Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Does Hyman Hate America?

In his recent book, Chris Hedges warns that war causes communities to become blind. Mark Hyman, in his recent "Point" commentary, proves Hedges’ thesis.

Like many of his fellow conservatives, Hyman seems unable or unwilling to conceive of America For him, the war in Iraq defines the U.S., and the U.S. defines the Iraq war. It’s more than a little odd that such people claim sole ownership of love of country and accuse those who disagree with the war of defaming America; wouldn’t it seem that equating national identity with war is an incredible belittlement of what “America” means? I can think of no greater desecration of our nation than to define it through failure, which is what war always is. separate from war.

Of course, one can make an argument in favor of the war in Iraq without making it the sine qua non of patriotism. But the most vocal of the chickenhawks who advocate war when they’ve never experienced a moment of it themselves (and this includes Hyman) conflate America and the Iraq war (and, we fear, with war more generally). The logical fallacy behind this is obvious, but it doesn’t stop someone like Hyman from saying that anyone who’s against the war “hates” America. In Hyman’s case, this mantra has been repeated so many times and about so many people that it almost seems the man is lampooning himself when he does it.

In vilifying Hedges, Hyman suggests that Hedges is wrong to say we learned lessons from Vietnam and experienced an amazing sense of unity after 9/11. One begins to think Hyman would question Hedges’ patriotism if he said the sky was blue. In his lambasting of the New York Times, Hyman also conveniently forgets that the paper (for which Hedges writes) was so acquiescent to the Bush administration in the lead up to war that the paper had to issue an embarrassing apology after it became clear how deceitful the president had been. Nor does Hyman note that Hedges, a veteran war correspondent, has experienced more of the horrors of war than the vast majority of active duty members of the armed services, to say nothing of Hyman and his fellow war cheerleaders. Hyman jettisons the facts and turns logic on its ear in his efforts to assassinate the character of Hedges and, by proxy, all those who would express the least hesitation about sending young Americans to die in Iraq.

But as we mentioned previously, this does nothing but prove Hedges’ point: war makes it far easier for jingoistic and destructive rhetoric to rule the day over rational discourse and productive decision-making. At this point, no amount of evidence (or lack thereof, given today’s official announcement that the U.S. is giving up on finding WMDs in Iraq), would weaken Hyman’s support for the the war no matter what the costs or what alternatives presented themselves. The war has become for Hyman and his ilk the very thing it is in Orwell’s dystopia: and end in itself. The war on terror, of which we’re told the conflict in Iraq is but a part, lends itself perfectly to this dynamic because it presumably can never end. As long as fear exists, there will be sources of that fear to target.

Hedges is no pacifist, and has been criticized by some for advocating the use of military force in a way that muddies his own apparent revulsion to the concept of war. But while critics will say what they will about him, Hedges doesn’t glorify war by wrapping it in the Stars and Stripes, nor does he see it as an essential good, as Hyman does. Nor is his concept of America so grotesque and narrow that it predicates love of country on love of war.

The same cannot be said for Hyman, who, in equating unquestioning belief in the Iraq war with loyalty to our national community, does far more to desecrate the flag and all that for which it stands than any protestor with a Bic lighter could ever hope to.

And that’s The Counterpoint.


At 2:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

your friendly neighborhood sinclair employee here. just wanted to say thanks. i'm not sure how you find the time to respond to hyman every night with such well reasoned (and researched) arguments, but it's one of the things that keeps me going. i have no choice but to watch hyman and i'm not sure how much more i can take. so for you to willingly watch/read this trash, all i can say is, thanks for taking one for the team.
thought you should know though, hyman does have some military background. i believe he was navy intelligence. in fact, i met him once and i recall him saying he was a weapons inspector of some sort. although i dont think he ever saw combat. the fact he wore a flak-jacket to a playground in iraq to cover some positive news (the kind you dont see in the msm) kind of suggests that's the case. perhaps that's why he's so uppity about "snubbing" our vets. or maybe he's just a douche.


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