Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Facts, Opinions, and Who Really Needs To Hang Their Heads in Shame

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Via City of Brass, the blogger at Dean's World enlarges our vocabulary. "Americaphobia," Dean informs us, is a condition into which people fall when they disagree with the following statement:

It is a fact that Iraq is a much better place than it was under Saddam, unless you were an Iraqi Baathist. It is also a fact that Iraq is now, thanks to American intervention, the freest Arab country in the world.

It is to the great shame of the Muslim community in the United States that they did not do more to try to help, and instead spent most of their time on Bush-bashing.

I eagerly look forward to the day that the American Muslim community gets off its collective, whiny Americaphobic duff and actually takes action to help improve the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Bush-bashing and talking about how awful the situation supposedly is is [sic] so much easier, isn't it?

Clearly, Dean's sixth grade teacher did not get around to the unit on distinguishing fact from opinion, so here is a lesson plan on that subject. And here is a worksheet that asks students to examine about a dozen sentences and decide whether they are facts or opinions. Dean may find the subject matter (wolves) interesting, and he needs the practice on telling the difference between a statement of fact and a statement of opinion.

Aziz at City of Brass writes a nuanced response that, in my opinion, is much more gentle and respectful than Dean Esmay is capable of appreciating:

To be honest I don't really understand this. Iraqis themselves don't think it's better now than under Saddam. Iraq certainly isn't the freest Arab country in the world. And what exactly were muslim americans supposed to do to "help" ? Dean himself often points out that there are thousands of muslims serving in the Armed Forces. What else does he want? And do muslims in the US really spend "most of their time" Bush Bashing? Is that an accurate statement? Odd, that. Maybe he meant, "most muslims who blog online" but given the systematic way in which the Right has institutionalized Islamophobia, is it surprising that american muslims online are polarized in opposition and embrace the left en masse? Reap what you sow, o Right!

It seems to me that one can in fact love America, and also hold the opinion that George Bush has been wrong on matters of policy. I think that Iraq could have been much better executed than it is now; I am a pragmatic liberal interventionist and so I do believe in military power as one essential (and not neccessarily "last resort") pole of a multi-pole projection of American hard/soft power in the service of promoting liberty (though not neccessarily democracy).

I think that if you look at the spirit of Dean's critique rather than the literal way he makes the case, you could argue reasonably that most leftists are Americaphobic. So too are most radical rightists though, because they reject 50% of America and believe in an authoritarian interpretation of American society and heritage that is fundamentally at odds with the Founding. But why single out muslim americans? Frankly I've had enough litmus tests and if a genuine, issues-based and factual analysis-based dislike of George Bush and our Iraq strategy marks me an Americaphobe, then add that label up alongside anti-semite and blood libelist and transnationalist progressive and all the other nasty names I've been called.

At any rate I am still marginally more in favor of staying in Iraq in some capacity than leaving; I think however that no matter which Democratic president gets elected in 2008 we won't truly ever leave and I also praise Hillary Clinton in particular for being the sole Democratic candidate to admit this openly. Though I'm an Edwards man.

To add to what Aziz has said above, I would suggest that Dean's complaints work both ways. If Dean is concerned about "Bush-bashing" among Muslim-Americans, he might want to take a look at the Muslim-bashing that goes on in his crowd. If I were a Muslim-American, I would be pretty fed up with Dearborn, Michigan, being renamed "Dearbornistan" by self-styled "patriotic Americans" who quite seriously believe that every single Muslim living in Dearborn and other cities with large Muslim populations is a terrorist -- with no evidence for that conclusion whatsoever.

If you want to have a friend, be a friend. Friends don't ignore or make excuses for outrages like this if they want the help and support of the people at whom such outrages are directed.

No comments: