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Some announcements, and a message for our Governor

The IOS blog will be on hiatus for about a week, as I’m off to The Atlas Society’s Graduate Seminar tomorrow, where I’ll be “lecturing” (or something like that) alongside TAS faculty Alexander Cohen, David Kelley, Shawn Klein, and Will Thomas, on topics in applied ethics.  I’m looking forward to a first in-person meeting with IOS guest blogger Matt Faherty there as well.

Meanwhile, in other IOS-related activity, Roderick Long is off lecturing on economics at the Institute for Humane Studies’s “Revolutionaries, Reformers, and Radicals” seminar at Bryn Mawr.

In yet other IOS-related activity: I’ve been making promises for a few months now about putting up the first of our IOS Annotations of Ayn Rand’s works–Kirsti Minsaas’s bibliography on Ayn Rand’s The Romantic Manifesto. Kirsti has for decades now been a prolific writer on the subject of Rand’s fiction and aesthetics, and she’s put together an extremely insightful bibliography for readers looking to understand the claims of The Romantic Manifesto in the light of rival and allied claims on the same (or similar) topics. Carrie-Ann and I are very grateful for the work Kirsti’s put into this, and grateful as well for the insightful and supportive correspondence we’ve had since the inception of IOS.  I’d originally wanted to embed hyperlinks for each of the works Kirsti mentions before announcing the bibliography itself, but having delayed this long in announcing it, I figured I’d announce the bibliography for now, and insert the links at a later date–another promise sure to be delayed in the delivery.

Having made a number of promises, however, let me make one more. You may by now have heard Governor Chris Christie’s criticisms of Senator Rand Paul on foreign policy. Foreign policy is a complex topic, and Senator Paul’s views on it are eminently debatable. But, I for one, would like our governor to stop bullshitting us with rhetoric of this kind:

 “You can name any number of people who have engaged in [those debates], and he’s one of them …,” said Christie. “I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and orphans and have that conversation. And they won’t, ’cause that’s a much tougher conversation to have.”

Christie warned, “The next attack that comes that kills thousands of Americans as a result, people are going to be looking back on the people having this intellectual debate.”

A piece of advice for the Governor: at a certain point, a person of intellectual integrity has to stop waving the bloody shirt of 9/11, stop hiding behind widows and orphans, stop playing to the peanut gallery, and stop relying on his citizens’ endless tolerance of his endless capacity for blowhard rhetoric.

English: Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie

English: Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s a promise: I don’t have far to travel to “come to New Jersey.” And I don’t have the slightest difficulty about having a conversation with widows or orphans (of a sufficiently mature age) about the need for a frankly, unapologetically isolationist foreign policy for these United States. If Governor Christie would like to arrange such a conversation, he’ll find me more than game to have it anywhere in this state, in front of any adult audience in it.  Give it a try, Governor. You may find some of us more fond of “tough conversations” than you realize.

Perhaps it’s time to remind Governor Christie of the days in the mid 2000s when every day’s edition of the Trenton Times brought news of Americans being killed by the droves in such places as Afghanistan and Iraq. Maybe we ought to make those “widows and orphans” part of “the conversation” as well–along with lots of other widows and orphans who might qualify.

Whatever one’s opinions on foreign policy and war, Governor Christie and his ilk should be put on notice that waving a bloody shirt and an American flag in our faces is not the way to have a conversation about anything. If they’d like to try doing things that way, they should be ready for some push back. I remember what 9/11 was like, thanks very much. In fact, I knew some of the people who died in it, and I visit the 9/11 Memorial at Eagle Rock Reservation just about every month. My father saw 9/11 happen in real time and space from the parking lot of Christ Hospital in Jersey City, and operated on some of its victims in the hospital itself.

We aren’t fooled by the governor’s “come to New Jersey” rhetoric.  In fact, you shouldn’t need to be from New Jersey to see through it. But it helps.

Irfan

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4 Comments

  1. I took Chris Christie to be particularly exercised on behalf of comprehensive domestic spying by the National Security Agency. Did I misunderstand him? If he thinks that such comprehensive domestic spying would have prevented the 9/11 attacks, I’d like to hear his case for it.

  2. irfankhawaja says:

    You can take his comment as narrowly as that, or as broadly as disputing the legitimacy of a generally isolationist approach to foreign policy by waving 9/11 in our faces. I have less settled and less reflexively critical views of the NSA’s spying than some libertarians (right or left), as I say here. What I object to is Christie’s approach to the broader issue.

    Irfan

  3. D. Silver says:

    I came home from my first week in graduate school on 9/11. I drove directly to the spot that later became the 9/11 memorial at Eagle Rock Reservation. It’s right next to the Highlawn Pavillion, a fancy restaurant in West Orange.

    I grew up in West Orange and I had never seen so much of the town assembled in one place as I did in that reservation when they were overlooking the two plumes of smoke that used to be those towers.

    I’m still trying to figure out why a plot carried out by ex-pat Saudis led us to war in Iraq and has us pursuing a policy of indefinite occupation in Afghanistan. It’s a head-scratcher, that one.

    Also: Is it me or is Chris Christie just doing his best impression of Rudy Giuliani?

  4. irfankhawaja says:

    It’s not you.

    Irfan

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