Fewtril: What’s Wrong with the A-Word?

In the course of last night’s presidential debate, one of the candidates casually mentioned that our government needs to “take out” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the sanguinary leader of ISIS. She did not descend into the shady argot of the mobster and speak of a “hit,” or say that he must be “rubbed out,” but neither did she ascend into the empyrean clarity of non-idiomatic English, and say that the government should “assassinate” this pest. We are curiously reluctant to use the A-word, presumably because an employer of hit-men is “not who we are.” Or at least it is not who we like to think we are. I once attended an interesting lecture by a former CIA agent, who was a budget of droll and gripping tales of the cloak-but-not-dagger sort. He assured us that the USA was “different” than other countries because our intelligence agencies were staffed entirely by former Eagle Scouts, and therefore distained to employ both assassins and prostitutes. I wonder if we are still crippled by this prejudice against sex workers who wish only to serve their country.

8 thoughts on “Fewtril: What’s Wrong with the A-Word?

  1. Pingback: Fewtril: What’s Wrong with the A-Word? | Aus-Alt-Right

  2. But it isn’t assassination when the Good Guys [tm] do it. And Good Guy [tm] honeypots are just having Covert Affairs for the sake of the greater good, they aren’t common whores who happen to work for a spy agency.

    • Christians would do well to read the first Christian reactions to Machiavelli. They were horrified by the proposition that ends justify, perhaps even sanctify, the means.

  3. Pingback: What’s Wrong with the A-Word | Reaction Times

  4. In war, one party is permitted to kill its enemies, but not indiscriminately. Let us stipulate that we are at war, although our regime appears not to think so, and our enemy shows no compunction about killing us indiscriminately. Certainly, we assassinated Osama bin Laden – and good riddance to bad rubbish. On the other hand, assassinating particular persons while at the same time annihilating other parties who merely “happen to be present” and who therefore constitute “acceptable collateral damage” – using drone strikes controlled from the Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, New York – strikes me as immoral. I wish we would not do it.

    Cases for consideration:

    (1) General Sherman’s “March through Georgia,” at the behest of President Lincoln, which harmed or killed many civilian victims.

    (2) The lethal aerial ambush of Admiral Yamamoto in 1942.

    (3) The fire-bombing of Dresden in 1944 and of Hamburg in the same year.

    (4) The obvious counterparts during the Pacific War.

    (5) The bombing of Belgrade in 1999, during which American fighter-bombers attacked a passenger train crossing a bridge over the Danube that carried suburbanites going to work in the city, and killed something like two hundred people. (Why is not Bill Clinton on trial for war crimes?)

    It is possible that, in exacerbated situations, tit-for-tat becomes necessary, but do any of the aforementioned instances qualify under that rule?

    The word assassin comes from hashishan, an adherent of a murderous Muslim cult of the Mogul period in India, which seems to have found synthesis with the sacrificial practices of the followers of the Hindu goddess Kali, and who smoked hashish to ‘gin themselves up for homicide. The victims were chosen by chance.

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