A Level Gaze

"What effect must it have on a nation if it learns no foreign languages? Probably much the same as that which a total withdrawal from society has upon an individual."
--G.C. Lichtenberg


New Email Address! levelgaze@gmail.com



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Thursday, September 26, 2002
Hey everybody! It finally happened! Dr. Weevil has responded to my open letter! He says it was "serious" and "relatively coherent!" I'm legit now, baby!

I think he missed the point.

In the Shropshire Challenge, he called upon those opposed to the war to go to Iraq as human shields against the US armed forces. If they didn't, they should "shut the hell up about chickenhawks." He did not feel that an equivalent level of commitment to his side was appropriate. I replied that he and the rest of the warbloggers are the ones advocating change, and, if anyone were to "put up," they should. Then I called him a hypocrite. He responds:

This is more than a bit misleading. The status quo is highly unlikely to continue. Everyone knows that a U.S. invasion of Iraq is very likely, and that it will come soon, unless something happens to stop it. Non-invasion may be the status quo, but invasion is the default. That means that I don't have to do anything to bring about an invasion, since it will go ahead with or without me. (Not to mention that I can't do anything but argue, since I'm too old to enlist and, even if I weren't, I wouldn't make it through boot camp and specialized training in time to see action.) But anyone who seriously opposes an invasion of Iraq can and should do something to prevent it while there is still time. 'Level Gaze' has it exactly backwards: I don't have to do anything except argue against objections such as his. He on the other hand needs to do some serious work if he wants to stop the war, and sitting around bitching about it isn't going to suffice.

Got that? It's going to happen anyway, so it magically becomes the "default," which is somehow different from the "status quo." Leaving that to one side, it could make one question the reasoning behind Dr. Weevil's (and the rest of the warbloggers') need to argue in favor of invasion. If it's inevitible, cheering it on won't help. Even the need to "argue against objections such as [mine]" dissolves. It's also nice to know that Dr. Weevil believes that our government cannot be swayed by means short of direct physical intervention. I and others who are against the war are "do[ing] some serious work...to stop the war."

Besides, the last I heard, we're still waiting on United Nations and congressional approval for invasion, which seems to indicate that the question is still up in the air. For all of the administration's bluster, we may yet be deterred. I and a lot of other people throughout the world believe it's possible, otherwise our speaking out against invasion would be equally pointless. He wants an invasion and I don't.

But the main point is that those of us against the war, including Phillip Shropshire, aren't obligated to put their lives on the line because of our opinions. Honestly, stopping the war in Iraq isn't worth my life,however many other lives it may wind up costing. If it is your opinion that standing up for what you believe in--or even stating your beliefs--requires putting your life on the line, then it applies to everybody, not just to those with whom you disagree. And them what starts a fight has to go first, as a show of good faith. Shropshire was supposed to put himself in the line of fire, but, sadly, Dr. Weevil is too old to enlist, and shouldn't have to because war is inevitible anyway. That's as far as he got with the argument, and that's why I called him a hypocrite.

The rest of the response is taken up with: his belief that invasion will do more good than leaving things as they are (I disagree--what happens when Israel gets into the slog, that'll be good for everybody, right?); his interesting hypothesis that I would have opposed the Normandy invasion (which, I believe, was one of many results of unprovoked aggression, and therefore righteous); about his nephew-who-almost-enlisted-in-the-Marines (whatever); a non-argument to the effect that the armed forces are not only (I had said "mostly") comprised of people from the lower classes and minorities (they are, very disproportionately, especially the infantry); that Iraq poses a threat to us (sure, if Saddam is willing to have his country flattened for him); that Iraq intends harm to its neighbors as can be deduced from its actions toward Iran, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia (the war with Iran we actively encouraged and suppported, the war with Kuwait we pretended to green-light (see April Glaspie), and Saudi Arabia is a non-issue); a confusion of Iraq with Afghanistan (which, although in some ways is better off than it had been under the Taliban, has seen a return of the rule of warlords and looks about ripe for a re-descent into civil war); that "war is necessary" because Hussein is a "psychopathic thug" who has "good reason" to hate the US (hmm...a psychopath with good reason...will he use it? Will we be removing the rest of the thugs of the world? Does Musharraf count?); that I "have a seriously exaggerated idea of the importance of the Blogosphere" because I put him in the same sentence with the Bush administration (I'm addressing you, who agree with the administration. I want you both to do the same thing. Why on earth wouldn't I put you in the same sentence? Cheap (and inaccurate) shot); more arguments that I should be willing to die a traitor because I am against a proposed policy of the administration (let's all go stand in the way of a tank to protest the tax hike!); that none of the chickenhawks have threatened to punish any human shields (they have indeed; they're called Iraqi citizens, and Saddam will be using tens of thousands of them); and how many celebrities will fit on the head of a cruise missle (all of them).

Note the absence of a response to my argument.

In the process, he describes my post with nice words like "pretentious," "fifth-rate," "absurd," and "bilge." He tells me I need to "shut the fuck up about chickenhawks" because I'm not willing to go stand in the middle of a war zone. Shut the fuck up or die. A beautiful sentiment from one American to another. And I should apologize. To whom? I think I'll do neither, thank you.