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June 22, 2004

Hypocrisy Is a One-Way Street off Route 66.

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I've bookmarked this and put it aside. Resolved to post it and decided not to. Thought perhaps a new tone was in order and, now, decided to call a hypocrite by her name. Here's Providence Journal blogger Sheila Lennon on June 17:

As last week's portraits of Bill and Hillary Clinton were unveiled in the White House last week, the former President noted that we need to "return to vigorous debate about who's right and wrong, not who's good and bad." Jarvis quotes Clinton repeating the concept last night.

I'll say Amen to that. I'm weary of hearing political partisans call each other "haters." I'm tired of manufactured outrage.

We're all in this America together. We can disagree about our course, but polarizing attacks on those who don't think like you swears at the idea of the melting pot, of living together peaceably based on our common interests. Demonizing others in the name of God or country diminishes us.

Stirred up by talk radio for ratings and profit, our meaner instincts are a lousy set of values on which to base a fair and just society.

Thus far the various considerations have been enough for me to put aside all of her promotion of the Left's own hate-mongers that I've noticed at least as far back as her glowing recommendation, in February 2003, of a foul-mouthed writer who called a man speaking in support of the war an "Oreo" and a "traitorous black person representing the [pro-war] 'cause.'" Maybe, I reasoned, actually upholding the ideal that others only mouth is the better way to prove the point.

But today, I noticed a post about the reemergence of the protest song — protesting whom, you can guess. Among the links is a Flash video that juxtaposes the Bush daughters and the corpses of the Hussein boys. Lennon also links directly to a song by John Gorka called "Brown Shirts" (MP3), which begins, "brown shirts here in the White House/brown shirts up on the Hill." I was particularly impressed with the lyrical twist that the White House brown shirts "speak of God as their witness, but they would kill Jesus again."

Maybe Ms. Lennon was only "weary of hearing political partisans call each other 'haters'" because it hadn't been put to music yet. "Demonizing others in the name of God or country diminishes us." Right. I'll keep that in mind.

Posted by Justin Katz at June 22, 2004 2:28 PM
Liberalism vs. Conservatism

I've read that the brown shirts being alluded to were commanded by homosexuals. Who were sold out to get support from the military faction. After their leaders were killed the brown shirts disapeared overnight. Its unclear how this applies since the Democrats are nominally the home party of homosexuals.

Posted by: Ju at June 23, 2004 8:49 AM

Brown shirts were the SA, a gang of thugs the nazi used to intimidate their political opponents, especially communists. Hitler crushed them when he became chancellor. The homosexual thing was there but it was mostly in the leadrship.
Here's what Britannica says about the brownshirts:

abbreviation of Sturmabteilung (German: “Assault Division”), byname Storm Troopers, or Brownshirts, German Sturmtruppen, or Braunhemden, in the German Nazi Party, a paramilitary organization whose methods of violent intimidation played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power.

The SA was founded in Munich by Hitler in 1921 out of various roughneck elements that had attached themselves to the fledgling Nazi movement. It drew its early membership largely from the Freikorps (Free Corps), armed freebooter groups, made up largely of ex-soldiers, that battled leftists in the streets in the early days of the Weimar Republic. Outfitted in brown uniforms after the fashion of Mussolini's Fascist Blackshirts in Italy, the SA men protected Party meetings, marched in Nazi rallies, and physically assaulted political opponents. Temporarily in disarray after the failure of Hitler's Munich Putsch in 1923, the SA was reorganized in 1925 and soon resumed its violent ways, intimidating voters in national and local elections. From January 1931, it was headed by Ernst Röhm, who harboured radical anticapitalist notions and dreamed of building the SA into Germany's main military force. Under Röhm SA membership, swelled from the ranks of the Great Depression's unemployed, grew to 400,000 by 1932 and to perhaps 2,000,000—20 times the size of the regular army—by the time that Hitler came to power in 1933.

During the early days of the Nazi regime, the SA carried out unchecked street violence against Jews and Nazi opponents. But it was eyed with suspicion by the regular army and by the wealthy industrialists, two groups whose support Hitler was trying to secure. Against Hitler's expressed wishes, Röhm continued to press for a “second Nazi revolution” of a socialist character, and he hoped to merge the regular army with the SA under his own leadership. On June 30, 1934, the Night of the Long Knives (die Nacht der langen Messer), Hitler, using SS forces, carried out a “Blood Purge” of the SA leadership. Röhm and dozens of SA leaders were summarily executed. Thereafter the SA, reduced in strength, continued to exist but ceased to play a major political role in Nazi affairs. From 1939 it was in charge of training all able-bodied men for Home Guard units.

Posted by: tgs at June 23, 2004 9:09 AM

The re-emergence of the protest song is bad news. I should know; I used to sing them. They made me feel pious, righteous and superior to the goons who thought there was something worth fighting for in Vietnam.

And there was---as we found out to our horror after the singing ended. This time, when the singing stops our children are likely to be chanting "Allah Akbar."

Posted by: Maureen Mullarkey at June 23, 2004 9:12 AM

Ach. John Gorka? I've seen him, and he was charming and funny. That was before the Bush Administration, I guess.

Too bad he has moral myopia to the point that he calls the leader of the war against theocratic fascism a "brownshirt."

Posted by: Joseph K at June 23, 2004 10:01 AM

We shouldn't be surprised at the double standard. This happens all the time. A leftist calls for diplomatic language, but really means that she wishes that those ideologically opposed to her would be nice. Her plea for such civility betrays this attitude. She alludes to "talk radio", and we all know which portion of the political spectrum dominates that medium. She also frets over "Demonizing others in the name of God or country." Now just who is generally perceived (or is at least defensive about such perceptions) as being less "Godly" or "patriotic"? The Left or the Right? Thus, within her very call for civil debate, she betrays her belief of who is primarily to blame for the "hating." How is this logically tenable? It's not really, but to the Left, it is the intent, not the result that matters. Thus, if they use some hateful language to topple a fascist neo-Dictator like Bush, it's worth engaging in a little vituperation. The noble ends justify means, you see.

Posted by: Marc at June 23, 2004 10:07 AM

The real goal is to ensure no action, policy, statement or attitude of the left may be criticized. To do so is "hateful" - it causes pain. These folks are very sensitive, not used to being challanged.

Calling Bush "Hitler", "fascist", "racist", etc. is ok, though because everyone knows its true - well everyone except for those haters.

Posted by: Daniel at June 23, 2004 10:28 AM

Let no charge go unanswered. The word for someone too proud to fight is dead.

Posted by: Walter E. Wallis at June 23, 2004 11:01 AM

And let that be applied to commentators at both ends of the political specturm. Can I get an affirmation?

Posted by: Bill Peschel at June 23, 2004 4:13 PM


Not sure I follow. What applied to whom?

Posted by: Justin Katz at June 23, 2004 5:11 PM

"Demonizing others in the name of God or country diminishes us."

Huh? Why should people who believe neither in God nor country fear demonization by those who do? Do they not have courage of their convictions? This contrived defensive reaction to perceived criticim smacks of uncertainty and the bewildering frustration of having a great deal of Americans casually ignore their exalted insights.

Posted by: Harry at June 24, 2004 3:34 AM

"Why should people who believe neither in God nor country fear demonization by those who do?"

Demonization is a way to avoid productive conversation. It is a way for the demonizer to firmly plug his ears, and the ears of his allies, to any alternative argument. It is little wonder that you have no problem with it.

Posted by: Moptop at June 24, 2004 8:53 AM

Amen to that. There are certain blogs that I'm very likely to stop reading for precisely this reason. The name-calling has got to stop in the name of civilized and reasoned discourse, and what we've got right now is a mudslinging fest that is getting us nowhere.

Thanks for posting this.

Posted by: Andi at June 24, 2004 2:17 PM

Wound up here from InstaPundit, and I have to say it's an interesting argument - or would be.

Because for all of the hand-wringing about the hateful rhetoric of the left, what is lost is the origination of this sort of hateful rhetoric in the modern political era, and that can be traced nowhere else but to the modern conservative movement during the Clinton era.

Frankly, liberals think that conservatives who are so worried about "haters" are full of shit. Perhaps you, personally, were not guilty of same during the Clinton years, but plenty of conservatives were, and it did not incite the likes of David Brooks to plea for civility, as he did a few months ago.

What has happened, now, is that after a decade, liberal partisans are every bit as willing to fight dirty as conservative partisans have.

So if this call for civility is heartfelt, more power to you. But I suppose that if Kerry ultimately wins in November, we will see how heartfelt the sentiment really is.

Posted by: bgno64 at June 24, 2004 4:34 PM


Although I wasn't very politically involved, I loathed Clinton. I thought he was terrible for our country in just about every way that a president can be, most significantly in his effect on the culture. Still, I didn't think he was a Nazi, and had I, then, a venue even as mildly visible as this blog, I don't think I'd be comparing his daughter to Hussein's sons, marching with pictures of his administration declaring them murderers and fascists, or passing along known lies and deceptions to discredit him.

But even if that weren't the case, I have to say that your political memory is pretty short — or perhaps you conveniently begin the "modern political era" in the '90s — if you believe public loathing of particular politicians and their parties to be a new, or conservative-originated, phenomenon.

Posted by: Justin Katz at June 24, 2004 10:49 PM

One of the latest of Bush's ads seems to compare John Kerry to the Nazis.

Posted by: Joel Thomas at June 25, 2004 11:38 PM