Niagara Gazette

Columns

June 30, 2013

SINGER: The lure of moderation

Niagara Gazette — Wouldn’t it be nice, as the Beach Boys might sing, if we could all be moderate in today’s world–part of the decent, irreproachable, safe middle? But can one always be so? This problem taps into — excuse an unsought pun — the current debate now raging over phone records spying, which has certainly led authorities to some menacing, unsavory types, if not all. “Moderation,” it seems to me, also won’t work when it comes to the massive fiscal problems of places like Detroit, where despite a marvelous mayor, former basketball star, Dave Bing, the city has now been delivered to an appointed pension slasher et al. And boy, does he want to slash! The immoderate pill is difficult to swallow, but such problems — also evident nearer to home, and thankfully alleviated by the recent casino settlement — don’t go away by themselves, nor via tepid measures.

Looking to a wider world, and first, the Syrian civil war, terrible, barbaric atrocities have occurred there on both sides, and you don’t know which–Sunni rebels or Shia-Alawite-Hezbollah supporters of Assad–represents the comparatively more innocent aggregation.

One video apparently shows a Sunni triumphantly holding the heart of a slain enemy and tasting it in the bargain. But if you think such extreme behavior is confined only to that region, you must be living in some protected bubble. Heart-eating was common during Mao Zedong’s killing frenzy of the late ‘60s that knocked off over 50 million Chinese (the period given a misleadingly sugarcoated name of “The Cultural Revolution”).

In Cambodia of the ‘70s — another civil war situation in a country like Syria which had been better off under French imperial protection — the Khmer Rouge liked to remove livers of innocent civilians and see how long it took them to die. And yet, we keep hearing the mantra of moderation, as if it will magically repel such barbarity. Unfortunately, with certain types moderation simply won’t work.

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