VIVA CUBA LIBRE! (THE DRINK, THAT IS)
C-SPAN covered Saturday’s “No to NATO” anti-war rally sponsored by the International Action Center. Things pretty much got started with the chant “Yu-go-slav-ia!” in solidarity with that heroic state. Everyone seemed committed to the notion that the United States was an oppressive imperial and colonial power. Unanimity was also achieved around the idea that the peace-loving Serbs were entitled to do whatever they wanted to their citizens because of sovereignty (why is it that the Left loves sovereignty for the dinky little countries but thinks the big ones need to bend their knees to the U.N., The Hague, the editorial board of The Nation, etc.?).
Several speakers seemed to think the rally was actually about supporting Cuba — that shining pueblo on a hill of bones for the rest of the world. Various speakers called for the U.S. to end its enslavement of such imperial subjects as Puerto Rico and Korea. Because, you see, if we got out of Puerto Rico it could be another workers’ paradise like Cuba! And if we got out of South Korea, maybe the South Koreans could be eating grass, boots, and slow-moving enemies of the state just like their neighbors to the north.
“Moral equivalence” was the phrase conservatives used during the Cold War to illustrate the bad faith of the Left. If the Soviet Union was evil, so too must be the United States. For every criticism of the Soviets they had to say “America does it too!” But their people don’t actually believe that. They viscerally dislike this country to the point where “equivalence” would be a step up for America in their eyes. These people will, at the drop of a hat, denounce America’s AIDS policies, but they will make excuses for Cuba which puts its AIDS patients in camps.
When it looked like these people wouldn’t get a permit to protest at the Pentagon, they had seizures of constitutional outrage. But protestors in Cuba, North Korea, and probably Yugoslavia don’t ask for permits, they ask for a few minutes to say goodbye to their families before they are shot or sent to jail.
HOW IDIOTS SPIN TIANANMEN SQUARE
Speaking of moral equivalence, last week I suggested that the Tiananmen Square massacre was the worst “anti-democratic massacre in a long time.” A few liberal and anti-war readers e-mailed me saying, “Yeah! Since Kent State!” This is one of the last great examples of moral equivalence — and I heard it so much in college I might as well pick a fight. Indeed, The Weekly Standard actually has a prize called the Dianne Feinstein Award for Moral Equivalence because she made this very point. The Chinese love to draw on these comparisons, too.
But, saying Tiananmen is like Kent State is like saying something really stupid … oh, wait, that’s not a metaphor. Let me try again: Saying Tiananmen is like Kent State is like saying that suicide is like stubbing your toe. The motives, the circumstances, the intent, and the result are entirely different — but they are both self-inflicted. (Okay, that was a simile, not a metaphor.)
Did Richard Nixon issue orders saying, “Shoot to kill!”? Did he troop in (illiterate) soldiers from across the country and tell them the protestors were in fact dangerous foreign agents and counter-revolutionaries? Did Nixon hand out medals and promotions to the people responsible for the killings? Does the United States still justify the deaths as necessary? Did it ever?
For the last few years it seemed that moral equivalence had been forgotten. Bill Clinton declared in 1993 that he missed the Cold War because of the intellectual coherence it offered (see G-File 3/11/99). Liberal pundits talk about their support for containment the way Frenchman talk about their days in the resistance.
This may actually go down as the worst lie of the 1990s. First, let us not forget Clinton’s view that the military and racism were on the same moral plane. In George Stephanopoulos’s all too human book, All Too Human, he recounts how then Governor Bill Clinton would rather lose his bid for the presidency than suggest that Vietnam was right. George himself got his start in politics with the Nuclear Freeze movement and to this day he says “we were right” when asked about it. Sidney Blumenthal has written (in The New Yorker, no less) that the hunt for Communist spies in the 1950s was really just a hunt for gays by homophobic right-wingers. Jimmy Carter decried “inordinate fear” of the Soviet Union. Senators, who today solemnly pose as statesmen when they call for missile defense, ridiculed the idea as the nutty product of a faltering Ronald Reagan’s deluded mind just a few years ago. This weekend Eleanor Clift — an excellent barometer of know-nothing liberal opinion — asserted that Republicans were fomenting “hysteria” to “create a new Red Menace.” Has there been anyone on the Left to say publicly, “You know, we were wrong about Vietnam. Containment was necessary.”? If so, please let me know.
Whatever the future holds in our dealings with China and Yugoslavia, we have learned one valuable lesson. The faux Cold Warriors have been exposed.
KNUCKLEHEAD….ER, BUCKLENOX & ME
I don’t know what it is, but after several months of subsistence-level hate e-mail, the numbers are starting to spike back up again. I think Hillary’s proposed run and the recent contretemps with Michael Moore may have sparked it — judging by the tone and topics. I’ve gotten a lot of angry e-mail from Bush supporters, but none of it very personal.
I don’t really mind it anymore — my skin’s gotten pretty thick. But it can be quite tedious. The most frustrating is this device on AOL called “Instant Messenger” which lets people intrude on my desktop in “real time.” This has a tendency of really drawing me in, as you can see below. I will try to ignore them more.
So I am announcing today a new policy. If I judge that an e-mail is sufficiently over the line, I reserve the right to print it in the G-File (edited for length and style) with the correspondent’s e-mail address. I would attach the name, but most often people are too cowardly to put their names behind their barbs.
Still, we don’t want to have a chilling effect on full and frank exchanges. Everyone is still free to write me anything about anything. I do read all of my e-mail, even if I can’t respond to all of it. So, you have my promise that as long as it’s not personal, your identity is safe.
So what’s personal? It’s sort of a duck test. But if pejorative uses of “Jew” or associations of my mother with certain jobs in the sex industry are part of your critique, maybe you should think twice.
To give readers a sense of why I am sometimes a tad cranky, let me share my experience with “bucklenox.” He likes to intrude on my work day with little instant messages like “I see you’re not in jail yet.” I don’t take him seriously, but I thought a little glimpse of a day-in-the-life of the GFHQ might be interesting.
I saved our first two “conversations.” I have edited nothing, except for inserting the occasional dash in naughty words out of deference to readers who have complained about my profanity.
bucklenox: you are such a loser…..your mama is a tax cheating whore!
JonahEmail: You are a bore.
bucklenox: whatever you criminal
JonahEmail: Do you really think such silliness bothers me? I get things like this all the time from anonymous cowards and all I can think is you have no life.
JonahEmail: Off to lunch. Maybe someday you can actually have the guts to put your name behind this drek.
bucklenox: You are a criminal….this particular message should bother you
[LATER THAT DAY]
bucklenox: YOU HAD BETTER DUMMY UP..I AM ABOUT TO RUIN YOUR LIFE AS YOU KNOW IT!!!!!
bucklenox: COME CLEAN
JonahEmail: Okay I’ll bite. How am I a criminal?
bucklenox: WE ALL HAVE CHOICES IN THIS LIFE
JonahEmail: i’m waiting…
bucklenox: YOU KNOW WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT….DUMMY UP KIDO!!!!!
JonahEmail: no, i don’t. enlighten me.
bucklenox: ASK YOUR MOTHER!!!!
JonahEmail: Hey Jerky. You’re threatening to “ruin” my life. You intruded on me calling ME a criminal. You are the one who need to come clean or I will continue to think you’re just another full-of sh-t loser.
JonahEmail: As for my mom. If this is this tax thing from the Nation a couple months ago, so what? It was a mistake and she paid the difference.
bucklenox: YOU ARE IN A LOT OF TROUBLE….AND YOU KNOW IT……DON’T PLAY GAMES!!!
JonahEmail: Okay, the full of sh-t interpretation is starting to harden. You are just talking out your ass [sorry, but a– or -ss looks too weird]. I have no idea why anyone would call me a criminal. You are the (rude and anonymous) accuser. You said you knew about something and it turns out to be fantasy or a lie. C’mon bucklenox. If you were serious and not just a mean spirited anonymous jerk, you’d tell me what you have in mind.
JonahEmail: I am being remarkably polite considering you barged into my life calling my mother a whore.
bucklenox: IF YOU REALLY DON’T KNOW, THEN MAYBE YOU WILL BE OK….HOWEVER, EXPECT TO BE SHAKEN UP WITHIN THE NEXT 2 WEEKS…THIS IS ALL I CAN SAY….DO NOT LEAVE THE COUNTRY UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES
JonahEmail: Or else? What? The mossad will get me? C’mon man you called me a criminal. You called my mother criminal whore. You says you’ve got this power. Are just trying to frighten me because you have nothing better going on in your life?
bucklenox: PLEASE….I AM TRYING TO HELP
JonahEmail: no you’re not. You called my “mama” a “tax cheating whore” You called me a criminal. Now, you say you’re trying to help me. You’re clearly someone I shouldn’t waste my time on. Goodbye
JonahEmail: Oh, and thanks for the “help”