A Small Step
This (and the earlier post linked to) has to be one of the classiest mea culpas I have ever read. Belle has my admiration and respect. Now if only she had been a conservative supporter of the war instead of a liberal, because, you know, conservatives believe in taking responsibility and shit. Oh, well: one down, about 30 million to go.
The unacknowledged irony in Belle's otherwise spot-on description of the American political climate (even today) is that the so-called "sober realists," who were so much more "serious" than the hippies, were the ones who engaged in the lion's share of the invective and vituperation. Not to put too fine a point on it, the realists acted like immature children, while the hippies tried to keep them from running the car of a cliff. Yes, the antiwar people said unkind and cynical things about the people planning the war, and those unkind and cynical things turned out to be, if anything, too kind and trusting.
But I don't think anyone who opposed the war ever impugned the patriotism of pro-war Americans. What we didn't appreciate was being told (largely by people who had no intention of ever putting their own jingo ass in combat) we were stupid and knee-jerk and terrorist sympathizers and didn't deserve a place in a debate about the single gravest decision a democracy can make: declaring unprovoked war on another country. What kind of mature democracy thinks that way?
The reason I say "even today" about the political climate is that former war supporters still can't wean themselves from these habits of thought. In the comments to Belle's post someone confesses to agreeing with Hitchens about "anti-Americans" like Noam Chomsky. Why this desperate need to find someone on the antiwar side to demonize? Noam Chomsky, for all his manifest and perfectly human faults, has spent a life writing and giving lectures to thousands about US foreign policy, at little or no profit to himself, and that's not even his day job. Do you think he does this to turn his native country over to its enemies? Do you think he needs moralistic lectures from a drunken Trotskyite British ex-pat like Christopher Hitchens? Please. Chomsky probably receives more personal vituperation and orchestrated slander than any nonpolitician in American political life, which is a pretty odd effort to go to for someone whose views are supposed so self-evidently crackpot.
Maybe that's because he (and other "anti-Americans" like him) were actually proven right a good deal of the time? Recall shortly after the invasion of Afghanistan (the "good" war, which all decent patriots must prostrate themselves in support of) when Chomsky was derided by the smart people at Slate and elsewhere for predicting that the US would commit human rights abuses that would be covered up and if that failed, rationalized by the US media. How crackpot does that sound now?
Here's an idea for the "sober realists": next time try acting sober and dealing with reality, not some cartoon version you carry around in your head. If people disagree with you, and you think they are wrong, say so. But the crap about "anti-Americanism"? Take it and stick it up your ass. Then go look in a mirror.
(cross-posted with slight revisions from comments)