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| 26 Comments

One last point before we switch over to Good News.

Guys like Roger Simon, Michael Totten and I are always being accused of demonizing the left by painting it with the colors of its most extreme members. "That's not really the antiwar movement. Other than a few extremists..." etc., etc.

It's hard to be much more mainstream than Markos Moulitsas Z˙niga (Kos); he was involved in the Dean and Clark campaigns, and is building a political consultancy that works on national Democratic campaigns.

So, as we were saying...

26 Comments

So, what you've basically said is that instead of cherry-picking lunatics or out-of-context quotes and pretending they're representative, you've decided to switch to cherry-picking the odd angry outburst and pretending it's representative.

I wonder if that's a game you really want to get into. Hmmm. Is that the same Roger Simon who chimed in "Right on!" to Lileks' infamous "fuck you Salam Pax" rant?

Glass houses...

Do you really want to get into the game of defending Kos?

Kos' views are not that unusual on the left, in my experience. Most people I know on the left (my parents, brothers and sisters, for example, or most people within my traditional circle of friends are on the left) express similar views, or sympathize with such views, or do not regard such views as extreme.

I think there have always been two lefts, divided between progressives who believe in the essential goodness of American values, which they perhaps even want to strengthen and implement more widely, and those who believe in the essential badness of American values, which they want to combat.

I have always considered myself within the first group (I don't think my core political values have ever changed) and have always loathed radical leftist politics, even (or especially) during the sixties and seventies. The left presents a huge problem for my group. There is a serious cancer within it. In less turbulent times, I could dismiss flaky anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, "root causist" leftism as unimportant as long as we shared common positions on most issues (greater economic equality, helping the poor, affirmative action, better schools and public services, etc.). Now, radical leftism has manifested itself as a cancer within the liberal left and it is much harder to be associated with the current anti-Americanism and anti-liberalism that has come out on the left and emerged as its dominant themes.

An analogy: I can support, for example, supporting the developing world or enjoy travelling abroad, but not want to join the Mormon Church, which promotes both of these things. I can think, for example, that physical education is a good thing, but not want to subscribe to Nazi ideology, which also supported physical fitness. The left today as a movement increasingly requires that you join the Church and the Ideology. No thanks.

Clarification: I don't mean to compare the Mormon Church to the Nazis!

When Salam Pax gets butchered and his corpse gets desecrated, burned, cut up, dragged through the streets, and hung from a bridge like a trophy and then Lileks says "Fuck you Salam Pax's desecrated corpse". When that happens, please let us know. Until then maybe you ought not to compare things that aren't at all comparable. Doncha think?

This is no time for partisan politics. Guys if you are just as sick as I am about Daily Kos remark about the 4 dead American contractors, He welcomed their death and said "screw them" visit this site
http://michael-friedman.com/archives/000311.html

Michael Friedman is organizing an e-mail campaign to demand that the Democratic candidates pull their ads from the Daily Kos site. It seems to work. I got an e-mail from one of the candidates telling me they are pulling their ad. We should not allow this infamy to stand.

Lileks' "fuck you" was by way of dismissing Salam's assertion that "things are going a bit bad in Iraq." Given the number of deaths and the amount of mayhem "going a bit bad" appears to entail, I'd certainly put that little moment on par, offensive-stupidity-wise, with Kos' remark. And hey, you know -- people sometimes say silly and even reprehensible things in the heat of the moment. (Granted, Lileks tends to say them rather more often, but still.)

Doctor S-

If Salam Pak had been shot, blown up with an RPG, dragged through the street, and hung like a side of beef in the public eye, and Lileks had gone 'fuck you', you'd have a glimmer of a chnce of making this case.

Hurting someone's feelings isn't quite the same thing in my universe. In yours?

A.L.

Hey Doctor Slack, Lileks' remark was aimed at Salam Pax's complaint that we had "spilled something on the carpet" and had not cleaned it up fast enough. As I said at the time, Salam Pax is a whiny bitch. He benefitted from the regime, gots tons of praise (rightly so) for discreetly and somewhat bravely blogging during the run up and immediate aftermath of the war, and then promptly took a newspaper job in the heart of the pampered U.K. left. The fact that he was writing from London and criticizing the US (which had just liberated his country) was enough to send James over the edge. I understand that. He took it as a personal affront that someone who he considered a brave, articulate (bi-lingual) voice who could do a lot of good in the new Iraq had sold out and become the darling of the anti-American left.

In Kos' case, he decided that people providing security for American food delivery convoys were so contemptible that he couldn't care less that they had been murdered and their bodies desecrated. That's not quite the same thing.

Doctor S:

Lileks also said it while Pax was alive; had he said it after Pax's hypothetical death, I would agree, Lileks then be on the same foul level as Kos.
At the time, Pax was whining about some petty BS, NOT being killed and then have your body be mutilated and dragged through the streets. I think AL was very kind to you.

Mr. Lileks: If you read this, please forgive the use of your name and a certain someone else's name in the same sentence.

Hurting someone's feelings isn't quite the same thing in my universe.

So, in your universe, Lileks' callow dismissal of the contention that things are bad in Iraq -- a contention which is plainly true, particularly of Salam's neck of the woods -- amounts to nothing more than "hurting someone's feelings"? In a context where Iraqis are being blown up on a daily basis, often by the people who are supposed to be "helping" them, it's okay to dismiss Iraqi death and suffering to the point of saying "fuck you" to anyone who dares bring it up? (Presumably it's also okay to characterize the point as "whining about some petty BS," right?)

Funny how fast those crocodile tears for the "Iraqi people" can dry up. Revealing. Very, very revealing.

RE: Glass Houses

Dear Dr. Slack,

IMHO the left has painted itself into a corner, glass house wise. If you want to portray yourself as more compassionate, more empathetic, and more virtuous than conservatives, more power to you! Have a happy! But by doing that, you forclose the option of saying, "You're just as bad as we are, so it's a wash." Um, no, not really. If we're just as bad as you are, and vice versa, you're not better than we are. Which was the orginal argument.

So, I'm perfectly willing to concede that my fellow conservatives are just as vindictive as your fellow liberals, if you concede that your fellow liberals are no more compassionate and ethical than my fellow conservatives.*

Do we have a deal?

  • bearing in mind, of course, the aphorism about picking friends and noses.

Yeah, Doctor Slack, things just suck in Iraq. Let's ask the Iraqis:

"The Fallujah mob has soiled the reputation of Iraqis. It also appears to misrepresent the true feelings of most Iraqis, if an independent opinion poll commissioned by the BBC is to be believed. Some 70 percent of Iraqis thought their lives were better since the ouster of Saddam. A majority was optimistic, though perhaps significantly the least optimistic people were the citizens of Baghdad. There was also a preponderance of Iraqis who said that while they did not like the coalition being around, they wanted the troops to stay for the foreseeable future to combat the tide of violence."

From that well-known pro-Bush rag, the Arab News.

Over to you.

A.L.

Al:

Point, Set, Match!

Shawn,

Then what left of him if he takes your deal for critical rational can't share the same house with moral equivalence?

Pshaw. You people waste your time. As if Doctor Slack will ever admit that he made a false equivalence, despite the reams of solid argumentation here.

Why even bother responding?

Jeff B:

We need to keep sharp, hence the reason to respond to such as Doc Slack, at least until you reach the point when you start repeating yourself. At that point, turn on the "ignore" function. (IMO)

Shaun: I find the game of "conservatives" vs. "liberals" both uninteresting and quite silly in the context of support for the war, which you should have the wit to know is not a left vs. right issue. To the degree to which hardcore constituencies for and against can be called largely "right" or "left," which is at least somewhat more plausible, I find rightist loonies to be far more prominent, better-funded and dangerous than their left counterparts, particularly in the US context, but I don't regard them as essentially worse in a moral sense. Does that about clear it up?

A.L.: ABC's reportage of the Iraq poll is more comprehensive. It shows response to the occupation split among Iraqis, with the Kurds most in favour and the Sunnis -- in Salam's neck of the woods, just in case you missed that in the post you were responding to -- most opposed. (Take a look at the Sunni numbers. When 36% of a population you've "liberated" regards attacks on you as acceptable, I don't see how you can spin that as a "good" situation. That's well above the percentage needed to sustain a long-term insurgency.)

So really, I don't see why any serious supporter of the war should be defending Lileks' bullshit. But I'm willing to make allowances for the heat of the moment -- one of the unique traits of the blogosphere is its potential for immediacy, and that has drawbacks. I wonder if the warblogger community can manage a similar courtesy. I have to confess I have my doubts.

Doc Slack:

"I find rightist loonies to be far more prominent, better-funded and dangerous than their left counterparts"

Does the name George Soros ring a bell? How about Peter Jennings, Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw? How about 99% of Hollywood?

If the Sunnis don't wake up and smell the coffee, the ones that don't will soon join the dodo bird and passenger pigeon as historical footnotes.

Phil: Really. Since when are Jennings, Brokaw and Rather radical leftists, let alone Soros? And what about your obviously well-founded and carefully thought-out "99% of Hollywood" figure?

If the Sunnis don't wake up and smell the coffee, the ones that don't will soon join the dodo bird and passenger pigeon as historical footnotes.

Yep. I love seeing all that compassion for the "Iraqi people." It's heartwarming, really. Thanks for demonstrating my point.

Oh, Doctor Slack. How much easier your life would be if no one here had read that particular Bleat, or if no one who'd read it remembered what it said. How much better your chances would be of not being dismissed as a crank who twists the truth for political gain. How many more people might read your future posts!

-------

What bugs me about Kos's statement - apart from the obvious - is that Kos is not some random DU poster. He's not far left, so far as I know. He's the Democratic mainstream. And he's capable of spitting on the graves of four lynched security guards - and following up by saying he was wrong to say he felt nothing, since he actually hates them - because they were in Iraq. No other reason. It might hurt Bush.

And the only antiwar blogger of prominence I've seen even a mild denunciation from is Oliver Willis, who got somewhat raked over in his comments for it.

A lot of Republicans opposed military intervention in Kosovo, and a distressing number seem to have opposed it as a get-Clinton tactic. But even in the fevered days of Clinton-hatred, I don't remember anyone on that side cheering the deaths of Americans in Kosovo as a partisan victory.

We're crossing a different line here. And it's starting to seriously scare me. Loons are one thing. Mainstream, respected Democrats are something else again. And it's something else still when one goes off the rails and we hear from his own side... silence. Or blaming the victims. Or tortuous equivalencies in an effort to avoid the whole issue.

How much easier your life would be if no one here had read that particular Bleat, or if no one who'd read it remembered what it said

I am duly devastated by your carefully vague objection.

And he's capable of spitting on the graves of four lynched security guards [snip]

How much easier your life would be if no one knew what the actual reason for Kos' outrage was. I don't agree with his position -- it's only marginally more justifiable than the bullshit surrounding Rachel Corrie in the warblogosphere -- but this is, as tbogg accurately points out, a tempest in a teacup.

No, it's one small piece of a much larger tempest. and that tempest is beginning to worry/frighten a lot of people. Right, and Left. Deservedly so.

I'll simply note here that amidst the incredible contortions folks like Slack and Andrew have gone through to rationalize or soften Kos' statements, and all of the (often false and always irrelevant) equivalences thrown up like a smokescreen, we're consistently missing one important element:

The clear statement that what Kos said was really, really wrong.

The equivalences used, you see, aren't about condemning something equally bad (bi-direction, if perhaps misguided, but sincere criticism). Read them, and you notice that they're designed to remove the right of others to criticize Kos.

It's not about creating a better atmosphere - it's about making the kinds of things Kos said acceptable in polite company, and making that kind of open hostility more "normal" - "defining devience down" in a political-moral sense.

Because, you know, in their circles, I guess that IS normal.

The fact that this is so says more than anything else about the intentions of these parties - and about whom they perceive as their real enemies. Which isn't the Ba'athists, or al-Qaeda, or any other species of Arab/Islamo-nazis.

And yeah, that's a problem.

we're consistently missing one important element:

The clear statement that what Kos said was really, really wrong.

My comments on any of the related threads make the falsehood of this claim clear enough.

Read them, and you notice that they're designed to remove the right of others to criticize Kos.

Pffft. What they're designed to do is put the discussion in context and remove of the right of people to smear the ever-amorphous "left" with strawman opinions. That this appears to constitue ThoughtCrime to you is unsurprising -- pro-wars have been playing the sophomoric, self-righteous "dissent is treason" game from day one. And yeah, that's a problem.

DS-

Am I reading this correctly? That in response to Joe's point that what Kos said was "really, really wrong," you replied "My comments on any of the related threads make the falsehood of this claim clear enough."

Is it that Joe's statemenmt is wrong, or that you're claiming that Kos 'wrongness' hasn't been ignored?

A.L.

A.L: Joe had falsely claimed that I had not clearly stated that what Kos said was wrong. That's the claim whose falsehood I was referring to.

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