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September 10, 2007

Conservatives Pound the Table with bin Laden Conflation


There was, back in early 2003, a general belief that you couldn’t believe what liberals said about Iraq because they were a bunch of pansies. You could present a reasonable, fact-based assessment of why invading Iraq would turn into the disaster it has become, and the response would be that you were guilty of being a coward and of crimes against the nation’s sense of manliness, which at the time was itself mistaken as patriotism.


We soon departed those waters, and have now arrived at their older, not necessarily wiser cousin – liberals are wrong because Osama bin Laden reads Noam Chomsky.


The latest popped up last week, when another tape from bin Laden surfaced. In it, he suggested that the Democratic Party wasn’t giving the American people what it wanted and suggested that America was hurting the world through things like global warming.


This theme was promptly picked up in various news outlets, perhaps most notably by New York Times columnist David Brooks, who said that Osama bin Laden sounded like any liberal blogger who might have an account at the mega-site Daily Kos.


The thinking is based on simple association. You say something, and I say something. They are very similar, so we must not only agree that these things are true, but we must likewise like each other and offer each other ideological support.


Evidence? Baaaaah. Who needs that when you can just jump to a conclusion?


It worked for a short period of time – perhaps about a year or so – before everyone caught on to the underlying stupidity of it.


Over the years, it’s been hard to convince conservatives that this isn’t really an argument. Some of them insist that the war was just, but the execution was flawed (you go to war with the incompetent president you’ve got, not the guy you want); and a few insist now and again that if liberals would just shut up about the war, the insurgency would be finished by now.


It’s a one-trick pony, although it’s the one you use when you don’t have much left in your corner. As they say, if you have the facts on your side, argue the facts; when you have the law, argue the law; when you have neither, pound the table. Hence, Osama bin Laden equals liberal bloggers.


You wouldn’t think it necessary to point out the obvious here – no one has ever come close to endorsing what Osama bin Laden’s organization did on September 11, 2001. There are people who have argued from a standpoint of understanding, which prompted the mistaken belief that understanding means endorsing.


There could well be some Americans who identify themselves as leftists and who thought 9/11 was not a bad thing. There could well be some Americans who identify themselves as conservatives who feel the same way. The point isn’t whether there are people who believe that way, because in a nation of more than 250 million people, it’s inconceivable that you won’t find someone who stakes out every position imaginable.


But the point is whether this represents the opinion of a majority or even a sizable chunk. The simple, sad, tragic fact is that most liberals think that anyone who aided or planned the 9/11 attacks should be imprisoned for the rest of their lives – that is, if they don’t favor killing them. What is sad and tragic is that virtually everybody realizes this and understands it to be correct. That probably even includes the people making the claim.


Why they would continue making the same specious claim is really anyone’s guess, including those pushing the argument in the first place. To make a conflation so obviously false undoubtedly requires a great deal of self-deception, not to mention a complete lack of shame. This, however, could help explain a few things, like why they’re still pushing the same line about the war – real men support their president, pansies who don’t are maybe at some level highly suspect.


© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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