Saturday, March 25, 2006
Dear Red State...
I write this here because it seems clear to me that RedState does not welcome opposing views. Unlike your website, you may post anonymously here. My e-mail is also available.
What is most striking to me in reading comments on this site is that the whole goal seems to be to support your man, with only a few RedStaters giving much serious consideration of the criticisms that have been raised. Even restricting oneself to what is documented by National Review Online, it is fairly clear that Mr. Domenech systematically plagiarized the work of others. And that in turn makes it clear that Mr. Domenech lied to his fellow RedStaters in claiming that this was simply a matter of youthful indiscretions or inadequate attribution.
Some of the defenses that have been mounted are telling:
1. Conservatives are persecuted by "the left," i.e., "the martyr defense." These grievances, of course, cut both directions.Any conservative who wants to complain about persecution is welcome to try to make the case. I can supply a list dating back to the Alien and Sedition Act, if the history is limited to the American Republic, or to the hanging of Quakers and the stoning of Baptists by the conservatives of that day if we want to go back to the Colonial period.
2. Any sin by a conservative is dwarfed by the sins of their opponents, the so-called "Clinton's cock defense." This is the category of defenses that many mothers explain to their four year olds as "two wrongs don't make a right."
3. Ben Domenech's enemies are America's enemies, advanced by Mr. Domenech himself. This actually illustrates very well a major problem: the right conflates people who oppose them with people who wish harm on this nation. Our national security apparatus is malfunctioning, just as it did under Nixon, precisely because it has been turned against so many average Americans. There's nothing left over to catch Osama & Co.
4. Ben Domenech was threatened and reviled by the wicked left, as we know from... Ben Domenech, who we have good reason to believe lies, even to his friends, aka the Peter and the Wolf defense. If he really received threatening e-mail, he would have turned it over to the cops and let them discuss the issue with the sender. My guess is that maybe Domenech's charge is not exactly true?
5. The "they all do it" defense. Some plagiarists, notably Stephen Ambrose, have not been ruined; reference David Plotz in Slate. Well, true. People whose work is regarded as extraordinary have survived, much chastened. The careers of less brilliant luminaries are extinguished. Where does Ben Domenech stand in the writer's universe in terms of intellectual candlepower?
6. The limited hangout defense made so popular by Richard Nixon. In this case, it comes down to pretending this is all about plagiarism, that none of the other concerns have any validity. Alas, no it's not just about plagiarism. There are genuine questions about resume falsification, fabrication of quotes and extremism, for a start.
7. The "God is on our side" defense. I am also struck by the misuse by RedState posters of the name of Jesus for politics. I have to ask the poster who brought up the parable of the dishonest steward whether he only forgives his comrades, or does he forgive people who he regards as opponents? I have to ask the RedStater who uses as a tagline the statement that Christians would have to be stupid to vote Democratic what he thinks that Jesus's positions on war and on capital punishment would be?
In short, RedState seems to have created an alternate reality, in which they are good because they are conservative, and their opponents are wicked because they are not. And if their opponents on an issue are conservative, like Michelle Malkin, then they're not really conservative. Plus, they're a whining minority (or whatever).
RedStaters, you are not my enemy. Lies are. Lies seem to have taken almost total control of the conservative movement. The toxicity the RedStaters complain about in public debate really began in the assault on Bill Clinton's presidency. That assault was based mostly on lies and conservatives continue to lie about it.
If the people who went after Clinton were as pure as many RedStaters seem to think they are, then there would be no problem. It would be a simple case of angels against devils.
Of course, this being earth and not a Chick Comic, it isn't that simple.
What the Domenech case illustrates so nicely, is that many too many Americans can't tell the difference between the truth and a lie. Some RedStaters think that Domenech's resignation from the WaPo ends it. But until the lies-- and especially until the defense of lies-- ceases, it is not over. The Hound of Heaven is on the move.
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