When is a first strike not a first strike?
When it's Anticipatory Retaliation.

August 16, 2005

"Ventriloquizing the Dead"


James Joyner points to a critical article about the Sheehan phenomenon by Christopher Hitchens. In the article he coins an astonishingly powerful concept describing what Sheehan and others on the Left (and some on the Right) are attempting to do: "ventrilquizing the dead." I slightly disagree with The Hitch's point that Cindy has no more moral authority than anyone else, however. I don't think it outrageous to claim that Cindy Sheehan does have some moral authority that I, for instance, lack. But it seems to me that if there's such a thing as "moral standing" to comment on a war, it resides a great deal more with those who are actually serving, and especially those soldiers who have also lost friends and comrades in the fight. And it does make sense that those who pay the costs have greater moral authority that those of us who are shielded from sacrifice (by an administration that for some inexplicable reason refuses to ask very much of its citizenry). Let's be realistic.

But Cindy's moral authority hardly cancels that of everyone else, especially those with similar or greater authority, who disagree with her. Nor does it constitute "expertise," as many on the Left insist. Her expertise is singularly, even spectacularly, unimpressive. In that sense The Hitch has vastly greater authority than Cindy. And someone like Michael Yon has both moral and expert authority, as well as that special form of "expert" authority that comes directly from being on the scene: experiencial. Neither of which means that you can't disagree, but you do have a steeper hill to climb, let's face it.

Finally, there is a sense in which we probably should eschew the opinions of mothers, especially those who would almost certainly feel compelled to prevent their children from maturing into adulthood if they could manage to arrest their development. Ancient societies recognized, in ritual and institution, this wise limitation on motherhood when they separated boys from mothers as they entered puberty, and compelled them to undergo an intense initiation into manhood. Young men who failed to make this transition were simply not trusted around children.

It is extremely misguided, especially for a society at war, to institutionalize the extension of childhood beyond puberty, and even to seek to instill childish sentiments in its responsible and authoritative adults. This is the primary problem I have with Cindy Sheehan, and those who exploit her.

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Demosophia)

Launched by Demosophist at August 16, 2005 08:23 PM | Missile Tracks

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