June 21, 2005

Confederacy of Dunce Editors

Fisking a Star-Tribune editorial is a lot like watching professional wrestling. The lines are all basically the same, whoever says them and whatever they're said about. One the battle starts, you pretty much see the same moves, the same grimaces, the same throws and tackles and jumps off the turnbuckle every time.

The difference is with wrestling, you know it's fake. With the Strib, you know someone actually believes it.

In a portfolio of fantasy-based madness, today's editorial stands out.

Remember as you read it; They actually believe that what they're writing is legit, correct, accurate, and above all morally on-the-beam.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., set off a firestorm last week when he compared U.S. treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo to practices employed by Nazis, Soviets, Pol Pot and their ilk. His remarks were condemned by the White House, the Pentagon, the Christian Coalition, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Newt Gingrich (who called for his censure by the Senate) and by the entire right side of the talk radio/television/blog world. The heat got so bad that, late in the week, Durbin apologized if his remarks had been "misunderstood." They weren't, and Durbin should not have apologized.
That's right. In the Strib's world, it's a fair comparison.

It may be the only one they make in the whole piece, as we see in the next graf:

Instead, the senator should have hit back hard, just as the Amnesty International did when its comparison of Guantanamo to the Soviet gulag was attacked.
The Amnesty report, as scurrilous and inaccurate as it was, though, made the "Gulag" reference based on the scattered nature of the camps, and their secrecy. It was a specious comparison, but at least they were shooting for a basis in fact.
By caving in, Durbin did just what the orchestrated right-wing smear effort required to succeed: It made him the story rather than focusing further attention on the outrageous violations of international law and human rights being perpetrated in Guantanamo and elsewhere in the name of the American people.
For starters: "Orchestrated" attack?

Please, Strib editors; show us orchestration. Because what I - a simple blogger and hobby radio host - read and heard was thousands of voices lifted in outrage at a slander. That they rose together should make you think; that you concluded it couldn't happen without "orchestration" proves you didn't.

The comments that were criticized came late in a long, thoughtful speech on the Senate floor in which Durbin reflected on the United States' obligation to be better than reprehensible regimes of the past...Durbin was spot on in his assessment of Guantanamo. That's why he was so roundly attacked. He told the truth. And his message is of vital importance; the United States is better than this.
No. It was "the United States is this, right now".
The issue of whether Durbin's rhetoric crossed a line is small potatoes compared with the undeniable truth that American treatment of its prisoners has crossed many, many lines -- of morality, of international law, of practical benefit.

But instead of discussing what goes on at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and other prison camps, the right would prefer to get into a senseless argument about whether "we" are better than the Nazis or Saddam Hussein or the Soviets or Pol Pot or whomever a critic of Guantanamo might raise as a comparison.

Actually, this member of "the right" would rather discuss:
  • the Strib's conception of the laws involved; the "detainees" are not criminals. Neither are they prisoners of war; they are terrorists, mostly not natives of the countries in which they were captured, operating on behalf of a non-national body; they have no standing under the Geneva Convention; they can, and perhaps should, be given drumhead courts-martial, lined up and shot, in accordance with hundreds of years of Western legal tradition.
  • exactly how these people are treated - better, in large part, than inmates in American prisons. Where are the gangs? The shower-room rapes? The endless, constant, tacitly-tolerated physical abuse that accompanies so many of our own inmates?
  • Exactly what "rights does the Strib think these people, in their legal status, should have?
The Strib continues:
It's a tactic the group running Washington now has used again and again: They're quite deliberately changing the subject -- from Guantanamo to words spoken on the Senate floor.

It's not too late, as Durbin said of Bush in his speech: The senator should stop apologizing and keep up the criticism of the hellhole America's military has created at Guantanamo. He has no reason to be defensive; he's telling the truth. It's a truth Americans need to hear, and its tellers must resist intimidation.

On the one hand, poppycock; he's delivering what will in all likelihood be finally determined to be a sensationalist, hysterical message of dubious accuracy that invokes images that, in our civilization, should be inviolate from casual political abuse; the images of Auschwitz, of the Lyubyanka, of the killing fields and the Czarny Maria and the Einsatztruppen, instruments of death for tens of millions of innocents... defense of five hundred thugs, mercenaries and terrorists who are as a rule treated with vastly more social, religious and legal deference than their kind has ever received, anywhere at any time in history.

If you have a quibble with how these people are treated, then by all means bring it up. But to compare the treatment the detainees allegedly received, even if every word is true, with what befell the Jews, the Volgadeutsch, the Kulaks, and the tens of millions of innocents that crossed the world's most monstrous dictators is beyond the pale of moral repugnancy.

On the other; yeah, Dick Durbin. Yes, Strib. Keep it going. Don't apologize. Fly your morally-depraved freak flag high and proud. It's a window into your institutional soul - and the more the people see, the sicker they should get.

Posted by Mitch at June 21, 2005 06:55 PM | TrackBack

Hugh Hewitt called the Strib about it, and the editorial in question is attributed to ... guess who ... Jim Boyd. Off his medication again.

Posted by: RBMN at June 21, 2005 05:19 PM

Heh. Durbin_laden is on the senate floor apologizing. Can't wait to see how the Strib spins that.

Posted by: Nancy at June 21, 2005 05:23 PM

"...the hellhole America's military has created at Guantanamo."

If Guantanamo is a "hellhole", what, pray tell was the Lefortovo prison, or Andersonville, or Dachau, or the Hanoi Hilton.

I'm sure Guantanamo Bay isn't a pleasant place to be a prisoner. OTOH, I suspect it's rather better than Lethbridge or Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada during WWII. If you want to call US policy mistaken wrt Guantanamo Bay, that's fine. I'm unlikely to agree with you, but that's not germane to the current argument.

When you define everything you dislike as an atrocity, regardless of its actual importance, you are unlikely to be heard when you complain of a real atrocity. Even that would be fine, if that were as far as it went. Regrettably, when you misuse words to the extent that they have no meaning any more, I can't use them and expect them to have any meaning either.

In a world where US actions in Iraq are described as genocide, how are we to meaningfully discuss Zimbabwe, or North Korea, or Darfur? All I ask is that you use language appropriate to the situation. Try "embarrassing", "inappropriate", "offensive", "uncivilized", or even "nekulturny" for all I care. As I said, I'm unlikely to agree, but you might actually get a debate on the issues.

Posted by: Doug Sundseth at June 21, 2005 05:57 PM

Being liberal means you never have to say you're sorry.

Posted by: Bob R at June 21, 2005 07:56 PM

This editorial smells a litlle like Churchillian Crapola. Maybe the Stribe will offer CU Professor Ward "walking eagle" Churchill a job when he is terminated for plagiarism and ethnic fraud

Posted by: Boe at June 21, 2005 08:37 PM

Thank God for Mayor Daley of Chicago. It was his emotional televised outburst this morning that finally got Durb to realize he had to apologize for real this afternoon. Chicago has hundreds of thousands of survivors and descendents and family members of the lost from the real Holocaust and Gulags as well as a huge Cambodian population. Durbin's comments were a huge affront to them irrespective of their political leanings otherwise, and they vote in Illinois. As Mayor Daley said, "Nothing can compare to the Holocaust." It didn't hurt that Daley also has a son in the Army. Yep, all politics is local!

Posted by: Li at June 21, 2005 11:14 PM

I'm not expecting people to turn a blind eye to anything, but it's disappointing and difficult to prosecute a war when you must spend half your energy contending with the minority party in your own country. It does serve to point out the ever-increasing and irreconcilable differences. I will never vote for a Democrat; not even for dogcatcher. Ever. And Durbin is their #2 guy? Save us.

Posted by: R Gerdes at June 22, 2005 12:21 AM

What apology? When there is an apology, then write about it. Until then, don't be a fool and a sucker, and don't corroborate little Dickie's certainty that his constituents are idiots unfamiliar with the concept of remorse.

Posted by: Stu at June 22, 2005 01:48 AM

What he said. I listened to that sorry excuse for a Senator, and that was NOT an apology. He's sorry if WE misunderstood him. Jeeesh

Posted by: Silver at June 22, 2005 07:25 AM

You nailed IT. Sitting here in Illinois I am hoping the northern portion of our state gets its right the next time we vote. Get rid of Dickie D. & Osama obama. Since Gov. Ryan's screw ups the republicans have been confused in trying to rebuild. Hope they get it right the next time. This is a GREAT Blog! Thanks

Posted by: John at June 22, 2005 09:51 AM

You nailed IT. Sitting here in Illinois I am hoping the northern portion of our state gets its right the next time we vote. Get rid of Dickie D. & Osama obama. Since Gov. Ryan's screw ups the republicans have been confused in trying to rebuild. Hope they get it right the next time. This is a GREAT Blog! Thanks

Posted by: John at June 22, 2005 09:52 AM

To the contrary, Senator Durbin and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune should be congratulated for having finally dropped the charade that they in any way, manner, or course have the security interests of the American people at heart. They do not. Their allegiance lies elsewhere, as does the political party they so glowingly represent.

That they have finally laid bare their loyalty and subservience to the enemies of these United States, in both their leadership and the propaganda arm that unflinchingly supports the Democratic Party, ought to serve well as the wake-up call for their sleeping utopian supporters that they are blindly digging their own graves.

The rest of us, meanwhile, shall remain vigilant and steadfast in our duty to honor those soldiers whose valor and last full measure of devotion are the means by which we remain free. As they fight there, we shall fight here. With our vote and our pocketbook, we shall defeat those among us who wish us no good. Semper Fidelis.

No more Vietnams.

Posted by: Eracus at June 22, 2005 11:09 AM

"hellhole America's military has created at Guantanamo"


Does "hellhole" refer to the menu served, which is better than the average family, including orange-glazed chicken and rice pilaf?

Oh, there are so many places to go here. But one thing is certain: the absolute disgraceful editorial staff at the StarTribune are the laughing stock of the newspaper world and their subscribptions are being dropped now, faster than ever. (See: Powerline)

Posted by: Dave at June 22, 2005 12:13 PM

Being Liberal means never having to engage in intelligent thought

Posted by: bernie at June 22, 2005 12:51 PM

For those of you who want to watch a parade of the sensitive, caring Liberal Democrats who would NEVER consider sifling debate....take a look at the reaction by the Libs in the American Spectator Online today. The hate they spew on the debate over funding of PBS is really illustrative of what they believe: Debate is good, but only if you think like WE do.

Posted by: Dave at June 22, 2005 01:02 PM

This morning I did the only thing I could to protest the Strib's editorial policies. I cancelled my weekend subscription. The paper was getting so bad anyway that we only got it for the coupons.

Posted by: Bob at June 22, 2005 01:52 PM