Monday, March 06, 2006

Two Things

First, a pledge to intellectual honesty:
I’ll make the following promises: If a future Democratic administration takes us into a war of volition, and we later learn that its case was bogus, I will denounce it for lying us into war and urge every liberal writer I know to do so. If a future Democratic administration betrays core liberal principles -- by, say, offering a large tax cut without at least working toward universal health care -- I will deplore it and encourage other liberals to do so. . . . And, if a future Democratic administration lets a major American city die out of malign neglect, I shall calumniate it to the heavens -- and insist that every other liberal writer I know to do the same.
(Via) I snipped the one part of the pledge I can't fully sign on for - I can't promise future unequivocal support for Israel (a blank check gives them license to do some pretty heinous stuff if they know that the effective guarantor of their safety isn't going anywhere. Moral Hazzard, anyone?), though I am prepared to give a pretty strong presumption in favor of Israel.

Second, what he said:
So please don’t write a big long post pointing out times in the past when you said torture is bad, because that doesn’t cut it. All it is going to do is make me feel very, very sleepy, and so I’m going to have to have another cup of coffee, and if I have another cup of coffee before I get some food in my stomach … well, it’s not going to be a pretty picture for anyone involved. What is really going to put me in my place is if someone - say, for example, you - actually decides that the Bush policy of extralegal, unaccountable torture is worth getting upset about, perhaps even more deserving of disapprobation than Ward Churchill getting tenure, Al Gore’s views on visa policy, Michael Moore’s waistline, or whatever else the leading lights of today’s denatured conservatism think everyone should be gnashing their teeth about this week. (Or last week.) Because right now, America tortures people. You live in a country where the President has declared an effectively permanent state of war, and can, and does, as a matter of policy, and on a global scale, engage in torture. Morally, practically, spiritually, profoundly: this is wrong. It is worth being upset about. It is worth overlooking the use of literary devices you don’t agree with. It is worth forgiving minor policy disagreements. It is even worth telling people you otherwise agree with that, when they defend, excuse, or minimize the situation, they are wrong - morally, practically, spiritually, profoundly, even - and they, through deed or inaction, disgrace America. Because they do. And if you did it, you’d probably be more polite than me. And they might even listen. And then, eventually, this might change. And then I’d be completely busted, and I’d have to start berating you about, I don’t know, marginal tax rates, and uh, workplace harrassment lawsuits, and all those other things I’m told I care so deeply about, instead of about the corruption of the soul of my country. Please let me live with that shame instead.
Not expecting much, just thought I'd put that out there.

3 comments:

Ahistoricality said...

I didn't read that section as "unequivocal support for Israel" but an admission that there's some inconsistency, even some hypocrisy, in the standards we use to judge the friendliness and moral standing of various nations. If I read his comments as "unequivocal support" I couldn't have signed on, either; I regularly get smacked by both pro-Israeli and anti-Israeli partisans for being a critical diaspora Jewish Zionist.... In the case of the Arab boycott of Israel, there are real issues of international law at stake, as well as serious questions about their reliability as allies.

Aspasia M. said...

1) I loved the line about literary devices & you can't really compete with a kitty in a sailor suit.

2) From a cartoon in a French newspaper: "Torture was necessary -- without it we would have lost Algeria."

3) Sometimes you have to laugh, or else you cry.

Pooh said...

3) Sometimes you have to laugh, or else you cry.

Too true. But I post these, like ahist, because they are who I am, not because I really expect anything in return.