With a friend in the White House, the anti-war movement takes off the mask

There was another anti-war rally in San Francisco, but the gloss of all Americanism with which the movement covered itself during the early years of the Iraq War is gone.  With that gloss ripped away, the truth comes out:

The glory days of the 21st-century anti-war movement were in 2003 and 2004, when tens of thousands of naive “average Americans” would show up at each anti-war event. Then, as I documented extensively over the years at zombietime, far-left and extremist groups quickly seized control of the movement and tried to lead the middle-of-the-road protesters leftward politically. But as the radicalism escalated with each successive protest, the sane people all stopped coming, the rallies started getting smaller and smaller, and from 2004 onward it’s been a continuous downward slide.

The bottom line is revealed:  these protesters, the ones who are Obama’s base, even as they are dismayed by his pragmatic decision to stick it out a little longer in Iraq and Afghanistan, hate America.

Please visit Zombie’s photo essay.  It will give you a good chance to see the ugliness that was always festering underneath the more middle class anti-war movement.

A writer who understands how the Left operates

I’m reading a very enjoyable novel right now that is completely on point about the way in which the Left operates, especially when it comes to the media and academia.

The writer is tuned into the name calling that substitutes for informed debate. For example, when the book’s protagonist, Paul, learns that Leftists started submitted articles to a magazine that contained misstatements of facts in an effort to shift political sentiment (a la Climategate, although this book predates that effort), the following dialog ensues between Paul and Bill Weider, the magazine’s editor:

“But – Bill, why don’t you publish the story you told me? Just as you’ve told it to me? Let your readers know. Let the public see what is happening.”

Weidler’s frown came back. “You know what will happen? There will be a campaign against us. We’ll be called fascists, war-mongers, American imperialists, witch-hunters.”

“You’ve forgotten to add ‘hysteria-inciters,’” Paul said, smiling. “Strange how often they’ve been using hysteria recently – almost hysterically, in fact.”

On the subject of claims about hysteria, my sister, much impressed, sent me this Glenn Greenwald article deriding American hysteria about the Flaming Panties bomber.  I wrote her back that Americans would be less inclined to be hysterical if the administration would identify and focus upon an enemy – that would be radical Islam, by the way. As long as the Administration (and this goes for the past Administration too) refuses to identify the enemy, all Americans are suspect, and all must be exposed to searches, stupid restrictions, and other limitations on civil liberties.

In a charming aside, the book tackles the root cause question. When the book’s heroine, Rona, and her sister, Peggy, talk about an unpleasant acquaintance, they have this to say:

“She isn’t a friend of yours, is she?” Peggy was now very much the elder sister.

“Not particularly,” Rona said, which was a miracle of understatement. “Scott says she’s a product of her environment,” she added.

“Strange how we never use that phrase when we are describing pleasant people,” Peggy said….

Do I need to remind you that one of the first things Obama did after the Flaming Panties bombing was to emphasize the poverty in Yemen? Yes, it’s true that poor, corrupt countries are great hosts for radical Islamists, but there is no doubt that the bombers, whether they’re the fabulously wealthy founder of Al Qaeda, young dilettantes flying airplanes into the World Trade Center, ordinary Yorkshire youths blowing up British subways, educated psychiatrists shooting soldiers at Fort Hood, or fabulously wealthy Nigerians setting their underwear on fire are products of only one environment, one that the Left never dares to acknowledge: Islam.

Using a conversation between Paul and his friend, Jon, a professor, the writer has a long riff on the way in which the Left deliberately targets universities and newspapers – indeed, all media of mass communication – as a way in which to manipulate the public:

“You’re in education, Jon. Do you think propaganda is a powerful force? Could it be dangerous? Supposing an enemy of this country had its sympathizers carefully planted here? Supposing these propagandists were trying to infiltrate such businesses and professions as radio, the press, films, schools and colleges, the theater, publishing?”

“That’s a damned silly question,” Jon said almost angrily. “You ask how dangerous it might be?” He looked at Paul, unbelievingly, but Paul kept silent. “This is the twentieth century, with communication easier and more powerful than it’s ever been. The trouble with those who see no danger, who think we are perfectly safe if only we invent more hideous bombs is that they are still living with a nineteenth century idea of peace. Wars haven’t changed much except in bigger and better holocausts. But peace, as we are going to see it in this century, is something quite altered. A lot of new dangers are going to stay with us permanently just because we’ve invented a lot of peacetime conveniences that make life so interesting. It isn’t only armies we have to fear today: it’s words, words abused and corrupted and twisted.”

Still Paul said nothing.

“You see,” Jon went on patiently, “a hundred years ago, fewer people could read, fewer people were educated, and fewer people thought they could argue about international conditions. Also, in those days, propaganda spread more slowly and less widely. But now we’ve got a vast public who read their papers, discuss books and articles, go to the movies and the theater, listen to their radio, watch television, and send their children to schools and colleges.”

“And a public,” Paul interposed, “who have enough to do with arranging their own lives without analyzing all the things they read or hear. They’ve got to trust the honesty of those men who deal with the written or spoken word. Just as the journalist, or the movie director, or the teacher, has got to trust the honesty of the businessmen and workers whenever he buys a refrigerator or a car or a shirt. Isn’t that right?”

The above was written before the 2008 election – before the media completely abandoned its role of reporting and became an institution devoted to advocating a single party in an election. And, as Paul predicted, the public bought it hook, line and sinker, trusting as they did in the honesty of the written and spoken word pouring out over the airwaves. Nowadays, big lies get promulgated with warp speed, in myriad media outlets, and they live forever, corrupting political discourse.

The author recognizes the way in which the Left is hostile to any wars that might conceivably advance American interests. In speaking of a college campus, she says:

“The colleges and universities were full of pickets with placards saying it was all an imperialist war. The students and faculties were deluged with leaflets denouncing war-mongers and reactionaries. Speakers were appearing on the campus, haranguing us all not to fight.”

There’s a universality to that description, since it aptly describes the Left’s anti-War tactics in 1940, 1968, 1991, 2003, and today. To the Left, the possibility of a good war, a war to maintain the line against totalitarianism and preserve freedom, is always impossible to imagine – and the easiest targets for that failure of imagination are colleges students, since it is they who must be convinced that they are fighting for something worth defending.

Speaking of fighting for something worth defending, the writer has no truck with the Leftist habit of moral relativism. Here are Rona and her boyfriend Scott having a debate about a guest at a party who Rona believes has a tiresome habit of painting everything in Left of center politics:

“His line is so old! Two years ago, or three, he could manage to get away with it. But not now.”

“What do you mean?” Scott looked across the room.

“Just that he wasn’t the least little bit the original talker he likes to imagine he is. He only succeeded in annoying most of our guests.”

“Because he thinks differently from them? Se we must all talk the same way, think the same things?”

“No, darling!” She rose and came over to him. “I don’t believe two of us in the room echoed any point of view, except in a general way – well, of believing that right is right and wrong is wrong.”

“That’s all relative,” Scott said. “Depends on each man’s frame of reference.”

“I don’t believe that,” she said, “except for the small things in life. You can find them as relative as you like. But in the big things, you’ve got to decide what is right, what is wrong. Or else you’ve no moral judgment, at all. Like Murray. He’s just a parrot, that’s all he is.”

Moral relativism, of course, is a chronic talking point for the Left, and a chronic problem for those educated and controlled by the Left. In the War against Islamists, for example, moral relativism is tightly entwined with the whole “root cause” that both the author and I mentioned above. After all, as Michael Moore said, one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. The Left never seems to understand that, while the act of fighting may be the same, the reason one fights determines whether one is morally right or wrong. Fighting for individual liberty is a good reason to fight; fighting to subjugate the world to a misogynist, homophobic, antisemitic, anti-Christian, completely totalitarian religion – well, not so good.

In the last section of the book from which I’ll quote, the writer also tackles the Left’s habit of targeting individuals by appealing to their sense of victim hood. Multiculturalism isn’t a means of preserving what’s special about a group’s ethnicity. Instead, it’s a political tool aimed at dividing Americans from each other, and making them dependent on the Left as their only savior.

While today’s victims are mostly blacks, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, women (when it’s still useful), Muslims, etc., in the book, the man targeted to be a victim who can be saved only by the Left is a Jew:

“I’ve a battle on my hands right now. They want us to keep different, and I’m telling them the hell with that, we’re Americans. That’s what we are. Stop building a wall around us, stop emphasizing differences, that’s what I keep trying to tell them. And they look at me as if I were some kind of traitor.” He looked at Jon Tyson. “But I’m building no wall, and no one is going to persuade me to do it.”

Obviously, I’ve been playing coy with you, keeping secret the book’s author, title and date of publication. Those of you who know my weakness for Helen MacInnes’ Cold War novels might already have figured out that I’m quoting from one of her books. The book in question is Neither Five Nor Three, published in 1951. It focuses on the Left’s infiltration of the media world and college campuses.

This was the beginning of the Cold War, of course, so Helen MacInnes couldn’t look ahead and realize how that infiltration would be completely successful. While we were challenging the Soviet Union abroad, it was taking over our institutions at home. And now, as Leftist Professor Ward Churchill would say, “The chickens have come home to roost.” All of the nascent tactics MacInnes described then – the moral relativism, the victim-based multiculturalism, the name-calling, the anti-Americanism – have become permanently entrenched in America’s media and education cultures. In those days, people saw these things and remarked upon them. In these days, people believe in the message and approve of the messengers.

When violence is the answer

I love my dojo.  The teachers are, without exception, top quality and, also without exception, they are just about the nicest people you’ll ever meet.  Oh, one other thing:  without exception, they’re pro-Obama and anti-War.

What this means is that you have people who dedicate their lives to teaching fighting, and who believe passionately in personal self-defense, but who are ideologically completely opposed to the notion of national self-defense.  They believe that, at the personal level, if one can’t defuse a hostile opponent quickly, one should subdue that opponent with swift and overwhelming (although not necessarily deadly) force.  However, they believe that, at the national level, there is never any justification for a nation to go to war.  War is evil.  Bush was an evil war-monger.  Obama is good because he is the bringer of peace.

(And no, I haven’t talked to them about Obama’s decision to conduct a temporary, mini-Surge in Iran Afghanistan.  [Editor’s note:  Was that a Freudian slip, or what?]  Indeed, I never talk politics with them at all.  I just listen to their conversations and read their bumperstickers.  I’ve learned that, when it comes to politics in Marin, direct confrontation is never as effective as small asides that cause people to think.)

I always wonder when the cognitive dissonance between my teachers’ personal passions and their politics will finally become overwhelming.  They’d probably be helped if they ever saw this Steve Crowder video:

Media continues to give new meaning to old ideas

There’s yet another movie coming out about the way in which the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq destroy lives and turn young men into pathetic losers:

There is a grim timeliness to the release of “Brothers,” Jim Sheridan’s movie about the effects of war on the family of a Marine serving in Afghanistan. Whatever the other consequences of President Obama’s revised strategy in that country, we can be sure that it will yield more stories like the one told in this film. And it is sobering, eight years into the war, to reflect that in 2004, the first time this movie was made — by the Danish director Susanne Bier — it was just as topical and urgent.

The review is written in terms of high art — which I translate as boring and pompous — but I gather that the brother who goes to war suffers terribly, and that his sufferings transfer to the family, and that they all suffer and are destroyed together. War is hell, people.

The above is the usual we expect from Hollywood.  What’s so funny is the way in which the New York Times‘ movie reviewer, A.O. Scott, assures us that the movie is completely apolitical:

But this “Brothers,” like its predecessor, is in some ways less a movie about war than a movie that uses war as a scaffolding for domestic melodrama. It also follows the template of American movies about Iraq and Afghanistan in being resolutely somber and systematically apolitical: you can witness any kind of combat heroism or atrocity, and see unflinching portrayals of grief, trauma and healing. But you almost never hear an argument about the war itself, or glimpse the larger global and national context in which these intimate dramas take shape.

It doesn’t seem to occur to Scott that a movie that paints war as an evil thing that destroys, not just the enemy, but the warriors at home and, by extension, their families too, is pretty anti-war.  And that if it’s anti-war, it isn’t apolitical.  Instead, it’s standing firmly on the side of those liberals who believe that all wars, regardless of the goals, are inherently evil and destructive.  It also stands firmly on the side of those liberals who do not believe that there is a warrior class that finds fulfillment in serving, and that despite the fact that war — even a just war — can indeed be hell.

As an antidote to the liberal establishment’s firm belief that military service inevitably destroys human beings, let me replay this great video of Congressional candidate Lieutenant Colonel Allen West, which I already added to my affirmative action post:

Even Obama couldn’t placate his extreme base

Despite giving the generals almost 75% fewer troops than the 80,000 they really wanted (and even significantly less than the 40,000 they sort of wanted), and despite telling the Taliban and Al Qaeda exactly when the field is theirs, and despite dwelling morbidly on death in front of the men and women at West Point who will be going to the field of battle, Obama still couldn’t placate everyone on his side of the political spectrum.  A couple of hundred gathered in S.F. to make their protests known — and Protest Shooter was there to capture them on film (or on digital images, I guess).

Why not victory

Bruce Kesler sent around an email asking whether we thought victory was possible in Afghanistan.  My reply was that I don’t think the Democrats can conceive of victory as a possible outcome.  As I wrote to him, I’m the child of parents who fought in WWII and the Israeli War of Independence.  Although they were bone-deep Dems and loathed Goldwater, they too understood that the only way to fight a war is to win.  Otherwise, you’re just sacrificing your own troops needlessly in an endless slow bleed.

I don’t think the Democrats are capable of conceiving an outcome to a war that is tantamount to “victory.”  To them, all wars are failures because they are . . . wars.  This means that there are no strategic goals that the Democrats can contemplate that will justify continuing to fight a war.  They will therefore approach war in a half-hearted way, waiting, not to win, but to withdraw.

Obama’s support for the war in Afghanistan has never been a committed belief in the necessity of destroying the Taliban there and protecting Pakistan.  It has always been a political move to distinguish himself from Bush:  “Bush never focused on the real war.  That’s why I focus on that war.”  Obama, though, is a Democrat and believes that all wars are unwinnable, so he’s doing the Democratic thing.  He’s throwing in bodies, but actively supporting cutting costs and appeasing the enemy.

Taking own his practical experience in Vietnam, and his breadth and depth of knowledge, Bruce came up with a post that intelligently develops my own instinctive feeling that, with war, as with pregnancy, you can’t just be “a little bit” engaged in that situation.  It’s an all or nothing proposition.  I urge you to check out Bruce’s post and cast your vote on the side of true victory in Afghanistan.

All violence is equal, but some violence is more equal than others

Movie review one:

The movie is a viscerally exciting, adrenaline-soaked tour de force of suspense and surprise, full of explosions and hectic scenes of combat, but it blows a hole in the condescending assumption that such effects are just empty spectacle or mindless noise.

[snip]

Ms. Bigelow, practicing a kind of hyperbolic realism, distills the psychological essence and moral complications of modern warfare into a series of brilliant, agonizing set pieces.

[snip]

It has intense, horrific violence and appropriately profane reactions to the prospect of same.

Let me sum that up: This is an incredibly violent movie, with really gross stuff, but we love it.

Movie review two:

[This movie] thoroughly blurs the line between high-minded outrage and lurid torture-porn.

[snip]

Not since “The Passion of the Christ” has a film depicted a public execution in such graphic detail. In the approximately 20 minutes during which the killing unfolds, the camera repeatedly returns to study the battered face and body of the title character (Mozhan Marno) as she is stoned to death.

[snip]

In one of the film’s sickeningly exploitative touches, Ali, wearing a triumphal grin, examines his wife’s crumpled, blood-drenched body to make sure she is dead and discovers signs of life in a rolled-up eye. The stoning is promptly resumed.

[snip]

Mr. Negahban’s Ali, who resembles a younger, bearded Philip Roth, suggests an Islamic fundamentalist equivalent of a Nazi anti-Semitic caricature. With his malevolent smirk and eyes aflame with arrogance and hatred, he is as satanic as any horror-movie apparition.

[snip]

As “The Passion of the Christ” showed, the stimulation of blood lust in the guise of moral righteousness has its appeal.

Again, let me sum things up: This is an incredibly violent movie, with really gross stuff, and we were deeply offended.

As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, the second movie is The Stoning of Soraya M. It depicts true events in an Iranian village that is subject to the worst kind of sharia law, misogyny, and power run amok.  The movie does not shy away from showing what it looks like for someone to be stoned to death, nor the evil that motivates that kind of action.  And lest you think the violence is exaggerated, just think of the beheading tapes the jihadis like to release, in which they are in an ecstasy of bloodlust.  Bottom line:  showing the true horror of a religious, misogynistic act is really tacky, and it’s downright cruel to force New York Times reviewers to have to watch it.

The first movie may not be one you’ve heard of.  It’s called The Hurt Locker — and is a critic’s pick.  Set during 2004 in Iraq, it shows a squad dedicated to disarming (or blowing up) IEDs.  The only really problem, in the critic’s eyes, is that the film isn’t more antiwar.  Thus, he lauds the fact that “you will . . . be thinking” but complains that the film did not go further:

[You will . . . be thinking] Not necessarily about the causes and consequences of the Iraq war, mind you. The filmmakers’ insistence on zooming in on and staying close to the moment-to-moment experiences of soldiers in the field is admirable in its way but a little evasive as well.

It is in this context that the reviewer thinks all that bloody, graphic, horrifying violence is just about the most thrilling thing he’s seen in, God, who knows how long.  Bottom line:  showing American military people and Iraqi citizens being blown up in graphic detail is incredibly exciting, because it reminds us that Bush lied and people died.

As I said, all violence is equal, but some violence is definitely more exciting and rewarding than others.