Posted by Smokey Stover on March 29, 2004
In Reply to: Re: Line of thought posted by sphinx on March 28, 2004
: : : : : Look into the middle of the passage... see 'In the two and a half years since 9/11...'?
: : : : : Could you explain the phrase 'preening sophistication' here?
: : : : : And could you rephrase what kind of VOICE it is at all? What is the attitude of the people in the article towards the war on terror, briefly?
: : : : : Thanks!
: : : : The writer is saying that right after 9/11 people had the right idea -- go kill the bastards. But, after some time passed, some people had second thoughts and began to doubt the wisdom of this war. We are too sophisticated to approve of something so primitive as war. And the writer thinks that line of thought will lead all of us down the path of destruction. Lambs to slaughter.
: : Can you explain this phrase?
: And another question:
: how can "appeasement" (the notorious policy of granting concessions) be put side by side with "preening sophistication", -- go kill the bastards?
Preening sophistication is the opposite of "go kill the bastards," as Mr. Henry makes clear in his essay, "Closer to Destruction." He wants to kill the bastards, but "...the voices of doubt, negativity, defeat, preening sophistication, and appeasement have grown stronger...." Preening is described in the Archives. The necessary smoothing down of feathers by birds has given rise to the figurative meaning of primp, make onself pretty, said of women who do this looking in a mirror, supposedly with narcissistic self-admiration, and therefore of any self-admiring narcissists. Sophistication has many meanings, all defined in standard dictionaries. Conservatives like Mr. Henry like to characterize as sophisticated those whom they wish to stigmatize as overly clever, inclined to use their intellect to quibble over small details, and so used to cheese-paring verbally as to forget there are real issues and serious values. Thus "preening sophistication" equals "self-congratulatory cleverness." He links this to the defeatism in Europe just before World War II (v. appeasement} and the reaction in Spain to the March massacre. He didn't use the phrase "line of thought" = "train of thought" = "direction of the thinking," which in the case of these weak-kneed appeasers leads (presumably) to the destruction to which we are getting closer, but it paraphrases accurately one aspect of his essay.
I don't know what VOICE may mean in the question. Whom is Henry addressing? The American Spectator, in which his essay appeared, is a conservative journal read mostly by conservatives. Thus he is preaching to the choir. What does he think of the "war on terror"? He does not use this phrase, although he mentions terror often. He supports Bush and the Bush foreign policy. He worries that Spain and other European countries lack the stomach for the fight. The attitude of the people in the article? Which people? Mr. Henry is perhaps not their ideal spokesman, having just characterized the "people of Europe" as appeasers, and any American foot-draggers as "objectively pro-terrorist," whatever that means. SS