Who? When? Why?

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"Who? When? Why?"

I’m not going to deny that David Ignatius makes a legitimate point or two here, but what’s the deal with “Some extreme war critics are so angry at Bush they seem almost eager for America to lose, to prove a political point.” That’s a serious charge. Does Ignatius have evidence for it? No. Does he cite any examples? No. Does he name any names? No. I find it extremely frustrating that you’re allowed to toss off this kind of liberal-bashing without providing any backing.

This matters not because I doubt Ignatius could find someone or other who “seems” like he’s “eager” for America to lose. It matters because “extreme war critic” is such a vague phrase. For years, perfectly mainstream war critics — Howard Dean, Tony Zinni, Richard Clarke, Dick Durbin, Zbigniew Brzezinski — were portrayed as “extreme” and they still are on Mondays, Wednesdays, and alternate Saturdays. On the other hand, when I was in college there were these members of the Spartacist Youth League (or something) who would sit on the corner calling for the violent overthrow of the US government ranting and raving about North Korea’s inalienable right to nuclear weapons and the need to unify the peninsula under Pyongyang’s beneficent rule. No doubt those “extreme war critics” really do want to see America lose. But is Ignatius talking about crazy people who shout on streetcorners — in which case his observation is silly — or is he talking about meaningful participants in American politics, in which case it’s false? Well, I think, he’s talking about the former, but talking as if he’s talking about the latter.

Which is just to say that, once again, practitioners of the Higher Broderism can get away with saying just about anything about American liberals without needing to seriously support it. As long, of course, as what they’re saying is critical.

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