Thursday, January 06, 2005

Slight of Hand, Misdirection and the Art of Rebuttal 

Instapundit notes a recent LAT OpEd, in which Max Boot reviews Osama and Voices of Iraq and levels some well-earned scorn toward the Hollywood establishment that conveniently turns a blind eye toward anything outside of its preconceived model of consciousness or cool. Glenn shows his evenhandedness by also citing Matthew Yglasias' rebuttal, but the real point here is that Matt's argument is largely against a strawman, and not even very strong for having picked his own target.

Matt's direct response to the statement that Max didn't "recall a single Hollywood feminist expressing gratitude to the U.S. military or its commander in chief for the liberation of Afghan women" is to take two specific individuals Max uses as examples of Hollywood feminists (Streisand and Sarandon) and pull out two minor events from Dec 2001 as proof of their patriotism, a matter never even mentioned by Max. Besides, if the best example Yglasias can find of Barbara Streisand's patriotism is that she sang a song for 9/11 victims two months after the event and that she "removed anti-Bush remarks in the interests of 'national unity'" the following month, well, I really wouldn't put that at the top of my resumé. Likewise, noting that Susan Sarandon raised money for the women of Afghanistan, 9/11 victims or even cured the common cold still doesn't do anything to rebut the personal recollection of Mr. Boot when it comes to the chirping crickets heard from Hollywood feminists concerning the role the US and specifically the Armed Forces played in securing women's' rights in that country.

Another strawman set up by Matt is "[t]he notion that the Bush administration invaded Afghanistan in order to help Afghan women," as this is a notion never presented nor even implied by Max's piece. In any event, even though the Allies in WWII did not go into Germany to free the Jews from the Concentration Camps none would deny that this noble event was a direct byproduct of Allied military action. Nor would they seem inclined to cast aspersion or scorn on the liberation simply because it was not the main purpose of the action. Why, then, is the bestowing of human rights upon the women of Afghanistan held differently?

Matt then continues his snipe hunt by defending feminists against yet another strawman argument, that Max somehow implied "feminists are or were unconcerned with the fate of Afghan women." Even if this was something Yglasias dealt with the the winter of 2001-2002, it seems completely irrelevant to Max's statement. Let's look, however, at where Matt directs us.

The Feminist Majority does indeed have articles and interest in the status and welfare of Afghan women prior to 2001. There is, however, a dramatic change in language that happens when they suddenly begin speaking of women's' roles in "post-Taliban" Afghanistan. Unbelievably, their page on forming Action Teams to Help Afghan Women discusses the "restoration of constitutional democracy in Afghanistan" and the "rebirth of a peaceful, stable, and democratic Afghanistan," (emphasis added) as if this was the natural order in that country before the Taliban mysteriously disappeared.

Looking at another prominent feminists group, NOW, shows their history on Afghan women to be equally disjointed. In March 1999 they had a call to action to stop the abuse of women and girls in Afghanistan, only to suddenly begin advocating helping women "rebuild Afghan democracy" in the post-Taliban government. There it is again, the mysterious disappearance of the Taliban with nary a public release or even milk carton marking its passing. In fact, NOW's latest concerning Afghanistan is a complaint that an organization it disagrees with, the Independent Woman's Forum (IWF), received a government grant to help educate Afghan women in democracy.

Matt does a mediocre job of setting up strawmen and throwing rocks at them, even if a few miss wide of the mark. What he does not do, however, is produce a single counter example to rebut Max's recollection.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?