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Deconstruction zone

By Michael J. Smith on Thursday November 17, 2005 12:05 PM

In an earlier entry I mentioned the Nation magazine's long-deferred line in the muck about Democrats who won't oppose the Iraq war.

It's not the world's most entertaining read, this piece -- the Nation's editorial board generates prose so solemnly self-important that a Security Council resolution, by comparison, reads llike something from Wonkette. Abstract nouns grow thick as mangroves, woven together with an impenetrable tangle of cliche, as the board excogitates the hard choices facing America today. (Sheeit, this idiom is catching.)

It all reminds me of a tiny Left faction that I used to be part of, back in the early 80s when the anti-nuclear power movement was at flood tide. Our cell had some real iron-butt long meetings, trying to decide whether or not anti-nukery was OK under our exegesis of Marxism-Leninism. One particularly tough-minded comrade cautioned us that we shouldn't endorse anything that might come back to haunt us "when we take state power" -- hey, we may need these nuke plants.

Likewise, the Cardinal Archliberals of The Nation, like a shadow cabinet preparing for its turn in office, observe that the Iraq war distracts us from "real threats" like "more terrorist attacks, jeopardized oil supplies, rising tension with China, the spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction...."

Seldom has the liberal's intellectual imprisonment been more plainly laid out. These poor guys have no conceptual apparatus other than the worn and never-very-sharp tools of conventional wisdom. They actually use the phrase "national security" twice in the same paragraph with this list of editorial-page bugbears.

  • "Terrorist" attacks -- why not just "attacks"? What does it add to call them "terrorist," except to reassure the reader that The Nation, like other right-thinking folk, doesn't approve of 'em?
  • "Jeopardized oil supplies?" Geez, guys, don't you occasionally publish an item on climate change? What could possibly be better than jeopardized oil supplies -- except perhaps oil supplies that are completely gone?
  • "Rising tension" with China -- what is this supposed to mean? Whose fault is it? What should be done about it? Or is it just a causeless, qualityless badness buzzing in a vacuum? One thing is for sure: we should be very, very scared of it.
  • And of course, top of the pops as always, WMDs -- or rather, the "spread" of them: as if we, or the world, should be more worried about a nuclear Iran than a nuclear United States or Israel.
Then there's that phrase "national security." Can learned folk like Katrina van den Heuvel and Victor Navasky possibly be unaware of the history and baggage of this term?

But that's a topic for another day.

Comments (1)

Will Wilkin:

Thanks for saying it. Its all true what you say: the Dems are the left hand of the Empire, and all the imperial logic of moral supremacy and global control can be found in the Dems. I can't understand why so many good people stick with the Dems instead of accepting that there is really only ONE political party, the Republicrats, who are the twin parties of wall street and the war economy.

The problems didn't begin with the Patriot Act, and aren't even seen as political sometimes. But look at how many people are in jail due to drug prohibition laws. Hope you'll apply your keen insight to the disasters of the so-called drug war too. This is as big an assault on freedom as the terror war. Just because it is directed at minority subcultures that are typically depoliticized doesn't mean it isn't a huge violation of liberty and an unjustified destruction of millions of careers, families and lives.

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