Twain’s point was that the Americans who prayed for victory in the Spanish-American War would have been horrified to learn what our “victory” in support of their “liberation” really meant to the Filipinos: that they wouldn’t really want to pray that the Almighty
… blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears.
Twain was probably right, in his day. But the Hearst newspapers, the Fox News of the time, made sure the voters never knew.
Here’s the problem, though. I doubt that Twain’s idea applies to contemporary political circumstances. We didn’t enter the Spanish-American war because we were scared of the Filipinos, or angry at them. But the War in Iraq is linked, in the minds of its supporters, with retaliation for 9/11:
These people attacked us.
What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, and basically saying, “Which part of this sentence don’t you understand? … Suck. On. This!”
If you can’t outbreed the enemy, cull ’em.
And, of course, Ann Coulter:
Raghead talks tough, raghead faces consequences
In that context, and in the minds of the dead-enders who constitute the Bush Administration’s political base “blighting the hopes” of Muslims in general and Arabs specifically is a feature, not a bug. Their test of “anti-terrorist” seriousness is the willingness — even eagerness — to inflict torture.
As Lincoln said in a different context, “Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid.”