Dear Reader (and that terribly disappointed fellow who only subscribes to the G-File for the pictures),
I know, I know: I’ve been tardy. First there was that fundraising letter that the suits made me try to pass off as shinola a G-File. Then there was the cruise, then there was the Thanksgiving holiday. Oh, no wait: First there was a giant concentration of matter and energy that gave birth to the universe as we know it. Or, first there was God and he had this giant ball of stuff and he asked himself, “What’s the matter?” and he decided it wasn’t anything interesting so he made it into the universe. Regardless, quite a few chapters later, I was tardy with the G-File.
Rather than regale you with tales of how no one uses the word “regale” anymore (by the way, can one merely “gale” someone with a tale?), or regale you with tales of the high seas, let’s just jump right into it.
Like the aftertaste from a Tiger Mart chimichanga, my “assassination” column on Julian Assange simply won’t go away. Contrary to my friend Shannen Coffin’s suggestion that I was winkingly calling for rubbing out Assange, I really wasn’t. My point was that the world is so much less dramatic than a lot of folks on the left and the right make it out to be. As I wrote in an early clarification, “Both the left and the right have an overly dramatic understanding of what our intelligence agencies do and can do. On the right we have Jack Bauer and Blackford Oakes; on the left we have Jason Bourne and Oliver Stone’s JFK.”
I think where I got into trouble was in not showing sufficient reverence for the sanctity of Assange’s life. I’m not sure this was a shortcoming of the column, since that’s actually how I feel. I wouldn’t weep over Assange’s demise. But that’s not the same thing as calling for his assassination. We have laws against that, and those laws should be respected.
What’s interesting to me is how offended so many on the left are by the suggestion that Assange is simply a bad guy (and it’s not just on the left; some libertarians seem quite smitten as well). After all, if I talked so glibly about offing Jeffrey Dahmer or, heck, Dick Cheney, at least some of these folks would be less outraged. Needless to say, Assange is no folk hero to me.
One argument I’ve gotten from a few pro-Assange e-mailers strikes me as particularly revealing. It goes along these lines: “Assange is not an American. All of you conservatives talking about ‘treason’ don’t know what you’re talking about. He has no obligation to defend America’s secrets.”
Think about this. Put aside whatever obligation a citizen from an ally country might have. Implicit in the assertion is that, if Assange were an American, he would be doing something traitorous. But hey, he’s an Aussie, so who are we to say he can’t throw another state secret on the barbie?
There’s a strain of multicultural American self-loathing at work here. Sure, American citizens may be constrained by legal technicalities into defending American national security, but who are we to judge foreigners who want to tear our country down?
Speaking of Asinine Non-Judgmentalism
Something similar can be found in what Lee Smith calls ”anti-anti-Islamism.” For the record, that was a painful sentence for me to write, not only because my 16th-century writing corset is starting to chafe but also because I’ve been using that phrase for a while now but that rat bastard Smith beat me into getting it into print. But since he did, I’ll let him describe it:
[BLOCK]Stewart may be just a comedian, as he himself habitually justifies his excesses, but that gives even more reason for concern. It means the rehabilitation of a terrorist sympathizer has now hit the mainstream. What we’re seeing is something akin to the Cold War-era phenomenon of anti-anti-Communism. The anti-anti-Communist left, comprising large sections of the press, academy, and even federal bureaucracies, was simply incapable of understanding that the defense of American civil liberties did not depend on the uncritical defense of the rights of Communists. Call this latest manifestation of liberal illogic anti-anti-Islamism.
While there are a few on the American left, especially in the academy, who maintain that Islamism delivers a valuable critique of Western imperialism, or is a social movement defending the oppressed, this is a minority position. Anti-anti-Islamism is something else: a belief that American opponents of Islamism have cooked up a Muslim scare for their own political benefit, just as anti-Communists once concocted a Red scare. [BLOCK]
I’d add that I don’t think that’s the only historical parallel to the Cold War. There’s also what might be called a Bircher strain of anti-Islamism out there on the right, which doesn’t quite say that the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim but does hold the view that there’s no such thing as a good Muslim. I think that camp is smaller than the Left claims, but bigger (at least in my experience) than we on the right should tolerate.
While We’re on the Topic of the Cold War
It’s not just the Left that has cockamamie theories about the Tea Parties. I am truly shocked that the Daily Caller has published this.
Put aside the fact that the author makes no effort to rebut the Birchers’ ongoing position that Dwight Eisenhower was a Communist. The author tries to make the case that the Tea Party movement is something of a reincarnation of the John Birch Society itself. Come on. I mean, sure, both entities are anti-Communist and populist, and, well . . . the meaningful similarities start falling apart there.
Speaking of Anti-Americanism
The other night, I was on the Special Report panel and we were discussing Bush’s efforts to combat AIDS. Brett Baier asked Charles Krauthammer if America’s standing in the world was improved by Bush’s efforts. Krauthammer’s answer was, essentially, No.
And I think he’s right. America arguably does more good for the world than any other global actor. But it is alone among major global do-gooders in the degree to which it gets zero lasting credit for it. Sure, for a couple weeks after we save countless foreign hurricane or earthquake victims, we get some good press. Sometimes when we liberate a country, we’ll get a round of short-lived applause. But more often than not, we’ll get boos.
When was the last time anyone wrote Uncle Sam a thank-you note for keeping the sea lanes open? Most of what we get from the world is backseat whining from people who think they’re entitled to whatever the U.S. gives them and what the U.S. gives them isn’t nearly enough. Why?
America, the God that Fails
I think one of main drivers of anti-Americanism is the conviction that America is a stand-in for God. By that I mean people think we can do anything we want, so when we fail to fulfill their every wish, it must be because we choose not to(something psychologically similar seems to happen to some people who hate God or the idea of God because of their own personal problems). In Iraq, villagers didn’t understand why they couldn’t have TiVo and Kegerators the Monday after Saddam’s statue fell. The European Left believes we have the wealth and technology (stolen or created via capitalist exploitation, of course) to cure diseases and make Garrison Keillor funny. So, when diseases endure, or when motionless audiences wait like cacti anticipating a fleeting spring shower for something funny to exit Keillor’s mouth, they think it must be because America has willfully denied them an entitlement.
In America, we give our self-loathers a megaphone to denounce us more clearly with. Iran’s dissidents get a bullet to the back of the head; America’s get a slot on Charlie Rose. For the most part, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Free speech, political dissent: It’s not always high-minded or fair or constructive, but it’s always a lot better than the alternative.
What rankles is the bravery on the cheap. When Naomi Wolf gushed over her own heroism for speaking out against the BusHitler regime, she preened as if she were really risking her personal safety. Say whatever the hell you want about America, but keep in mind that the reason you can say it is that you’re in America.
Now, Assange is different. First of all, he ain’t American. Second, he’s not merely a global dissident, he’s a criminal with an ideological axe to grind against America.
But he still represents the same dynamic. He’s going after America because he can. If he tried a WikiLeaks dump on China or Russia, he’d wake up to discover he was the inspiration for the SNL song “D*ck in a Box” except the box would be across the room in some Russian dude’s meaty paws. It’s more bravery on the cheap.
Beyond cowardice why is he targeting America? Because he’s offended by our “hypocrisy,” which is another way of saying that he takes America’s goodness for granted. He expects us to be better than the rest of the world, and when we act like a normal country – as we sometimes must – he sees it as a betrayal. Our “hypocrisy” is the tribute his vice pays to our virtue.
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