In which I offend my two remaining Conservative readers…

I’m reading this morning from Jim Bovard’s blog, following a conversation with a friend who’s a big Bovard fan. He wrote an essay that got published in The Christian Science Monitor a couple of weeks ago, to a lot of attention. Because the essay was about the Tea Party movement but wasn’t completely celebratory, conservatives came out in droves to attack it, and him.

Bovard seemed to get a kick out of all the hate, and published some of the, er, best comments on his blog. This particular one jumped out at me, because it contains almost everything I love to deplore in the neocon mind:

Warring, wiretapping and waterboarding are tools of war. The government’s biggest and most important job is to protect American Citizens. That means protect our people from enemies who want to take our way of life, our safety and and our precious freedoms. If the terrorists can’t take waterboarding then they better not get caught, huh? The main purpose of war is to win. Waterboarding is a walk in the park compared to what they would do to one our own people. It is effective and it really does not permantly damage the prisoner, injure him, or cause a lot of pain. We have to get information out of them some way. These terrorists want to kill us all! Thanks to other irresponsible journalists, all the terrorists now know how we extract information. If you are not engaging with terrorists you have nothing to fear so don’t worry about being wiretapped. The government will only wiretap you if are suspected of engaging with terrorists.. A perosn who does is an terrorist themself. As for the warring, just remember that we didn’t start this war and the US has the right to protect her people and territory.

Yeah, baby. If only the writer had thrown in “Without the sacrifices of the American serviceman, you wouldn’t have any freedom at all,” the stereotype would be complete. It cries out for a good fisking, and I’m just in the mood. So let’s begin.

Warring, wiretapping and waterboarding are tools of war. The government’s biggest and most important job is to protect American Citizens.

Wiretapping is, alas, a tool of war. Waterboarding is torture, and until fairly recently in American rhetoric torture was something only the bad guys did. Torture was (rightly) considered a tactic of a failed police state, a banana republic, and beneath the principles of an enlightened state. Now suddenly it’s the first option of heroes. I don’t understand this reasoning. As to protecting American citizens, I question whether what the government is doing overseas is really having that effect. Making deadly enemies for no good reason, where there were no enemies before – or at least no effective ones – doesn’t seem a terribly productive tactic toward that end.

That means protect our people from enemies who want to take our way of life, our safety and and our precious freedoms.

Who are these omnipotent enemies? A bunch of goatherds who’d barely heard of America before she started dropping bombs on them? Let’s assume we’re talking about radical Muslims. I’ve been in Islam, and it’s not a place I’d care to live. Devout Muslims practice things I could never sign up for. But I don’t recall that any of them ever tried to threaten my way of life, my safety, or my precious freedom. I definitely can’t say the same for the fine men and women of the Bush or the Obama administrations.

If the terrorists can’t take waterboarding then they better not get caught, huh? The main purpose of war is to win. Waterboarding is a walk in the park compared to what they would do to one our own people. It is effective and it really does not permantly damage the prisoner, injure him, or cause a lot of pain. We have to get information out of them some way.

The mild – indeed the benevolent – effects of waterboarding have been extolled by all the great American thinkers of our century, from Limbaugh to Savage. None, I suspect, have ever experienced it, as I’m sure this writer has not. It, like any torture technique, is emphatically not “effective,” because the victim will say anything, whatever he thinks the torturer wants to hear, to make it stop. That’s never a nonstop path to the truth. As for “We have to get information out of them some way,” why is that exactly? So Jack Bauer can stop the ticking bomb before his 24 hours are up? Because that’s a television show, my friend, not reality. You should try reality sometime, just to see how it compares with your fantasy world.

These terrorists want to kill us all!

And why is that, exactly? Let’s stipulate that there are indeed terrorists out there, who indeed would like to kill us all. Where’d they come from? Were they just born hating Americans? Did they suddenly, out of the blue, decide to drop what they were doing and become death-loving terrorists for no better reason than because Muslims are all a bunch of psychopaths anyway? Or did Americans do something to them worth hating? Because I’m looking at this government’s record in Iraq, and Iran, and Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and…hell, all over the middle east. And I’ve got to tell you that if I lived there, I wouldn’t be a big fan of the good old U. S. of A. Sorry.

Thanks to other irresponsible journalists, all the terrorists now know how we extract information.

Um…Yeah, that was never really a big secret. The only real utility torture has is its ability to scare the bejesus Mohammad out of others who might be tortured in future, which means you have to release some survivors to tell their tale. Secret torture doesn’t have much use, except to help the torturer get his jollies. Information gathering really isn’t the purpose of torture.

If you are not engaging with terrorists you have nothing to fear so don’t worry about being wiretapped. The government will only wiretap you if are suspected of engaging with terrorists.

Oh, this is my favorite. In the name of safety, we should all be prepared to dispense with our “precious freedoms” any time, at any moment, whenever our wise and benevolent rulers tell us it’s necessary. All that “bill of rights” crap is just liberal posturing anyway – don’t you know we’re at war? And the government would never, ever abuse that power, no! That’s why it’s the government, and we’re not! Because it’s just so damned trustworthy. So set aside any qualms you might have about ‘being secure in your person, house, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,’ because if you’re not prepared to sacrifice a little “convenience” for a lot of security, how do you expect the government to protect your precious freedoms?

A perosn who does is an terrorist themself.

And we know this because Joe Lieberman told us so. All good conservatives just love that guy.

As for the warring, just remember that we didn’t start this war and the US has the right to protect her people and territory.

Yeah, actually – depending on which war we’re talking about – no, it really doesn’t matter which war. Whichever you mean, America did, in fact, start it. Oh wait, you mean the war on terror, don’t you? Yeah, there’s no such thing. You can’t fight a war against a tactic. You can only make war on people. And when those people are helpless enough, and enraged enough, a significant minority of them will resort to terrorism because that’s what they’ve got. Your precious government isn’t fighting terrorists. It’s creating them.

Now of course I can’t honestly discuss the war on terror without bringing up the one big event that brought on the war, 9/11. Never mind that 9/11 – assuming it happened just the way the government says, which I’ve never uncritically bought – was a culminating event that didn’t come out of the blue. The Khobar Towers bombing and the bombing of the USS Cole were both carried out by parties who made no secret of their intent. “You’re over here, and we don’t want you here. Go away.” When killing American servicemen didn’t get the job done, those people did what terrorists do: They took their campaign to the civilians. What the 9/11 hijackers – who were mostly Saudis, by the way, not Afghanis or Iraqis – did was horrifying. It was unacceptable, and the survivors responsible for it deserved to die painfully. But if you think the ensuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have anything directly to do with 9/11, except as an excuse, I submit that you haven’t been paying attention.

The topic – Bovard’s essay – was originally supposed to be about the Tea Party movement. I used to think I knew what the Tea Party was all about, but I was apparently wrong. More and more, Tea Party activists come across to me as just another bunch of conservatives, who’ll buy anything – any outrage from that “big government” they claim to hate so much – as long as it’s making them feel all exceptional by “projecting force” on people far away, or saving them from the ‘terrorists who want to kill us all.’ It makes me sad, because for a brief, shining moment the Tea Party was actually kind of interesting. But that’s the way it goes.

Sometimes I think most Americans actually enjoy being dupes.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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3 Responses to In which I offend my two remaining Conservative readers…

  1. Anonymous says:

    I used to think that americans didn’t torture, at least as state policy, americans stopped torturers, that americans didn’t build gulags and concentration camps,they stopped them. Was I ever a fool.

    I was in Afghanistan and I can tell all you insane warmongers that the war was lost and wrong from the beginning and that it is a war of aggression. The people responsible should be tried and hung. Lesser minions should be imprisoned. I don’t guess it would do any good to point out Nuremberg was exactly about this.

  2. Jim Bovard says:

    Me? “Get a kick out of all the hate”????

    I was merely seeking to hide how deeply chagrined I was.

    Thanks for the comments regarding that blog entry.

    When I went to demonsrations in the mid-1990s on Waco, I met conservatives who had far sounder insincts on the nature of government. Times change…

  3. Nicely put, Joel. (And, for that matter: nicely put, Jim.) Please keep up the flashlight work on the cock-a-roaches. It matters.

    There was actually a great line in the divorce black comedy The War of the Roses that comes to mind regarding the “enjoy being dupes” concept. After the couple decides to split, and various petty and increasingly insane schemes begin to escalate and spiral out of control, the husband comes to his lawyer with a hilariously Rube Goldberg “compromise” plan to physically split up the house. When the lawyer voices his incredulity:

    “This…seems rational to you both?”

    he tries to explain:

    “You don’t understand…See, we’ve got more square footage.

    Somehow, that analogy just seems stupidly appropriate here, doesn’t it?

To the stake with the heretic!