The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Conor Friedersdorf’s Grassy Knoll

Posted on | November 22, 2013 | 52 Comments

Conor Friedersdorf is the Lee Harvey Oswald of journalism — an alienated young man consumed by irrational hatred of his own country.

Fortunately, the Secret Service need not worry about Friedersdorf purchasing a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle just now. The focus of his manic obsession is not the current president, but his predecessor.

Bush Derangement Syndrome — the psychiatric malady that seized the minds of liberals for eight years of their paranoid nightmares — has left the landscape littered with deranged kooks. In 2011, Jared Loughner succumbed to 9/11 Truther craziness and went berserk in Tucson. Barrett Brown flipped out last year, ranting about a mad conspiracy against him. Down in Alabama, Roger Shuler is convinced he is the target of a corrupt scheme masterminded by Karl Rove. Anonymous hacker Jeremy Hammond blames Bush, too.

Then there is Conor Friedersdorf, superficially rational yet consumed by the delusion that George W. Bush was the worst president in American history, and in the grip of a dread fear that there will be a Second Coming of Dubya if the GOP ever wins another election.

Today, the target in Conor’s crosshairs is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, whose Crime Against Humanity is publishing a book:

The latest evidence can be found in a McKay Coppins profile of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whose recently published book, Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and A Nation’s Challenge, was coauthored by Marc Thiessen, a former Bush Administration speechwriter whose work as a commentator has marked him as one of the most fervent apologists for “enhanced interrogation techniques.” . . .
The question being posed here is as follows: is it ethical to take a blindfolded human being who hasn’t been given any due process, to strap him to a board, to force water into his cavities until it fills his lungs, to induce the physical terror that accompanies drowning, and to leverage that terror in order to coerce him into giving information he may or may not possess.
The euphemism we use for that is “water-boarding.” And the answer an ambitious Republican governor gives, when asked about it, is that he doesn’t have enough knowledge or information to comment. This is alarming, for this is the answer given at a moment of relative calm, when fear of terrorism isn’t much on anyone’s mind. Imagine a plausible future where Governor Walker has been elected to the Senate, or a less likely but still plausible future where he takes the White House. What would he say to water-boarding in the panic that follows a terrorist attack?
The arc of the moral environment the Bush Administration created bends toward torture. The taboo against it is not strong enough to prevent its resurgence.  . . .

Thus, an al-Qaeda terrorist “who hasn’t been given any due process” is rendered a victim of “the panic that follows a terrorist attack.”

Conor is here expressing the same sympathy for America’s worst enemies that led Lee Harvey Oswald to defect to the Soviet Union, to distribute “Fair Play for Cuba” leaflets in New Orleans, and ultimately to fire three shots from the Texas School Book Depository.

Let us pose a simple question: Would the al-Qaeda terrorist have more “due process” if, instead of being taken prisoner, he had been shot dead, died from a bomb blast or (as seems to be the current policy) was taken out by a Predator drone strike?

Torture is a bad thing, and I’m against it, but I don’t lose much sleep at night with worries that somewhere a violent jihadi isn’t getting “due process.” If we are at war and al-Qaeda terrorists are trying to destroy us, then I am quite decidedly in favor not only of depriving them of “due process,” but also killing every last one of them.

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill,
that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet
any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe,
to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

Some of us still believe in America that way, but Conor Friedersdorf speaks for that decadent fringe who perversely imagine that John F. Kennedy should have said, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for America’s enemies.”

The Secret Service need not view Conor Friedersdorf as an active menace just now. But if any Republican is ever again elected to the White House, look out for Conor somewhere on a grassy knoll.



52 Responses to “Conor Friedersdorf’s Grassy Knoll”

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