Saturday, August 18, 2007

Them's Fightin' Words!

So said new friend Michael Cohen to me in a cheerful email received yesterday. Seems Mike was a bit thrown by my reply to his "civil" war doublespeak, where on the one hand the Iraq war is "defensible," depending on who's leading the defense, but on the other hand is bad because George Bush and the neocons fucked up what could have been, should have been, a humanitarian display of American goodwill. In short, the standard lib hawk squawk in the rear-view mirror. As you know, I took issue with this posturing, and Mike didn't appreciate my thoughts.

For discretion's sake, I won't reprint Mike's email. However, it's a howler, filled with self-pity and a veiled threat against me physically, though Mike, being the humble warrior that he is, decided to let me off the hook. So it seems that I won't be socked in the goddamned face and will not stay plastered, to quote another pseudo-intellectual tough guy. But I will reprint my response, just for the record, in case my body is one day found in a ditch, wrapped in back issues of The Washington Monthly.

"Well, Mr. Cohen, any resemblance to Eichmann [to whom Mike thought I was referring] is in your head. I was referring to the specific 'banality of evil' meaning. If I wanted to compare you to Eichmann, or to anyone else for that matter, I would do so, openly and directly. You don't rate such a comparison.

"As for the crowbar reference, that's called a 'metaphor.' I have no interest nor desire to see you knee-capped. I happen to abhor violence. But I thought the illustration of such a mindset would bring down to earth and strip bare the lofty concepts you have about the Correct Uses of imperial violence, something that is very real, non-metaphorical, and does more than break people's kneecaps. From the mail I've received, it seemed to have worked. If you can find a comfort zone where you can talk safely about the 'defensible cases' and 'good arguments' about cluster bombing civilians, that's your problem. But don't expect to flaunt this pose in public and not be called on it."

So that's that. For now, anyway. Mike's not all that bright, but he is energetic and clearly ambitious, and this, as we Americans appreciate, is all that matters. In his latest Democracy Arsenal post, Mike gives a well-oiled handjob to tortured imperial thinker Michael Ignatieff, one of Mike's "favorite public intellectuals." Under the rather self-revealing title, "In Defense Of Being Wrong," Mike tells us that "Ignatieff like many Americans was wrong about Iraq, but while his judgment was wrong, his intentions were pure."

Keep stroking, Mike. The crowbar is under lock and key.