Monday, May 08, 2006

"CAUSUS BELLI" of the Beast

An interesting report by Kevin Howe of David Horowitz's recent speech at Cal State Monterey, a speech that was funded in part with student government money, has been posted over at Frontpagemag . The piece is reprinted from the Monterey Herald. Since Frontpagemag is Horowitz's own site, I take it they take care that his remarks are reported accurately when they reproduce such reports. In Howe's telling, Horowiz made the following observation:

"Arguments over the 'casus belli' of the war -- weapons of mass destruction -- are no more relevant than the firing on Fort Sumter was on the outcome of the American Civil War."

To start with, an analogy between an argument about the actual causes of a war, and the relationship between the actual causes of another war and that war's outcome, is, to say the least, a logical stretch. But just what is being said here? The firing on Ft. Sumter was, I'm sure we can all agree, a hostile act, to which the Union forces responded, leading to the outcome with which we are all familiar. Is Horowitz arguing that the actual attack by the Confederacy on the Union had no relevance to the eventual outcome of the war? And if that is what he's saying, what does that have to do with contemporary arguments about what the Bush administration's reasons for going to war may have been. Horowitz appears to be saying that it simply doesn't matter whether or not the administration's stated reasons for going to war have any truth value. (I did always suspet that it was Horowitz who best embodied the radical relativism with regard to truth that has been the horror of the Right these many years.)

The Confederates really did fire on Ft. Sumter. Iraq, whatever its demonstrable sins, did not attack the United States of America on 9/11. So, the analogy is just what exactly?

Suppose it had come out that there had never been any firing on Ft. Sumter -- Suppose that revelation came about while the Civil War was still in progress, while President Lincoln was attempting to hold together the difficult consensus in favor of prosecuting the war.. Do you really believe such a revelation would have made no difference?

Perhaps if David Horowitz spent more time in university courses, rather than appearing in student unions to denounce professors, he might have a better grasp of both Civil War history and logic.

And, adding the inevitable insult to the repetitive injury, Horowitz threw this on the heap:

"We've gotten into a serious place in this country," he said. "The Democratic Party and the left have defected to an enemy in time of war for the first time in our history."

Now, call me an historian if you will, but isn't this an odd claim in the context of Horowitz's already bizarre comments on the War between the States? There was one time in our history when some (far from all) Democrats truly did defect to the enemy. We call it the Civil War, and the Left did not join those defectors. Has Horowtiz already forgotten the Civil War just moments after having invoked it?

But a man who claims that today's Democratic Party has defected to the enemy in a time of war is clearly not a man who is in contact with reality. I'm glad that the student government of Cal State Monterey funded this event, though. It's important that students hear what Horowitz actually says -- and it's important to have these remarks on the record, thanks to Kevin Howe and the good people at Horowitz's web site, so that we can have them on hand when, like Rumsfeld, Horowitz one day denies ever having said these foolsh things.

1 comment:

AaronBarlow said...

It galls me how rightist assume that the mantle of patriotism is their own.

What Horowitz and the others are doing is looting our treasury of good will abroad and our legacy of rights and responsibilities--the very things we should be most proud of. They are making a mockery of the traditions of this country.

"Defecting"? I think it is they who have defected from the United States (certainly from the United States as a set of principles), substituting a totalitarian ideal for the democratic one most of us on the left still cherish.