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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Take the Flag Test

Two Flags. Two ways of honoring what the flags stand for. Suppose the men in each photo decide to torch the flag they're raising. Call one "Flag A" and the other "Flag B." Setting fire to Flag A is an act of "constitutionally protected free speech." Burning Flag B is a "hate crime" punishable by fine or jail or both. Test: Which flag is which? Make your best case for why.

Elite Media Announces New Standard

Barbara Walters says Star Jones Reynolds is out of a job because
"her negatives were rising ... The audience was losing trust in her. They didn't believe some of the things she said.''
Omigod. "Audience losing trust." "Credibility gap." With standards like that, is any of the elite media truly safe? Meanwhile, sisterhood is powerful. And Dan Rather was last seen hurtling toward the Earth at rapid speed.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Cosmic Justice for the Duke Dancer!

I have had it with the ongoing attempts to smear the virtuous young woman who says she was raped by twenty Duke lacrosse players — wait, I mean five — OK, so actually three. Critics say her story is "all over the place," but the very demand for consistency and coherence on the young woman's part is one of the tried and true ways the Patriarchy works to silence female victims of male privilege. She is a single mother, after all! — which status is just another means by which a male-dominated society keeps women in their place. And here come the same critics — details, details! — pointing out that the medical records indicate the exam found only a small scratch on the accuser's knee, a cut on her heel and vaginal swelling. The Patriarchy asks us to believe that a woman who was hit "hit, kicked and strangled" should be expected to show some "neck, back, chest or abdominal tenderness." Wrong! The absence of such signs simply tells us that the rapists — all of 'em — were practiced in the art of raping in subtle ways. Well calibrated, highly nuanced sexual violence is how rapists — penis-bearing persons — men! — have learned to escape detection. Oh, so because the second dancer called the rape allegations a "crock," we're supposed to think that means anything? Wrong, again! One way the Patriarchy thrives is by brainwashing women to do its bidding. The point is that justice — ultimate justice, Big Time justice — must be done. I'm talking about justice of a kind that goes way beyond the actual facts of this specific case. For here we have a chance to set right an entire legacy of White Wrongs and Male Wrongs (which add up White Male Wrongs, do the math) against Blacks and Women and Black Women and Women of Color and all Subjugated, Marginalized Uterus-Centric Persons, going back before the start of recorded time. (Men were doing really bad stuff even before there were records. In fact, men actually started creating records — like, all of Western Civilization — precisely as a way of bragging about their treachery. Do I have to explain everything?) So let's not get our boxers in a bunch about the Duke case and its supposed "problems." How about we keep the big picture in view, waddya say? As Joseph C. Phillips puts it:
A lack of evidence ... is not a stumbling block when one is pursuing justice that exists in the nether regions of ethereal reality. It's not unreasonable to think that [D.A. Mike] Nifong is keenly aware that the charges of black women against white men have been ignored throughout the years and decided such would not be the case on his watch. He would give voice to past victims by giving this accuser every benefit of the doubt.
Any of you white racist sexist privileged beneficiaries of Patriarchy got a problem with that? Any descendents of slave drivers out there, eager to go toe to toe with all those Past Victims? Speak up, I can't hear you. Right - I didn't think so. So how about all you oppressors of yesteryear doing the rest of us a big favor by sitting down and shutting your once favored, formerly advantaged pie holes for a decade or two. We'll let you know when the scales are balanced.

The Flag

People who burn the Stars and Stripes are vile scum. Given my commitment to diversity I believe vile scum deserve their rightful place in society, next to child molesters, meth dealers, and Air America hosts. This is to say I believe it not unreasonable for a levelheaded society to regulate the actions of vile scum (the first two by criminal statute; Air America via ratings). Hence I have no quarrel with the substance of the Flag Protection Amendment: "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States." Key phrase: shall have the power, which means the Congress is within its discretion to say either yay or nay. If I were a member of Congress, I would cast my a yay vote for the Flag Protection Amendment. My personal flag credo is two-fold: I believe true power of the flag consists of what the flag stands for, its enduring symbolic force. I also believe burning or otherwise physically desecrating a flag is not an act of speech; thus prohibiting such acts does not — cannot — constitute the abridging of free speech. Penalties? I favor a values-based approach that emphasizes education and (it goes without saying) compassion. Flag desecrators would be transported to a VFW hall in a remote region of south Texas. Around midnight. The cops would leave. And the symposium would begin.

Rush at Customs

"I've been racking my brain... I'm trying to figure out how Bob Dole's luggage got on my airplane. I told the doctor, 'Look, I'm worried about the next election.'" "The people at Customs were as nice as they could be; they just didn't believe me when I told them that I got those pills from the Clinton Library gift shop. They told me at the Clinton Library gift shop that they were just little blue M&Ms." "I know a lot of people in Washington don't even need Viagra; they just look at themselves in the mirror and the problem is solved."
— Rush Limbaugh in response to reports that he was detained for possession of a bottle of Viagra that had the names of two Florida doctors, but not his.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Calling George Washington

The New York Times, a newspaper located not far from where the World Trade Center used to stand, righteously refused to publish the incendiary Danish cartoons, out of "respect" for Islam. No less proudly, the Times has taken to exposing every American national security program it discovers, "no matter how legal the program, how carefully crafted to safeguard civil liberties, or how vital to protecting American lives," Heather Mac Donald writes. In the same vein, a few trenchant questions from Andrew McCarthy:
What on earth would George Washington have made of Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, and his comrades in today’s American media? What would he have made of transparently politicized free-speech zealots who inform for the enemy and have the nerve to call it “patriotism.” Who say, “If you try to isolate barbarians to make them hand up the other barbarians, we will expose it.” “If you try to intercept enemy communications — as victorious militaries have done in every war ever fought — we will tell all the world, including the enemy, exactly what you’re up to.” “If you track the enemy’s finances, we will blow you out of the water. We’ll disclose just what you’re doing and just how you’re doing it. Even if it’s saving innocent lives.”
What General Washington would have done is move against the Times in the same way he took on the Tories at Trenton.

The Haditha eight

The war in Iraq is an insurgency. Coalition soldiers daily encounter warriors who don't wear uniforms announcing their jihadi status; to the contrary. Because our men and women in uniform face killers who hide in civilian populations and attack from the shadows, they need to be able to respond instantaneously to the potentially deadly circumstances of insurgent warfare. The bizarre act of holding the Haditha Eight (seven confined Marines and one sailor) in maximum security sent a dangerous double message to their comrades on the ground in Iraq: "You are expected to be on guard against constant threat from vicious killers who may not appear to be your enemy, but you also need to know that your commanding officers will scrutinize your every action with deep and abiding suspicion. Good luck. You're on your own." What gives? Is it now U.S. military policy to undercut the confidence of our armed services in action? Do we want our military people second-guessing themselves on the ground, in the most dangerous circumstances imaginable? Look: I do not know — and you do not know — precisely what happened at Haditha. Attorneys for the men being investigated for possible war crimes in the deaths of 24 Iraqis insist that their clients did nothing wrong and were simply following the military's rules on how to combat armed insurgents hiding inside homes. I'm confidant that the truth will come out. For now: how interesting that human rights activists who rail about the humane treatment provided terrorists at Gitmo, can't manage so much as a murmur about the treatment of the men being held in the Haditha investigation.