The Spectacle Blog
Amid today's locker room chat I was happy to see John Tabin remind everyone that Israel has universal conscription -- the necessity of survival leaves it no choice. What's also worth noting is that women in the IDF are not allowed to serve in front-line combat roles, and there has been no feminist effort to acquire such equality. The flirtatiousness of the young women in the IDF photos couldn't be further from any Lara Croft nonsense -- there's nothing "kick ass" in the service they provide their country, Jim, nor anything appalling or morbid. Those two categories pertain only to the situation Israel finds itself in, having to conscript all its able-bodied youth because its neighbors would prefer to drown every last Israeli in the Mediterranean Sea.
James: I had an inkling you might respond by suggesting that, contrary to popular wisdom, there is indeed some accounting for taste. I'm generally skeptical of that proposition, but in this case I'll go ahead and argue that there's nothing wrong with celebrating the beauty and power of young women charged with defending a good society against evil. It's an impulse that is at least as old as Athena-worship.
David, a small quibble: It's not quite right to speak of the IDF babes "joining the military." Israel has universal conscription; it is, alas, necessary to her survival.
I remember a time when the question of whether women ought to serve in combat roles was not confused with the question of whether it is hot to see an empowered eighteen-year-old in fatigues toting a giant machine gun. Is the guy who pauses to feel discomfort at this little spectacle while the dead body count rises now a stick in the mud? Have we gone so far so fast, with such enthusiasm, to the gloriously gung-ho coed future caught on celluloid in Starship Troopers? When does the party end? When do the good-natured catcalls cease? When Hezbollah turns part of Tel Aviv into a slant of blood and bone?
James: "[F]etishized IDF killer patriot sexpot business" and "ripe girlhood in the final stage of some fleeting innocence"? Come on. You're on a bit of a high horse here.
First, I'm betting everyone of these women know the dangers involved in joining the military, and especially the dangers involving Lebanon. Innocence left along with the peace process long ago.
Notice how a lot of the women are smiling and striking a pose. If showing off for the camera is no big deal when they are in the Israeli military, why should enjoying the photo be such a big deal?
Finally, what is the most likely topic of conversation between the average bunch of males in the Israel Defense Force during down times in between pummeling Hezbollah: A. Tolstoy B. Fiscal Policy C. Which babe back at base they would most like to hook up with? Or perhaps they are also engaging in the "killer patriot sexpot business"?
War is hell. But let's not use that as an excuse to be killjoys.
It's routine, Tabin, to find among trained lawyers a willingness to admit the strength of valid counterarguments. Another commonplace is the impression among conservatives that "entirely subjective aesthetic judgement" is the toxin that pumps through the veins of an addled culture -- specifically, ours. You appear to have read me backwards, like a satanic verse.
Aesthetics are nonsense without moral points of reference, and that's what culture must provide. Propriety, as the decent regulation in public of private desire, can be debated coherently in the usual way -- according to reasoned argument and the artful science of rigorous thought. If you brush away the whole notion of the utility -- and indeed the possibility -- of that conversation, you brush away everything, my friend, including intellectual conservatism; and if that's the ride you're after I suggest the ticket for you is a one-way trip to the bankruptcy of any and all humane aesthetics.
When the movies are made about the fall of the House of Saud, I hope and pray that Stanley Kubrick's talents are somehow revived and applied. Only the man who made "Dr. Strangelove" could do justice to this.
Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal delivered himself of an hypocrisy that from anyone else would be simply staggering. For him, it is only business as usual. Condemning the US position -- declining to force Israel to accept a cease-fire that would preserve Hizballah -- Saud said, "Washington has a moral responsibility to prevent Israel from using US weapons to kill innocent people."
Not a word, naturally, about the moral obligations of Syria and Iran to stop Hizballah from raining rockets down on Israel. Next thing you know, he'll be talking about purity of bodily fluids.
The AP reports:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday the solution to the Middle East crisis was to destroy Israel, state-media reported...
"Although the main solution is for the elimination of the Zionist regime, at this stage an immediate cease-fire must be implemented," Ahmadinejad said, according to state-run television in a report posted on its Web site Thursday...