Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The torchlight brigade

-- by Dave

You may recall the bogus Lincoln quote that was floating about on the right a few weeks ago, tailor-made for promoting the conservative movement's rising eliminationist theme arguing that liberals are traitors:
"Congressmen who willfully take action during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs, and should be arrested, exiled or hanged."

One of the purveyors of this hoax was Frank Gaffney, who led off a column discussing Democrats' attempts to rein in Bush's Iraq misadventure with it. The error remains uncorrected at TownHall, unsurprisingly, though the Washington Times, where the column also ran, did run a correction.

Moreover, Gaffney penned a followup column at the Times, wherein he provides some thin justification for characterizing Lincoln's position thus. Of course, it conveniently overlooks Lincoln's own record as a congressman, including his fiery opposition to the Mexican-American War.

Moreover, it takes that gigantic leap that transforms normative, principled and appropriate dissent into an actual effort to harm American troops and cause their deaths, as well as to undermine the military's morale:
Such behavior is even more intolerable when compounded by today's "agitators" demeaning the troops they profess to support -- notably, by comparing them to Nazis, terrorists, rapists and the killing fields -- and threatening to deny them (through one device or another) the means required to accomplish their mission. In the offing are new legislative initiatives aimed at limiting the authority given to the president in 2002 to achieve Iraq's liberation and tying his hands with respect to the growing threat from Iran -- even that the regime in Tehran is currently posing to our troops fighting next door in Iraq.

These critics, particularly members of Congress, must be held accountable for such destructive dissent. Our enemies believe their strategy for achieving a political victory by wearing down the United States is succeeding. They are redoubling their efforts as they perceive the rising power of irresponsible anti-war "agitators."

When, exactly, have members of Congress "demeaned" the troops the way that Gaffney describes? Ah, but of course! The notorious Dick Durbin remarks that provided the pretext for an earlier round of eliminationist liberal-bashing.

Reality check: Durbin's remarks were leveled solely at the perpetrators of the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo torture atrocities -- not "the troops" generically. Apparently, criticizing such atrocities is now, by the Gaffney Standard, identical to attacking all the troops.

Well, in any event, Gaffney continues to identify the Democrats' efforts to bring the Iraq misadventure to a close with those Civil War-era, pro-Confederate operatives who were openly working to get Union troops to desert. A couple of weeks ago, on Feb. 21, he went on Lars Larson's radio talk show out of Portland and talked about it some more.

Mike Stark called in and chatted Gaffney up about it. Gaffney explained that in the actual Lincoln observations, from June of 1863, "he talks about, you know, 'It is not only constitutional to silence the agitators, but it is a mercy.'":
Gaffney: It's a very hard line. And I'm afraid that if we wind up losing Iraq, and we wind up facing the consequences that I've forecast from that, I'm afraid there are going to be a lot of people who will want to silence those who agitated for our defeat.

Caller: Should they be executed?

Gaffney: I don't think so, but there may be people who feel that way, if the repercussions of these actions -- these really irresponsible actions -- to the extent that the repercussions of these reprehensible actions, dividing us in the face of the enemy, and leading to our defeat, translate into the large loss of American lives, I'm sure there are going to be people who are going to be upset to the point of saying, these people betrayed us.

Gaffney goes on to say that he's not particularly hoping for such an outcome -- "that would be a dark day for this nation" -- but that antiwar liberals need to be aware that such consequences may lay in store for them.

Demurring of this sort is meaningless, of course, because the very people who might act out in this fashion are the same people who will hear such discussions, similar to Ann Coulter's ability to "understand" why some people might want to shoot abortion providers, as permission to do so. Gaffney's denials that he's promoting such views are just so much winking and nudging.

[You'll also want to note that Mike has included Larson's off-air conversation with Gaffney, in which Larson reveals that Bill O'Reilly won't fly commercial. Some man of the people.]

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