Implied messages

Like so few in our liberal media, Richard Cohen has the balls to stand up to the enemies of Israel (in his print column).  But rather than doing the cowardly thing of engaging with an actually informed person, Cohen takes the bold step of making up an unnamed opponent with a weak argument.  This way Cohen sacrifices himself by making his own argument look weak, and himself like a cowardly jerk, while he is really just courageously distracting his readers from seeing the moral complexity of the current situation in Gaza.  He writes:

I get the impression that Israel is expected to put up with this. The implied message from demonstrators and some opinion columnists is that this is the price Israel is supposed to pay for being, I suppose, Israel. I am informed by a Palestinian journalist in a Post op-ed that Israel is trying to stop "amateur rockets from nagging the residents of some of its southern cities." In Sderot, I saw homes nagged to smithereens.

Yes, of course.  Those who think that Israel should sit back and do nothing while being bombed can raise their hands now.  Anyway, Cohen is such a vicariously belligerent dishonest dumbass that he cuts out the second part of the quote above.  Here it is:

In its efforts to stop amateur rockets from nagging the residents of some of its southern cities, Israel appears to have given new life to the fledging Islamic movement in Palestine. 

Not to be pedantic, but the point is that Israel has strengthened the hands of Hamas by responding in the way that it has.  But Cohen, who "gets the impression" and sees the "implied message," deprives his readers of the pleasure of seeing that "the politics by other means part" of the current war might not have been wisely thought out.  It takes, however, real courage to make up, and then face down, such hollow men.  People, after all, might think Cohen a superficial sort of thinker.

4 thoughts on “Implied messages”

  1. Woah woah woah.  This is a really bias post.  Sure his argument is flawed, but you’ve gone one extra step and implied that his position is invalid, not simply his arguemnt.  I am in full support of Isreal on this, and I don’t think Cohen does my position jsutice at all.  If you disagree with him that’s fine, make that arguement and it can be debated.  Taking the opposing position because his arguement is weak is very much akin to exactly what you’ve (rightly) accused Cohen of doing.

  2. Dear Andrew,

    I’ve accused Cohen of setting up a straw man.  In doing this I’ve suggested that there are stronger arguments against the bellicose position than Cohen lets on.  I haven’t endorsed them.  I would suggest that if Cohen wants to engage in a serious discussion on the matter, then he ought to engage with serious interlocutors–not fabricated ones.

  3. Alright.  I must have misinterpreted the post.  It all just seemed very tongue-in-cheek, and I was mistaking an implied position because of the sarcasm.

  4. Could also be read as dichotomy, whether false or not is more difficult.

    1. Either Israel must bomb and invades Gaza, or it must “put up with” rockets fired at its citizens.
    2. Israel should not “put up with” rockets fired at its citizens.
    3.Therefore Israel must bomb and invade Gaza.

    Whether it’s a false dichotomy is harder to determine. The straw man seems to arise when Cohen imputes this premise to the demonstrators and then suggests that since they’re opposed to bombing and invading Gaza, therefore they must conclude the other horn of the dichotomy. Presumably, the demonstrators would balk at this argument being placed in their mouth.

    Probably, they would reject the dichotomy to begin with, though I’m not in a position to determine whether they would be right to do this.

    Or, we could aim at the notion of “putting up with” throughout. Daoud Kuttub seems to suggest that a reasonable cost/benefit analysis of this war would have suggested to the Israelis that it was an imprudent means to the end of ending the missile strikes. This seems like a reasonable argument at a glance.

    1) The harm to Israel from the missile strikes was small and perhaps temporary.
    2) The harm to Israel from bombing/invading Gaza is significant and longer-term.
    3) The “harm” to Israel from these strikes was smaller than the “harms to Israel from the invasion.
    4) Therefore, prudence would counsel “putting up with” the missile strikes temporarily while working to guarantee Israel’s interests longer-term.

    Cohen contests premise 1, because he spent an afternoon in a bomb-shelter, and he ignores premise 2, preferring to construct his straw man.

Comments are closed.