Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Honorary Brigadier Goldberg

It's really not difficult to figure out which blogs I read. All you have to do is see who I'm correcting. And this time, it's our beloved Atrios. He was writing about Jonah Goldberg, yet again attacking the Doughboy for giving excuses for why he hasn't enlisted to fight the wars he's so intent on thrusting onto us. But this attack on Goldberg is just plain wrong. Before I go too far, I will have to give a personal disclosure: Jonah Goldberg is a close and personal blog-friend of mine; being that he's the only blogger who's ever linked to anything I've written. My blog-counter hit the roof for several days after that, so I'm not completely an impartial observer.

But Atrios is wrong nonetheless. What he said:
This sad pathetic response makes Jonah not worthy of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders, the most honorable of whom never acknowledge that serving the cause they send others to die for is even a possibility to consider, let alone make excuses for.

And what he's saying is almost completely accurate. Those jerkoffs are busy jerking themselves into patriot diehards, yet they won't even publicly consider the idea of fighting the fights they want fought. All talk and no walk, or something like that. And whenever we mention this, they consider it a cheap rhetorical ploy on our part; something they shouldn't even dignify with a response. But while it is a rhetorical ploy, there is nothing cheap about it.

They like to play toughguy soldier in their bedrooms and offices, but won't take the obvious step that their fantasy ideas lead to; typical conservatives. They know that people need to be sacrificed; they just don't think those people should be themselves. So in combating their rhetoric, it's a completely valid rhetorical move on our side to point out the obvious hypocrisy of people sending others to death, while being unwilling to risk their own deaths.

But they refuse to consider this to be a legitimate criticism, so they dismiss it as cheap stunt, unworthy of answer. And what else can they do? Firstly, they know that the best answer to an attack is another attack; and that you should never defend yourself. But secondly, they don't have any good answers. Assuming the military will take them (they do have standards, you know) there's no excuse they can give that won't match hundreds of excuses of those willing to make this sacrifice. And there can be no doubt about it: We need more volunteers. So at best, they can only reply that the question is beneath them; or risk being shut up.

Where Atrios Was Wrong

But here's where Atrios is wrong: He believes that Goldberg wasn't doing that exact thing. And everyone seems to have made that same mistake. They treated Goldberg's remarks as if they were his honest attempts at making excuses. But this is simply incorrect.

Alas, Goldberg was not providing excuses for why he wasn't fighting. He did give excuses, but he also denied that he should do so; and for the exact reason that I stated above: Because he can't admit that our point is legitimate.

Here's the Goldberg quote again:
As for why my sorry a** isn't in the kill zone, lots of people think this is a searingly pertinent question. No answer I could give -- I'm 35 years old, my family couldn't afford the lost income, I have a baby daughter, my a** is, er, sorry, are a few -- ever seem to suffice.

And when you read that, note that the crucial line is "No answer I could give...ever seem to suffice". And while that is grammatically very odd, that is his point. He's saying that he won't answer the question because none of the possible excuses "ever seem to suffice". And he gave us a few examples of what those insufficient excuses might have been; and he was absolutely right, they did not suffice. But he only gave those in the context of telling us his excuse for why he won't answer the question: Because his answers aren't good enough.

And beyond that, if you read his full text, you'll see that he completely denies the validity of the question. He insists that, because this question is almost always asked by "anti-war leftists"; and almost never by military people, that the question needn't be answered.

And this is in keeping with the tradition of chicken-hawks adopting the voice of war veterans as their own. They implicitly endorse the idea that war veterans are better citizens than non-veterans, and have more right to state their opinion than non-veterans; and they then proceed to use that extra-strength voice as their own, though they typically are not veterans themselves. And because war veterans have more important opinions than ours, and because Jonah speaks for war veterans, we inherently lose our right to question his pro-war hypocrisy, for no other reason than because it is pro-war. Of course. That makes perfect sense, when you need it to.

No Answer

So, in fact, Jonah Goldberg gives us the double-whammy: He implies firmly that the question is invalid and goes ahead and provides us with his feeble excuses; most likely because he's such a coward that he can't let those charges go completely unanswered. But he never officially gave them as excuses, so we shouldn't treat him as if he had. Because he hadn't. Those were just the theoretical excuses that he would have given had he deemed the question worthy of an answer. If only we were so lucky.

And so we should stop attacking Goldberg for the lousy excuses he gave on what makes him too important for the war he wants others to die in. Instead, we should be attacking him for the lousy excuse he gave on why he doesn't need to answer the question. For him, it's an invalid question because he can't come up with a good answer for it. To us, that's exactly what makes it a searingly pertinent question.

1 comment:

shrimplate said...

No fair. You're using logic. Just how are wankers like Jonah supposed to respond to that?

They can't. So you're entirely correct. See what I mean?