Kurt Vonnegut

You see,the problem is Vonnegut is an honest man. It’s just that no one wants to hear any honesty unless they happen to agree with it. Vonnegut isn’t an anti-war author as much as he’s a humanist author.

"What about terrorists? Do you understand where they’re coming from? Do you regard them as soldiers too?"

"I regard them as very brave people,yes."

"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 who dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima,didn’t we? 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"?

Of course this is outrageous,this points America to the fundamental discussion no one wants to have. The Moral Argument is a term used to describe the difference between a terrorist or suicide bomber and President Truman. All good Americans implicitly just know the difference between a hero and a madman,and to even indicate that subtlty is heresy,vulgarity,and treason all wrapped into a convenient diversion.

To accuse terrorists of targeting civilians as the fundamental evil is hypocritical. Every modern war has involved civilian targets: industrial complexes,infrastructure,sympathizers. In WWII,the most agreed-upon righteous and appropriate moral war,Truman decided to drop two nuclear bombs leveling two entire cities. For the moment,leave it at that: the targeting of civilians. This is just the opening move of a larger game. So far,Americans and most of the Western World haven’t even made it past this opening move. The Bush administration along with Democrats and Republicans rally behind hollow rhetoric that never addresses the Moral Argument. The War on Terrorism can’t be won because the definition Terrorism hasn’t addressed that fundamental problem of morality; and we haven’t addressed our own moral discretions,choosing rather to place our faith in that obvious "implicit" knowledge of American Righteousness.

Vonnegut might not question the consequences of the outcome of WWII if the atom bombs were never dropped. Did it ultimately save lives? He would question the simple, honest sanity of wiping out entire civlilian communities in one single flash,rendering suffereing and impotence for generations. Vonnegut has never really had much faith in the human race – period. Do you think God is looking down and justifying the War on Terrorism? Making Exceptions and Filing Briefs for all of human Sin? Vonnegut’s fallout is going to be swift,direct,and consuming across the political spectrum. It will all miss the point.