Referring, of course, to the old – and quite true – adage about appropriate responses to attack, Nietzsche: “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster . . . for when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
But “becoming the monster,” horrible as it is, by becoming as xenophobic and misogynistic and mistrustful of facts that disagree with our beliefs, is not, actually, the worst part. Just like the swellings of the Black Plague were not its worst part.
No: the worst part is that, by reacting with the same excesses our enemies use, we agree that they were correct to act as they did, and we acknowledge that we have no call to complain about it.
I base this claim on a few premises single premise:
Everybody, without exception, is “me” to hirself.
The correlation, then, is the rule:
A rule has to be the same for me as for anyone else.
Because, of course, otherwise we have a whatsit, a sociopath, who doesn’t realize that everyone else is also a person, and instead thinks that everyone not hir is actually a puppet. People like that have to be removed from the rest of us before they do damage. Or more damage. Anyway.
SO: if the ends justify the means, if it is appropriate for anyone to torture someone else to try to get information in order to protect the people sie loves, then Al Qaeda is correct to torture people to defend its own. The Taliban is correct to torture people to scare them into not endangering its own people.
If the ends justify the means, and a group of people feels that because another group has been attacking and injuring and killing it, disrespectfully and thoughtlessly, it is appropriate to respond lethally in such a way as to wake up the others to their misdeeds – then Al Qaeda was correct to fly the planes into the Towers so long as we were correct to invade Afghanistan. Suicide bombers are correct to kill anyone so long as they also kill treacherous police and military, if we are correct to kill anyone so long as we also kill sneaky terrorists.
If God has brought these wars down upon us in retribution for the worldliness of our women and the degeneracy of our permissiveness, then it was correct for Al Qaeda to attack us, as the very Hand of God.
We should rather be grateful.
So. I disagree that the end justifies the means. I disagree that it is in any wise appropriate to use the same tactics on our foes as they have or might use on us.
Because I disagree that they were correct. I call them wrong.
And they are only wrong … if I call it wrong for me to do anything like it.