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Kurt Vonnegut: Homicide bombers feel an "amazing high."

by Paul C / November 21, 2005 9:47 PM PST

More nitwittery, Literary Division: US author lauds suicide bombers:

ONE of the greatest living US writers has praised terrorists as "very brave people" and used drug culture slang to describe the "amazing high" suicide bombers must feel before blowing themselves up.

Kurt Vonnegut, author of the 1969 anti-war classic Slaughterhouse Five, made the provocative remarks during an interview in New York for his new book, Man Without a Country, a collection of writings critical of US President George W. Bush.

Vonnegut, 83, has been a strong opponent of Mr Bush and the US-led war in Iraq, but until now has stopped short of defending terrorism.

But in discussing his views with The Weekend Australian, Vonnegut said it was "sweet and honourable" to die for what you believe in, and rejected the idea that terrorists were motivated by twisted religious beliefs.

"They are dying for their own self-respect," he said. "It's a terrible thing to deprive someone of their self-respect. It's like your culture is nothing, your race is nothing, you're nothing."

Asked if he thought of terrorists as soldiers, Vonnegut, a decorated World War II veteran, said: "I regard them as very brave people, yes."


The jihadis' victims were not available for comment...

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(NT) (NT) How does he know? Maybe he should try it,
by EdH / November 21, 2005 9:56 PM PST
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maybe he could enroll
by Mark5019 / November 21, 2005 11:03 PM PST

over there and take lessons.

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WOW
by Josh K / November 21, 2005 11:26 PM PST

That's really shocking and sad. He's a good writer. Maybe he has dementia or something. At least that would be an excuse.

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That's a bit shocking.
by Dan McC / November 22, 2005 12:47 AM PST

I'm hoping that he admires their dedication and self sacrifice. There is no mention in the article of any approval of the terrorists' targets. Nor is there actual quotes for some of the positions stated in the article.

Dan

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Did youreally mean ot say...
by EdH / November 22, 2005 1:04 AM PST
In reply to: That's a bit shocking.
I'm hoping that he admires their dedication and self sacrifice. ? Please tell me that was an error of some kind.
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The interview
by grandpaw7 / November 22, 2005 2:35 AM PST

The suicide bombers are not terrible people because they commit suicide in seeking to defend their philosophy or their cause. They are terrible people because they specifically target innocent people. There are many stories in which GIs went to sure death in defense of their country or their fellow soldiers. Many were decorated for their bravery and rightly so. But they were targeting enemy soldiers,not innocent civilian noncombatants.

Whether the targeted killing of innocent people in Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki should be treated differently than the targeted killing of innocent people by suicide bombers is a much debated matter. Certainly, no one who ordered these raids committed suicide, but is killing a man by committing suicide somehow less moral than killing a man without dying yourself? Certainly one difference is that the victims in WWII were in the tens of thousands, actually the hundreds of thousands, rather than in the hundreds. Another difference, in the case of the atomic bomb, is the many years that the killing and maiming went on. Of course, it may be that the intentional killing of innocent civilians is okay if we are the ones doing the killing.

Now,of course, it is time to play stereotyping. Vonnegut did this, so all liberals do this, that sort of nonsense that is commonly engaged in by people who lack honesty, integrity, reason, logic, fairness, balance and common sense. Did I mention a working brain? If there were no such stereotyping on the forum, it would probably occupy about half the space that it now does.

I'm reminded of the guy who said that all indians walk in single file. When asked how he knew that, he said that he saw three indians yesterday and they were walking in single file.

The interview is at http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/printpage/0,5942,17293730,00.html

It is pretty long, but here is the part noted in the post:

''Next I ask him about terrorism. It's not for any particular reason. It just seems a relevant thing to ask a writer who has seen war, who has written of war and who lives in New York City, where terrorism's horror is understood so well.

''What about terrorists? Do you understand where they're coming from? Do you regard them as soldiers too?'' I ask.

Vonnegut's reply is startling. ''I regard them as very brave people, yes,'' he says without a moment's hesitation.

''You don't think that they're mad, that, you know, anyone who would strap a bomb to himself must be mad?''

''Well, we had a guy [president Harry Truman] who dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, didn't we?'' he says.

''What George Bush and his gang did not realise was that people fight back. Peace wasn't restored in Vietnam until we got kicked out. Everything's quiet there now.''

There's a long pause before Vonnegut speaks again: ''It is sweet and noble - sweet and honourable I guess it is - to die for what you believe in.''

This borders on the outrageous. Is the author of one of the great anti-war books of the 20th century seriously saying that terrorists who kill civilians are ''sweet and honourable''?

I ask one more question: ''But terrorists believe in twisted religious things, don't they? So surely that can't be right?''

''Well, they're dying for their own self-respect,'' Vonnegut fires back. ''It's a terrible thing to deprive someone of their self-respect. It's [like] your culture is nothing, your race is nothing, you're nothing.''

There's another long pause and Vonnegut's eyes suggest his mind has wandered off somewhere. Then, suddenly, he turns back to me and says: ''It must be an amazing high.''

''What?'' I ask. ''Strapping a bomb to yourself,'' he says. ''You would know death is going to be painless, so the anticipation ... must be an amazing high.''

At this point, I give up. I can't be bothered asking him about any of the things I'd thought about: his mother's suicide, how he raised his sister's kids, the great writers he knew and partied with, how he looks back on Dresden.

Vonnegut has been many things: a grandmaster of American literature; a man who worked hard to support his family; a soldier who fought for his country.

But now he's old and he doesn't want to live any more. You only have to read his book to understand that. And because he can't find anything worthwhile to keep him alive, he finds defending terrorists somehow amusing.''

The interviewer also describes Vonnegut as someone who is tired of living, who is embittered, and who was a hero in WWII.

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In that context....
by Josh K / November 22, 2005 2:42 AM PST
In reply to: The interview

...it would appear that Vonnegut is either suffering dementia (which brings with it depression and a desire to die -- I know because my stepfather has it), deliberately trying to shock his audience or both. Whether he really truly believes the things he said may not be as clear as it looks.

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I agree
by grandpaw7 / November 22, 2005 2:53 AM PST
In reply to: In that context....

It does look like he may have just given up on life.

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Clearly ol' Kurt has lost his marbles...
by EdH / November 22, 2005 2:51 AM PST
In reply to: The interview

And nothing he says can be taken seriously.

If you look closer at these suicide bombers you will find out that in many cases they have been coerced, their families threatened and so forth. In some cases it's peer pressure and/or indoctrination. I don't think it has much to do with self-respect. Maybe the illusion of.

Vonnegut was a talented writer but not that stable for a long time IMHO.

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I agree
by grandpaw7 / November 22, 2005 2:56 AM PST

The "handlers" may claim that their cause is just, but I agree that many, maybe most, of the actually bombers are probably dupes.

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re
by Mark5019 / November 22, 2005 3:14 AM PST
In reply to: I agree

The ''handlers'' may claim that their cause is just, but I agree that many, maybe most, of the actually bombers are probably dupes.

there all dupes and scum

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So you agree.....
by Josh K / November 22, 2005 3:17 AM PST
In reply to: re

....that all suicide bombers were duped into doing it?

Because that's what you just said.

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He gives up?
by Dan McC / November 22, 2005 3:22 AM PST
In reply to: The interview

Now ain't that great journalism. You don't like what someone is saying so you end the interview. You don't probe to clarify statements. You don't delve for reasons and influences.

Poor show.

Dan

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To pick one nit in this post, Grandpaw:
by Paul C / November 22, 2005 6:59 PM PST
In reply to: The interview
Another difference, in the case of the atomic bomb, is the many years that the killing and maiming went on. Of course, it may be that the intentional killing of innocent civilians is okay if we are the ones doing the killing.

Let's see: Some 200,000 died more or less immediately at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Over the years, some 100,000 more people died from the after effects of radiation and burns.

In its planning for the invasion of Japan, the Navy, drawing from the experience of earlier attacks, (Iwo Jima: 5,500 U.S. dead, less than 30 survivors from a Japanese garrison of 34,000; Saipan: 3,700 U.S. dead, some 100 survivors from a Japanese garrison of 40,000; Okinawa: 12,000 U.S. dead, some 1,200 survivors from a Japanese garrison of 134,000 - and that doesn't include the Japanese civilians who committed suicide on Saipan and Okinawa or the civilians who attacked U.S. forces with knives and spears!) estinated that the butcher's bill for Operation Olympic - the occupation of the southern third of the Japanese island of Kyushu in preparation for Operation Coronet, the occupation of the Kanto Plain and Tokyo - would have been at least 150,000 U.S. and 500,000 Japanese dead. The Japanese knew we were coming; they knew the sequence of the landings and where they would occur (all gleaned by us by cryptanalysis.)

It's safe to assume that the minimum total slaughter in an invasion of Japan would have easily exceeded 1.5 million people. Other alternatives, such as blockade and bombing the Japanese transportation system, would have resulted in a famine that would have killed tens of millions of Japanese. Henry Stimson, the Secretary of war at the time, defended the use of nuclear weapons against Japan as "the least abhorrent choice." He was right.
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That was my thought. Apparently, the self respect of the
by Kiddpeat / November 22, 2005 3:20 AM PST

victims does not count. Senility?

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It's 'honourable suicide'
by Richard Jones Forum moderator / November 22, 2005 7:48 PM PST

or perhaps better. To me, it makes sense, since killing one'self is rather courageous already, albeit twisted.

And, killing others in the act, to me, would be really hard - I'd rather go solo, if I offed myself. So, I can *kinda* see Vonnegut's viewpoint, but not really. Then again, I have not been in a major war as he has, so ..... ?

Vets i've spoken with have given me the impression, overall, that sometimes people kill themselves in a war - on purpose, sometimes dramatically - they are not recognized as insane but rather brave, though it's a bit diff to tell unless you really *know* the soldier. Anyhow, it's an interesting area, but in my humble opinion Kurt is more strumming audacity than reasoned opinion.

Rick "chocobunny" Jones

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