Thursday, March 10, 2005

Hyman Smears "Working Assets"



Mark Hyman once again resorts to school-yard name calling in lieu of a reasoned argument, resorting to his well-worn spiel about how anyone who doesn’t agree with his opinion of the Iraq war is against the troops.

The target this time around is
Working Assets, a progressive organization that promotes a wide variety of causes. Their recent efforts include leading a movement to get the Dish Network to remove “The Pentagon Channel” from its package of television channels.

Hyman claims many channels are included on the network because “Uncle Sam” wants them there, including channels run by PBS and several universities. Hyman seems to be referring to the requirement that service providers such as Dish Network reserve a percentage of their offerings for programming that serves the public interest (a concept about which Hyman, as an employee of Sinclair Broadcasting, is understandably shaky). Hyman argues that the Pentagon Channel is no different than these other channels.

But it is. Its content is completely controlled by the Pentagon. Other channels mentioned by Hyman might make use of government grant money, but the government doesn’t dictate content.

A good thing, too, because there’s a law against the government producing propaganda. Not that this has stopped the Bush administration from violating this law in a myriad of ways. But it’s on the books. Hyman says if government control is the issue, what about the NASA Channel? Well, Mark, the NASA Channel isn’t broadcasting propaganda. By design, the Pentagon Channel is designed to help raise the morale of families of deployed members of the armed services. That’s a noble cause, and military families already have access to this programming. The problem is the move to push this propagandistic content into living rooms around the country. If the nation is ever bitterly split along ideological lines about the fate of the Hubble Telescope, perhaps the NASA Channel will need to be taken off the air, but for now, this is an apples and oranges comparison. “Working Assets” is doing nothing more than asking that existing federal regulations be enforced.

Let’s grant that there’s a reasonable argument to be made on the other side of the issue that says the Pentagon Channel is ideologically neutral, apolitical, and a genuine public service. It would be interesting to hear such an argument. But such is not coming from Hyman, who again trades in the rhetoric of character assassination. Rather than making a coherent argument, Hyman calls Working Assets part of the “lunatic fringe” who say “but we support the troops,” but don’t really mean it. According to Hyman, the evildoers at Working Assets “do not want the friends and families of our troops to have access to anything that just might offer a positive message of our troops.”

The obvious question is why Working Assets would want to hurt the friends and families of American troops. Hyman doesn’t address that because there’s no plausible answer. Not only is this characterization a smear, but it’s completely incoherent. And as if that’s not enough, the premise of the statement is false to begin with: those with a connection to the military already have access to the content of the Pentagon Channel.

Working Assets is simply the latest in a long and bizarre listing of individuals and groups who Hyman says “seem to hate our troops” or “seem to support terrorists,” including Ted Koppel, Peter Jennings, John Kerry, the vast majority of Democratic members of both the House and Senate, and liberals in general (“the Angry Left” in Hyman-speak).

The reasons for this reliance on this crassest of arguments are many: the inability to formulate a logical argument, the paucity of facts at Hyman’s disposal that support his side of the argument about the wisdom of invading Iraq, and the identification of the military with Bush administration policies in Afghanistan and Iraq are among the more obvious.

But there’s a deeper reason, I think.
George Lakoff notes in his book Moral Politics that for conservatives, the military is the epitome of their “strict father” (a.k.a. “bad daddy") worldview and moral compass. The military plays a crucial role in conservatives’ constellation of political interests not simply because it is the tool with which the nation protects itself, but because the male-dominated, regimented, hierarchical atmosphere of the military is the fullest expression of the values that guide conservatism. Therefore, the military is an absolute good, independent of whatever practical function it serves. Is the public’s money being squandered on useless weapons systems and filling the pockets of military contractors? That’s a minor price to pay for what conservatives see as an investment in the embodiment of their value system.

Given this, Hyman’s intellectual dishonesty, as inexcusable as it is, makes a perverse sort of sense. To even grant the possibility that a group on the other side of the political spectrum might respect the men and women who serve in the armed forces is anathema. Sure, it might be true, but to acknowledge that publicly, or even privately, makes Hyman’s head hurt. It spoils the neatly divided order of things. If being a conservative means supporting our military, then anyone who’s not a conservative must not support our military (no matter how ridiculous this belief is when applied to the real world).

So to the fine folks at Working Assets, I simply say this: don’t take it personally when Hyman makes these kinds of remarks about you. As aggressive and boorish as he may sound, the reality is that he’s just trying like hell to make reality fit his worldview, lest he be forced into reexamining his political identity. It’s not you—it’s him.

And that’s The Counterpoint.

5 Comments:

At 1:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ted,
bravo!

 
At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Joe said...

Keep up the good work. I just find it amusing how intelligent, and coherent your blogs are, and how insanely asinine Hyman is.
But your comment about him twisting things to fit his world view, I completely agree, too bad Hyman doesn't just take a sociology class, he might realize how ignorant and irrational he really is. But this world has all kinds, I just think people who agree with your point of view would praise you for your work, but people who disagree would still find a way to argue with your post, so they don't have to admit to being wrong, or retarded (yes, I'm sorry to put the mentally handicapped in the same boat as people like Hyman, it really does them a disservice, I just have no better word for him than retardation.)

 
At 12:52 PM, Anonymous Joe said...

Keep up the good work. I just find it amusing how intelligent, and coherent your blogs are, and how insanely asinine Hyman is.
But your comment about him twisting things to fit his world view, I completely agree, too bad Hyman doesn't just take a sociology class, he might realize how ignorant and irrational he really is. But this world has all kinds, I just think people who agree with your point of view would praise you for your work, but people who disagree would still find a way to argue with your post, so they don't have to admit to being wrong, or retarded (yes, I'm sorry to put the mentally handicapped in the same boat as people like Hyman, it really does them a disservice, I just have no better word for him than retardation.)

 
At 2:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another great post Ted, thanks.

I think the controversy over support for the men and women serving in our military can be summed up as follows:

Hyman and the rest of the Neo-Facists calling themselves conservatives, don't care now, nor have they ever cared about the real people serving in the military. They don't support the military, they simply favor militarism and the use of armed forces to further their 'Pax Americana' agenda and hegemony.

As far as I know, neither Bush nor Cheney nor Rumsfeld have attended a single funeral for any of the over 1500 fallen American soldiers, and Hyman went to great lengths to insure that their names were not read aloud in tribute on the ABC Nightline special on Sinclair stations. And, while the soldiers are falling in battle, their efforts to cut combat pay and dependent and veterans benefits belies their flag-waving rhetoric in support of the troops and shows their true colors, not red, white and blue, but instead - green, the color of money.

On the other hand the liberals and progressives actually care about the people, the humanity on both sides of the conflict and all of the families that have been destroyed by the senseless death, injury and destruction being wrought by Mad-Cowboy-Disease!

Thanks Ted, and keep bustin' Hyman!

Mike B. in SC

 
At 8:50 PM, Anonymous KNichols said...

Re this comment: "By design, the Pentagon Channel is designed to help raise the morale of families of deployed members of the armed services. That’s a noble cause, and military families already have access to this programming. The problem is the move to push this propagandistic content into living rooms around the country." ---So, it is okay to fill military families with propaganda? It is okay to brainwash those who are making the greatest sacrifices of all? Do you really think they would rather be living in a Bush-created fantasy rather than know the truth? Not the ones I know.
If it takes propaganda to create a reason for people to want to risk their lives for their country, then the cause really isn't much of a cause. When there's a real reason to fight, we don't need propaganda to tell us so.
Just had to rant there a bit. LOVED the rest of your article.

 

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