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February 16, 2005





Or, Crude-o-crites

Jason Turner

We're talking here about those critics who fail to recognize the benefits derived from the work of the forces they most malign, right? In that case, how about pacisite.

John, you're absolutely right that the chickenhawk accusation is a slur...and a conversation stopper. But I've never understood its power.

Labeling an opponent chickenhawk should not stop conversation, nor should it embarass the opponent. The label is just a slur, nothing more. The implication is that civilans, people not familiar with the horror of warfare, are unqualified to critique war efforts, or to advance their cause. But the logic cuts both ways. If only military officers and personnel are allowed to present arguments for/against war, then the pacifists must also sit out on the debate. A pacifist can argue that he is being true to his principles by NOT fighting, but that is a different matter and adds nothing to the debate over who is qualified to critique the war. The Chickenhawk argument is a variant of a specific form of an ad hominen attack (tu quo que), that goes something like this: The argument you have given for wearing a seatbelt is not valid because you do not wear your seatbelt, or the argument you have given for the existence of God is not valid because you are a priest and not objective. Basically, it's an attack on the person, not the argument.

Besides, civilian control of the military has always been considered fundamental to a functioning, open democracy for obvious reasons. The founding fathers belived that matters of war and peace belonged to the electorate and were too important to leave to generals. Imagine if only military men were allowed to decide if, when, and why we go to war!


I like Crude-o-crites!

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