Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Moral Clarity and Its Uses

Yesterday, I wrote that reasonable people in the anti-war movement should avoid political alliances with extremists who are not anti-war, just rooting for the other side. Jay Voorhees disagreed and responded:

If I remember correctly, the right has had some strange bedfellows as well, especially in relation to activism on abortion and sexuality. There are times when a common cause brings dissimilar groups and persons together in the desire to effect change. Do we support the other's belief system? Of course we don't. But we can agree on a common goal that both share.

While it is true that the anti-American (-Semitic, -female, -homosexual, -democratic, -human) elements of the anti-war movement share a common cause with the rational Left -- the end of American involvement in Iraq -- it is politically unwise to affiliate with people calling for terrorist attacks against the U.S. if one wishes to advance that cause. Perhaps Jay is placing too high a priority on numbers for enacting political change.

Also in the comments, Gord, a minister (!) in Canada argues that the terrorists in Iraq can legitimately be seen as 'freedom fighters':

In the second csae we agree--advocating atacks against a country is surely anti-USan. In the first it may be a question of definition. Certainly the "insurgents" in Iraq are using acts of terror. But they are using them against an occupying force (the US Military and friends) and what could logically be considered a puppet government. If you use these definitions then they are indeed freedom fighters. I always try to remember that the difference between freedom fighter and terrorist is who wins (Menachem Begin of Israel for example)

I would struggle find a precise definition of what a 'freedom fighter' is, but I can confidently say what a freedom fighter is not. A freedom fighter is not a person who:

"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." Isaiah 5:20


Gord said...

I still say that an arguement can be made John. (ALothough to be hionest the argument really held the most force early in the so-called insurgency--before its leadership became less Iraqi based) I also said later that I disagreed with the arguement. However I also disagree with the assertion that Sheehan and company are anti-American just because they believe the arguement (that actually is where we started).

And I will never condone what the terrorists/insurgents do, any more than I condone the invasion itself, or the Hussein regime, or the US backing of said regime to be a bastion against Khoemeini. Nobody has clean hands hear. Atrocious acts have taken place on all sides for decades now. The whole Middle East is rocked by the failures of US, British, French, and UN (I include Canda's contribution here) policy as much as by the policies of the nations actually in the region.

Elizabeth said...

Of course, some Iraqis oppose the Americans being there (as the poll you link to says), where we are supposed to be "fighting for their freedom" - probably the civilian casualities, destruction of homes, property, etc., that we brought with us in our quest to liberate have something to do with that. So, in a way, I guess i agree with your definitions, John, as long as we apply them to ourselves too!

Derek said...

Politics making strange bedfellows? What next? You going to tell me that somehow, the US and Stalin were allies onc........oh wait......

Dean Snyder said...

I was very disappointed with many aspects of the demonstrations last weekend here in DC. This does not change the truth that we ought to give Iraq back to the Iraqi ASAP.

bob said...

John, I think people who oppose the war don't care who they align with as long as they can bad mouth Bush and his policies.Looking for numbers just to draw the media is a bad strategy in that they get these strange bedfellows.Anyone who saw pictures or news coverage of the protest, saw the posters and heard the anti American rhetoric can be left with no sympathy for their causes. Weather we like it or not guilt by association is very real.

The point about freedom fighters is a little tougher mostly because Americans have big hearts. We are always ready to find good in our fellow man and have a hard time calling something evil. I tried in the past to excuse Islam as a religion but the truth is there is no excuse. This is not to say the Arab people are evil just misguided. Much like the press who are misguided in their use of the term freedom figter. Using this term is just trying to put a positive spin on an evil act.

Michael said...

The terrorists in Iraq do not exclusively target US military targets; civilians are still a popular target because of the emotional element of ... TERROR ... that these terrorists hope will drive the population to their knees. Who can possibly say that some good will come from murdering innocents?

John Wilks said...


I voted for Bush twice for govenor of Texas and once for the White House. I grew up in his hometown, I've been a member of the church where the First Lady and her family have worshiped for years. I am no Bush basher and no left wing nut.

And I oppose this war.

You should avoid over generalizing the opposition out there for this war.

Now, I'll grant than many who are against the war have axes to grind. But that doesn't mean that everyone against this war is out for Bush nashing and will get into bed (so to speak) with anyone.

Have we become so entrenched in our two-party system that we cannot hear opposition without immediatly assuming that someone critical of the war is an unscrupulus anti-American Bush basher?

If you still support the war, fine. That is of course your right. But do yourself and your integrity a favor: don't drink the partisan Kool-Aid and buy into the notion that all those who disagree with you about this war must be anti-Bush zealots.

bob said...

John Wilks, That may be true but it does nothing to refute my statement of bad strategy because the people in the anti war movement are not particular enough about who they associate with. their choice of association leads to these generalizations

John Wilks said...


Some of us are very particular about such things. But you once again are speaking in unclarified generalties. Please be more specific about which people and groups opposed to this war are making poor aliances so that you do not slander the rest of us.

bob said...

John Wilks, Here is a list of organizations involved that I know the name of Code Pink, answer, breasts not bombs, George Soros,George Galloway. While guilt by association isn't pleasant it's hard to avoid.

John Wilks said...


Thank you for being specific. Now- what evidence do you have that most folks who oppose this war have made alliances with such folk?

Check out the polling data- the support for this war is aflling every day. Do you think that most of us who now question this rational for this war are in cahoots with Soros and company? Can you back it up?

I'm just asking you to consider the possiblity (which I, for one, represent) that many conservatitives- even ones who supported Bush early on- now doubt the validity of starting this war?

bob said...

John Wilks,I never claimed alliance only association unless everyone at the protest this past weekend was directly affiliated with one of said groups I would say this shows an association.I don't think I can prove most people think this way but why would the anti war crowd choose not remove the perception of connection.

John Wilks said...

So how would, for example, remove this "perception of connection?" What am I supposed to do, send George Soros an e-mail and tell him to stop agreeing with me about the war because he makes me look bad?

Look, clearly some folks who oppose this war will march with and share the stage with anyone who furthers their aims, not matter who they are. If you have a bone to pick with those individuals, then fine.

But for the rest of us, just because we share an opinion about one topic or one instance within a topic with some folks doesn't make us part of their crowd.

So again- if you're going to go pointing fingers, at least be specific and don't just wave in a general direction. You're making it tough to understand exactly who you're upset with and why when you fail to be specific.

bob said...

John Wilks, My whole point was in context of the anti war protest of the previous weekend. When the main sponsor of a protest are the extremist it's their point of view that is going to be loudest. So anyone who attends is in fact giving support to the extremist views. This may not be the intent but it sure muddies up the picture.I don't mean to offend or point fingers but if someone is attending this type of protest they need to look around and listen and make sure they agree with whats being expressed.

John Wilks said...


OK, I can see what your point about the protest. That makes more sense. And I agree with you that some groups put their credibility at risk by failing to distinguish themselves from some of the more radical groups involved. (Which was John's point at the start of all this.) Yeah- no two ways about it.

It is like the whole Hearts on Fire deal- lots of people opposed to the rally also bent over backwards to oppose what the Klan planned to do as well so that groups like IRD would not be unfairly linked to the KKK.

Just imagine what the left would say if folks from Good News and IRD had decided to protest with the Klan! They'd have a field day painting evryone who supports traditional views on sexuality as hate filled biggots.

And yet some of the left think that when their passionate protests lead them to be seen with leftist extremeists, they are just being open-minded and trying to find common ground.

Of course, this leads to the great double standard of American pop-culture.

I mean, when a left-leaning college students wears a Fidel Castro t-shirt around campus, people smile, wink and nod- its just expected youthful rebellion.

But imagine if some fool kid started making a wearing a David Duke shirt on a large campus near you- they would hound that kid endlessly- and for good reason.

But as bad as Duke is (and I'm not denying how evil the Klan is,) who has done the most damage to the world in their time on earth, Duke or Castro? Which one very nearly plunged the world into Nuclear war?

bob said...

John Wilks, It just goes to show if you talk long enough both parties can at least understand where each person is coming from.