James Leroy Wilson's blog

Monday, October 03, 2016

The contradiction in Joakim Noah

The Knicks training camp is at the Military Academy in West Point,and new Knicks center Joakim Noah skipped a dinner with West Point army cadets.

He says he skipped it because he's antiwar:
“It’s hard for me a little bit. I have a lot of respect for the kids who are out here fighting. But it’s hard for me to understand why we have to go to war, why kids have to kill kids around the world. So I have mixed feelings about being here."
I admire Noah's position. Let's face it: the U.S. military is not a defense agency, it's a war-making agency. And the wars it fights have nothing to do with the defense of the land or lives of the American people. It does not preserve American freedom, and often undermines it.

Noah, who has dual French and American citizenship, goes on:
“I’m not a very patriotic person, to be honest. I don’t understand the whole flags, supporting flags. I’m more into supporting people.”
It probably took more guts to admit being "not very patriotic" and not getting the who flag thing than to skip a dinner one wouldn't be comfortable at. But there is nothing "wrong" about not being patriotic. Patriotism is not a virtue. It's not necessarily bad; there's nothing wrong with having affection to the people and land of one's home. But the borders and flags are artificial constructs and to insist they demand loyalty is to engage in the most egregious moral relativism. For don't we wish that the people of the countries the U.S. invades be unpatriotic and surrender? If patriotism is a virtue for Americans, then it's a virtue for citizens in any country, including the one our politicians don't like. We can't praise our soldiers as patriots but then call the people they bomb and invade "terrorists" when they fight for their own homes.

So I admire Noah's stand. If only he was consistent about it. For he says:
"There has to be more [gun control laws]. Kids are getting access to automatic weapons. This is not normal... when you see the amount of school shootings and the accessibility of guns around the country and I see nothing being done about it, I really question our leadership.”
But how do you control guns? With guns.

As Stephen L. Carter has said,
"I always counsel my first-year students never to support a law they are not willing to kill to enforce. Usually they greet this advice with something between skepticism and puzzlement, until I remind them that the police go armed to enforce the will of the state, and if you resist, they might kill you.” 
The entire nation-state apparatus that makes war and divides people, and that Noah is skeptical about, is the very same institution  Noah counts on to strip people of their means of self-defense. 

Noah should understand that possessing a deadly weapon is not a violent act.  Prohibiting the possession of it is a violent act, because law is the threat of violence. It makes no more sense to cage or shoot a person for owning a gun, then it is to go to war against harmless people overseas.

I hope Joakim will soon see the contradiction, and becomes a more consistent advocate of nonviolence.

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