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Tuesday, April 01, 2003

"I say we should support the President of the United States and the U.S. Military and tell the liberal, tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, hippy, tie-dyed liberals to go make their movies and music and whine somewhere else. After all, if they lived in Iraq, they wouldn't be allowed the freedom of speech they're being given here today. Ironically, they would be put to death at the hands of Sadam Husssein or Osama Bin Laden. I want to know how the very people who are against war because of the loss of life, can possibly be the same people who are for abortion?"
~Beth Chapman ~

I've been wanting to talk about this for about a week now, but haven't found a source which gives a succint enough picture of the right-wing view to make the post under six pages. The above seems to express the view I've seen a lot fairly well, and even without gratuitous spelling errors. There are a few underlying assumptions to the above stance which are, on face, sort of ridiculous. The first is, of course, that the Iraqi people are going to be objectively more free, or better off, after the war is over and that one would be a monster to believe that going in to their country militarily to achieve this goal while possessing such freedoms is hypocritical. I find this mildly silly, for a couple of reasons: first, the idea that any given country has a right to undermine a sovereign nation's government to impose whatever values they like is laughable. The assumption that the aims of a war are the only thing one can potentially object to begs the question of why war is necessarily a valid means to attain a goal, especially in light of the fact that it hasn't seemed to work so well in the past. Remember when we democratized Afghanistan? That worked out huge for them. Second, even granting that war is always just if any given head of state disagrees with another, it is widely acknowledged and, objectively speaking, true, that war is a horrendously expensive enterprise and ought be used as a last resort - something which was clearly not the case in Iraq.

Another sort of silly assumption this stance makes is that someone being in a position of notoriety necessarily implies an obligation not to ever criticize the system which allowed them such a place in society. I'll say, first, that if you actually believe this, you don't understand the basic idea of a "freedom," but moreover, realize the practical consequences of this are staggering. It means that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was alright if he was protesting the local government in Alabama, but the moment he marched on the mall, his "dream" ought be transformed into what we now consider a nightmare - a world where people are segregated and given portions of the population are subservient, just becuase it's the official government stance of the moment. I doubt if few educated people alive now would make such a claim. On top of this, however, there are some suppositions about the nature of fame - specifically, that being famous is somehow something which just randomly happens, and that once there, even if people WANT to hear what you have to say, you are violating some unnamed rule by saying it. That is to say - once a given number of people know your name, you lose your freedom of speech.

I'd also note the irony in such a concept - realize that if these people were serious about wanting people who are famous not to mouth off their unqualified opinions, their immediate target would be the punditry. It's become almost a "lefty" version of Bingo to shoot down the near libellous falsities the likes of Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly manufacture on a biweekly basis. Unless the stance is - only people who disagree with me should censor themselves - something which I don't even think merits being put to the straight-face test.

Then we get the whole idea that anyone against the war must be a hippie leftist - illustrated by the abortion non sequiter thrown in at the end, just in case someone had missed the fact that this person was of a certain stance. There's a note of hypocrisy in here, insofar as they've locked themself into a typical right-wing pattern of acceptance of given policies right along the lines of party platform, but moving beyond that, it's interesting to note some other groups who are against the war - for example, Central and South America which had, at the last poll I saw, a 90% disapproval rate of the war. I doubt anyone can make the claim that the most Catholic area outside of Rome is against the war and FOR abortion. It's entirely possible to be against the war based only on pragmatic grounds, only on the idea of rule of law, or only on the idea of thinking that murdering a number of people in a foreign land is empirically a bad thing, it's not necessarily uninformed sophistry - not that many on the "right" seem so eager to find this out.

cranked out at 5:54 PM | |

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