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November 13, 2003

Ted At it Again, Again

My pal Ted Rall has got 'em howling for his head again with this column in which writes from the perspective of one of the Iraqi insurgents recruiting new members. Instapundit calls him "loathsome" while Andrew Sullivan expresses the belief that Ted actually wants our troops attacked and killed.

I personally strongly doubt that. There's a difference between writing what you think a Iraqi insurgent recruiter might say and think, and believing all of those things yourself. Clearly Ted thinks the Iraqi invasion was a mistake as carried out, and the occupation/rebuilding has likewise been botched, and these factors have combined to make the place somewhere Americans and those who aid them can get killed. Using the voice of an Iraqi insurgent recruiter is of course a massively inflammatory way of making the point, but that's Ted for you. I would not immediately equate the use of an inflammatory rhetorical device with a desire on Ted's part to have our people killed.

I won't argue Ted's points for him, since on Iraq we diverge on a number of issues. I supported the invasion of Iraq and I strongly believe that we need to stay in there for a comprehensive rebuilding as we did in Germany after WWII (during the aftermath of which American troops were attacked by German resistance, so there are not a few parallels between now and then). Likewise I'll not try to argue with those who think Ted is loathsome or evil or unAmerican or simply insane. Ted writes in an intentionally antagonistic style in both his cartoons and columns; he's going to get that from people, and it would be difficult-to-impossible to argue Ted doesn't invite it. He appears to accept that he's not going to be great pals with a lot of people out there. And as I've said before, he's a big boy; he can take care of himself from all comers.

But with all due respect with Andrew (who gave me a nice link for my literacy drive, so I'm in his debt for that) I'm hesitant to let the assertion that Ted wants our people killed to stand uncontested. It seems unlikely. I would imagine, from Ted's point of view, that if we wanted our troops and their supporters killed, he would not have brought up the point that people are hoping to kill them in the first place. The column is, I think, a cautionary tale rather than an aspirational one.

Update: E-mails and comments disputing much of a parallel between the German resistance after WWII and the resistance currently in Iraq, the argument being the resistance in Iraq is rather more severe than it had been in Germany. I would agree the situations are not perfectly consonant, but the idea that the dregs of a failed regime would fight on is on point (one difference between the two situations would be that after Germany fell, fighters from outside its borders didn't sneak in to mount a resistance against the Allies).

Posted by john at November 13, 2003 12:51 PM

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John Scalzi is again defending Ted Rall (sort of). Scalzi, whom I generally like, and whose literacy drive I support and link to below, has the misfortune of being Rall's friend. Scalzi has previously published a quasi-defense of Rall's cartoon... [Read More]

Tracked on February 7, 2004 04:27 PM