17 March 2013

War fever

Via a chilling post by Corey Robin at Jacobin, I find Dan Savage (yes, that Dan Savage) telling us to Say “YES” to War on Iraq”.

War may be bad for children and other living things, but there are times when peace is worse for children and other living things, and this is one of those times.
But wait! Taking out Saddam means dropping bombs, and dropping bombs only creates more terrorists!

That's the lefty argument du jour, and a lot of squish-brains are falling for it, but it's not an argument that the historical record supports.

Trivia fact: The historical record now shows that Dan Savage was wrong, and those “squish-brains” were right.

It would be nice if in our political culture, we had more people who react to old quotes like this as Ta-Neisi Coates does, recognizing how poisonous and pervasive it was.

Not to restate my post from yesterday, but what stands out for me 10 years later is how people whose entire branding was “seriousness” and “tough-minded” pragmatism were just flagrantly, catastrophically, perhaps unconscionably wrong .... It's not just being wrong about the war (which is bad.) It's the being wrong while blustering.

Digby describes how this felt for those of us who were against the war.

A whole bunch of America sat there watching these sycophantic performances with our jaws agape, wondering if we had lost our minds. Bush was barely articulate, as usual, mouthing the worst kind of puerile platitudes (when he was coherent at all) while the press corps slavered over him as if he were Cicero. Bush, the clearly in-over-his-head man-child was molded into a hero and cheered by the media as he led this country into the dark, morass of an illegal war in the middle east. It was the most disorienting thing I've ever experienced in my life.

In the earlier post which Coates links in his quote above, he offers a mea culpa for having been a war supporter himself.

I am not a radical. But more than anything the Iraq War taught me the folly of mocking radicalism. It seemed, back then, that every “sensible” and “serious” person you knew — left or right — was for the war. And they were all wrong. Never forget that they were all wrong. And never forget that the radicals with their drum circles and their wild hair were right.

And yet it seems that not only do we not learn the lesson, we don't even learn the lesson about the judgment of the people who supported or opposed the war in Iraq. A common lament in the lefty blogosphere is that in order to be regarded as a Serious Person whose judgment should be respected in American political media (and in many kitchen-table conversations) one has to have been for the war on Iraq — this is to say, wrong — rather than against it. The Balloon Juice Lexicon explains that this pattern is so pervasive that Serious Person has emerged a useful term of art among lefty bloggers for analyzing a lot of commentary, not just about the war.

Serious Person— Also frequently appearing as “Very serious person,” this is applied to a person held in great esteem by The Village, who is repeatedly entirely wrong about everything, usually with tragicomic results. Conversely, those who have pretty much been right about everything the last twenty years are referred to as “not serious.” Serious persons believe the only solution to any foreign policy issue is bombing brown people (preferably Muslim, when at all possible), and the only solution to domestic affairs is cutting entitlements and demanding that the poor and working poor “sacrifice.” Noted examples of serious persons include Tom Friedman, Ken Pollock, the Kagans, Dick Cheney, and Frank Gaffney. Usually has an open lifetime invitation to appear on Hardball or to pen nonsense for the Washington Post editorial page.

1 comment:

Erik said...

While it doesn't change the fact that he was utterly wrong, it's worth noting that Savage apologized for this: