The last refuge

We’ve been debating this for a while, but it’s time we took another turn through the internet tubes.

This from Instapundit, a right wing blogger, on 11/11/2005:

>The White House needs to go on the offensive here in a big way — and Bush needs to be very plain that this is all about Democratic politicans pandering to the antiwar base, that it’s deeply dishonest, and that it hurts our troops abroad.

>And yes, he should question their patriotism. Because they’re acting unpatriotically.


>UPDATE: Reader Kathleen Boerger emails: “Could you do me a favor and define ‘patriotism’ please?”

>I think it starts with not uttering falsehoods that damage the country in time of war, simply because your donor base wants to hear them.

>Patriotic people could — and did — oppose the war. But so did a lot of scoundrels. And some who supported the war were not patriotic, if they did it out of opportunism or political calculation rather than honest belief. Those who are now trying to recast their prior positions through dishonest rewriting of history are not patriotic now, nor were they when they supported the war, if they did so then out of opportunism –which today’s revisionist history suggests.

We’re intrigued that patriotism asks so little of the patriot: simply believe the irresponsible tripe you say. So, one might wonder, how does patriotism differ from just plain honesty?

And this underscores the general pointlessness of questioning others’ motives–the you’re just saying that because (you want to be on TV, you want sympathy, you want money, you want votes, girls, attention and so on): motives are private, often even to ourselves. The only things we can fairly and responsibly judge are *reasons*–yes, the things that compose *arguments*.

If we confined ourselves to arguments, we’d all be better off.

2 thoughts on “The last refuge”

  1. Instapundit oversimplifies the criteria for moral appraisal with respect to patriotism. Often, it seems, we have differring and conflicting motives and beliefs for why and how we take positions on particular issues. I may wish to see my country succeed in a war, even if I feel the war is wrong (although \’success\’ has become a sticky term to deal with). Or, I may have felt at one time, given the information at my disposal, that the war correct, but now feel that, given new information, my earlier approval of the war was mistaken. One belief does not strictly contradict the other. The facts in these cases (the information) are the varying factors, not the criteria for assessing what these facts point to (meaning logic or reasoning).

    Instapundit\’s attack on politicians is itself a ridiculous objection. A politician is elected to carry out the will of his or her constituency. If a senator who once was elected on a pro-war ticket finds that the political climate has changed and the constituency now seems to be overwhelmingly anti-war, doesn\’t the senator have responsibility to respond accordingly and alter his or her platform according to the will of the people? Even if the senator is still personally pro-war, we would not call him or her dishonest or unpatriotic for DOING HIS JOB, which is of course carrying out the will of the people as a public SERVANT.

  2. well, patriotism, strictly defined, is an action performed out of love of country, which, it should be argued, might be exactly the motivation of the newly minted anti-war senator; not wanting to see the young men and women of this country relegated to cannon fodder, he or she objects, publicly to the war, driving the point home by this obvious reversal of position. i think mr. casey has struck it directly on the head by pointing out the obviously flawed method of arguement utilized by Instapundit, that is, veiling a personal attack on John Murtha (a decorated war veteran) with a flimsy attempt at interpreting motives. essentially any discussion of patriotism becomes just such a discussion–more about motives and intent than principles or concrete definitions.

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