Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Here's why I am an idiot: I keep perusing the right-wing sites trying to convince myself that the right only seems nutty because I'm locked into a liberal way of looking at things. But I have to admit, it's getting harder and harder for me to believe that's true. Here's one thing: compare the pervasive spin at Instapundit to the much more even-handed approach you get from The Agonist (or even CalPundit). For example, today Reynolds posts this:

"GHOSTS OF OCCUPATIONS PAST: Here are some fascinating clippings about resistance to the American occupation in Germany, including the murder and mutilation of American soldiers and clashes with German gangs.

Meanwhile, Justin Katz comments on war critics' ignorance of history."

But if you actually follow the links, you find that the information at the other end of the links doesn't say what Reynolds says it says. In the case of the clippings, allegedly about "the murder of American soldiers and clashes with gangs," what they really say is that there are more clashes between American soldiers and Germans because of increased fraternization between said soldiers and German women. A summary of the rest of the clipping that says (quote) "It goes on to note that there are rumors that 'a gang of Germans attacked and mutilated three American soldiers.' " So it's one RUMOR about a mutilation by gangs. If you just read Reynolds's synopsis, you'll think its several actual incidents, several gang-related and one mutilation-related. This is ridiculous. It could be a mistake, but it probably isn't. Such mistakes permeate that page.

The other link is more interesting, and bears on my previous discussion of Werewolves (one of our who's more full of it, the right or the left? test cases) That link doesn't provide much real information either, and wastes a lot of time on stuff like the murder of the mayor of Aachen. But, anyway, the info on the page does challenge a RAND corporation study on this, saying that "Not only does RAND begin the clock after the complete surrender of the enemy, but it apparently leaves out 45 deaths that a 1953 Pentagon report listed "as a result of enemy action" for 1945 and '46." This is really interesting, but doesn't even come close to settling the question. First, it is in no way clear when we should "start the clock," so it isn't clear that the Mayor of Aachen (murdered in March of '45) should count. And we'd have to when in '45 and '46 these deaths occurred. The piece here doesn't make it clear that these were post-surrender or occupation deaths, but, if they are, then the righties are right about that one. I think we have to be a little skeptical about their claims about this stuff by now, though.
[Note: sorry about the virtual incoherence of this post...wrote it fast when I was 3/4 asleep last night. But let me clarify this last bit: 'there were 53 deaths in '45 and '46' is consistent with them all happening in pre-VE-day '45; it'd be a weird thing to say if that were the case, and it's not the most likely interpretation, but, given the way this info has been spun in the last 9 mos., you can't be too careful. -ws]

But also, the spin/gratuitous insults about this dispute resulting from "ignorance of history" on the part of the anti-war folks is preposterous. These facts, if facts they be, have taken a long time to uncover, and have turned out to be extremely hard to get to. The only ignorance was on the part of the right, which squawked about the Werewolves for months. THAT betrays ignorance, since the evidence that shows that they were basically non-existent was easy to come by.

Cut the Insta-Sophist some slack on this, you say? O.k., well, scroll down (up?) a bit from this stuff on his page and check out the stunningly ridiculous claims about George Soros that he links to.

O.k., look, I'm about to give up on this try-to-raise-the-level-of-discourse-stuff. We're all doomed. doomed...doomed...doomed...
[Note: no, we're not. - ws]


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