Sunday, June 26, 2005

I don't think Winston Smith and his colleagues at the Ministry of Truth could have done a better job of rewriting history than Michael Ignatieff does in this week's New York Times Magazine.

If you'd been in a five-year coma and read Ignatieff's article, you'd think the war in Iraq was proposed strictly as a means of combating tyranny and spreading Jeffersonian democracy. Those of us with functioning memories know that the war was sold to us as a necessary act of national self-defense; Saddam, we were told, had WMDs and could reasonably be expected to give them to religious fanatics bent on attacking America. Ignatieff tries to obliterate this fact.

And he does so for one purpose: to question the Americanism of anyone who opposed the war, or who opposes it now, which means, according to recent polls, that he's calling a majority of the country un-American. This is both Orwellian and McCarthyite.


Ignatieff and his ideological soul mate Christopher Hitchens know a lot of facts, but when they talk about the Iraq War their arguments turn to a mush of fantasy. They won't talk about actually existing reality; instead, their language is reduced to lofty abstraction -- "tyranny," "freedom." They make no distinction whatsoever between what we wanted and what we've got -- if you're appalled at the actual outcome, they insist you oppose what was supposed to happen, namely freedom. They're like quack doctors who, when caught dispensing treatments that don't cure patients and actually sicken and kill some, become self-righteous, insisting that if anyone who opposes quack medicine is "pro-disease."


APOLOGIES: In the second-last sentence above, I left out the word "oppose" after "they insist." It's there now -- the sentence now makes sense.

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