28 March 2004


There was this nasty incident Friday in which some protesters at a Bush fundraiser threatened and attacked some Bush supporters.

For the record, as a lefty blogger, let me say that this is not okay. Like a lot of lefties spooked by recent unwholesome political successes by the American right, I'm angry and feeling rhetorically confrontational these days, but violence is not the way to express it.

I bring this up, though, to point out a couple of very interesting posts by Philosoraptor, who reacted immediately with similar vigorous disapproval.

Yes, of course I undestand it's an isolated incident. Yes, I also understand that this is something that is more often associated with the right and the very far left than the liberal center. Blah, blah, blah. Frankly, I have no time for anyone who is inclined to make such arguments. We're the God-damned good guys -- or have we forgotten that? WE DO NOT DO THINGS LIKE THIS. We should have a lower tolerance for this sort of thing, especially in those with whom we associate politically.
Exactly what I might have said. But then, on reflection, he followed up at great length with some thoughts about an intemperate assumption lurking in that last post.
At one point I write that 'We're the ... good guys'. Matthew Cromer calls me on this point, and Anonymous backs him thusly:

''Let me amplify on Matthew Cromer's response (ROFLMAO.) I'm not laughing because the quoted item is so damned offensive. You could have said, 'I completely disagree with how we as a country should proceed', and that would be vigorous but fair disagreement. But no, you say very pointedly that your side is the good guys, and do you think we can't infer that it makes our side of the argument the bad guys? What do you want -- a frickin' civil war?

Please get a grip and lets discuss this as fellow-citizens, OK, and enough with the vilification? (Yes, some of us are adept enough to realize that backhand vilification is still vilification.)''

Well, when you're right, you're right, and when you're wrong, you're wrong. Matthew Cromer and Anonymous are right, and I was wrong.

Just so. I hope to be as intellectually honest as Philosoraptor.

He then takes this as a point of departure to talk lucidly about how this kind of honesty is both important and very difficult.

Excuse-making-by-comparison is, I believe, what led America to virtually lose its soul during the Cold War -- the Soviet government was evil (note to liberals: it really, really was), and, consequently, we tried to excuse even our most loathsome actions simply by pointing out that the Soviets were worse. And, of course, since our opponent really was so terrible, this strategy led us farther and farther down the path toward the Dark Side (note to conservatives: it really, really did).
On the other hand, to some extent my claim was an exhortation to liberals to remember -- as I now wish I'd put it -- that we're good guys. Not THE good guys, but good guys. (Well, many or most of us are, anyway.) We can't let ourselves slip into comparative excuse-making, because that's not what good guys do.

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