I’d like to say that posting about this tears me up, because I know how sensitive the issue is. I’ve been encouraged and relieved by the passionate but mostly civil debate of this subject here at BMG.
There are some obvious meta-straw men in the Phoenix article, couched in phrases like this:
“For some bizarre reason, in thoughtful company, in advanced intellectual circles, it is considered impolite and impolitic to recognize this reality.”
Gosh, that’s a pretty vague insinuation, isn’t it? “Polite” people aren’t acknowledging that Hezbollah are terrorists? I must not move in such “advanced intellectual circles.”
You see this kind of thing all the time:
1. The “some have said” straw-man argument: positing an indefensible or barely-defensible viewpoint and tearing it down, and
2. implication of bias or animus for those who disagree — classic ad hominem argumentation. Dershowitz does it (raising the “double standards” flag, as if we expect nothing more from civilized states — Israel or the US, for that matter — than from terrorists); Aravosis does it — see the last line. It’s a poisonous and solipsistic way to argue: if you can impugn someone else’s good faith, why address their arguments at all, or re-examine your own beliefs? I recognize it well from my days dealing with the PC-niks in college. Again, I’m grateful we’ve seen very little of that at BMG.
So I’ll just say straight-up why I’m discussing (thereby emphasizing) Israel’s and the US’s reactions to Hezbollah:
1. It goes without saying that Hezbollah are terrorists. Their raison d’etre is not to “defeat Israel” — at least not immediately — but to create war and death. I cannot imagine how questioning Israel’s strategy adds up to an endorsement of Hezbollah. That’s a false choice.
2. There have been roughly ten times as many Lebanese civilian dead as Israeli. I don’t think that Lebanese lives are worth one-tenth that of Israelis.
3. I live in America. Supposedly I have some influence as a voter over what we do. America holds considerable sway with Israel. What Israel does affects America. I don’t have any sway with Hezbollah. Therefore I will try to affect the side I think I can.
So, I’d still like to know if any of our elected officials who signed on to a statement supporting Israel’s right to self-defense have anything to say about civilian deaths; the wholesale flattening of Lebanon; whether they support an immediate cease-fire; whether they think Bush and Condi have been doing enough; or how this bodes for the future of the Middle East and the US. I’ve been impressed at the full and free account that our media outlets have been giving, covering both sides pretty equally, to my view; but the rhetoric from our leaders, Republican and Democratic, has been lockstep with the administration. Even Ned Lamont parroted Condi Rice on the radio last week. Anyone got a different idea?