People are not ¢â¬vermin¢â¬

I have just discovered that this post has been linked to by Tim Blair.

Please take your pick.

a) do a quick word association on some words chosen at random (but inflenced by Blair’s misleading heading “VILE MURDERING SCUM HAVE FEELINGS TOO” and put whatever abuse you like in comments. I removed the comments of one guy, but I won’t remove any more. Go for your life. Let’s party.

b) read the post. I’ve also upgraded the visibility of some comments Ken Parish has made below – to help you get the hang of what I’m trying to say. If you disagree we’d all be grateful if you’d try to argue your case.

But its up to you.
__________________________________________________________________
I came across a reference to the London terrorists as ‘vermin’ in the blogosphere.

Perhaps we can all be forgiven for the strength of emotion in the moment. Nevertheless it seems to me that this language is odious. And it also seems to me that there is a kind of race to the bottom going on in which political leaders try to out do themselves in their language as if this proves the bona fides of their toughness.

I hope I’m not taken to be being sentimental about the terrorists. I’m not suggesting rehabilitation be a major focus! I would endorse straightforward description of our military objectives against them. The word ‘crush’ is usually used in this context.

But talk of “vermin” and the expressions I think Kim Beazley and Tony Blair have used – “human filth” and “extermination” respectively feels like a horrible and degrading way to express oneself to me. Perhaps I’m overly sensitive, but the only thing those words conjour in my mind is the Nazis speaking of the Jews.

The language is the language of the vigilante the language of indulging one’s hatred. It is also of course the language of dehumanisation. We are facing human enemies. Its important to realise that if we want to understand them most obviously for the practical reason that we want to defeat them.

I’d be interested in others’ views.
__________________________________________________________________
Postscript – a comment from Ken Parish
.
I wonder whether some commenters actually bother to read posts before they comment on them. I suspect many just fix on key words (in this case “vermin”) and then extrapolate and deem the author to be saying whatever their own prejudices dictate. Nicholas was very careful to explain why he objected to the use of the word vermin, and it has nothing to do with sympathy or concern for the tender feelings of the terrorists.

It’s because we need to understand their motives and mindset in order to anticipate and defeat them, and because labelling them as “vermin” actually lets them off the hook in moral terms. They are humans who know what they’re doing and are morally responsible for it, not mindless automaton cockroaches to be exterminated but not blamed.

And then there’s the “there but for the grace of God go I” factor. Do RWDBs (at least the more intelligent of them) really think that ordinary Germans who were complicit (actively or passively) in Nazi atrocities in WWII were necessarily all that different from you and me? Obviously the leaders were psychopaths, but but most were just ordinary people, propagandised into believing that those they were exterminating were “sub-human”, or perhaps necessary “collateral damage” of a noble cause.

In particular circumstances we are all capable of telling ourselves rationalising stories that enable us to commit appalling acts. Were the RAF pilots who fire-bombed Dresden “sub-humans”? Or the Germans who bombed London? Or the Americans who knowingly killed lots of civilians in Falluja? Note that I’m in no sense equating these acts with those of the Bali or Madrid or London bombers (not least because civilians were the specific target not just “collateral damage”). But they’re nevertheless all huamns who bear moral responsibility for their actions.

This doesn’t necessarily say anything at all about whether or how we eliminate them as threats. We may well kill and crush them literally, not unlike cockroaches or rats, and for the same reason: – they threaten us and self-defence requires it. But self-defence also requires us to understand them and hold them responsible.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
80 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
observa
observa
2022 years ago

When you’re headed for war with Islam Nicholas it’s no time for niceties. War is like that.

Dirk Thruster
2022 years ago

I find it amusing that people use this language, advocate war with an entire religion (see above comment)etc., and then try and claim the high moral ground. What upsets these people is not the fact that these actions took place, but the fact that ‘their side’ did it to ‘our side’.

Dan
Dan
2022 years ago

Yes. The terrorists would love this kind of language—they’d like nothing better than to see Western countries turn against their Muslim populations, making all their paranoid Jihadic fantasies come true. The more we can identify them as thuggish criminals and the less as holy warriors, the better for everyone.

Guy
Guy
2022 years ago

It was quite unhelpful language to use and pretty out-of-character for Messer Beazley in particular.

Dehumanisation never got anyone civilised anywhere.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

I couldn’t agree more, Nicholas.

Evil Pundit
2022 years ago

It’s true. Paul Keting referred to Senators as “undemocratic swill”, and within three months they had all been executed.

Bill Posters
Bill Posters
2022 years ago

And their sperm stolen?

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

these people willingly killed innocent people.

They have no respect for human life.

They should be brought to justice. The punishment fitting the crime is death.

Vermin is an adequate description.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

That’s very un-Christian of you, Homer. You should be truer to your creed.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:38:45)

C.L.
2022 years ago

“I come not to send peace but a sword.”

– Matthew 10:34

Nicholas Gruen
2022 years ago

Well we’ve had Nazis and the bible, Goodwin’s Law has not yet been invoked and the discussion still hasn’t gone off the rails.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

It just goes to show, that when it comes to the Bible, there’s something in it for everybody.

blank
blank
2022 years ago

True to one’s creed?

Children were injured in the London blasts.

Jesus said that people who injure children should have millstones put around their necks and be cast into the sea.

Tony.T
2022 years ago

Port Adelaide fans are!

Robert
2022 years ago

I share your concerns, Nicholas. When Kim Beazley described the terrorists as “subhuman” I instantly thought of the German “untermensch”.

The main problem I have with such language, though, is that by denying the humanity of the terrorists, you effectively let them off the hook. If you say they are vermin, then it’s difficult to blame them for behaving like vermin.

Recognising their humanity brings home just how evil their actions are — they are capable of understanding what they do, but choose to do it anyway. And worse, we are fundamentally like them. It’s a scary thought.

Down and Out in Saigon
2022 years ago

I agree with Nicholas. Using “vermin” gives me the shivers. It reminds me too much of Rwanda, when the Hutus were calling the Tutsis “cockroaches”. Let’s just call the terrorists what they really are: “criminals”.

Homer: on the issue, I’m a “life without parole” man.

Al Bundy
Al Bundy
2022 years ago

Hmm. I wonder how many of the more enlightened commenters here would have rushed to defend the humanity of the IRA bombers after, say, Omagh. Call me skeptical, but I reckon the silence would have been deafening if someone had called those bombers sub-human/vermin/filth whatever. Oh, sorry, my mistake. I’m sure the silence would have been broken by pithy reminders of support for the Irish republican movement by US Catholics.

Yeah, yeah – it’s a straw man, but probably a pretty accurate assessment regardless.

I don’t think Observa’s comments are helpful. The last thing this RWDB wants is an escalation of conflict between the West and Islam. Therein lies a conflict without foreseeable end, and one that serves only the interests of terror masterminds like al Zarqawi and bin Laden. I remain confident that the majority of Muslims care for neither the doctrine or the methods espoused by these Islamist extremists. Westerners and Muslims have a long demonstrated ability to co-exist peacefully in a range of countries from Turkey to Pakistan to Australia. Let’s treat each other with respect and we can keep it that way.

But the terrorists are fair game. Vermin? Well, according to one definition, that term covers an insect or animal that is destructive, annoying, or harmful to health. Includes cockroaches, flies, mice, and rats. I think the term ‘terrorists’ could be slotted in neatly after rats.

Forget the clever analogies between with Nazis and their ‘untermenschen’ or whatever. Such hollow sophistry highlights only the long stretch made to draw the comparison. The creatures we are dealing with here live in a world devoid of negotiation, compromise, compassion or respect – c.f. humanity. Their hate-filled little minds see innocent children, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters in a school or on a bus as nothing more than a canvas on which to write their depravity.

Paedophiles, I would suggest, have more care and respect for young people than a suicide bomber on a public transport bus. Anyone want to rush in to defend the humanity of kiddy-fiddlers? Dare ya. Strange then, that we can dig so deep for the homicidal maniacs behind the London bombings, no?

Seems to me all this argument about nuance, understanding and humanity boils down to something rather less laudable – the barely concealed notion that an enemy of an enemy of mine shouldn’t be called sub-human filth.

Get a grip, people.

TonyD
TonyD
2022 years ago

So it’s OK to call the Australian Prime Minister a rat but not terrorists? Go figure?

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

One reason not to dehumanise the terrorists is that unlike actual vermin, humans are responsible for their actions, and are held to a higher standard of behaviour. To their credit, the allies put the Nazis on trial at Nuremberg, and so did the Israelis later on with Eichmann.

If the Nazis were just thought of as vermin they could have just been killed as soon as they were captured.

C.L.
2022 years ago

Bollocks. Churchill set up a special office whose sole purpose was to call Hitler & Co far worse things than vermin.

Nicholas Gruen
2022 years ago

CL,

Can you give us some examples. I’m genuinely interested, not trying to score points.

PB
PB
2022 years ago

Naughty Near East Ner’Do Wells? Misguided Mahommadean Miscreants? Choleric Koranic Curmugeons? Pyrrhic Plutonic Pirates In Pyrotechnic Pantaloons?

CraigC
CraigC
2022 years ago

Perhaps we can all be forgiven for the strength of emotion in the moment. Nevertheless it seems to me that this language is odious. And it also seems to me that there is a kind of race to the bottom going on in which political leaders try to out do themselves in their language as if this proves the bona fides of their toughness.

We are facing human enemies. Its important to realise that if we want to understand them

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Dave,
The passage you quoted isn’t about people killing people.
if you put your hands up to a terrorist and say kill me , I love you then that’s fine.
don’t say it is biblical however.

A person who deliberately kills a person is killing someone born in the image of god which means…

or to put it another way what are they saying about their neighbour?

observa
observa
2022 years ago

“I find it amusing that people use this language, advocate war with an entire religion (see above comment)etc., and then try and claim the high moral ground”

I don’t find it amusing Dirk and will not necessarily claim high moral ground, just personal self-interest. I don’t advocate war, but I think it’s now inevitable and outline my reasons for that at John Quiggin’s ‘Class of 05’ With a 21 yr old son and 18 yr old daughter, I’d appreciate any practical suggestions(barring capitulation) as to how a clash of civilisations can be avoided.

GregM
GregM
2022 years ago

“We are facing human enemies. Its important to realise that if we want to understand them

Phil
Phil
2022 years ago

All I want is to put all of you in a bus or a train when the “vermin” blow itself to pieces…may be you will be wanting to change your opinion…not you but your relatives…good luck…

TonyD
TonyD
2022 years ago

What the hell does that mean Phil?

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
2022 years ago

Matthew 10:34’s “sword” looks very much to me like a metaphor for strife. The rest of Matthew 10 goes on to say that folk should put Jesus ahead of family, and how this will mean all kinds of strife.

I feel sorry for Jesus, actually. No man has had his words quoted out of context more often than the carpenter.

Dave
Dave
2022 years ago

Watch this Nick and come back and tell us if you still think the term ‘vermin’ is too harsh for these people.

http://www.ogrish.com/archives/2004/september/ogrish-dot-com-eugene-armstrong-beheading-video.wmv

Mike
Mike
2022 years ago

Maybe we should call them “freedom fighters” or “insurgents?” Suicide bombers are people too!

Seriously, how can you draw a moral equivalance between the use of Untermenschen to refer to innocent people based on ethnicity and religion, verses refering to guilty people as “vermin” because they have individually chosen to act like vermin by indiscriminately killing other human beings. You’ve made yourself incapable of condemning evil by adopting that rhetoric. Keep this up, and you’ll turn into Madeline Albright and want to go dancing with Kim Jong Il.

So what to call the terrorists? Me, myself, I prefer to call them “JDAM targets.”

PB
PB
2022 years ago

Future JDAM victims, thanks Mike, or maybe “cluster bomb martyrs”. How about “he who is helped to hell by hellfire”?

IreneFingIrene
IreneFingIrene
2022 years ago

Vermin are what are eating the still unrecovered bodies of the dead slaughtered in the London tube by these fanatics.

How’s that?

CB
CB
2022 years ago

Now, I’m not one to mince words like the smarter ones amongst you. It seems that this thread has been devoted to arguing the sematics over whether or not murderous terrorists should be described as less than human or not. I would be interested to have a little more backgound on some of the ‘don’t abuse the terrorist, they’re just humans’ commenters.
Community anger is such that right now these attackes are perceived as an attack to increase pressure on the governments with troops in Iraq. The alleged perpetrators have said as much. So what next? All foreign troops leave Iraq. Then there might be another attack asking for all Jews to be tied to rocks and thrown into the sea. That happens. Another attack. Another demand. Continuous capitulation is the outcome.
And you people are concerned that we might be viewed as lesser beings because we describe terrorists as sub-human filth? Get a grip.

Still no alternative to hunting them down and shooting them like rabid dogs. What do you clowns want us to do? Understand them to death?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

I wonder whether some commenters actually bother to read posts before they comment on them. I suspect many just fix on key words (in this case “vermin”) and then extrapolate and deem the author to be saying whatever their own prejudices dictate. Nicholas was very careful to explain why he objected to the use of the word vermin, and it has nothing to do with sympathy or concern for the tender feelings of the terrorists. It’s because we need to understand their motives and mindset in order to anticipate and defeat them, and because labelling them as “vermin” actually lets them off the hook in moral terms. They are humans who know what they’re doing and are morally responsible for it, not mindless automaton cockroaches to be exterminated but not blamed.

And then there’s the “there but for the grace of God go I” factor. Do RWDBs (at least the more intelligent of them) really think that ordinary Germans who were complicit (actively or passively) in Nazi atrocities in WWII were necessarily all that different from you and me? Obviously the leaders were psychopaths, but but most were just ordinary people, propagandised into believing that those they were exterminating were “sub-human”, or perhaps necessary “collateral damage” of a noble cause. In particular circumstances we are all capable of telling ourselves rationalising stories that enable us to commit appalling acts. Were the RAF pilots who fire-bombed Dresden “sub-humans”? Or the Germans who bombed London? Or the Americans who knowingly killed lots of civilians in Falluja? Note that I’m in no sense equating these acts with those of the Bali or Madrid or London bombers (not least because civilians were the specific target not just “collateral damage”). But they’re nevertheless all huamns who bear moral responsibility for their actions. This doesn’t necessarily say anything at all about whether or how we eliminate them as threats. We may well kill and crush them literally, not unlike cockroaches or rats, and for the same reason: – they threaten us and self-defence requires it. But self-defence also requires us to understand them and hold them responsible.

harry
2022 years ago

The Mayor of London had a nice speech in which he explained why he preferred the term ‘murderer’ because to ascribe them with the term ‘terrorist’ gives them a reason to do what they do. By using ‘murderer’ their crimes are not diminshed but their position is.
After all, murderers just want to kill people, whereas terrorists want to kill people for a reason.
Deny them their reason and they lose power. By not referring to them as ‘Islamist’ or ‘Muslim Terrorists’ you are denying them the other Islamists and Muslims. No one wants to associate with a murderer, right?
A smart move.

Common, unreasoned murder is enough of a contemptible crime. ‘Murderer’ is not a politically loaded term, which was Nicholas’ point.

PB
PB
2022 years ago

Red Ken also has to now cover his arse, having been greasing up to the fundies for some time and even fete’ing some dingbat linked to EQ to a civic reception; he has to tread a fine line between acknowledging the evil perpetrated without upsetting the substantial George Galloway electorate in Bethnal. Duplicitous turd- or is than a demeaning term?

ph
ph
2022 years ago

Here’s a piece of advice for you vapid pompous asses debating the proper nomeclature for homicidal Islamofascist terrorists: they aren’t shame-based. They don’t give a fuck what we call them. Before they are annihilated, like the Nazi fascists before them, examining the root causes is an exercise in stupidity. Self-defense trumps the perpetrator’s “issues” as the body count mounts. (And it is insane to think that resisting terrorism is a root cause or that the privileged lives of most terrorists was poverty.)

Missing from your dribble is any concern about the victims or respect for the good men that are on patrol right now face to face with these vermin on decent people’s behalf. Care to admonish them for the names they are calling the enemy, you self-loathing leftist twits?

jen
jen
2022 years ago

ph
I guess you must love a spot of violence, because you can’t say things like that face to face without a smack in the head or creating incredulous delight.

Or are you capitalising on the fact that blog rage grants you immunity to any physical challenge?

Or am I umderestimating the value of verbal abuse?

jen
jen
2022 years ago

Nic

Ahhh so this is what the real RWDB do!
Thanks for the vermin alert.

amy
amy
2022 years ago

“Dehumanisation never got anyone civilised anywhere.”

No kidding. We are sub-human in the eyes of Bin Laden and his ilk. We are sub-human in the context of Islamic dhimmitude.
—-
“We are facing human enemies. Its important to realise that if we want to understand them

amy
amy
2022 years ago

“Dehumanisation never got anyone civilised anywhere.”

No kidding. We are sub-human in the eyes of Bin Laden and his ilk. We are sub-human in the context of Islamic dhimmitude.
—-
“We are facing human enemies. Its important to realise that if we want to understand them

amy
amy
2022 years ago

“Dehumanisation never got anyone civilised anywhere.”

No kidding. We are sub-human in the eyes of Bin Laden and his ilk. We are sub-human in the context of Islamic dhimmitude.
—-
“We are facing human enemies. Its important to realise that if we want to understand them

PB
PB
2022 years ago

Deadly serious; I lived in London when Livingstone was head of the GLC (booted out in the mid ’80s by Thatcher) and the bastard was then pally with and apologising for the provo IRA. He adopted fundie Islam as a cause, which helped him slither back into office- now the chickens are coming home to roost. Unfortunately for Ken, they’ve mutated into vultures.
He is a classic old-school leftist toad, prepared to jump in the cot with anyone or anything that vaguely resembles a cause that will earn him brownie points with the perpetually outraged. Hopefully Londoners may well be aware now of what having idiots like Livingstone and Galloway represent them means.

amy
amy
2022 years ago

“Dehumanisation never got anyone civilised anywhere.”

No kidding. We are sub-human in the eyes of Bin Laden and his ilk. We are sub-human in the context of Islamic dhimmitude.
—-
“We are facing human enemies. Its important to realise that if we want to understand them

TonyD
TonyD
2022 years ago

52 people killed (at least), innocent people slaughtered like dogs, decent people the world over wary when going out in public, and all you bunch of intellectually superior compassion guzzlers can come up with is “now, now, there’s no need for name-calling”. It amazes me that anyone would even be thinking of that at a time such as this. It’s a stupid thing to be concerned about and really highlights how much “compassion” you morons really have!

Mr Crapulent
Mr Crapulent
2022 years ago

I think the those responsible for the bombings in london be tried and jailed (for a long time) the day after those other war criminals, Tony Blair, John Howard, George Bush etc and respective cabinets are tried and put away. Going to another country and murdering civilians on the basis of faith or economic advantage is indeed heinous and should be stopped.

If the bombers turn out to be from Iraq at least they can argue that their mass murder was provoked. Responding to violence with more violence only leads to more violence. As for the ability to negotiate, Tony Blair has hardly been more forthcoming than Osama Bin Laden. And no i don’t support Osama or any other Jihadis, for exactly the same reason i don’t support Blair, Howard, Bush – they all kill for reasons of self interest and justify that killing with lies and racist dogma.

As Noam Chomsky said: “Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it.”

usa
usa
2022 years ago

“Or the Americans who knowingly killed lots of civilians in Falluja?”

Hey, Ken, got a link to a factual verifiable account of that? Give us the number and circumstances of that “lots of”?

Damn well you can’t. It’s the kind of inflammatory reckless statement that needs challenged. I’m sick of jerks throwing out civilian death numbers from sources like the discredited Lancet Report and hoping it will stick.

Waiting on your link……..

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

Oho Nicholas! Practicing a bit of flypaper theory yerself hey?

Shame all this Blairy-eyed belligerence doesn’t translate into boots on the ground. Why, then we’d have Osama’s head in an ice-packed esky within a week.

Meanwhile I can imagine the terrorists/misunderstood muslims/vermin saying to eachother “It’s amazing! We bomb them here and they turn on eachother there.”

Evil Pundit
2022 years ago

So, should we condemn all the lefty bloggers who referred to John Howard as a “lying rodent”?

Or does our concern for dehumanising terminology only extend to Islamic terrorists?