Our finest hour

by Ted on July 11, 2005

Haedro: Socrates, it hurts when I do this.
Socrates: Can I suggest that you don’t do that?

Plato, Philosophy Phunnies

Chris has done a good job of capturing much of the commentary on the London bombings, but I’d like to point out one more ignoble classification. I’m going to pick on Michelle Malkin. It’s certainly not an exclusively right-wing thing, but she’s a professional writer who really ought to know better.

I’m going to assume that Ms. Malkin would have heard about the attacks around breakfast time. By lunch, she had worked through sorrow, anger, grief, and gotten to the healthy point of dumpster-diving. She had taken the time to troll the comments at Democratic Underground and Daily Kos to collect the most appalling, indefensible comments by such pillars of the left as “plcdude”, “talex”, “pyewacket1”, and “TheSnorp”. (Et tu, TheSnorp?) This post was helpfully titled “THE 7/7 ATTACKS: REACTIONS FROM THE AMERICAN LEFT”, and earned her 36 trackbacks.

What’s the point of this? I understand that there are plenty of chuckles to be had by visting Bedlam at Free Republic or Democratic Underground, and occasionally there’s a geniune point to be made. (For example, I thought that No More Mister Nice Blog wrote an interesting post that isn’t just a freakshow.) But I’d suggest that the exact same post (“DERANGED RANTERS RANT”) has been written enough times by now. On a slow day, it’s just hackish and unconvincing; the response, “what about FR/LGF/DU?” always remains the same. But on a day of tragedy, it’s really inappropriate, and it would do us good if we would just knock it off.

UPDATE: I almost forgot Roy Edroso’s response to Michelle Malkin: “DU-oh! I’ma run out and gather me some Free Republic quotes in retaliation. That’s the secret of the blogosphere: it’s self-incorrecting.”

{ 48 comments }

1

stuart 07.11.05 at 12:40 pm

If we cant score cheap political points from peoples deaths, then they surely died in vain.

2

goesh 07.11.05 at 12:53 pm

The only way to bring security to London is to allow sharia law to manifest in the muslim community. I think a token good will gesture is in order here, say a few million pounds to build a stoning/beheading/flogging court to facilitate sharia judges and help bring some stability to the old city.

3

R.Mutt 07.11.05 at 1:12 pm

Plcdude is right, you know. “Evil” is not a helpful concept, just a prohibition to think.

4

Morat 07.11.05 at 1:13 pm

In related news — I understand Kos undertook a thorough house-cleaning. Not because of Malkin, but because he’d finally gotten tired of tolerating the conspiracy nuts and just exiled the worst ones and their supporters.

Not that Malkin would EVER mention that, of course. “Liberal blog kicks out a dozen real crazies, the other 50,000 members argue over first amendment rights and the concept of ‘reasoned debate'” doesn’t make for good copy.

5

y81 07.11.05 at 1:18 pm

Actually, Malkin mentions Kos’s housecleaning today, although, unsurprisingly, it hasn’t converted her.

6

P ONeill 07.11.05 at 1:20 pm

The point of dumpster diving, as Krugman reminded us this morning: “And, on the foreign front, we must find an enemy and defeat it.” Domestic enemies are fine too, hence the joy of reading small-town newspaper letters to the editor section to find someone to bash. Then there are the real crazies who think that Michael Schiavo murdered his wife. No-one remotely mainstream could peddle that one, right?

7

rollo 07.11.05 at 1:44 pm

You want Malkin to stop being an amoral vicious, duplicitous, opportunistic careerist – or do you just want her to stop writing like one when something serious has happened?

8

fifi 07.11.05 at 2:18 pm

Why are you doing this? What does it matter what 10, 100, or 1000 people think in a society that in its collective wisdom has decided it invaded a country because of massive intelligence failure? What do you hope to accomplish in Wonderland, my thoughtful friend, writing nostalgic memoirs of reality? Be absurd with the rest of us, while you still can.

9

Andrew 07.11.05 at 2:23 pm

Wasn’t there a post a few weeks ago about right-wing google ads appearing on left wing sites?
Maybe Malkin or her readers need dates!

10

tvd 07.11.05 at 2:27 pm

Well observed, Ted. Ferreting out the intemperates on either side are yields only heat, not light.

In that spirit, I shall eschew rejoinders to some of the above comments. ;-)

11

Uncle Kvetch 07.11.05 at 2:52 pm

she’s a professional writer who really ought to know better

Funniest thing I’ve read in a month.

12

davebo 07.11.05 at 3:21 pm

The Powerliners like to do that as well.

Oddly neither Malkin or Powerline allow comments on their site.

13

engels 07.11.05 at 3:30 pm

Correct me if I’m wrong but the comments I looked at on her site seemed pretty reasonable. I’d have felt more comfortable if you’d said this, rather than just pointing out their authors’ obscurity and comparing them to the inhabitants of various right wing virtual loony asylums.

Also, mildly loopy reactions on the left to such events are not the exclusive province of alleged extremists. The centre left can also do a sterling job, as evidenced by this post by Brad Delong, in which he offers American support for British efforts to “track down and kill the perpetrators, the planners, and their helpers”.

Er, thanks Brad, but seeing as capital punishment is illegal here, “bring to justice” will do us just fine.

14

Uncle Kvetch 07.11.05 at 3:44 pm

Er, thanks Brad, but seeing as capital punishment is illegal here, “bring to justice” will do us just fine.

There’s that lack of seriousness again. Maybe the New York Times was right–the British just don’t have sufficient spine to just shut up and fly the flag while their government carries out the necessary atrocities to keep them safe.

15

Daniel 07.11.05 at 4:08 pm

It’s true actually. There’s a ton of British intelligence on various al-Quaeda types that we’re not releasing to the Americans because we can’t be assured it won’t be used in death penalty trials.

16

roger 07.11.05 at 5:00 pm

Actually, while there is something a little logically loopy about quoting Malkin quoting loopy commentators to make the point that Malkin is loopy, it is a shame to see how many places are censoring comments. It is, of course, every site’s perogative, and deleting spam is fine, but can’t we trust the market place of ideas to weed itself (wow, there is metaphorical perversity galore in that phrase, but I swear this isn’t a spam for metaphorical porno)? In many blogs, like Atrios, the whole action is the troll-non-troll comments — the thirst to be outraged matching the hunger to outrage. It is like playing the dozens for geeks. I don’t know — the site’s superego, i.e. its poster or posters, should be able to intervene in such a way as to break up these games, rather than reaching for the suppression option right away.

Just in terms of genre, the evolution of comments is a curious thing. Somebody out there in the convesation analysis field is surely studying it.

17

engels 07.11.05 at 5:36 pm

the British just don’t have sufficient spine to just shut up and fly the flag while their government carries out the necessary atrocities to keep them safe.

I quite agree, but I’ve seen signs of a similar librul malaise in New York. The only sure way to avenge these attacks will be to competely ignore the views of New Yorkers as well as Londoners.

NB. This is the correct Delong link.

18

nick 07.11.05 at 5:44 pm

FreeRepublic may be populated by frothing loons, but it does also have a degree of influence on the GOP punditry, and even the political establishment, that DemUnderground does not. Malkin and Jeff Gannon are registered members; a number of congresscritters have guested at Freeper events. Perhaps that’s a reflection on the wealth divide between those of each party that devote too much time to such forums, but I dunno.

19

a 07.11.05 at 5:48 pm

dailykos may be populated by frothing loons, but it does also have a degree of influence on the Democrat punditry, and even the political establishment, that DemUnderground does not. Senators Kennedy and Edwards have blogged there. Perhaps that’s a reflection on the wealth divide between those of each party that devote too much time to such forums, but I dunno.

20

engels 07.11.05 at 5:51 pm

can’t we trust the market place of ideas to weed itself

Thomas Friedman – you’re not fooling anybody.

21

nick 07.11.05 at 5:58 pm

shorter ‘a': ‘I’m reaching here.’

22

roger 07.11.05 at 6:05 pm

Engels — bullet to the heart, man!

23

Steve M. 07.11.05 at 6:15 pm

Thanks for not slamming my post about the Free Republic response to the bombings. I posted that because the anger at the guy who said “Shouldn’t we redouble our efforts to get Osama?” was OVERWHELMING. Maybe one or two people in 160 or so posts backed him up. I don’t think I was singling out freaks as representative of the right — I think the people I quoted ARE representative of the right.

24

Randy Paul 07.11.05 at 6:53 pm

By lunch, she had worked through sorrow, anger, grief, and gotten to the healthy point of dumpster-diving.

Ted, you are always te gentleman. She probably started trolling the sites as soon as she got out of the shower.

25

Dave F 07.12.05 at 2:28 am

By the same token, what’s the point of bitching about what’s in other people’s blogs? Crooked Timber’s penchant for telling us what blogs it doesn’t like continues to baffle me. I mean, there are petty, wicked, mad, deranged, malicious blogs out there (not that I’m saying Malkin’s is) and there are many others that aren’t. It’s a diverse sphere, innit? We all find our level and set our bookmarks accordingly, don’t we?

26

bi 07.12.05 at 3:02 am

Bipartisan goonery.

Dave F: so why are you whining about Crooked Timber? If you don’t like it, don’t bookmark it. Bleh.

27

Russkie 07.12.05 at 3:30 am

The difference seems to be that the right-wing nuts are predictable and uninteresting – but the loony-left’s sympathies for the terrorists and their conspiracy theories are still bizarre and fascinating.

28

Steve 07.12.05 at 8:03 am

Hmm-
Left wing lunatics make lunatic statements by lunchtime.
Right wing commentator (“…a professional writer…”) notices it.
Right wing commentator is in the wrong for deigning to notice it before lunchtime.

Just bizarre.

Steve

29

Uncle Kvetch 07.12.05 at 9:32 am

Hmm. Right-wing commentator digs up something offensive from someplace or other and puts it on her website, claiming that it’s representative of the opinions of a huge number of people in addition to the actual author. She knows perfectly well that this is false, but she does it anyway, because it suits her immediate political agenda. She is called on this on a different website. Commenter on said website goes into Deliberately Obtuse mode, pretending to be ignorant of the distinction between “noticing” something and incorporating it into one’s professional writing output.

Bizarre, indeed.

Maybe this will help clarify things, Steve. I live in New York City. You’ll find “lunatics” making “lunatic statements” on any given street corner here on a regular basis. I “notice” these statements…most of the time it’s pretty hard to do otherwise. If, however, I were a professional writer, I don’t think I’d devote too much of my energy to reproducing these statements in my work, unless my goal was to convince people that “New Yorkers think Beelzebub is offering them racing tips through the fillings in their teeth,” or some such.

And that would just be bizarre, wouldn’t it?

30

Steve 07.12.05 at 11:04 am

Uhm-
Left wingers make nonsense statements.
Right winger notices them.
Right winger is chastised for noticing them quickly.
Logically, then, shouldn’t the left-wingers (this site, Uncle Kvetch) ALSO be chastised for noticing Michelle, for the exact same reason you are chastising Michelle for noticing what she noticed?

Michelle was wrong for commenting on internet conversations, and you engage in an internet conversation to assert this?

Sorry uncle. Bizarre.

steve

31

Uncle Kvetch 07.12.05 at 11:41 am

Um…yeah. Sure. Whatever.

32

engels 07.12.05 at 11:43 am

Steve,

Seeing as you have already missed the point twice I don’t hold out much hope for this but here goes:

The people Michelle quoted were anonymous nobodies, comparable to people you might pass on a New York street corner. Michelle on the other hand is a professional writer. Michelle is criticising random posts as indicative of the left, whereas Ted is criticising Michelle’s post as indicative of Michelle. Therefore………. what Ted is doing is not the same as what Michelle is doing. Get it?

33

Uncle Kvetch 07.12.05 at 12:14 pm

Thanks, Engels.

I predict he still won’t get it, though.

34

Brolic Johnson 07.12.05 at 1:04 pm

“By the same token, what’s the point of bitching about what’s in other people’s blogs? Crooked Timber’s penchant for telling us what blogs it doesn’t like continues to baffle me.”

Irony, thy name is dave f.

35

bi 07.12.05 at 1:31 pm

engels, Uncle Kvetch: No, people, it’s you who don’t get it. Because Malkin _is_ representative of The™ Right™, and Steve is a member of The™ Right™, ergo any criticism of Malkin is also criticism of The™ Right™, and by extension, also criticism of Steve.

Oh wait, Steve didn’t refer to her as “Malkin”. He referred to her as “right-winger”. That shows just how much value Steve places on individuality, doesn’t it?

36

Steve 07.12.05 at 2:12 pm

You people are weird. The whole purpose of internet websites is to discuss other people’s viewpoints. You are are discussing another person’s viewpoint (i.e. the very purpose of a website) and in the process criticizing that person for…discussing other people’s viewpoints! (I guess you are being sophisticated about it. You are criticizing her for discussing other people’s viewpoints before lunch. Or something.). Whatever.

You’re still stuck with the basic absurdity I mentioned at first.
“But on a day of tragedy, it’s really inappropriate, and it would do us good if we would just knock it off.”

The whole point. On a day of tragedy, its inappropriate to notice crazy rantings, but somehow its not inappropriate to make crazy rantings? (“That guy is pissing in the corner!” “How could you notice such a thing, you cad?”). Bizarre.

Steve

Steve

37

engels 07.12.05 at 2:22 pm

Ok, I give up!

38

Uncle Kvetch 07.12.05 at 2:34 pm

I guess you are being sophisticated about it. You are criticizing her for discussing other people’s viewpoints before lunch. Or something.

It’s something, Steve. If you want to know what that something is, you could read Engels’ and my last several posts, where we explain it.

Either you are demonstrating a rather astonishing inability to comprehend the English language, or you’re simply ignoring the points made by Engels and myself as if they’ll go away if you don’t acknowledge them.

Talk about a hopeless case. Bye now.

39

bi 07.13.05 at 1:50 am

Uncle Kvetch, why are you criticizing our troops?

40

Flag 07.13.05 at 3:20 am

Malkin and Jeff Gannon are registered members; a number of congresscritters have guested at Freeper events. Perhaps that’s a reflection on the wealth divide between those of each party that devote too much time to such forums, but I dunno.

41

Slocum 07.13.05 at 11:54 am

Well, c’mon, it’s not as if the same sort of sentiments Malkin dug up didn’t appear on schedule in Guardian opinion pieces over the next couple of days:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1523681,00.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1525706,00.html

Not much difference between these and this Kos comment that Malkin cites:

http://dailykos.com/comments/2005/7/7/111317/2427/59#59

But perhaps Malkin should have waited for these more prominent and ‘responsible’ lefties to weigh in. Of course, perhaps Guardian columnists are no more representative than Kos commentators–should they also be ignored rather than debated until their degree of representativeness has been ascertained?

42

engels 07.13.05 at 12:37 pm

What appears to have offended slocum here is the crushingly obvious factual observation that the London attacks were made more likely by our country’s involvement in the war in Iraq. Anyone without a diploma in doublethink will acknowledge this fact.

And yes, Virginia, Guardian columnists are more “representative” than Kos commentators. The Guardian might be taken as “representative” of a large section of mainstream opinion in any country outside of the US, and, for all I know, even within the US, the lamentable state of that country’s media notwithstanding, as anyone who has ventured outside of their Fox News bubble already knows.

If you, slocum, wish to ignore the Guardian columnists whose writings you currently so avidly lap up, I’m sure they won’t be offended in the slightest.

43

Slocum 07.13.05 at 1:01 pm

What appears to have offended slocum here is the crushingly obvious factual observation that the London attacks were made more likely by our country’s involvement in the war in Iraq. Anyone without a diploma in doublethink will acknowledge this fact.

If that is so, then exactly the same argument can be made that the attack were made more likely by the UK’s involvement in Afghanistan, its support for East Timor, and its pressuring the government of Sudan. Which of these would you now renounce as a way of trying to avoid the ire of Al Queda?

But with respect to Malkin the point was that she may have picked blog commentators who are obscure, but the opinions they expressed are not obscure. And in this, you seem to agree, no?

44

engels 07.13.05 at 1:35 pm

Slocum. Your first paragraph is a hair-brained attempt to distort what I said. Your second is a tedious attempt to miss the point of Ted’s post. Profuse apologies if I can not be assed to reply to either.

45

Slocum 07.13.05 at 2:00 pm

Slocum. Your first paragraph is a hair-brained attempt to distort what I said. Your second is a tedious attempt to miss the point of Ted’s post. Profuse apologies if I can not be assed to reply to either.

Not sure why I’m bothering, but let me try again. Was a terrorist attack made or more less likely by the UK’s involvement in Iraq? Well, given the UK’s role in Afghanistan, East Timor, and Sudan, it’s support for UN sanctions against Iraq and enforcement of the no fly zone, and its continuting close relationship with the US, and its at least qualified support for Israel, there was certainly plenty of motivation for Al Queda to consider the UK an enemy without Iraq. Further, it seems to me logical that the war in Afghanistan should be much more motivating to Al Queda, given that it had an intimiate, committed relationship with the Taliban government as compared to the looser relationship with the Iraqi Baathists. The toppling of the Taliban government (but not Saddam’s regime) deprivied Al Queda of its sanctuary and training camps and killed many Al Queda fighters.

And given that these attacks came well after both the start of the Afghan and Iraq wars, I see no plausible reason of logic or timing to believe that Iraq (but not Afghanistan) was decisive in the terrorist motivation–do you?

As for missing Ted’s point–not at all. He was arguing that Malkin was ‘dumpster diving’ for unrepresentative, loony positions. But the comments she found echo the sentiments of commentators in ‘mainstream’ leftist publications. And, indeed, you are now arguing for the same position found in both the Kos comments and the Guardian columns.

46

engels 07.13.05 at 3:27 pm

i) Was a terrorist attack made… more… likely by the UK’s involvement in Iraq?

Answer: Yes. Defending the logically independent claim that it may also have been likely before does not a valid argument make. I did not say it was “decisive” nor did I say we must “avoid the ire of al-Quaeda”. Anyone with half a brain can distinguish these issues.

(ii) Please read my previous comments. Ted was criticising Malkin’s modus operandi which, like yours, lacks both intellectual coherence and honour.

47

engels 07.13.05 at 3:28 pm

i) Was a terrorist attack made… more… likely by the UK’s involvement in Iraq?

Answer: Yes. Defending the logically independent claim that it may also have been likely before does not a valid argument make. I did not say it was “decisive” nor did I say we must “avoid the ire of al-Quaeda”. Anyone with half a brain can distinguish these issues.

(ii) Please read my previous comments. Ted was criticising Malkin’s modus operandi which, like yours, lacks both intellectual coherence and honour.

48

Slocum 07.13.05 at 4:28 pm

Answer: Yes. Defending the logically independent claim that it may also have been likely before does not a valid argument make. I did not say it was “decisive” nor did I say we must “avoid the ire of al-Quaeda”. Anyone with half a brain can distinguish these issues.

But if your theory is that Iraq made it more likely because of an effect on motivation, then it does not follow. If Al Queda already regarded the UK as an enemy with which it was at war, it is reasonable to assume there was no effect on motivation and, therefore, no increase in likelihood for that reason. As to strategy and capabilities–certainly it is the case that Al Queda has been focusing many resources on Iraq that might otherwise have been focused elsewhere (perhaps Afghanistan, perhaps the West). And there have been reports of a debate within Al Queda as to whether to concentrate on attacks in the West vs attacks in ‘vulnerable’ countries in the Middle East (including, particularly, Iraq). If Iraq were not in contention, more effort might, indeed, have been focused on attacks in the West. Without Iraq, it may be that the underground bombings would have come sooner, or would have been a larger operation, or would have happened more than once by now–there’s no way to know.

Nor is there any reason to suppose that if, in the wake of the bombings, the UK were to withdraw its troops from Iraq only that this would take it off the Al Queda target list. More likely, it would encourage another attack to see if the UK’s behavior might be further shaped to Al Queda’s liking by terrorism.

(ii) Please read my previous comments. Ted was criticising Malkin’s modus operandi

And central to that criticism was that Malkin had selected unrepresentative comments from the lunatic fringe of the left. But given the Guardian columns I linked, that is in fact demonstrably not the case.

which, like yours, lacks both intellectual coherence and honour.

Gratuitous snottiness is not a sign of somebody confident in his argument.

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