September 28, 2001
Today I read a column from a true wingnut and it really cheered
The goof in question is, of course, Michael Kelly, and today
he aimed his vitriol at pacifists. "Pacifists are not serious
people" Kelly opines. He goes on to make the astonishingly
unoriginal point (having been made weeks before by Andrew
Sullivan with the same amount of eloquence and credibility)
that non-support for the "War on Terrorism" equals support
It is indeed fitting that he quotes Orwell in his rant, since
Kelly has just produced one of the finest examples of doublespeak
since... well, since the last Michael Kelly column.
But let's let the master's words speak for themselves.
"Organized terrorist groups have attacked America. These
groups wish the Americans to not fight. The American pacifists
wish the Americans to not fight. If the Americans do not fight,
the terrorists will attack America again. And now we know
such attacks can kill many thousands of Americans. The American
pacifists, therefore, are on the side of future mass murders
of Americans. They are objectively pro-terrorist."
Only a truly twisted man could take a philosophy of peace
and equate it with terrorism. But Kelly is an old hand at
this. He is adept using the chief tools of the hyena, obfuscation
Kelly is correct when he asserts that American pacifists
don't want America to fight. But what he conveniently leaves
out is the fact that American pacifists don't want the TERRORISTS
to fight, either. The idea of pacifism is peace. Pacifists
want everyone to live together in peace. Having one side slaughter
another is not a working definition of peace to most pacifists.
It's a concept that must be familiar to Kelly. Back during
the illegal Contra war in Nicaragua, the Democratic rally
cry to end the bloodshed was John Lennon's refrain, "Give
peace a chance." The Republicans, bent on justifying as much
carnage as possible, responded with "Peace without freedom
is slavery." Kelly's colleagues obviously felt that peace
was not the same as slavery. He must remember this argument,
yet he ignores it and instead equates the search for peace
with the longing to be subjugated. Interesting. Hypocritical,
To pillory pacifists for not wanting their side to fight
and ignore that they don't want the other side to fight either
sorely misses the point. Or maybe it just makes possible an
otherwise ludicrous argument.
But more than ludicrous, this argument strikes me as defensive.
Kelly himself notes that "Pacifists see themselves as obviously
on the side of a higher morality, and there is a surface appeal
to this notion... There can be truth in the pacifists' claim
to the moral high ground." Indeed, if you listen closely you
can hear the desperation in Kelly's voice. He knows his point
is specious, and he knows just as well the other side's stand
is the correct one. Why else would he have to misstate their
point in order to prove his own?
Pacifists are not serious people? Tell that to Ghandhi. Or
Martin Luther King, Jr. Every argument that Kelly makes against
pacifism can be (and was) made against them as well. In this
country, however, it was people like the peace movement and
King who were proven correct, and bomb-throwers like Huey
Newton and LBJ who were proven wrong. It will be no different
with today's Kings and today's Newtons.
Thus it ever shall be. And that's cause for cheer.
Smith is editor of SurfLiberal.com