could grab a time machine, either Doctors’ will do, and change one point in history. Just one thing: I’m not talking about killing Hitler in WWI or murdering Stalin, but to make a slight change that could alter the course of human events what would it be. Perhaps letting Hitler get accepted into art school, or Stalin into music school, maybe the French could just let Karl Marx be instead of kicking him out. If Athens just decided to let Socrates go on prattling we wouldn’t have Plato’s anger to motivate the Republic, but then again we also wouldn’t have the Symposium or the Apology so maybe that is not a good one.

So let’s give our time machine to Hitchens to see what he would change in order to make the world a better place. There will always be foolishness and solipsism he says, but the world would be much improved if it were carried on the weight of rationality and philosophy instead of monotheism and superstition. What can we change? or erase from history so that the world would be much improved.

Based on historical knowledge it would appear that Hitchens would have wanted to prevent the Maccabean revolt of 165 b.c. so let’s talk about that. Antiochus IV, king of Syria, a division of Alexander the Great’s kingdom failed in his conquest of Egypt due to the intervention of the emerging super power of Rome.  Antiochus, apparently unwilling to admit that the defeat was his own fault sought to blame history’s whipping boy, the Jews. By oppressing them, outlawing their rites and ceremonies; yet as is sometimes the case the oppression has the opposite effect. The Jews united under Judah “the Maccabee (in Hebrew “The hammer”)” and fought back, winning their freedom and entering Palestine. It is here that we encounter the infighting that Machiavelli predicts is often the case when the yoke of oppression is exchanged for the boulder of freedom.

The Jews in Palestine had been “Hellenized” exposed to Greek culture they began to admire and practice it. Having their own tradition of law and analysis the Jews of Palestine found that they were adepts in Greek philosophy (this is what partially saved the works of Aristotle, Plato, and such from the fires of the Christians, the Muslims saved most of it) partook in the gymnasium and the Greek games, in any case this offended the Orthodox Jews who took to forceful conversion. The father of Judah Maccabee, had murderred a fellow Hebrew who was going to offer a pagan sacrifice on the Jewish altar. Judah could not tolerate this abomination, although it should  be said that the murdered man was only going to offer sacrifice in order to save himself and his people from further oppression from Antiochus. The Orthodoxy won the civil war, they cleansed the temple of the Hellenized Greeks and cemented their stay in Palestine, Jerusalem. Eventually the area would be annexed by Rome itself, leading to Christianity and then Islam; which can both be described as Jewish heresies. Hitchens says it himself, “We could have been spared the whole thing.”

All of this monotheism is the fault of a conflict between Orthodox Religious fundamentalists and a metropolitan group influenced by a neighboring culture. The city folk of Jerusalem against the rural religious types, small town versus big city, something was said about this in the last campaign. It is this event, the cleansing of the temple from the influence of the Greeks, that led them to Hannukah a minor of their holidays but lately has been gaining strength as to compete with Christmas, itself being a conglomeration of various Northern European pagan holidays. This is apparently what Hitchens would change.

Yet, by changing something in the causes of the revolt we lost something as well. I don’t mean to just lose the intolerance of certain fundamentalists, or something sarcastic like that. What we would lost are the works of the religious golden ages. The Italian Renaissance while focused on humanism and less on religion, was funded in large parts by the Vatican, the religious Medici family, etc. The work of the churches in the Dark Ages to turn people away from the belief in monsters, witches, and other foul beasts that lived in the great forests, and their focus on the beginnings of science.

Changing one thing probably means forcing Alexander to write a will, thus denying Antiochus his kingdom a century later, but with the expulsion of religion from the west we do lose cultural advantages. Plus there is still the remaining religions of the East to contend with, which aren’t really any better. I wouldn’t wish to remove religion from history but just the idiot fundamentalists and I think we have a much improved world.

Why I am falling in love with the writing of Mark Twain-again

July 21, 2009 Leave a comment

“For in a republic, who is the country? is it the government which is for the moment in the saddle? Why, the government is merely a servant–merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn’t. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them. Who then, is ‘the country?’ Is it the newspaper? is it the pulpit? is it the school-superintendent? why, these are mere parts of the country, not the whole of it; they have not command. They are but one in the thousand. It is in the thousand that command is lodged; they must determine what is right and what is wrong; they must decide who is a patriot and who isn’t.

Who are the thousand–that is to say, who are ‘the country?’ In a monarchy, the king and his family are the country; in a republic it is the common voice of the people. Each of you, for himself, by himself and on his own responsibility must speak. And it is a solemn and weighty responsibility and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of the pulpit, press, government, or empty catch phrases of politicians. Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn’t. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide it against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may. If you alone of all the nation shall decide one way, and that way be the right way, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country–hold up your head. You have nothing to be ashamed of.

Only when a republic’s life is in danger should a man uphold his government when it is in the wrong. There is no other time.

This republic’s life is not in peril. The nation has sold its honor for a phrase. it has swung itself loose from its safe anchorage and is drifting, its helm is in pirate hands. The stupid phrase needed help, and it got another one: ‘even if the war be wrong we are in it and must fight it out: we cannot retire from it without dishonor.’ Why, not even a burglar could have said it better. We cannot withdraw from this sordid raid because to grant peace to those little people upon their terms-independence-would dishonor us. You have flung away Adam’s phrase-you should take it up again. He said, ‘An inglorious peace is better than a dishonorable war.’

You have planted a seed, and it will grow.”

–Mark Twain, Passages from ‘Glances at History’ cited from The Bible According to Mark Twain. P. 88