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Feature Story April 1, 2004
 
Punish the Pundits!
By John Dolan Browse author Email
 
Page 2 of 5
 
The classic question-and-answer format reveals a simple, orderly mind at work. Starting from the admirable major premise that he does not want to be killed, West works quickly to link this premise to the issue: invading Iraq. The tricky bit in this argument, of course, is ascertaining that Iraq really is connected to terrorism and really is working with the Al Qaeda terrorists who attacked the US. West's solution to this problem is a classic:

"When can one decide that there is enough information to justify a preventative war? Alas, that is a question I can't answer, but must leave that [sic] to the Commander in Chief, his advisors, and the CIA. If it's my and my family's life in question, and it is, I'd like six-sigma quality in my favor, not Saddam's. Make American lives being in jeopardy the null hypothesis. How much information is enough? I can say what the answer is not: it is not what is required to satisfy public opinion, or the U.N. Security Council, or 'peace activists.' Furthermore, I do not expect the president to blow the cover and jeopardize the lives of CIA operatives, and damage covert intelligence channels by disclosing top-secret documents."

You can hear the blustery, hard-charging pinhead working through the problem, office-style. Can that pluralism nonsense and leave it to the CEO. The people at the top know what they're doing -- after all, that's the real major premise of West's entire life. Dare to suggest that our country's CEO might be a moron and a liar, and you're calling into question West's whole life. This actually clarifies why so many Americans have decided to cling tighter to Bush's lies the more transparent and untenable they become: those lies are woven into the pattern of hundreds of others that make up the wretched lives of our compatriots. Or, to put it more bluntly, admitting the dottiness of the people at the top might hurt stock prices.

You've got to love West's proud, clipped stupidity. He's an idiot and proud of it. He hates the whole idea of considering alternative possibilities. He senses (and rightly! That's what's most intriguing about this mentality) -- he senses that any sort of serious argument puts him on the turf of the enemy, the "elitists." So his concluding paragraph reads as if it was written by an arthritic fox terrier:

"That's all I care to say about the war. This is not a thorough and comprehensive argument in favor of war, and I have not attempted to rebut in advance the many arguments that I am aware of against it. Nowhere in this essay will one find the sort of sentimental slogans popularly found on posters and t-shirts. But this core argument is all that I require. A world at peace is generally preferable to a world at war; however, killing an enemy is preferable to dying at his hands."

And that, kids, is how we ended up in Fallujah, dying at the hands of an enemy we seem quite unable to identify, let alone kill. West's patriotism is authentic: it represents the solidarity of fools, one of the strongest strands of contemporary American discourse and the real root of the anti-"elitist" sentiment. West is true to his people, the well-off and stupid. And in a sense, he's right; after all, it's not they or their sons or daughters who are dying in this war. Their portfolios are sufficiently diversified to ride out the crash of defeat. It's more important for them not to break ranks.

And yet, one yearns to introduce a few consequences to West's endorsement of mute, stupid obedience. Surely some readers can suggest amusing, inventive and non-felonious ways in which Andrew West's calculation of costs and benefits might be tilted so as to force him to admit that sometimes even his fellow idiots can be wrong. Any ideas on how we can bring the world of consequences to Mr. West?

Second nominee: Michael J. Hurd, Jr.

In August 2002, less than a year before Andrew West laid out his bullet-head points, Michael Hurd took to the net to demand that we invade Iraq...in the name of logic.


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dolan@exile.ru
 
 
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