Monday, February 21, 2005

Strawmen II

Here’s the other problem I have with Martin Peretz’s essay in the Nation Review Online

besides the fact that it’s written in bad faith and is devoid of content – that, after all, is what passes for national discourse these days. Read anything by Miss Ann Coulter, listen to Bill O’Reilly or Rush or read Michael Savage (if you can bear too), listen to Bush’s speeches, read Dennis Prager, what are you going you going to get but bad faith and lack of any content (or at least lack of any support for that content – as Peretz here claims to be making points but doesn’t support those points; as Larry Summers in his infamous speech claimed to be making points but provided no support for his points).

The other problem I have with Peretz’s essay is that he pretends that if he asked a leftist, “Which was worse, the Nazis or the communists,” that the leftist would say, “Hmm, good question, let me think that over,” and not, “What? What kind of stupid question is that?”

Because what, exactly, does Mr. Peretz mean by “the” communists?”

I mean, I know what the folks over on LGF mean by “the” communists. They mean the scary boogeymen their folks and teachers and preachers threatened them with when they were kids, the ones they’re still preaching against at their revivals even now. In the LGF worldview communist =evil and that’s all she wrote, and don’t forget communist=atheist and communist=Satan and all those other equations including communist=not-Us and that’s all you need to know, isn’t it?

But Peretz is supposed to know more than that. Surely Peretz does know more than that. Surely Peretz has read Marx and so has this mythic Leftist he’s supposing he posed this question to, and this mythic Leftist would surely say, not, “Hmm, good question, let’s think about it. Should we weigh the bodies killed by the Nazis and the bodies* killed by the Commies or should we do a head count and decide that way?”

No, the Leftist would say, “Hmm. What do you mean by “communist”? Are you talking about Marx’s idea? Or some reality somewhere? If so, what communists where? Do you mean the early Christian communists in the New Testament, for example? Or the ones on Oneida farm? Or are you just talking about what happened in Soviet Russia and elsewhere?”

It’s a dishonest essay. That’s what I dislike about it. Dishonest from start to finish. And I’m trying to understand why. Obviously he’s pandering to the Wingers. Obviously, from the LGF reaction, they’re lapping it up. But I can’t see what he’s hoping to gain, unless it’s a more blind and limited country. And hey – Peretz? – they were doing just fine going there on their own.

*This deciding relative virtue by body count has raised an interesting question in my mind, however, especially when connected with the LGF contention that intentions do not count when considering actions. Here’s the question: when numbers of Iraqi citizens killed by U.S. forced surpasses that killed by Saddam Hussein, does the U.S. then become more evil than Saddam Hussein? Just asking. Cause I’m pretty sure we’re reaching that number soon.

No comments: