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November 12, 2003

BOY, THIS didn't take long. I do, however, want to stress what I said in the update to this post.

UPDATE: Ted Rall, on the other hand, writes this like he means it. [LATER: That link is dead now: Go here to read the column.]

He really is a loathsome human being.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Bill Hobbs has identified a suitable Rall-related charity.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Armed Liberal has related comments.

MORE: Andrew Sullivan on Rall:

After 9/11, I was roundly criticized for daring to suggest that there were some people in America who wanted the terrorists to win. But if you read Ted Rall and others, there can be no mistake.

The antiwar left -- if it wants to be taken seriously, which is at best an open question -- should disavow the likes of Rall. But it won't, because too many of its supporters agree with him.

STILL MORE: Hmm. According to this, Ted Rall is an award-winning moderate. Sheesh. Remember this the next time antiwar folks say it's unfair to associate them with losers like Rall.

MORE STILL: An antiwar reader emails:

Now, if you're going to play gotcha with us everytime some member of the radical fringe of my side says something stupid on DU or Ted Rall decides to pipe up, I ask you: when will you repudiate Misha or the posters on FreeRepublic? It's a two way street.

Yeah, but this is a cop-out because they aren't comparable. Whenever I mention people who want the United States to lose, I'm told "yeah, but they're the fringe." But they're NOT. Misha and the freepers don't have syndicated columns. They're not winning awards from allegedly-mainstream outfits. They're not published with those views in allegedly-respectable newspapers. Rall is.

Ditto with ANSWER -- they're the indispensable core of the antiwar movement. You can try to dismiss them as a fringe, but no alternative group has been able to replace them because, in fact, they aren't the fringe of the antiwar movement. Their hostility to America, their desire for America to lose, is just a more distilled version of something we see all over. Look at what Gary Kamiya wrote last spring:

I have at times, as the war has unfolded, secretly wished for things to go wrong. Wished for the Iraqis to be more nationalistic, to resist longer. Wished for the Arab world to rise up in rage. Wished for all the things we feared would happen. I'm not alone: A number of serious, intelligent, morally sensitive people who oppose the war have told me they have had identical feelings.

Kamiya gave this a redemptive spin, but I see plenty of examples where that's entirely lacking. Here's Tom Robbins:

Quite probably the worst thing about the inevitable and totally unjustifiable war with Iraq is that there’s no chance the U.S. might lose it. America is a young country, and intellectually, emotionally, and physically, it has been exhibiting all the characteristics of an adolescent bully, a pubescent punk who’s too big for his britches and too strong for his age. Someday, perhaps, we may grow out of our mindless, pimple-faced arrogance, but in the meantime, it might do us a ton of good to have our butts kicked. Unfortunately, like most of the targets we pick on, Iraq is much too weak to give us the thrashing our continuously overbearing behavior deserves.

Then there's Chrissie Hynde:

Between songs, the pugnacious Hynde, in a classic black T-shirt and jeans, bantered and battled with the crowd. She dedicated "You Know Who Your Friends Are" to "all you junkies and f--," gave a shout-out to the late Joe Strummer, opined that she hopes the United States loses if it goes to war with Iraq ("Bring it on! Give us what we deserve!"), and introduced the song "Fools Must Die" with the self-deprecating quip, "I'll show you how it's done."

If these people were on the "fringe," they'd be repudiated -- as they'd be if they were, say, calling black people by racist terms. But wishing for America to lose, apparently, is unexceptionable. Fringe? Of society, maybe. Of the antiwar movement? Doesn't sound like it. They may not reflect majority opinion, but they're clearly not regarded as beyond the pale.

YET MORE STILL: Tacitus has more links on this. Some of his commenters accuse me of deliberately blurring the line between antiwar and anti-America. But I don't think I'm the one doing that.

I've drawn the distinction repeatedly, but the fact is that the real energy in the antiwar movement comes from people who don't like America. A.N.S.W.E.R. is central to the movement. Nobody else can organize the protests or turn out the bodies. It's as if the religious right relied on Fred Phelps to do their organization, then tried to claim that they weren't like him. But they've been very careful to distance themselves from guys like him. I don't see similar care from the antiwar movement -- I see happy solidarity until someone makes an issue, followed by righteous indignation when this stuff is pointed out.

If you're embarrassed to be in bed with these guys, here's my advice: Get out of the bed. Meanwhile LT Smash has more on this.