Members of the Trans-Atlantic intelligentsia today live unprecedently comfortable and domesticated lives, and enjoy such affluence and personal security that instead of worrying about the basics of survival (like people in the past) they are apt to seek the perfection of their selves. They take care to obtain the finest educations, they select and pursue the most prestigious and gratifying careers, they exercise and jog, and they contemplate with great care all questions of ethics. Even ordinary and banal matters, like cooking lobsters, to them commonly rise to levels of grave and serious concern.
So exquisite and precieux have become the souls of our contemporary elites that they simply cannot bear to contemplate the idea of themselves (or anyone else) inflicting suffering on human or animal, crustacean or terrorist.
When I was a little boy, I once had a dog I loved very much, but who was unfortunately a very bad dog. You couldn’t walk him on a leash: he was strong, willful, and could pull even an adult off his feet.
My dog would obey no one. He terrorized the neighborhood, and frequently treed one neighbor’s cat. One day, he escaped from our backyard, and proceeded to the unimaginable atrocity of attacking a neighbor’s freshly washed sheets drying outdoors on a clothes-line. He tore most of them to shreds, and soiled the rest. My father had to face a female neighbor’s righteous wrath, and he had to make expensive restitution.
I woke up one morning shortly afterward to find my beloved dog missing.
I was heartbroken, but my parents explained that, though he was a wonderful dog, he had not really been happy living in a town (where he would get into trouble playing with people’s bed sheets). So they decided it would be best for him to go and live on a farm in the country, a place where dogs could run free.
The farm was a wonderful place, and a dog could have fun all day doing all the things he liked to do. The farmer was delighted to own such a wonderful dog, and this was the best possible arrangement for everyone. I missed my dog, of course, but I was happy to think of him happy, safe, and enjoying himself.
Many years later, when I was an adult, my father admitted to me that he took that dog up on the mountain, fired both barrels of his 12 gauge shotgun into him, and walked away.
In a lot of ways, our intelligentsia today are like children. They have no first hand experience commonly of the harsh and difficult choices adults have to make. And, like children, they are naive and sentimental, and do not understand evil.
What the rest of us need to do for Justice Stevens, Andrew Sullivan, and the Trans-Atlantic chattering classes generally is just explain that those Islamic terrorists weren’t happy in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Guantanamo Bay. They were only getting into trouble. So we had to let them all go off and live on the farm, where they could run free, set off all the bombs they like, and do all those other fun Islamic things they like to do. The farmer had never seen such wonderful terrorists, he said. He used to raise terrorists, he said. He loved terrorists, and he was delighted to adopt these.