Democratic Underground  
Almost Reflexively
March 7, 2002
By Jeremiah Bourque

The title of this article was a phrase I read in an column where the author was trying to establish his credibility by mentioning leftists who "almost reflexively" opposed the war. It's a nice way to dismiss your supposedly low-credibility allies as low intelligence animals who respond by instinct rather than thought, so as to bolster your own arguments.

The rest was not really important.

The problem I have with this is that my opposition is not so much to the war, as a wide variety of mistakes being made in it. I feel no pressure to toe the line to support the flag, because the flag does not need my help; it is, rather, domestic America which requires the help. It is not because of inherent hatred of America that I think these things; it is because of appreciation and affection for it. After all, why try to change for the better, something that you hate? That's why, in essence, old Communism failed to change America. It was too consumed by what it found wrong, while dismissing what was so obviously right.

The reflexes that are functioning without thought are those on the Right, anyway. I mean, how else can we explain the President's child-like simplicity in foreign policy, either incapable of complex judgements, or preferring not to make them? How can we account for Trent Lott's criticizing Daschle for daring to question any aspect of the war, when he himself made the bold declaration that he would support the troops and the country, but not the President, on the eve of Clinton's impeachment? He said it was all about timing. So what is a good time for criticism? When there's nothing to criticize?

I've also read pieces of a Howard Fineman article that praised Bush's personal qualities in such glowing terms that those who take stock of these things continue to consider him the top "Media Whore," which is to say, a lap dog. He also recorded in detail, and then praised extensively, Bush's petty vindictiveness against any reporter who crosses him, and his ability to badger the media into submission through a combination of brass knuckle politics and playing the Good Cop. The net result is a vast reduction in the amount of diversity in the reporting of the Presidency. This achievement (cough!) is considered the mark of a great man.

No, it's just a shadow of a great man, the enforcer for his clan, with his enforcer, Dick Cheney, a shadow of a shadow.

There's all sorts of stuff going on that my "almost reflexive" instincts force me to look at. Exhibit A is the botched assault in Afghanistan. A rescue chopper is shot down trying to recover another, and we're all saying, "Oh, it's nothing, we bombed them to kingdom come afterwards, just a pinprick." Well, then I read the part about Americans encircling and attacking without trenchworks or any sort of defenses, and then "retreated badly." Trenchworks? Americans? 2002? It's obvious why they didn't think of them (or wanted to bother).

After all, what's the lesson of the early part of the war? Bomb to hell, watch enemy break and abandon fortifications, pursue.

Why wouldn't it work forever? They're too stupid to change.

Look who's talking.

Everywhere I look, I'm seeing reflexive behavior that has nothing to do with actual thought. So what if some are on the so-called anti-war side? Pro-war people are in charge and dominate political speech at the moment. These people have an incredible sense of self-pity.

Here's another little thing that I read today. Some group of "Aztlan" supporters supposedly threatening with death conservatives at Berkeley. What's next, KKK members complaining about the Elders of Zion threatening them? Aztlan is more popular as a right-wing focus of racist fear than as a Hispanic liberation movement.

Also, I must wonder about the veraticity of the claim for another reason: the worst insult they could come up for white people is "gringo." Oh come on. At least try to use something with the power of the n-word.

It's a simple ploy: Tell the press something that they want to believe. (Well, in this case, it's the Washington Times, and you know they want to believe this stuff. After all, their whole existence is arguably founded on belief.) Doesn't matter if it's true... they want to believe it. So tell them what they want to hear, that supports your cause. The damage will be already done.

These are the conservatives who spent their lifetimes fighting the "evils of Communism" and their propagandist ways.

In my case, disgust is not a reflex. Rather, it is a conditioned response forged by the power of logic. I know I'm not alone.

P.S. A piece at Slate refers to the poison plan by the Pentagon and the "uncurious" response of the Washington Post. I'm glad, in hindsight, that I did an article on it. It may be the last you'll ever read on the subject.

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