The Revisionist

And I thought Norman Podhoretz simply engaged in revisionist history when it came to Vietnam.  But hey, maybe he’s trying to get a jump on this whole 9-11 thing.  You know, kinda how the cool kids always are trying to say they were the first to hear a band before it became popular?

In his tribute to September 11th, Norman Podhoretz does what must seem natural; attack the anti-war left for not being patriotic enough.  Now it is vitally important to make one clear distinction before we move on.  This is something Mike and I have talked about in private, and I think it is necessary to cover it.

The anti-war left has two meanings apparently.  There is the broader meaning, that wherein all progressives who are opposed to our current policies in Iraq.  And there is the more narrow definition of the term which covers the extreme activists such as MoveOn.org, and Code Pink.  Like so many other instances from everywhere in the political spectrum, I will not disavow everything they say, but it should be known that myself, and many of the rest of us from the broader anti-war left are not particularly thrilled with the actions and conduct of these more extremist groups that fall within the narrow definition.

 Okay, with that said, Norman, the same Norman who believed that had we stayed in Vietnam just a little bit longer we would have won, seems incapable of differentiating the two definitions of those who oppose the war in Iraq.  In fact, with none too subtle language, he asserts that the only view to have if you love your country is that we should not make the same mistake we made in Vietnam, and stay in Iraq forever, regardless the cost in treasure and life, and regardless of any signs of progress or lack thereof.

Though, it should be said that he still knows what team he bats for in giving Republicans something of a pass:

Here too the antiwar playbook of the Vietnam era is being very closely followed. In 1972, Richard Nixon was elected by landslide to a second term as president, but in campaigning against George McGovern’s call for us to withdraw from Vietnam, Nixon did not sound an opposing call to fight on to victory. On the contrary: He too promised to get us out of Vietnam. The difference was that he also promised to accomplish this with our honor intact.

Today, like the McGovernites with respect to Vietnam in 1972, the overwhelming majority of the Democrats in Congress, and all the Democrats hoping to become their party’s candidate for president, want America out of Iraq, and the sooner and the more completely the better. And like Nixon in 1972, many Republican members of Congress, along with a few of the Republicans running in the presidential primaries, also want out, but with our honor intact.

Uh-huh.  You see, so, when Barack Obama gets up in the debates and talks about “leaving Iraq responsibly” or when Biden takes his opponents to task for “not leveling with the American people” over immediate pull outs.  They’re really the bad guys, and Senator John Warner is the good guy because he has an R behind his name?

Just wanted to be clear on that.

In fact, while only loosely connecting the dots between anti-American sentiment towards anti-war movements back in the Vietnam era, Podhoretz completely fails to do so in the era of today.  The reason for this is because it simply isn’t true.

One of the reasons for this, I believe, is that we learned something from Vietnam.  Not to say that there aren’t anti-American anti-war groups out there, but the broader definition of the anti-war left seemed to have looked at what happened in Vietnam and said to itself, “You know, we were pretty shitty to the soldiers back then, and we blamed a lot of people who weren’t at fault.  This time, we’re going to focus on the real problem.”

Further, I think if you do a quick scan of the internets and you look at a lot of the sites out there invested in putting an end to the war in Iraq, you will find a great deal of Pro-American sentiment, as well as pro-military.  In fact, we here at Comments are the very embodiment of that ideal.  I personally am against Bush’s policies BECAUSE of my patriotism, and BECAUSE I see the direction he is taking my country and I would very much like him to stop.

You see, this is the very heart of the matter for me.  I am a patriot because I have fallen in love with the principles upon which it was created.  There is a nobility in the ideals of America; self government, self determination, freedom of speech and expression, freedom from religion, simple freedom itself.  As the sole remaining super power, we have it in us to do great amounts of good in the world, but under the stewardship of President Bush, we have fallen so terribly far from this goal.

So, despite Podhoretz’s misguided views, I did not simply allow my patriotism to burn up in the years following 9/11, instead I have let that patriotism grow and guide my conscience and my actions.

What more could he ask for?  Oh, right, succumbing to his revisionist history lesson I suppose.  Oh well, can’t please everyone all the time, can we?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook