Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Handicapping Uncle Sam

Jeff Goldstein has a worthwhile post today, pegged to yet another media-discovered "scandal" of the U.S. military engaged in propaganda work in Iraq -- nothing more serious than putting a special emphasis on facts that are probably beneficial to our side and also happen to be true. We've arrived, Jeff thinks, at a place where "the US military is not permitted to engage in 'propaganda,' while the terrorists’ propaganda is presented oftentimes uncritically as 'news.' ”

With a bit of hyperbole on his own part (but not entirely; read the comments about him on the lefty blogs sometime), he clarifies what a lot of us have been saying all along, which is not "questioning" anyone's "patriotism." Unless you can't look at anyone to your right without seeing the face of Tancredo. In which case you should be reading the "psychiatrists" section of your Yellow Pages, not this blog.

Whenever I mention that the tenor of mainstream media coverage of this war is troublesome—and that it may indeed have a material impact on how successful the campaign ultimately is—I am met with scoffs from anti-war types who insist that their dissent has no effect on the situation on the ground in Iraq, and that in fact, their willingness to speak Truth to Power is part of the great tradition of this country, and one of the few things left that the Bushies haven’t beaten into the dirt with their fascist boot heels.

Of course, this is a strawman argument: my gripe is not against dissent, but rather against intentional and purposeful misrepresentations growing out of ideology.

He boils down the paradox nicely to this: it's "as if a campaign to discredit the enemy is somehow against the rules of wartime discourse (while a campaign to discredit our own Commander in Chief is a duty of every real and true patriot!)."

Of course, the current C in C doesn't seem to need the outside help in the discrediting department, but what's under the microscope here is the anti mentality.

Some wonderful non-leftist bloggers with training in human behavior, like Shrinkwrapped and Neo-Neocon have tried to puzzle out how this sort of mind works. Their answers tend to run to thousands of words. Jeff's shorter explanation might also explain just a bit of it:

Because we know that, militarily, we cannot be defeated in Iraq, it is almost as if our famed love of the underdog has taken hold in some perverse way, one wherein we are now upset by the imbalance of power between the US military and the terrorists that we look to give the terrorists an advantage when we can in order to make the fight more “fair.”

Sounds nutty, but I think I've seen some of that in my own circle.