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Ralsina.Me — Roberto Alsina's website

Unfortunate Phrases by Famous People

Like this one:

When your coun­try is at risk, ev­ery­thing is al­lowed, ex­cept not de­fend­ing it.

—José de San Martín

For non-ar­gen­tini­an read­er­s, imag­ine if that was said by a com­bi­na­tion Wash­ing­ton/Lin­coln lev­el fig­ure fa­mous for lead­ing three coun­tries to get rid of the spaniards and al­so for a list of ad­vices for young ladies, whose bi­og­ra­phy is ti­tled "The saint with a sword".

So, any­way, he said that. And that phrase is bad, bad, bad, un­for­tu­nate and hor­ri­ble.

It's that bad be­cause while a nice slo­gan to ral­ly farm­ers in­to be­com­ing sol­diers in the army of a na­tion that does­n't quite ex­ist yet, it's aw­ful ad­vice for peo­ple who live in an ac­tu­al na­tion, with ac­tu­al laws, an ac­tu­al army, and peo­ple who wor­ship what­ev­er crap you hap­pened to say, José.

It starts with the flaky premise "when your coun­try is at risk" which means too lit­tle, or too much, de­pend­ing on just how much you need an ex­cuse to do some­thing hor­ri­ble.

If you re­al­ly want to be a bad per­son, I am sure you can con­vince your­self that gays, im­mi­grants, for­eign­er­s, mus­lim­s, jew­s, the young are all a dan­ger to your coun­try, some­how. You just need to stretch "dan­ger" a lit­tle or maybe push "y­our coun­try" some­what.

And once you jumped that hur­dle, and you are con­vinced your "coun­try" is "at risk", why, then you can do any­thing. Un­sur­pris­ing­ly this stupid line is of­ten framed in mil­i­tary of­fices, and is a tired trope in mil­i­tary speech­es.

I quite like José de San Martín. This quote, how­ev­er, is un­for­tu­nate.