Sunday, October 13, 2002

The Weak in (National) Review - This week, the online version of the conservative magazine, really reached a low for me. I normally enjoy reading NRO because I find the columnists to be engaging, funny, intelligent, and thought-provoking, albeit maddening at times given my liberal sensibilities. I have always thought NRO was better than many of the other conservative magazines because it carefully avoided letting ideological passion cloud good critical thinking. But after reading the blather and witnessing the mouth-foaming over Jimmy Carter's winning of the Nobel Peace Prize, I've come to see that under the glossy smoothness of NRO writing there is nothing more than a bunch of bitter, irrational, temple-throbbing ideologues who have ABSOLUTELY NO sense of true patriotism and NO RESPECT for the encompassing greatness of ALL America, not just Conservative America. You would think that as much as the people at NRO might dislike Jimmy Carter, they would at least attempt to embrace the recognition won by Jimmy Carter as a reflection of this great nation, whose contributions to global peace and security really are unrivalled in the world. Why wouldn't NRO wrap the American Flag around this significant accomplishment instead of demeaning it. It makes all of these folk look petty and unpatriotic, not to mention brings out the worst in terms of the coherency of the writing produced on this topic. Let me give you an example ... but first, for context, I want you to remember Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott's recent visit to Iraq, his comments while in that country, and the outrage (justifiable in my mind) of those who saw McDermott defending Saddam Hussein against his own President and his own country. Now let's turn to one Peter Schweizer, whose piece on Jimmy Carter is one of the most hypocritical and unpatriotic columns I have read. The gist of the article is that Jimmy Carter's record on human rights and his work on behalf of peace is suspect given some of his - how can I say - "appeasement" of some of the world's worst "communist" abusers of human rights. And what evidence does Schweizer mostly use to demonstrate this appeasement? Why, no less than the words of such paragons of human rights virtues as communist appartchiks like Anatoly Dobrynin, Andrei Gromyko, and Georgii Kornienko. Phrases like "According to the Soviet transcript of the meeting" and "according to numerous Soviet accounts" and "Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin recounts in his memoirs" and "According to Georgii Kornienko, first deputy foreign minister at the time" and "As Dobrynin recounts" pepper this "objective" analysis of Carter's human rights and political record. There is only one time in the whole essay where there is a reference to a "White House transcript" of a meeting. It seems as if Schweizer is content to base Jimmy Carter's human rights record on the rants and ruminations of the very "abusers" themselves, who were - if we listen to NRO types - nothing more than emissaries of the "EVIL EMPIRE." Why in the world would Schweizer give credence to these Soviets in evaluating a US President? Is Schweizer attempting to denigrate an American citizen, much less an ex-President of this great country, by using the very words of the official representatives of the evil empire? It would be like accepting as gospel truth the characterizations of George W. Bush that one might expect to find in the memoirs of Tariq Aziz, Muammar Qaddafi, and the like. I am amazed that this article passed muster under the watchful eyes of NROs editors. The only thing I can think is that the mere mention of Jimmy Carter in NRO's office tranforms usually rational beings into irrational, rabid neanderthals. It's a funny kind of conservative, Cold-War patriotism, I guess, to choose Dobrynin and Gromyko over Carter - but I don't want anything to do with it. In fact, I don't think it's funny at all. It's disgusting and reprehensible, and NRO has forfeited the right to criticize anyone's patriotism from now on - Jim McDermott included.

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