August 5, 2007

Drama at YearlyKos

PJM is reporting from the YearlyKos bloggers convention that a U.S. military veteran of the Iraq war was "censored" by a member of the panel in a seminar titled "Progressives and the Military; Are They Really That Different?" when he tried to present evidence, while in uniform, that the surge was having a positive effect. The video of a portion of the exchange is at the PJM post, but it didn't appear to me that the soldier (an inactive reservist I understand) was censored, exactly.

Granted, his message was unwelcome at this gathering of like-thinking lefties with their minds made up. The war is lost and they're not about to let Bush's humiliating defeat slip away from them at this late date.

The mild-mannered Sargeant was hardly a pro-administration or pro-Pentagon shill though, and was marginally effective at making any pro-victory points. He deplored the Abu Grahib abuses, encouraged soldiers to break rules if that meant doing "what was right", and claimed that he spoke out "on behalf of the Iraqi people". In the video, he cites decreased numbers of Iraqi civilian casualties rather than U.S. soldier statistics, and (rather lamely) challenges the panelists to refute his argument that the surge is working so far.

In fact he made several criticisms of our military that a thinking panelist at a leftist gathering might have exploited to his advantage in an actual argument on the merits of the surge, or of our overall strategy. Not gonna happen here, I guess.

At least on the matter of the blood-letting awaiting the Iraqi people if we pull out, the extreme left, of course, has no coherent argument with which to counter. And talk of the surge actually working is not about to be countenanced at YealyKos without the messenger being summarily shot. So panelist Jon Soltz storms off the dais muttering asides to the media about the uniform being "above politics" if talk of military strategy and the merits or demerits of the surge were inherently "political", and as such a violation of the military code of conduct . (Lots of comments on the PJM thread by military people and others on this issue)

But what is so disingenuous about Soltz' reaction is that the Kossacks later admit that they knew the day before what the soldier wanted to say, and they say they tried to convince him to appear in civilian clothes, but he refused. The propriety of wearing a uniform is surely debatable, and even as an inactive reservist, he may be mildly reprimanded, but a bloggers convention is not a political event, and the soldier's comments were not political to most of us not afflicted with BDS.

But had they wanted to "censor" him, they could have decided the day before not to permit him to make his little presentation. And what now seems beyond doubt is that Soltz' stunt for the cameras was altogether staged. In fact he is heard warning before the Sargeant is allowed to speak that he would be "reported" for violating the uniform code. Having screened him the day before, they stood up a guy who they (rightly) perceived as a meek and not very articulate spokeperson for our military effort, and orchestrated his trashing using a cynical and feigned reverence for "the uniform". Disgusting but typical.

After his presentation, the Sargeant tells the PJM reporter that the Kos organizers told him he would be "in trouble" and that they would see to it that he was dishonorably discharged. In other words, instead of addressing the points he earnestly a discussion forum on politics and the military, no less, .they threaten him, and pretend to be outraged at the politicization of the military uniform that they hold so sacred. And all because he dared to depart from Kossack Revealed Truth with some statistics about civilian casualties since the surge began.

The instinct of the political left is to destroy the political adversary...or even a sincere dissenter, rather than bother engaging him. And uniform or no uniform, it was that authoritarian instinct that was on display at YearlyKos by Jon Soltz, it seems to me. If the soldier had been in civilian clothes, there would have had to be some other pretext for discrediting him, changing the subject, or shouting him down.

If they couldn't discredit the messenger, they'd have to face up to some very awkward questions about what happens to the Iraqi people if the nutroots get their way politically. As for talk of the surge working, or America winning? Just don't go there.

By the way, what is it about the exercise of raw totalitarian power that draws the fascination, awe and admiration of the political left?

Posted by dan at August 5, 2007 9:54 PM