Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Rocky Mountain News: Putz is the right's Ward Churchill.

It's finally happened.

The mainstream media finally sees Putz for what he is: not a moderate, reasonable "non-partisan" -- but a hard-right extremist. Columnist Paul Campos not only takes Putz to task for his assassination fantasies, he does so by equating him Ward Churchill -- exactly the right analogy.
Murder is the premeditated unlawful killing of a human being. Glenn Reynolds, the well-known University of Tennessee law professor who authors one of the Internet's most popular blogs, recently advocated the murder of Iranian scientists and clerics.
Doesn't seem so reasonable does it?
Of course Iran is not at war with America, but just as Reynolds spent years repeating Bush administration propaganda about Iraq's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, he's now dutifully repeating the administration's claims about supposed Iranian government involvement in Iraq's civil war.
It's just so great to finally see old media get it: Putz is not a non-partisan. He's a rabid Bush partisan. That he's been able to fool them this long is astonishing.
Moreover, even if Iran were at war with the United States, the intentional killing of civilian noncombatants is a war crime, as that term is defined by international treaties America has signed. Furthermore, government-sponsored assassinations of the sort Reynolds is advocating are expressly and unambiguously prohibited by the laws of the United States.
It should be noted that Campos is a law professor at the University of Colorado, so his words have some additional weight. Look how he picks apart Putz's shallow rationalization of his own extremism.

How does a law professor, of all people, justify advocating murder? "I think it's perfectly fine to kill people who are working on atomic bombs for countries - like Iran - that have already said that they want to use those bombs against America and its allies, and I think that those who feel otherwise are idiots, and in absolutely no position to strike moral poses," Reynolds says.

Now this kind of statement involves certain time-tested rhetorical techniques. First, make a provocative claim that happens to be false. In fact, no Iranian government official has ever said Iran wants to use nuclear weapons against the U.S. Then use this claim to defend actions, such as murdering civilians, which would remain immoral and illegal even if the claim happened to be true. Finally, condemn those who object to using lies to justify murder as "idiots," who don't understand the need to take strong and ruthless action when defending the fatherland from its enemies.

Finally, Campos wonders,

Why does right-wing extremism in our universities, as represented by such things as law professors calling on the Bush administration to commit murder, get so much less attention?

Easy answer: because Putz, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Hew Hughitt, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Bill Bennett, and the rest of the right wing echo chamber who consistently elevate obscure figures like Churchill naturally ignore their own extremism.

Finally, Putz's pathetic response to Campos includes the same old right wing canards:

He [Campos] hurts his credibility up front by saying that Iran is not at war with us -- when, in fact, it has been since 1979, with the deaths of many Americans, soldiers and otherwise, on its hands.

I've already thoroughly debunked this ludicrous claim when Jeff Goldstein raised it on this very blog (and for more rebuttals, see here). But it's downright hilarious for Putz to impugn Campos' credibility while making the nonsensical claim that Iran has been at war with us since 1979.

The rest of Putz's rebuttal consists mainly of adolescent finger-pointing ("well, a few Democrats have said the same thing!") and starts with this false dilemma.
PAUL CAMPOS thinks I'm beyond the pale for suggesting (in this post, which he does not link) that the Bush Administration might have been better off trying to use covert action to kill Iranian nuclear scientists and radical mullahs, instead of having to look at the massive air strikes now reportedly being planned, which would surely kill more people.
See? The choice is either carpet bombing the entire country or killing a few scientists. I mean, isn't killing a few scientists and religious leaders the more reasonable?

Please thank Paul Campos for his excellent work.



A couple of people have written in, claiming that Putz's advocacy is more extremist/worse than Ward Churchill's, so Campos' analogy fails. I do think there's some merit to this argument, but for a different reason. Churchill is not representative of "the Left" --- Putz and the Limbaugh/Fox machine created him and cast him in that role (Putz ridiculously called him "the very image of the Left today.") In contrast, Putz is largely representative of the Bush Right and is popular because of it -- not because Air America plucked him from obscurity to point and shriek at him. So, point taken.

Still, I do think that anyone who calls the victims of 9/11 "Little Eichmanns" is just as silly and absurd and fringe as someone who claims Iran has been at war with us since 1979. And I know Campos' analogy absolutely infuriates Putz, which is why I love it.


Atrios (after generously linking to the post above) notes this funny post at American Prospect by Scott Lemieux, that so artfully dispatches Putz's Iran War myth:
I UNDERSTAND THAT TRYING TO INFER LOGIC FROM INSTAPUNDITRY IS FUTILE, BUT... Glenn Reynolds asserts that Iran has been at war with the United States "since 1979." My question: when does he start calling for Michael Ledeen to be put on trial for high treason for helping to sell arms to a country the U.S. is at war with?

Putz has updated his response again, this time enlisting a 1994 interview from humorist Dave Barry in his defense. Yes, that Dave Barry. Geebus.

He also cites a portion of an article from Washington Quarterly (emphasis mine).
In the international community, states have always reserved the right to use force to maintain world order and safeguard their own defense. When containment fails, diplomacy is ineffective, and a full-scale war is too costly, killing a regime leader is an option a state should seriously consider. In a world in which states will amass WMD, unlawfully invade their neighbors, and threaten other’s national and international security, national security experts and policymakers may need to reexamine their choices, including killing regime leaders, as a means of ensuring security.
All for naught, of course, since Putz wasn't advocating killing regime leaders, but civilians.


This time, Putz turns to Powerline.
Campos' attack on Reynolds and Hewitt betrays his ignorance of the subject matter at hand and his failure to do even the most elementary research before denouncing others as "accessor[ies] to murder." As happens so often on the left, "murderer" and "fascist" are the common coin of a polemic that bears no relation to reality. And, needless to say, Campos offers no constructive thoughts as to how we should deal with the threat Iran poses to our troops in Iraq, or the threat a nuclear Iran will pose to us and our allies
No substantive rebuttal of Campos' article at all. And why is Campos required to offer "constructive thoughts" about Iran? Red herring. His article is about how extremist Putz is, and he nailed it. But even so, I don't think calling for the insertion of death squads into Iran -- somehow -- to kill various Iranian civilians "quietly" is very constructive.

No comments: