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May 31, 2006

A HADITHA ROUNDUP, plus this pretty much sure-fire prediction: "The media frenzy around the actions of a handful of Marines is now building and, as happened with the illegal acts at Abu Graib, will be used to advance agendas unrelated to the allegations, agendas which trade on the slander of the American military, and which use the very rare exceptions to paint broadly, even as the enemy will."

UPDATE: Peter Ingemi writes that the antiwar left has made Haditha morally irrelevant:

There is one aspect about Haditha that seems to be ignored by everybody.

Our press and the anti-American left both in this country and outside of it has been reporting "Hadithas" over and over again over the last three years.

Time and time again our friends have accused us of every possible atrocity that there is to the point that internationally people are already able to believe this or the 9/11 stuff or all the rest.

Because of this, internationally it is totally irrelevant if the Marines actually violated the rules of war. Our foes are going to say that we've done things if we do them or not, so the only people that it really matters to will be; the people killed (and family) and the people in our own country who support the military.

The real danger is that we who support the war will reach the point that we say "we might as well be taken as wolves then as sheep". At that point the left can celebrate that they have made our military and those who support it the people they claim we are. Once that happens however any compunction about respecting them will be gone, and remember one side is armed and one is not.

That is a fate that I don't wish on any of us.

Neither do I.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Background and video here.

MORE: Some people, judging from my email, are misjudging -- or deliberately misconstruing -- Ingemi's point. Ingemi's point, as I took it, is that crying wolf leads end the end to moral callousness, as people assume that there's no point in behaving morally when they're going to be called monsters anyway. This seems rather uncontroversially obvious to me.

STILL MORE: I keep getting emails like this: "So you endorse using violence against your political enemies?" I don't see where anyone gets that from the above. I certainly didn't say that, and I don't think that Peter Ingemi meant it. And I don't really see how anyone could get that from the above.

This seems rather manufactured -- kind of like Matt Yglesias' claim that this post constituted an incitement to vandalism against the New York Times.

And at a time when elected Democratic officials are speaking fondly of the prospect of "putting a bullet between the President's eyes," these claims of outrage ring rather hollow.

MORE STILL: I didn't think that Peter Ingemi was proposing civil war (One tipoff -- where he said "This is a fate I don't wish on any of us."). He sends this followup:

You know I've been re-reading the responses to that letter and thought about it overnight. It really bothers me.

When you look at military dictatorships and military oppression that has taken place in history there is one common thread, (something that you have written on over and over) one side is armed and one is not. Usually you have a homogeneous military consisting of a single group/race etc.

One of the great genius' of the American system was the subordination of the military to civilian rule, and the concept of militia consisting of all able bodied men. Our military came from all over the country and from all walks of life mixing and getting together. It's a lot like going to church, people of all walks and trades and classes together in one spot. My pastor politically is as left as they come, that doesn't stop him from being of the finest priests I've ever seen. I very much wish the church had more like him. (but I digress)

As political fever drives both sides farther apart over time we are in great danger of having a military that represents only a single party and class of people. We got a tiny glimpse of this during the Clinton years as the troops did their best to separate the office from the man. What will happen in 20 or 30 years?

Since the 60's two unifying forces, for good or ill, were removed from the country: the removal of Judeo/Christian values as the semi-official moral code of the public schools) and the death of the draft/aka Vietnam. (actually ending in the 70's). These two changes had one thing in common, it took two generations for them to have the following effect:

It is now unlikely that a student going to school today, had a teacher or parent who 1. Served in the military or 2. Was taught that moral code in school. To a whole generation now being born these are things that belong to outsiders. This makes the military and religious people outsiders and strange to one group and vice versa. Since the military draws predominantly from those two groups it will become more isolated from the rest of the public as time goes by.

This is not healthy for our country. What is worse is that one group has slowly vilified the military assuming them to be all dupes or thugs. A lot of this was political rhetoric but it has grown as a matter of faith.

There is NOTHING more dangerous in a republic than this. In the old south you had a police force that was of a single race, how many people of color felt comfortable calling the police? Right now we are in a war with a group that ironically hates most of what the left loves. The people who are predominantly fighting that war are on the right, the primary targets of our foes are frankly those on the left.

Some guys like Andrew Sullivan understand that I might disagree with him on Gay Marriage but these barbarians would cut his head off and brag about it. A person like me might suffer 2nd class citizenship in an islamist state. Our friends on the left would be dead.

I am an anomaly. I was born in 1963 but my parents were in their 40's at the time. That means my father served in the pacific and my mother said the Lord's prayer in the public school that she went to. My father is long dead but my own sons are babysat by my 81 year old mother quite a bit, (active is too slow a word for her). The values I've grown up with were the values that were the mainstream of the greatest generation, however I grew up around people a generation ahead of me so perhaps I can see it a bit brighter than most. This has to be nipped in the bud before somebody in the future with power means what our left leaning friends think I did.

I see two simple solutions: The primary one is history. Let our friends in the left study the history of their grandparents and great grandparents. It is almost a certainly that they had family members in the military, belonged to a church and had the worldview that the right hold now. Look into this and see when you study their lives, how they lived without the wonders we take for granted, how they got by without TV or air conditioning or that 2nd car and see if you see what kind of people they were.

Second take a lesson from today. I would recommend to our liberal friends the book KEEPING FAITH A FATHER-SON STORY ABOUT LOVE AND THE USMC. by Frank Schaeffer (the sequel Faith of our Sons is fine too). It is the story of a man of the left who's son decides to join the Marine Corps (1998). The reaction of the people in his community and his school are shock and dismay. The reaction of the teachers is where did we go wrong? It is a riveting read.

For our part on the right we need to not make the venom directed against our institutions make us unquestioning supporters of all they do, furthermore have some contacts with people on the left. Socialize, In the group I hang out with. I am the only practicing Roman Catholic, most are not religious, several have marched in favor of gay marriage, several have signed the petition to put it back on the ballot, yet we all are pals, we are all welcome in each others homes and would drop what we are doing in a second to give the other a hand. That doesn't mean when a subject comes up we don't argue politics but that doesn't make us less friends.

Anyway I can't believe I've spent an hour writing this on my day off but it was on my mind and wouldn't get off of if until it was written and sent.

I'm opposed to conscription, but this is the strongest argument for the draft I've seen. Meanwhile, reader Kevin Deenihan, who was initially unhappy with Ingemi's first email, sent this after I assured him that I didn't think Ingemi was calling for civil war:

I agree that, on the surface, the comment looks like a simple 'reap what you sow' shot at scaremongers that see Abu Ghraib every time a Marine rolls his eyes. Perhaps I shouldn't read more deeply then that... or perhaps I've gotten your own opinion on that kind of boy-cries-wolf scenario exactly backwards.

But that comment, to me, did mean more. It's about holding to moral standards greater then your opponent and maintaining your integrity. I support the war -- by and large -- because I want to believe that those supporting it with me can always look at a Haditha and say 'This is wrong.'

To hear that the horror of a Haditha on fellow supporters can be minimized or lost because of the silly ramblings of The Nation -- that's profoundly disturbing to me. Are our moral compasses so easily dulled by New York Times opinions that we don't have the capacity to tell the difference? Or worse -- and this is what truly bothered me -- to tell the difference, but no longer even care? The idea that listening to overblown NPR rhetoric could lead to apologists for Haditha, simply because it will 'piss off' the Left, or because they're tired of being criticized, or whatever rationale.. I feel like that's the line that cannot be crossed.

Perhaps the reason that the Left is e-mailing so much is because, deep in their hearts, they believe that we all share some fundamental, American outrage at these kinds of abuses, if they really are what they seem to be. Imagine the Left's dismay if they finally proved there were horrors, and the response was a calm "we don't care about Haditha, thanks to your endless whining. Good job."

At Berkeley there was a Republican who wanted to start a Berkeley Gun Club for no better reason then 'It will really piss off the Hippies.' I can think of no more ideologically and philosophically bankrupt position then letting rage or fatigue towards your political opponents determine your own morals and integrity.

That's certainly right. A silly contrarianism is, well, silly at best. And -- by pointing out the unfortunate political purposes to which some people try to put war crimes -- I'm not trying to suggest that they don't matter when they actually happen. (I even played a part in Zeyad's efforts to uncover crimes by U.S. troops in Iraq). I would, however, like to see something more than endless efforts to rerun My Lai, as well as credit to U.S. troops for waging a war that is undoubtedly the most restrained in history. And when people exercise that kind of restraint, and get less than no credit for it, I think the result is poisonous.

And, alas, I don't think the lefty emails are motivated by anything as noble as Deenihan suggests. At least, not the ones like this, from trout@thefishshow.com:

You find this myth about we who oppose you comforting, do you, you pencil-necked weakling fuck?

Would you be shocked to learn that we are armed, dangerous, and smarter than you?

You will be.

Fuck you and your little rat-eyed chimpanzee emperor.

There were a lot of those, too. So who's threatening civil war, again?

[LATER: Technically, I guess it wouldn't be "civil war" for me, since thefishshow.com is registered to a Vancouver, BC registrant. That's a relief, as we all know that Canada is free of potentially violent extremists.]