Democratic Underground

Orwell's Stepson
September 28, 2001
by Morris Smith

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Today I read a column from a true wingnut and it really cheered me up.

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 for terrorism.

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 and confusion.

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, but interesting.

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.

Morris Smith is editor of