August 15, 2005

Volokh Conspiracy is generally considered by lefty bloggers to be the best conservative blog out there. It's intelligent, provocative and fun, and for a lawyer like myself, it is indispensible in finding out what the other side is thinking without the demeaning, partisan tone that exists elsewhere. When the competition consists of nothing more than posts of "Heh. Indeed", "Religion of Peace?" and "Wankers", and when argument is limited to the banal overuse of the word, "liar" (which, among bloggers, means "a person who stated something that I consider to be factually incorrect"), the VC is an invaluable resource.

So it's a bit of a disappointment to read Prof. Volokh's list of "supporters" of the insurgency in Iraq. Inspired by the death of an American journalist a few weeks back (originally attributed to the insurgency, but more likely the result of his having run afoul of Shi'ite bigots upset with his plans to marry a local), the professor recently asked his readers for examples of Westerners who support the Iraqi insurgents. By any fair meaning of the term, that should be limited to those who've provided rhetorical support not only for the insurgents' goals, but also those who have cheered their tactics, including the killing of American G.I.'s and murder of civilians.

Of the people mentioned on the site, they are either are marginal political wack-jobs, such as George Galloway, or some professor emeritus back east, or they are people whose past statements have been so blatantly taken out of context so as to earn the most scornful term that can be used by a blogger, "dowdification". That would include the most famous American on the list, Michael Moore, who is there because he compared the insurgents to the Minutemen and the Viet Cong, and predicted that like those forces, they would ultimately win. Anyone who has seen Fahrenheit 911 knows that although Moore opposes the war, he is not anti-G.I., nor has he glossed over the horrors of terrorism.

Another example concerns former British Cabinet minister Clare Short, because she supposedly told a Dubai "newspaper" in an interview that the cause Osama bin Laden was fighting for was "just", and that the insurgents were analogous to the French Resistance during WWII. Criticism of the latter is simply political correctness; the analogy she drew between the Resistance and the insurgents was that they were fighting an occupying army, not that their goals were equally praiseworthy. And the former statement was in reference to a book about bin Laden that Ms. Short was citing to the interviewer, and had nothing to do with whether or not she supported Al Qaeda. Had Prof. Volokh decided to do some actual research on the subject, he might have come across this article, written by the same Clare Short only a few weeks ago:

"Let it be proclaimed without qualification: the messianic millenarianism of Osama bin Laden is a form of fascism that has no place in any society that believes in or aspires to freedom.

But we need to think more ambitiously still. The objective should be to get an international consensus, including the leadership of the Muslim and Arab world, which places all attacks on civilians and non-combatants in a war situation beyond the pale. We have, fortuitously, a series of opportunities to advance this seemingly simple, but until now impossible agenda." (emphasis mine)

Well, if you believe the professor, it seems the Right Hon. Clare Short was a supporter of terrorism before she was against it. More logically, though, you could conclude that maybe her earlier remarks were jumbled, taken out of context, or even misquoted.

If guess if you try hard enough, and cherrypick your source material on Google, you can prove that anybody supports the terrorists. I just thought that wasn't the sort of rhetorical game a law professor ought to play.

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