A couple good articles by Paul Danish

For those who don’t know, Paul Danish has been a prominent figure in Boulder for years. He served on City Council for a while, and he’s driven some policy decisions Boulder made. The main one was limiting residential growth. I have this vague memory that he also worked for Soldier of Fortune Magazine, which was published here in Boulder (maybe it still is). He’s written for each of the Boulder newspapers: The Daily Camera, the Colorado Daily (a privately run paper for C.U.), and now the Boulder Weekly. I don’t agree with everything he’s said or done, but occasionally I feel like he hits it right on the mark.

The first column of his I’ll cover here is titled, “Ending the Genocide in Darfur (not)”. What he says here is what I’ve been saying to those who will listen for months (though not on this blog): The Boulderites who support “ending the genocide in Darfur” are either being foolish or insincere, because a lot of them support ending the war in Iraq, not by winning it, but by cutting and running. Tell the truth to their face, man!:

There is, however, no chance that the United States will undertake such a campaign — because the folks who aver that they want to end the genocide in Darfur are for the most part the same ones who have been working for years to make it impossible for the United States to win in Iraq or take unilateral military action generally.

They have worked tirelessly to de-legitimize the Iraq war and to convince the American people that it is a lost cause (which it isn’t), and they have largely succeeded. They fiercely oppose the Bush Doctrine, which provides for the United States engaging in pre-emptive war against those who harbor its terrorist enemies, and which could easily be applied to the Islamic/fascist government in Sudan that harbored al-Qaeda.

Moreover, if the United States actually started bombing Sudan, does anyone have the slightest doubt that a lot of the folks with “End the genocide in Darfur” signs in their yards would be in the vanguard of those howling about American aggression and even accusing the United States of genocide.

And speaking of genocide, if the United States were to withdraw from Iraq prematurely, the subsequent civil war(s), and outright invasions would likely result in multiple instances of genocide.

The fact that the people who want to end the genocide in Darfur seem OK with throwing 25 million Iraqis under the bus suggests that their concern with ending genocide is a tad selective and more than a little unserious — if not outright disingenuous.

In other words, if we want to end the genocide in Darfur we need to support the idea of winning in Iraq. Pulling out of Iraq will not inspire confidence that we’ll be able to do anything constructive in Darfur, because the aftermath in Iraq will be tremendous and horrifying (yes, more than it is now, folks–it can get worse). Further, I doubt there’s much public support now for getting ourselves involved in “yet another mess” in Darfur, and there’s going to be even less if we pull out of Iraq.

The next column I was impressed with, though not as much, was “Climate change and radical change”. Here he says that yes, global warming is a problem and we’re causing it, but we’re not going to do anything about it. I think he’s incorrect about the “we’re causing it” part, as in “It’s warming because of our CO2 emissions”, but I agree that we (the industrialized/industrializing countries) are not going to do anything about it either, despite what Boulder decided to do about it (like it’s going to matter). Yes, I’ve heard that other cities around the country and the world have looked at what Boulder has done, and there are some interested parties who’d like to do what we’ve done, but again, I don’t think it’s going to make a difference in the climate. We can pay our “penance” to the environment if we want. We have free will. The most it’s going to accomplish is create another city bureaucracy, growing the city government, which is already the #1 employer in town (hey, it creates jobs!), and make some of our homes and businesses more energy efficient. The latter is fine with me. I think energy efficiency is good. What I think is bad is the resorting to scare tactics over a phenomenon whose purported cause is dubious at best, and abusing the good name of science in the process. But then, this whole thing isn’t really about science, is it? It’s all about social standing. The elite in our society have taken it upon themselves to flaggelate themselves, and by extension some of us as well, in the name of the environment. It’s now a required part of their social status. If they don’t, they’re ostracized.

Danish’s argument is that in terms of politics, China is using its economic growth to try to forestall a revolution (an overthrow of the government). In a few years China will pass us in the amount of CO2 it produces. Without China’s willingness to curb carbon emissions, we’re just spitting in the wind trying to curb ours. And China isn’t going to curb its emissions, because that will limit its economy’s growth, and the communist government there cares a lot more about its own survival than the climate.

Where we part ways

Danish’s most recent article, though, is one where I think he completely misses the boat. He excuses what happened at the CWA panel in April on sex, teens, and drugs. He caught the same disease a lot of our town leaders have, called “Circling The Wagons Syndrome”, where we defiantly preen about and yell to the outside world, “What are you looking at?!” It’s just bluster and doesn’t mean much of anything, but it’s kind of flabbergasting to people looking in on it from the outside. In a previous post I made reference to geoff’s post (over at “Uncommon Misconceptions”) about how the BVSD has announced that next year there will be more adult oversight of the CWA process. There’s no acknowledgement, of course, that outside criticism had anything to do with this. I’ll just say that Boulder is a provincial town. We don’t want “foreigners” (ie. the rest of the U.S.) to change us. We just want our oasis, undisturbed. I don’t agree with this attitude, but that’s the reality of this place.

Danish says he thinks Becker’s comment about, “I’m going to encourage you to have sex, and I’m going to encourage you to do drugs appropriately,” is just fine, because it made these things less of a “right of passage” for teens, making it less likely they’ll do them out of rebellion against authority. He said that if adults keep telling teens “kids don’t have sex” and “kids don’t do drugs” that because they’re growing up, they’ll think that that’s what adults do. I find this logic flawed, but then maybe teenagers think this way. Their reasoning capacity is not always the best. What I mean is I think Danish’s reasoning is flawed on this.

The way other CWA supporters have responded to Becker’s comment makes it sound as though they thought it was some sort of reverse psychology, that because an adult was sitting there encouraging them to do this, that it would turn teens off to it. From the audience’s reaction I don’t think it had that effect…

I think Danish read too much into it and was being overly generous towards Becker’s intentions and competence. Come on. Who are we kidding here?

Edit 6/22/07: Correction–I made reference earlier to a memory I had that Paul Danish worked for Soldier of Fortune Magazine. He used to work for them, but no longer does.

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