After various rants by Andrew Sullivan, Glenn Reynolds decided to put the record straight:
ANDREW SULLIVAN seems to think that I should be blogging more about Abu Ghraib, and less about the Newsweek scandal. Well, I think he should be blogging more (er, at least some) about the worse-than-Tiananmen massacre in Uzbekistan, and perhaps a bit less about gay marriage. But so what? What people blog about is none of my business. Andrew seems to feel differently, and beyond that seems to have endorsed the “fake but accurate” defense of Newsweek‘s reporting.
I do confess that I think that winning the war is much more important than Abu Ghraib, and that viewing the entire war — and the entire American military — through the prism of Abu Ghraib is as unfair as judging all Muslims by the acts of terrorists. Andrew has chosen the role of emoter-in-chief on these subjects, and he’s welcome to it, though he would be more convincing in that part if he didn’t count wrapping people in the Israeli flag as torture.
As Mickey Kaus has noted, Andrew can be excitable. A while back he apologized to me for some of his criticisms during the election, and more recently he has apologized to his readers for his waffling and defeatism on the war last spring. Perhaps he’ll apologize for this at some point in the future. But, I confess, I find the question of what Andrew thinks less pressing than I used to.
I still read Andrew’s blog on a fairly regular basis, but like Glenn, I find Andrew less compelling of a read compared to his more steadfast days. As I’ve opined before:
Andrew’s tenacity in pursuing the tortue angle is much to be commended, but one suspects that he has already decided that America is guilty of the worst atrocities, and that only time will tell. This isn’t the first time Andrew’s gotten worked up about something and taken it far beyond what’s reasonable, but that’s just my own opinion.
As if in response, Andrew writes this sensible bit:
So we are left to ask whether to believe al Qaeda terrorists, trained to make such accusations, or American Pentagon officials. I know whom I’d rather believe.
Still, Andrew continues his skepticism, and cites the following as “abuse”:
At the same time, we know that other incidents as bad as the Koran incident have indeed occurred, including the truly bizarre one about female interrogators and fake menstrual blood.
We have evidence that detainees in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere were forced to eat pork and had liquor poured down their throats.
All of this, unfortunately, makes Andrew’s claims of whom he’d rather believe seem more like a token disclaimer, a sop to keep that part of his readership that isn’t freaking out about abuse the same way he is. Why? Because a nation that watches Fear Factor isn’t going to be very sympathetic to some of the claims coming out of the military prisons. Moreover, as Glenn wrote in another post:
I want to add that I don’t think there’s anything immoral about flushing a Koran (or a Bible) down the toilet, assuming you’ve got a toilet that’s up to that rather daunting task, and I think it’s amusing to hear people who usually worry about excessive concern for religious beliefs suddenly taking a different position. Nor do I think that doing so counts as torture, and I think that it debases the meaning of “torture” to claim otherwise. If this had happened, it might have been — indeed, would have been — impolitic or unwise. But not evil.
And anyone who thinks otherwise needs to be willing to apply the same kind of criticism to things like Piss Christ, or to explain why offending the sensibilities of one kind of religious believer is “art” while doing the same in another context is “torture.” If, that is, they want to be taken at all seriously.
Exactly. So while Andrew goes on bemoaning the fact that the Catholic Church isn’t giving him what he wants, he’s also unwittingly joining the ranks of those who think that somehow the religious sensibilities of terrorists deserve our solicitousness more than those of, say, Christian or Jewish traditionalists.
Still, give Andrew credit for raising the doubts. And hope that he pays more attention to readers’ e-mails like this one.