|Everybody's Got One
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Thursday, December 15, 2005
Gimme a T, gimme an R, gimme ... uh ... I have been troubled of late by my reflexive, muttered reaction to some preposterous claim from the Left that no one with the sense God gave a goose could take seriously: Are you lying, or just stupid? Not because it's inaccurate, but because it's an exact reflection of the systematic attempts over four decades to delegitimize conservatives as stupid, evil, or crazy. To briefly recap:
The other day I went to visit friends I hadn't seen in many years (since 9/11, I suspect). And, as it too often does, politics eventually came up. It's an important signaling device, especially when beliefs are bound up in self-image and personal worth. Now, I'm not going to argue with someone in their own home; it's tacky and rude, as well as a complete waste of time. No minds would be changed or eyes opened; the only outcome would be hard feelings. Fortunately I wasn't the only guest, so my refusal to engage wasn't too noticeable (I think). But I learned some things by listening and making polite, non-committal noises.
One thing that struck me was the urge to replay old grievances and elections and, of course, the War That Embodies All Wars. A comment in the course of familiar recitation was Kerry was hated because he came back from Vietnam and told the truth - a striking claim from someone who thinks that Bush Lied is a metaphysical certainty beyond any conceivable dispute. My demure I don't know about that was taken as disbelief in the hatred. Why, just look at the personal attacks by those lying swiftboat vets! (As I said, no teachable moments here.)
But this really does unpack some interesting questions. There's a spectrum of truth-telling between utter fabrication and the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but (which no one actually expects any more, in court or anywhere in public.) A rough listing :
Back to Kerry for a moment. Where does he fall on this spectrum? He didn't speak The truth, to power or to anyone else, but he did speak A truth. The anger and hatred (which I don't dispute) was and is a reaction to the attempt to make this partial truth stand for the whole truth, or at least be a defining part of it. But he falls too far down the spectrum for that to happen.
We know that some of the testimony at the Winter Soldier hearings (where Kerry got the bulk of his “truth”) involved what is technically known as “making s**t up.” Guys who weren't in the military or weren't incountry or weren't anywhere they could have seen or did the things they claimed to.
Now, guys have always lied about what they did in the war. By no means all, but enough to make “war stories” a synonym for “fish stories.” But where it traditionally revolved around how many Jerries or Japs they killed, now it includes how many civilians; not how much action they saw, but how many atrocities.
A strange new definition of martial heroism, indeed. How much of this is due to redefined models of masculinity, or a sense that real heroes fight not for king and country but for the right thing, against the military if need be, or an unexamined assumption that real soldiers, the ones who were really in it, necessarily did some horrible stuff because that's what the military does, is an interesting question, but that's for another time.
Just note that, while people always claimed to be Green Berets when they were in the motor pool, or active duty rather than deferred, now the false claims are used to give moral authority to being anti-war.
But I digress. We know that some of Kerry's “truth” contained deliberate falsehoods; how much does that invalidate the basic argument? And before you answer that, consider that Ahmed Chalabi and some of the other Iraqi exiles fed deliberate falsehoods about the WMD program to the CIA.
As the man said, What is truth? posted by Kelly | 6:19 PM link