Wednesday, April 7

Voting for life. War drum beating.

[The brief introduction to this exchange is posted on April 19 as VOTING FOR LIFE: PREAMBLE. The following was written on April 13.]#11
Fanni writes: I will respond quickly to this message and send my reply to the rest later.

Robert wrote: "Thanks for the info on the 10.5 million."

Fanni writes: Sure.

Robert wrote: "Three thoughts. First, isn't human nature interesting? You did exactly the same thing on the mosque issue that you said I did. That is, you referred to it initially without making any reference to combatants on the Iraqi side. When I tried to correct your omission by pointing out that US troops were indeed being fired upon, but did not mention innocent civilians, you accused me of beating on the war drum. Should I accuse you of being a one-sided peacenik?"

Fanni writes: First, this is not a question of "human nature." Your point here would have merit if it related only to my very first message about the incident in Fallujua, which message I had already "corrected." I was responding to an initial report that I heard before the full story came out. No mention was made of anyone firing from within the mosque. After I wrote the message (in which I said that I could not find any military version of the incident), I did what any responsible citizen should do: I further checked multiple news sources and got a more complete, if complicated picture. Can you say that you did the same, or that you do so regularly? That's something I have doubted and asked you about and you keep refusing to address my questions on that account. In any case, I think we can agree, as I said earlier, that this fighting in and around the mosque in Fallujah is a disuputed incident. I adjusted my understanding of this incident without your help and I wasn't being a brainless peacenik. Am I to presume that you have set your war mask down on this one? It seems that you have considered it, but, if so, you may as well say so, as I already corrected my own understanding in a previous e-mail to include the military take on what happened. You're lagging behind on this one even as you try to win a point for belatedly expanding my version of the incident, and then try to force me into a permanent state of hypocrisy, chalked up to "human nature."

Robert wrote: "Second, I could ask you the same question you appear to be asking me. How many unborn a day need to be killed before you disavow your loyalty to the man who has vowed to continue to work to expand abortion rights here and abroad?"

Fanni writes: First of all, you appear to be playing tapes here. Who is this man that you say I am loyal to? Have I ever spoken of or demonstrated loyalty? Does this reference come from a debate had with someone else? I will respond to your question once you have identified the man. I do like the spirit of the question, though. It shows that you -- possibly -- are willing to see abortion in a large context of life-and-death issues. This is certainly not something I have resisted; on the contrary, my questioning has been calling for it repeatedly, and it is specifically this line of questioning that you have most resisted.

Robert wrote: "Third, I believe I have answered your main question. I am doing the same thing you are doing, looking at an imperfect politician (I assume you don't agree with Kerry on every point, particularly the abortion rights point), looking at and assessing the evidence of his plusses and minuses, and coming up with more plusses."

Fanni writes: I am not a supporter of Kerry and never was. Sorry, you're wrong on this point, and embarrassingly so, because all I have done in my discussions with you is to criticize Kerry. But do I think Kerry would be a better president than Bush? (I don't, like you, shy from a hypothetical). Well, as one commentator said, I would rather vote for a bowl of Jello than George Bush, so, yes. (At least the bowl of Jello would not knowingly tell lies during the State of Union.)

What are the "plusses" you see in Bush, other than his anti-abortion line? Please tell me the main reasons why Bush is a fine president, to your mind, or at least the best candidate among all those running, aside, obviously, from his anti-abortion line.

Robert wrote: "Hence, we each support our imperfect politicians. We just differ on how we add up the plusses and minuses."

Fanni writes: Let me hear all of your plusses for George Bush, please.

Robert wrote: "I won't answer a hypothetical. I answer on my understanding of the existing plusses and minuses. Hence, I think I answered your question, unless you posed another one I missed."

You missed many questions, including the most important ones, and I will indicate what those are in a coming message.

p.s. This is what you wrote to me, after I quoted an AP report that did not mention the presence of fighters within the mosque.

"The innocent civilians in that mosque were firing on U.S. troops."
And this is how, today, you characterize this one-sentence, flat, summary rendition of a disputed, complicated incident:

"When I tried to correct your omission by pointing out that US troops were indeed being fired upon, but did not mention innocent civilians, you accused me of beating on the war drum."
It is outrageous to call the above, simplistic and distorting sentence that I have underscored here a "correction of an omission." It is so because, even if it presents new information, it does not say that this information is only to be added, as supplemental material, to other, legitimate information. That is what corrections of omissions do. If you had wanted to present a corrective statement, or add supplemental information that was missing, you could have easily indicated that that was what you meant to do. On the contrary – this is where the sound of your war drum beating punches through – you leaped to the claim (which I have seen substantiated nowhere, in any press whatsoever) that it was the innocent civilians who were doing the firing. Now, it is patently absurd and propagandistic to claim that the innocent civilians were doing the firing; for, in such a case, obviously, they would no longer be innocent civilians, right? So, in ramming together both innocent civilians and militants, you obviously meant to deny that any innocent civilians were in the mosque at all. And I ask, how did you know this to be true? The point has been disputed, and remains so. What you gave me, then, was not a "correction of an omission" but the military line in its full, propagandistic (and, in your version, sardonic) form.

Point denied.