Ever notice how when pro-warriors want to slam the other side they have to accuse peaceniks of views they don’t actually hold? Even in the face of contrary evidence, they assert that anti-war folks are “against the troops” or “hate the U.S.” I suppose I might do this, too, if the alternative were to accuse my opponent of preferring U.N.-sanctioned coercive inspections to war. Doesn’t quite have the same zing as “surrender monkey,” does it? It’s a common, and dishonest, rhetorical trick: When your opponent makes a point you can’t answer, accuse him of views he doesn’t hold.
Dismaying as it may be, and it is truly dismaying, the anti-war side doesn’t have to make up a thing when pointing out the extremism of the pro-war camp. When we accuse the other side of maintaining a position based on intolerance, hatred and violence, they are only too happy to help us out with supporting evidence.
Contrast our resident celebrity extremist hero, Michael Moore, with theirs, Ann Coulter. Michael Moore said at the Academy Awards, essentially, that he felt George W. Bush was not legitimately elected, that the war was launched with lies told by the federal government, and that the President should be ashamed to be waging this war. These are the thoughts that have pro-war conservatives seeing red. These are the views of a leftist gone out of control.
On the other hand, when the right’s own mouthpieces get out of control, they tend to say things like this about the Muslim world:
ANN COULTER: “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”
And this about the media:
ANN COULTER:”My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building.”
I know this is old news. I was reminded of it when I read this guide on “How To Deal With Peace Activists” on a pro-war site. Excerpt:
With the start of war, many of us will encounter ”Peace Activists” who will try to convince us that we must refrain from retaliating against the ones who terrorized us all on September 11, 2001.
These activists may be alone or in a gathering, and most of us don’t know how to react to them. When you come upon one of these people, or one of their rallies, here are the proper rules of etiquette:
1. Listen politely while this person explains his/her views. Strike up a conversation if necessary and look very interested in his ideas. He will tell you how revenge is immoral, and that by attacking the people who did this to us, we will only bring on more violence. He will probably use many arguments, ranging from political to religious to humanitarian.
2. In the middle of his remarks, without any warning, punch him in the nose.
I suppose the current fascination with violence on the part of the right wing is only understandable. It is the logic of retaliation. That’s the point the author of the how-to guide above is clearly trying to make–if you get hit, you have to hit back. The scariest thing about the how-to guide isn’t the encouragement of violence, it’s the casual acceptance that retaliation is the motive for the Iraq war. It is so accepted by the author of the above that he assumes even the peace activists accept it: “…many of us will encounter ‘Peace Activists’ who will try to convince us that we must refrain from retaliating against the ones who terrorized us all on September 11, 2001.”
It’s a wonderfully simple, and open-ended, view: Because the invasion of Iraq is in direct retaliation for 9-11, we are justified in supporting, even celebrating, violence in proportion to that crime.
And that’s a lot of violence. The next possible step in this progression is a tolerance for mass death. Once you have internalized the thought, “Any U.S. action in the Muslim world is a response to 9-11,” there really is no limit to the atrocities you will cheer. As Ann Coulter writes, “We weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That’s war. And this is war.”
Does anyone doubt that the use of nuclear weapons would be enthusiastically applauded at a pro-war rally? After all…9-11. The only people who would die as a result of a nuclear attack would be the ones responsible for 9-11. Only a traitor would grieve their deaths.
We have a President who boasts about ordering extra-judicial killings. We have a “war on terrorism” in which torture is considered a fair tactic. (Do you wonder how our POWs in Iraq feel about this new policy?) We have a nation largely convinced that the Iraq war is somehow payback for 9-11. And we have right-wingers who consider war opposition to be the one expression of free speech that should be responded to with violence. Where does this go?
My hope is that the current setbacks in Iraq are temporary, and we soon see mass surrenders by Iraqi troops, the toppling of Saddam’s regime and the beginnings of a new, free nation. In fact, I did think that was one thing the neoconservatives were right about–that Iraq would fall easily.
But, to game out a less neoconservative scenario, imagine that the war continues to go poorly in Iraq. Imagine if suicide attacks continue. Imagine that the Iraqi people refuse to play their assigned role of grateful victims and instead play the role of nationalist soldiers, defending their country from invasion as vigorously as we would defend ours. Imagine that U.S. casualties mount.
Is it crazy to imagine that the U.S. would then support a policy of genocide? Is that really such a stretch from the present logic? The Iraq war is retaliation for 9-11. You’re either with us or with the terrorists. If the entire Muslim world turns murderously against us as a result of this war…do you really think President Bush’s reaction will be moderate?
That it will be this unnecessary Iraq invasion and the President’s very new doctrine of preventive war that will have turned them against us so vehemently will be irrelevant once they have turned. Reality will be reality. And I can see President Bush shaking his head sadly, truly pained that it has come to this, as he puts in motion the plan to commit nuclear genocide on the Muslim world.
Given the right circumstances, which are not impossible to imagine right now, the logic of retaliation would support that action.