Thursday, September 23, 2004

Prager's Lecture

Here's Town Hall columnist Dennis Prager discoursing on the difference between the right and the left:


To understand the worldwide ideological battle -- especially the one between America and Western Europe and within America itself -- one must understand the vast differences between leftist and rightist worldviews and between secular and religious (specifically Judeo-Christian) values.

One of the most important of these differences is their attitudes toward law. Generally speaking, the Left and the secularists venerate, if not worship, law. They put their faith in law -- both national and international. Law is the supreme good. For most on the Left, “Is it legal?” is usually the question that determines whether an action is right or wrong.

Take the war in Iraq. The chief leftist argument against the war -- before it began, not later when no weapons of mass destruction were found -- was that without U.N. sanction, attacking Iraq violated international law.


Of course, Prager does not offer a single example of an actual representative of “the Left and the secularists” venerating if not worshipping the law. Such evidence is beside the point in a forum like Town Hall, where slurs and stereotypes are the norm. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone on the Left who actually believes that legality is equivalent to morality.

As for the Iraq war, the point was not that there can never be a good reason for violating international law. Rather, the point was that violating international law is not something you do lightly. It's certainly not something you do on the basis of exaggerated claims about the threat posed by a country that not only had never attacked us, but also was not providing shelter to the people who had.

And that was hardly the only, or even the primary, argument aganist the war. Other arguments were that we would need massive troop committments to be able to secure the country after deposing Saddam Hussein, that it would draw resources away from our unfinished business in Afghanistan, that it would lead to further militarization of more menacing countries like Iran and North Korea, and that the evidence of WMD was not as strong as the Bush administration was claiming. Of course, the critics have been proven correct on every one of these points.

Armchair generals like Prager did not want to be bothered by such considerations before the war. They preferred instead to spout worthless platitudes about being tough on terror and to malign the backbone of people who dared think about the consequences of invading Iraq.

Just in case you missed his point the first time, Prager goes on to say:


International law thus provides a clear example of the Left-Right divide. To the Left, an international action is right if nations such as China, Russia, France and Syria vote for it, and wrong if they vote against it. To the Right and to the religious, an action is good (or bad) irrespective of the votes of the world's nations. They judge it by a code of morality higher than international law.


This is cartoon conservatism, which, sadly, is becoming increasingly hard to distinguish from the real thing.

The column goes on in this vain, repeating over and over that the left care about legality while the right cares about morality. Prager, I fear, is stuck in the past. He is completely unable to come to terms with what is actually going on in Iraq, so he falls back on assertions of his own moral superiority over those who disagree with him. The simple fact is that most of the predictions made by serious war critics before the war have turned out to be correct, while most of the predictions made by war supporters have turned out to be wrong. That's as obvious to Prager as it is to everyone else. Rather than deal with that fact, Prager whips out the condescension and caricatures.

2 Comments:

At 12:19 AM, Blogger Tim said...

Its interesting how this Praeger bloke engages in good old fashioned redbaiting with his alignment of "the left" with China and Syria, and for that matter his mention of Russia. Of course the fact that these Townhall folks seem to think WorldNutDaily is a legitimate source doesn't improve their credibility in my eyes.

 
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