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Defense of the realm

Popular right-wing comment of the week: “look what the left has been defending.”

Well… OK. If we’re responsible for the horrors of Saddam’s rule, I’d like the reasonable sensible right wing bloggers to stand up and take responsibility for this:

Osama is a pathetic little bitch. I swear, if I run into his sorry little ass in an alley somewhere, I’m gonna turn that turd into my own personal sex toy.

And I’m not even gay. I’ll still get an orgasm just thinking about the humiliation I’m laying down on his murderous stinking ass.

I’ll come the second time while I murder that prissy little buttfuck.

And this:

I’m not religious though I do remember some of the tales from the book of Revelations. I have to say that I believe if there is an end of time as described in that book, if this is it, then Mohammed is the false prophet spoken of and Muslims are the evil followers who have to be defeated.

Just words? Sure. But words that lead to actions — so how’s about you take responsibility for this:

Several male students, one wielding a wooden plank, broke into the suite of an anti-war activist in Calhoun College March 27 and wrote a hateful note on her bedroom message board, said the victim, Katherine Lo ‘05. Lo said the incident occurred a day after she hung an American flag upside-down from her bedroom window to protest the war in Iraq.

Tut tuts after the fact don’t do much for me on this, frankly. The left has been pointing out that the kind of virulent racist sentiment we see in Little Green Footballs leads to violent action for well over a year now. How’s about a simple admission that the left was right?

It is essential that outlets such as LGF exist. I mean that very sincerely. Everyone, no matter how vicious and vile their views, should have a platform. One of the reasons why is so that they can see how others react to those views. Free speech is pretty meaningless if nobody is listening; ideally, free speech creates a climate in which ideas can be discussed, criticized, analyzed, and otherwise dissected.

Failure to engage something like LGF in a critical fashion, however, is gonna be perceived as approval. Even if you don’t think Charles Johnson is a racist (and honestly, I wouldn’t say he is based on his posts), he has built a site that supports and encourages racism. If he doesn’t take a hose to the stables, he deserves criticism for his failure to act.

19 Comments

  1. You’re kidding, right? Some whackos leave racist comments on LGF and right wing bloggers need to “stand up and take responsibility” for them?

    This is offered in comparison with the virulent rhetoric of the anti-war crowd who were in “solidarity with the Iraqi people” (i.e. the status quo under Saddam)?

    There’s still a lot of fighting ahead and much work yet to be done, which will ultimately determine the success of the war, but it seems to me that at this point the most introspection needs to be had on the anti-war side.

  2. Nope, not in the least.

    Think about the argument you have to make about the anti-war camp. (And I’m not talking about the real whackos who explicitly said Saddam was just ducky.) Take me, for example.

    I’ve been anti-war on Iraq consistently from day one. Not because I think Saddam is great. I’m not an idiot and I’m well aware he was a terrible dictator.

    To say that I must support him because I do not believe the US should overthrow him, you’ve got to assume that we bear responsibility for every immoral action that goes on in the world. You have to assume that not acting in the face of immorality is in itself immoral.

    And that’s OK; that’s a perfectly consistent worldview. But if you take that stance, how can you fail to believe that it’s your responsibility to directly confront the racists on LGF? How can the US be morally obliged to overthrow Saddam while those who link to LGF are not morally obliged to confront the racists who post there?

    Apply your standards consistently.

  3. I’m confused as to why “at this point the most introspection needs to be had on the anti-war side.” The mention of “at this point” is what throws me – does “the anti-war side” need to be more introspective because the United States claims to have successfully, unilaterally prosecuted a war of aggression and overthrown a sovereign nation? What should they be thinking? “Holy crap – I hope they don’t come for me, next”?

  4. I’ve been reading your blog in the past few weeks and certainly don’t think you’re an idiot. You’ve made arguments against the war that, although I disagree with them, have voiced valid concerns.

    Then you write:

    “To say that I must support him because I do not believe the US should overthrow him, you’ve got to assume that we bear responsibility for every immoral action that goes on in the world.”

    When did I blame the anti-war coalition for Pete Rose’s banishment from the HOF. But seriously, I’ve made no such argument. The world is full of REAL human travesties; Zimbabwe, Sudan, North Korea, et al, and I’m not saying that each should be addressed the same way as Iraq, or that the US should assume responsibility for their problems.

    You add:

    “You have to assume that not acting in the face of immorality is in itself immoral.”

    With this I’m in total agreement.

    “But if you take that stance, how can you fail to believe that it’s your responsibility to directly confront the racists on LGF?”

    Hey, I recognize that there are idiots out there, and on message boards they are often best ignored. If every whacked out comment by some nut had to be publicly denounced by bloggers, they’d have little time to do anything else.

    “How can the US be morally obliged to overthrow Saddam while those who link to LGF are not morally obliged to confront the racists who post there?”

    To this I can come back to: You’re kidding, right?

  5. Actually, Bryant, in the post you linked to, I was referring more to the Int’l Answer crowd – they of the Bush=Hitler signs, the “US is an out of control dictatorship” signs, and all that – more than guys like you. But then, you know me well enough by now to know that anyway. 😉

  6. Mike — yeah, I know, but I gotta make the point about the distinction from time to time. 😉

    Lawrence — I’m probably coming at this from the wrong angle, so let’s back up…

    First off, the actions of Saddam and the actions of the mouthbreathers posting at LGF are not quantitatively equivalent. There.

    Second, what’s the basic moral principle, in your opinion, that requires introspection on the anti-war side? You seem to me (and I could be wrong, so correct me if I am) to be arguing that the revelations of atrocities on Saddam’s part should mean that all us anti-war advocates should change our minds. OK. Why?

    I’m not looking for a “Saddam is bad.” I’m looking for a “it is immoral to stand aside while bad things are happening,” or something along those lines; i.e., I’m looking for the underlying moral guideline that applies to this situation, not a description of the situation itself.

  7. The anti-war side might reflect on the fact that many of their dire predictions on the war have not come to pass (500,000+ civilian casualties, a Veitnam-style quagmire, coalition troops would be treated with contempt by Iraqis, etc.) and given what we know about the regime (the children prisons, torture chambers, murder of its civilian population, etc.), that maybe this war wasn’t such a bad thing afterall. That maybe it’s good that it’s now being fought.

    I supported the war on humanitarian grounds, national security concerns and enforcement of UN resolutions. Anyone by itself was enough for me, but taken together it’s overwhelming reason to fight this fight.

    If I understand your position (correct me if I’m wrong) you worry that if we do something to stop these bad things from happening in Iraq, we’ll be obliged to stop bad things that are happening in say, Zimbabwe, and where will it end. Sort of a slippery slope.

    To me this is an argument to do nothing about everything. I find it difficult to accept that anyone could care so little about the suffering of others.

    There is no underlying universal moral guideline that I can give to say when intervention is appropriate in a given situation. But it certainly was proper in the first Gulf War, Bosnia and Kosovo, and it is here, in my opinion.

    Things haven’t gone as badly as those who opposed the war predicted — in fact, the coalition has enjoyed stunning success and Iraqis appear genuinely happy to see them. That should count for something, and maybe the anti-war voices should recognize that.

  8. OK. Speaking personally, but in a vein that I have certainly seen elsewhere, I think the immediate effects of the war are clearly good. I’m very happy for the Iraqi people, at this moment. I have always been aware that they’d be better off without Saddam.

    However, I think that there are several issues which require more time to play out. It’s clearly valid to say “Look, some of my predictions are long term.” For example, I think you’d agree that we can’t say Saddam had no WMD just because we haven’t found any yet. (We /can/ say that he didn’t use them even when pushed to the end of his rule, but that’s a different argument.)

    Since those issues haven’t played out, and since the long-term effects I worry about are at the center of my opposition to this war, I don’t really feel like I need to say “Gee, I was wrong” just yet.

    More generally… I think we do need underlying guidelines, whether moral or practical, that determine when intervention is appropriate. The UN represents a failed attempt at those — failed not because they were morally good or morally bad, but because in the end they weren’t agreed upon.

    Without such guidelines, we’re reduced to guidelines that essentially read “when the biggest power or coalition decides it’s OK to intervene, you can intervene.” Right now that’s not so bad, because the US is basically well-meaning. Some exceptions, sure, but on the whole it’s not a bad system. However, there’s nothing about that system that inherently guarantees well-meaning countries in the power position.

  9. Yeah, it would’ve been nice if Arabs had taken care of the problem, but they didn’t. And it would’ve been nice if the UN had stood up on the matter, but it didn’t. So here we are.

    By the way, I wasn’t saying that you need to admit being wrong, but there are others who certainly do.

  10. I suppose my overriding question at this point is “Whence did we derive the authority to intervene?” Equally as importantly, I’m concerned about the threshold for intervention. One argument I’ve heard in this case is, paraphrased: “It’s ok to believe that might makes right if you’re fighting someone who also believes that, and they’re clearly wrong.”

    You say that it would have been nice if others had “taken care of the problem,” but it’s fairly obvious they didn’t consider our solution acceptable – and not because they were worried that it would be hard on our soldiers.

  11. “By the way, I wasn’t saying that you need to admit being wrong, but there are others who certainly do.”

    Ah, but now you’ve hit the crux of it. Let me quote Glenn Reynolds:

    “Meanwhile, here’s what the antiwar crowd was defending…”

    Well, hey. That’s me; I’m part of the anti-war crowd. He makes no distinction.

    I’m perfectly willing to admit that there were people who were anti-war because they were pro-Saddam, but I’m more than a little weary of the claim that you can describe the movement as a whole that way.

    I think it’s just about as fair as writing off all the pro-war people as bigots and racists. I can point to /plenty/ of bigoted, racist posts — but I’m not going to claim that represents the pro-war crowd as a whole.

    See where I was going now?

  12. Not really. You’ve said you were worried about long term effects of the war — stuff that has yet to play out — and those are these I worry about too, though I’m more optimistic perhaps.

    On the other hand, LOTS of anti-war voices were screaming about genocide, the war plan has failed, etc. and they have clearly been proven WRONG.

  13. No, some anti-war voices said that. But it is unjust and incorrect to characterize the entire anti-war movement as saying that, and Glenn Reynolds has a tendency to do exactly that.

  14. anonymous anonymous

    I see what Glenn wrote today:

    “Every death is a tragedy, of course — except that to a lot of “peace” activists it seems that only deaths at American hands count. It’s entirely possible that fewer Iraqis have died in the last three weeks of war than in many previous three-week periods of Saddam’s reign. And now the killing by Saddam’s thugs is over for good. If we had had “peace” it would have continued indefinitely.”

  15. Um…

    Great. Now follow the actual link I posted. In that post, Glenn says, “Meanwhile, here’s what the antiwar crowd was defending:” He then cites an account of the terrible, vile things that Saddam did.

    Then he says:

    “Fortunately for the Iraqi people, all those folks who just a few weeks ago were demonstrating in “solidarity” with them were quite properly ignored. And within minutes, they’ll have changed the subject to something else and will be acting as if they were never colossally, utterly, unredeemably wrong about this.”

    Not “some.” Not “a lot of.” “All those folks.”

    And I’ll say it again, really clearly: I’m fucking sick and tired of that shit. It’s bullshit. If I’m responsible for what International ANSWER says, than every single right wing blogger is responsible for the Yalies who broke into an anti-war student’s room, and they’re responsible for the deranged racism you can find so easily in LGF, and so on.

    Characterizing a movement by pointing at the most extreme members of that movement is a cheap rhetorical trick. If you read my original post and thought it was unfair that I’d lump you in with someone who thinks all Muslims are “evil followers who have to be defeated,” then stop. And think for one second about whether or not you’re doing the same damned thing.

  16. A little tense today?

    How’s this sound: All those people — except Bryant! — who …?

    It seems to me that you want to believe the majority of the anti-war crowd is like you. Not even close, I’m afraid. And I’m not just saying they’re mostly made up of nuts, but that they’ve been proven wrong about many, many things since 9/11 (we won’t be treated as liberators, yadda, yadda).

    Take for example one of the people I was talking about, Eric Alterman who writes today: “I was wrong.”

  17. Glad you mentioned Eric, since his mea culpa tends to disprove Glenn’s point. “And within minutes, they’ll have changed the subject to something else and will be acting as if they were never colossally, utterly, unredeemably wrong about this.”

    I gotta say, I find the assertion that most people who are anti-war are nuts to be pretty objectionable. It’s a really cheap way to avoid addressing the actual arguments. Right now, Bush has around a 70% approval rating — pretty damned good! But does that imply that the 30% of the nation who thinks he’s doing a bad job is nuts?

    The problem is this. You’ve taken the time to read my posts (and I appreciate that). You realize that there are sane people who nonetheless oppose the war. But then you go back and you look at a crowd of a hundred thousand people in DC and you forget all about me — and you assume that they’re nuts. To you, they’re all Michael Moores.

    That attitude is damaging. I don’t know any better way to put it, I really don’t. Once you write off the general class of people who disagree with you on an issue as nuts, you make it really hard to convince them… or, even, to hear anything sane they may say.

    Happens on both sides, by the way. I have a couple of Democrat friends who were wholly intolerable during the Clinton thing. Clinton lied under oath, and he almost certainly took advantage of his position to make sexual advances on an impressionable young person. But try and say anything like that to them, and they classify you as ‘evil Republican slime.’ Pain in the ass. I don’t pretend this is an exclusively right-wing trait.

    It’s one reason I link to Mike and read him every day. I disagree with him passionately on a number of issues, but man, I know he’s honest and sincere and it does me a lot of good to read his site. Not in the least because every time I do, I remind myself that the average pro-war guy in this country is like Mike. They aren’t rabid idiots. That’s important to remember.

    (Same reason I link to Tacitus and the Volkohs, for that matter.)

    You don’t really know what the average guy who’s against war thinks. You read about the idiots, sure. There are plenty of them out there — and one of the defining characteristics of an idiot is that they’re loud. So they get heard.

    But there are also plenty of people like me, or Jim Henley, or even Eric Alterman who’ll admit when he’s wrong. The problem is, when someone uses language like “mostly made up of nuts,” they tend to make people like me go “Fuck it, why should I bother explaining?”

    This is really corny, but hey. There’s that old proverb:

    “Assume the worst, and that’s likely what you’ll get.”

    There’s a lot of truth in that.

  18. anonymous anonymous

    This is the last I’ll say on the matter, I promise (I must come off much more abrasive in writing than in person).

    You write: “I gotta say, I find the assertion that most people who are anti-war are nuts to be pretty objectionable. It’s a really cheap way to avoid addressing the actual arguments.”

    The fact is a lot of anti-war folks here and abroad (not you) said it was a racist war, it was all about oil, a personal Bush vendetta, you know what I’m talking about.

    And you’re right that it is damaging to have one’s position contaminated by the likes of ANSWER and Michael Moore. I don’t know what to say about that other than, if it’s getting to be a problem, excise it, like neo-cons did with Pat Buchanan.

    “… Does that imply that the 30% of the nation who thinks he’s doing a bad job is nuts?”

    Of course not. Also, I actually wrote, “I’m not just saying they’re mostly made up of nuts…”

  19. I’ll weigh in once more on this myself here. I don’t think it’s entirely unfair to say that most of the people who show up at the Int’l ANSWER pep rallies today are nuts…the hardcore of the hardcore, and they’re batty. I don’t think anyone with any sense of reality can say that Iraqis aren’t better off, right now, in real ways, than they were a month ago, despite the looting and inevitable temporary chaos – given the awful things that we’re learning every single day about life under Saddam, almost anything would have been an improvement. Yet I see on Den Beste’s site that some dope has come out and said this week that the truly horrible thing is not the brutality of Saddam, but the brutality of….Kentucky Fried Chicken. Yes, the Iraqis are now going to have access to cheap and reasonably wholesome if fatty food, and it’s just awful. Now that’s just plain dumb, if not outright crazy.

    And I’m definitely bothered by some of the comments, usually to older posts, that pop up at my site now and then. I really don’t know what to do about that. Sometimes the line is crossed into outright racism, and I don’t like that one bit. I don’t want to waste index-page space hammering them, especially now that I’m having to pay for extra bandwidth every damned month; there are too many other things I want to write about. In fact, I don’t really want to give the handful of creeps any public recognition at all; better to just let them lurk in the shadows, I think. I do trust the majority of my readers to take the more outrageous things said in the comments with a largish grain of salt, and to realize just who and what those people are. But maybe there’s a better answer that I just haven’t figured out yet.

    Oh, and Bryant, you might be interested to know that so far, your comments are the only place where the Safari forms autocomplete thingie actually works. I have no idea why that is.

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