Monday, August 13, 2007

Color Me Outraged! (If That Makes You Happy)

A few days ago, a columnist named Stu Byofsky wrote an inane column arguing -- I kid you not -- that the United States needs another terrorist attack. Why, because it would supposedly help us achieve national unity. Really, he says that. Here's a quote if you don't believe me:

America's fabric is pulling apart like a cheap sweater.

What would sew us back together?

Another 9/11 attack.

The Golden Gate Bridge. Mount Rushmore. Chicago's Wrigley Field. The Philadelphia subway system. The U.S. is a target-rich environment for al Qaeda.

Is there any doubt they are planning to hit us again?

If it is to be, then let it be. It will take another attack on the homeland to quell the chattering of chipmunks and to restore America's righteous rage and singular purpose to prevail.

I saw a link to it -- I forget where, or I would post it -- and I thought "wow, that's pretty stupid." In addition to being utterly immoral and batshit insane, of course. I didn't blog on it at the time, because, well, there's a universe of dumb statements out there and I lack time to blog on all of them. I suspect that many bloggers had a similar reaction. "Dumb, but not worth my time."

This doesn't sit well with Mark Kleiman, who laments the fact that "a Technorati search finds no A-list Red blogger who denounces Byofsky, and a Google search does no better." Well, I don't know if I count as a red blogger -- my politics lean libertarian, and I have been a critic of President Bush in the past. And I know I'm not an A-lister. I'd call myself a D-list blogger if I weren't worried about a cease-and-desist letter from Kathy Griffin's lawyers. Come to think of it, a cease-and-desist letter might very well raise my status. That's the ticket -- I'm a D-List blogger.

Anyhow, I am quite certain that it won't satisfy Professor Kleiman, but here goes: I am outraged by Byofsky's comments, and I denounce him in the strongest possible terms. I think his column is dumb beyond belief, at every possible level.

To begin with, he is wrong to think that another attack would generate national unity. In the case of 9/11, most people believed it was unreasonable to blame Bush, as he had not been in office very long. Now, by contrast, he's been in office for over six years, and he has certainly made the War On Terror his defining issue. People would argue -- correctly -- that his failure to protect us from a major attack was a failure of his strategy in the War On Terror.

Nor is it clear to me that "unity" as such is a desirable goal. Byofsky seems to think that unity necessarily leads to people marching off together to do something worthwhile, but it's my sense that I don't want to be led by the sort of people who demand "unity." Calls for unity often precede atrocities. Not to mention the fact that panicked politicians often do things that are both stupid and counterproductive. Sarbannes-Oxley, for example. I see no reason at all to believe that, if we were attacked again, George W. Bush and Nancy Pelosi would get together and do something smart.

Finally, even if Byofsky were right that an attack wold create unity and right that this unity would result in constructive action, well, I don't want thousands or hundreds of thousands of my fellow Americans to be murdered. Call me a sentimentalist if you like, but I do think that murder and death are Bad Things. Whatever intangible or morale benefits a major attack might possibly produce, it's not worth it. Not by a long shot.

I think his column was utterly outrageous. It defiled the memory of those who were killed on 9/11. Moreover, the column was a transparent play for attention -- which he has gotten. As somebody who sometimes says outrageous things to stir the pot, believe me, I know it when I see it.

I promise that -- assuming I remember the guy --- if in the future I refer to a column by Byofsky (try to say that ten times fast), I will refer to him as Stu "We Need Another 9/11" Byofsky. And if I fail to remember, well, my ever-growing cadre of loyal readers can correct my error, and I will sheepishly add an update in which I append the moniker.

Professor Kleiman, I may disagree with you on many things, but I stand united in outrage against Byofsky's idiotic column. So, will you link to me now and maybe help me make the C-List?

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