Quote of the day–Winston Churchill

If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed, if you will not fight when victory will be sure and not so costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival.  There may be a worse case.  You may have to fight when there is no chance of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.

Winston Churchill

Relearning old lessons

Even though Stalin killed between 8 and 20 million of his own people there are people who still think of him as a great leader:

“As a leader of the country, Stalin did much,” Gryzlov said. But “what I think to be his extremes in his domestic policy, they certainly did not do much for his image.”

Russia NTV television said a poll of 1,600 Russians taken by the respected Levada Center showed that only 31 percent consider Stalin to be a cruel tyrant, while 21 percent think he was a wise leader. The poll had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

The poll also found 16 percent thought that “our people will never be able to do without a leader like Stalin.”

I could always see, via a twisted sort of logic, how present day Hitler admirers could maintain their belief system.  If they had been raised to believe they were the “superior race”, that Jews were the spawn of the devil (blah, blah, blah…), and there was some great Jewish conspiracy to rule the world then Hitler was “just solving the Jewish problem”–the Final Solution (you know about the First Solution don’t you?  Interesting story for another time).  Sick chain of “logic” and “facts”, but you can sort of see how they got from “point A” to “point B”. Then there are the faith based nut cases, “god(s) said it, I believe it, that settles it”–we must kill the infidels.  Okay.  Facts and logic are irrelevant to them.  And if you were an underling of Saddam Hussein I could see how you would either adopt his viewpoint and admire him, quit his employee, or go insane.

But what about some of the other really truly evil people such as Stalin?  Surely decades after he or his thugs could put a bullet in your head any person could see “his extremes in his domestic policy” could not be compensated for by his abilities as “a leader of the country”.  But apparently not.  I suspect there are two ways to continue to believe what is clearly wrong and one or both are at work with these people.

  1. People have an exceedingly strong tendency to believe what they want to believe.  Many of the Jews walking into Auschwitz surely knew better but yet wanted to believe “Arbeit Macht Frei“ (Work Will Set You Free).  And so they believed it rather than take at least one guard out on their way in.
  2. When Prophecy Fails again impresses me as a absolutely brilliant piece of research into the human mind.  Basically there is a psychological cost involved with changing your mind and you will be willing to pay a very heavy price in order to avoid it.

Now that I see people who lived under Stalin can admire him and think of him as a “wise leader” I now can fathom how Bill Clinton is admired by a similar percentage of our population and people in this day and age still clamor for more gun control.  It doesn’t have anything to do with rational thought, it has to do with being human.  And as I have said before, it is irrational to expect people to be rational.

Interaction with the police

This was originally intended to be a response to one of the comments in this post but I decided it was straying far enough and was getting large enough that it deserved it’s own post.

I have had numerous people tell me how obnoxious the police are and how egotistic, etc., etc. But my experience has been completely the opposite. I’ve been stopped numerous times for minor traffic violations and had several interactions when I was involved in an accident (both my fault and not my fault). On each and every occasion I thought I was treated fairly. Only on one occasion did I think maybe the officer had been having a “bad day” and was a bit on the grumpy side. I have always chalked up my difference in experience from that reported by others to be because I have had my interactions in Washington and Idaho as opposed to places like New Jersey or Chicago (where the horror stories came from). And that I always let the police do the talking and I listened in a polite manner. My attitude was always, in essence, “You’re right. I screwed up. I’m sorry.”, “I screwed up? I’m sorry, what did I do?” or “I’ve got problems here, can you help me?” Even when carrying concealed (and I gave them my permit in addition to my drivers license), the back of the van full of guns, ammo, targets, and explosive components (I also have a license to manufacture high explosives) the police have been professional and treated me with respect–as I did them.

Because I have no complaints about any of the police I have dealt with I am somewhat suspicious of Fish Or Man’s experience. On one hand we can say, “He didn’t break any laws therefore he doesn’t deserve what he is getting.” But on the other hand good policemen have fantastic intuition which is undoubtedly fed in part by behavioral clues from the people they interact with. If you are “sending up flares” that scream for attention to the police officer it is hard to for me to criticize the officer for giving you “extra attention”.

The next few days will determine where I stand on this particular interaction.