"Finally my degree in medieval history and philosophy has come in handy. Because what ISIS wants to do is drive us back to the Middle Ages, literally."
-- Carly Fiorina (R-HP), on how she will help defeat ISIS
Oh, dear God. Literally.
First of all, no, ISIS does not want to "literally" drive us back to the Middle Ages. They want to terrorize their enemies including Americans, they want to kill their enemies, they probably might even be happy to drive all their enemies off the face of the earth. But "literally" pushing everyone back to the Middle Ages...nah, that's just idiotic. Literally. Indeed, we see ISIS using a whole lot of modern-day, cutting-edge technology, literally, not just military equipment and weaponry, but making Hollywood-style videos and using social media.
And secondly -- oh, again, dear God.
It's a pretty fair bet that the CIA, Pentagon and White House have in their employ numerous actual, real-life experts in the history and philosophy of the "Middle Ages", but who have each been studying it in-depth and relentlessly for decades after having gotten PhD degrees in the field and become scholars of the topic, as well as being experts in Islam specifically and all religions, along with being active professionals in the modern-day Middle East and terrorism. Rather than having an undergraduate B.A. in history and philosophy from 40 fricking years ago.
This is just stupid, pathetic stuff.
And if you don't think so, imagine if a Democratic candidate ever said, "I am going to defeat terrorism because I studied philosophy in college." Bronze Star-winner and foreign affairs expert John Kerry got maligned by the GOP for being a nuanced, elitist dilettante because he wind-surfed and used carefully thought-out words. If a Democratic candidate ever even hinted that he could help defeat terrorism because of his or her undergraduate classes in philosophy -- or history -- Dick Cheney's head would explode. Republicans probably wouldn't be able to think up enough ways to overuse the word "naive."
Fortunately, Ms. Fiorina was also asked later by reporters how on earth her four decade-old undergraduate degree in history and philosophy would actually, literally help her defeat ISIS. What she answered, apparently with a straight face, was --
"Every single one of the techniques that ISIS is using, the crucifixion, the beheadings, the burning alive, those were commonly used techniques in the Middle Ages, so we can't avert our eyes and pretend it's an exaggeration that ISIS wants to take its territory back to the Middle Ages but that is in truth what they want to do and are attempting to do."
"In truth" are words that Carly Fiorina should stop using at this point, especially given how she insists she actually saw an abortion video that doesn't exist. But further, considering that all she did in her "explanation" is describe ancient methods of killing, something most eight-graders are taught or know from watching on Game of Thrones, she doesn't even remotely give an indication on how any of this actually, literally helps defeat a terrorist organization with a very up-to-date military.
I'm surprised she didn't say that she learned from class that building a great wall worked swell for the Chinese, and so we should try that on the medieval core of ISIS. Problem solved!
But also, she's already changed her story. At first, it was that ISIS wants to "drive us" back to the Middle Ages. Now, she's altered that to ISIS merely wanting to take "its territory" to the Middle Ages. And she conveniently left out the "literally" part. Literally. And yet, it's still an exaggeration, despite her Fiorina-insistence to the contrary. Yes, the foundations of the Islam faith are indeed in the Middle Ages -- but then, so are those of Christianity. Actually earlier. I assume she isn't contending that Christians want all of our existence to revert back 2,000 years. Nor, because one uses methods of death that are medieval, that doesn't even remotely mean you therefore want to live in the Middle Ages, either. After all, as we can all see pretty clearly, ISIS is perfectly happy using very modern-day bombs and anti-aircraft missiles. They obviously don't rely solely on all that medieval killing, you know. Much of that, I'm sure, is to create terror and a sense of horror in others, far more than as a desire to revert their lives and those of their others a thousand years into the past. Literally.
Yes, I understand that when you're running for President of the United States and have, literally, no experience in politics or any command in the military to justify the arrogance, you pull out any half-baked idea you have in order to sound like people shouldn't dismiss you out of hand. And if a B.A. in medieval philosophy is all you've got, maybe you just try and flim-flam the public. But then, as the founding father of the GOP, Abraham Lincoln, famously said --
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than speak and remove all doubt.
To read more from Robert J. Elisberg about this or many other matters both large and tidbit small, see Elisberg Industries.