One Reason Why The Greatest Generation Label Makes Sense

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Donkey Cons notes the Calhoun (Ga.) Times' obit for a truly inspiring World War II hero, Desmond Doss:

According to his Medal of Honor citation, time after time, Doss' fellow soldiers witnessed how unafraid he was for his own safety. He was always willing to go after a wounded fellow, no matter how great the danger. On one occasion in Okinawa, he refused to take cover from enemy fire as he rescued approximately 75 wounded soldiers, carrying them one-by-one and lowering them over the edge of the 400-foot Maeda Escarpment. He did not stop until he had brought everyone to safety nearly 12 hours later.

When Doss received the Medal of Honor from President Truman, the President told him, "I'm proud of you, you really deserve this. I consider this a greater honor than being President."

Here's the twist: Doss was "raised a Seventh-day Adventist…[and] did not believe in using a gun or killing because of the sixth commandment which states, 'Thou shalt not kill' (Exodus 20:13). Doss was a patriot however, and believed in serving his country. During World War II, instead of accepting a deferment, Doss voluntarily joined the Army as a conscientious objector. Assigned to the 307th Infantry Division as a company medic he was harassed and ridiculed for his beliefs, yet he served with distinction."

In fact, he's the only CO to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Whole piece here.

Update: Ashley Doherty writes to point out that at least one other CO received the Medal of Honor. Read Vietnam medic Tom Bennett's story here.

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  1. Hell, these days we can’t even get war supporters to go fight the fucking war.

  2. “Doss voluntarily joined the Army as a conscientious objector. Assigned to the 307th Infantry Division as a company medic he was harassed and ridiculed for his beliefs, yet he served with distinction.”

    Rest In Peace. It’s good he didn’t let the pieces of shit who “harassed and ridiculed” him get to him.

  3. I stand a little humbled.

  4. Phil,

    Several hundred thousand American armed personnel might have reason to disagree with you.

  5. Evan,

    I think Phil’s point is that the war supporters tend to be chickenhawks, while those over there fighting often have different views about the war.

  6. My point is that the current war’s loudest cheerleaders are people who wouldn’t fight one if their lives depended on it, as indeed they claim it does this time around. Yet here we have a man who wouldn’t even take a weapon let alone be called a “war supporter” yet is a genuine hero.

    Nice to actually see one of those every once in a while.

  7. To Anonymous Coward (and Phil):

    What an echo chamber you must live in! Two of my brothers-in-law have served in Iraq, and they did not vote for Monsieur Kerry. Neither did my brother or my cousin’s husband, both veterans of the 101st Airborne. My uncle, a Vietnam veteran who campaigned for Max Cleland in 2002, voted for Bush in 2004. And I am close friends with a Navy veteran who is totally pro-war.

    Some propagandists would have you believe that Americans are either (a) pro-war chickhawks or (b) heroic anti-war patriots. A bit simplistic, c’est non?

    What do you think will become of your liberty should the jihadists succeed in their ultimate goal of worldwide Islamic dominance? Perhaps you should ask feminist Phyllis Chesler to explain this to you.

  8. If there were any justice in the world, Doss would be the subject of a book and a movie. Eryk said it best; we should all be humbled by this story.

  9. This is what all CO’s should be required to do – go right up to the front line. They can leave their gun behind if they really are willing to put their lives where their mouth is.

    Of course, this is presuming that we have a draft in the first place, which I would assume most of us here object to.

  10. The chickenhawk argument is naked ad hominem. There are good reasons for opposing this war. The claim that those who support it are insincere is not among them. If a war supporter were shooting down the chickenhawk argument, I’d accuse him of making a strawman. To no one in particular: can I please never hear this particular brand of idiocy again?

  11. Nice to see Adventists get some good press. …I was raised one myself, don’t you know, and I can tell you, they usually get the short end of the stick in terms of media coverage.

    Other fundamentalists, particularly pro-Lifers, often, don’t seem to like them because, among other things, the church won’t, or at least for a long time didn’t, take a position on the abortion issue. Adventists tend to be super wary of government interference in people’s lives. …I suspect there are as many pro-Choice Adventists as there are pro-Life Adventists for that reason.

    …Ultimately, my libertarianism, I think, springs from my Adventist upbringing.

    Non-fundamentalists tend to not like them because they’re fundamentalists.

    …and my compliments for your phrasing, Mr. Gillespie. The church’s position has always been, as I understand, that while noncombatant status is recommended, the decision belongs to the individual. Many have volunteered as noncombatants. I linked this article the other day from a magazine that’s heavily dominated by Adventist thinking, it’s about an Adventist Marine who, I believe, is in hot water right now over his decision to not carry a gun.

  12. Thou shalt not kill’?

    I thought it was, “Thou shalt not kill, unless the government of whatever country you happen to live in, regardless of its legitimacy or purpose, tells you to kill, in which case, your government’s order shalt supercede Mine.” That’s not it?

  13. Wow. What a guy.

    I don’t think any group gets to claim military heroism for its own, and I tend to look down on thoe who attempt it.

  14. “chickenhawks”

    … said The Anonymous Coward

  15. “I know military people for favor the war, therefore, the people serving there are in favor of it”(Paraphrase of Bubba’s argument)
    That is about as perfect an inductive fallacy as I’ve ever seen. The nice thing is that it’s just as easy to disprove. I’m in the military, and I think Iraq is a jackass war. So do at least half the people I serve with. That doesn’t stop us from serving, and it won’t stop us from going when the call comes.
    But differentanon is right-those arguments really have nothing to do with the wisdom, or lack thereof, of the war.
    Regardless, Doss is a genuine hero. That’s a word that gets abused all to often, and it’s unfortunate that we dont’ have a better appelation for people like him.

  16. differentanon writes: ” The claim that those who support it are insincere is not among them.”

    Here’s the thing. Their rhetoric goes something like this: “OMG! We’re doomed if we don’t fight the Islamofascists! DOOMED! Our culture is threatened with extinction! Anyone who claims otherwise is a traitorous fifth-columnist! War! Death! Nukes! Daisy Cutters! Rarwrrr!”

    Their actions go something like this: “Enlist? Sorry, I can’t enlist, I, um, still have movies on my Netflix list.”

    Which isn’t what someone does if their life is threatened.

    In other words, their rhetoric on the alleged threat we face is completely disingenuous and is only meant to score political points. They don’t actually believe there is a threat.

  17. Number 6, if you were being filmed, identified by name, rank and unit, and asked if you believed in your mission in Iraq, would you feel pressured to say that you supported the President?

  18. it takes a lot of fucking balls to do right despite.

    “What do you think will become of your liberty should the jihadists succeed in their ultimate goal of worldwide Islamic dominance?”

    let us jump up and down! you will posit; i shall disagree!

    look at my pretty cartoon! pretty pretty cartoon!

    no, you cry. i will not look at your pwitty cartwoon!

    and so forth.

    (don’t be fooled. you are a pretty cartoon.)

  19. Joe-good question. I’m a reservist these days, so there’s sort of a dichotomy for me. Out of uniform, I’ll say whatever I choose about the war, the President, or any other subject that comes to mind. In uniform, my standard response to political questions, especially about the President, is “Talk to me off duty.” If the cameras were rolling, I think I’d just say “No comment” and excuse myself.

  20. Nick – I believe Alvin York tried to go the CO route, but was denied because his religion wasn’t considered real.

    bubba – Are those the same people who couldn’t overthrow their own governments back home?

  21. I consider this a greater honor than being President.

    Damn right. I’d be proud to have half that guy’s strength of character, and a quarter of his brass balls.

    This is what all CO’s should be required to do – go right up to the front line. They can leave their gun behind if they really are willing to put their lives where their mouth is.

    True, true. Also we should murder a relative of every death penalty opponent. And lock up all vegans for a month and offer them nothing to eat but veal cutlets. And threaten to kill all Muslims who don’t renounce their faith. I mean, if they have such strong convictions there’s really nothing wrong with pushing them to the very limits. I’ll bet we would find a whole lot of them were damn hypocrites!

  22. I consider this a greater honor than being President.

    Damn right. I’d be proud to have half that guy’s strength of character, and a quarter of his brass balls.

    This is what all CO’s should be required to do – go right up to the front line. They can leave their gun behind if they really are willing to put their lives where their mouth is.

    True, true. Also we should murder a relative of every death penalty opponent. And lock up all vegans for a month and offer them nothing to eat but veal cutlets. And threaten to kill all Muslims who don’t renounce their faith. I mean, if they have such strong convictions there’s really nothing wrong with pushing them to the very limits. I’ll bet we would find a whole lot of them were damn hypocrites!

  23. What an echo chamber you must live in!

    Nope, try again, sonny.

    Two of my brothers-in-law have served in Iraq, and they did not vote for Monsieur Kerry.

    French jokes. How groundbreaking. And you accuse others of living in an echo chamber? Brilliant.

    Neither did my brother or my cousin’s husband, both veterans of the 101st Airborne. My uncle, a Vietnam veteran who campaigned for Max Cleland in 2002, voted for Bush in 2004. And I am close friends with a Navy veteran who is totally pro-war.

    S’long as we’re doing argumentum ad anecdotum, my father served more than 25 years in the Army and did three tours in Vietnam, and he voted for a) Gore and b) Kerry.

    Some propagandists would have you believe that Americans are either (a) pro-war chickhawks or (b) heroic anti-war patriots. A bit simplistic, c’est non?

    I don’t know who “some propagandists” might be, but since a) I don’t hold this opinion, and b) it’s not what I’m talking about, who fucking cares? There are men of good will, integrity and honor who support this war from the home front. They are not included in the ranks of the scumbag cheerleaders to which I’m referring.

    What do you think will become of your liberty should the jihadists succeed in their ultimate goal of worldwide Islamic dominance?

    Speaking of echo chambers . . . I think you were looking for LGF or someplace else where this is still an effective argument.

    Perhaps you should ask feminist Phyllis Chesler to explain this to you.

    I don’t know who she is, nor do I particularly care, since “Whatcha gonna do when the Muslims come for you?” is a dumbfuck argument that makes the chickenhawk one look like Kant.

  24. You should be ashamed to praise a man who participated in organized murder. Where is your non-coercion principle now, for shame ? For a fucking army medic ? He deserves to be dumped in a common grave.

  25. Dhex quotes me:
    “What do you think will become of your liberty should the jihadists succeed in their ultimate goal of worldwide Islamic dominance?”

    And then writes:
    let us jump up and down! you will posit; i shall disagree!

    I’m not jumping up and down. I am saying that, at some point, one must ask: Do we take the jihadists at their word? This was the thing with Hitler: Even after “Mein Kampf,” there were people who insisted, “No, Hitler is a reasonable man. We can deal with him.” WRONG!

    The jihadists say, “The streets will flow with the blood of the unbeliever!” And though they have shown in the most dramatic possible way that they actually mean it, there are still people that say, “Oh, they’re reasonable men. We can deal with them.”

    This point is not, of course, to endorse any particular means of response to the jihadist threat. But the threat must be faced, and defeated, in some way or else the streets WILL flow with the blood of the unbelievers.

    And contrary to Number 6’s claim, I was not engaged in fallacious argument. I was simply pointing out the falsehood of the Left’s claim that all soldiers (or, as they might say, all wise and patriotic soldiers) are anti-war vis a vis Iraq. I have military acquaintances and relatives who are, at best, skeptical toward the administrations aims and methods — as who wouldn’t be? What reasonably well-informed person could go the full route of Wilsonian nation-building, etc., etc., that the administration at least rhetorically advocates? If democracy in Baghdad resembles democracy in Palestine ….?

    The problem with the neocons is their love of Plato’s “noble lie”: They love to dress their arguments up in idealistic rhetoric that draws deeply on American mythos. They love to draw on analogies that amount to saying, e.g., Bush is Churchill. Or JFK. Or … whatever popular historical figure suits their purpose.

    A good argument could have been made for kicking Saddam’s ass. But instead of that argument — some realpolitik talk about the strategic value of kicking Saddam’s ass — what we got was WMDs! Evil dictator! Liberation!

    But we still come down to the Mogadishu question, and the matter of Osama’s “strong horse” argument. Even if it’s a bad war for nebulous ends, we can’t just scamper out of there and think that retreat will have no consequence.

  26. A good argument could have been made for kicking Saddam’s ass. But instead of that argument — some realpolitik talk about the strategic value of kicking Saddam’s ass…

    There was plenty of that. All the WMD stuff was a sop to Colin Powell & Tony Blair, and as it turns out was the weakest part of the argument in favor of invasion.

    Lighten up, Francois. And remember, no sleeping on the park benches.

  27. During World War II, instead of accepting a deferment, Doss voluntarily joined the Army as a conscientious objector.

    My Dad did the same thing in WWII. He ended up in cryptography.

  28. Nice story about a guy with guts and integrity.

    Too rare today.

  29. The Jihadists haven’t even found a way to take control of Syria. And I’m supposed to believe that invading Iraq was absolutely crucial to prevent them from taking control of the US?

    There are good arguments to be made in favor of the war in Iraq. Saying that the Jihadists might take over the US is not on that list.

    Sometimes I think that most of the hawks on this forum should shut the fuck up and let Jason Ligon do the arguing for them. Too many others just give us crap like “Jennifer will end up in a burqua!” or “See, the ongoing violence isn’t a bug, it’s a feature!” Jason Ligon is one of the few hawks (on this forum) who knows how to make strong arguments in favor of the war.

  30. From the Wiki:

    On March 4, 2006, the U.S. Defense Department Inspector General directed the Army to open a criminal investigation of [Pat] Tillman’s death. The Army’s Criminal Investigative Division will determine if Tillman’s death was the result of negligent homicide. [15]

    [edit]
    Anti-war Stance
    The September 25, 2005 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper reported that Tillman held views which were critical of the Iraq war and did not support President Bush’s re-election. According to Tillman’s mother, a friend of Tillman had arranged a meeting with Noam Chomsky, to take place after his return from Afghanistan. The article also reported that Tillman urged a soldier in his platoon to vote for John Kerry in the 2004 U.S. Presidential election. [16]

    [edit]
    Religious Beliefs
    Tillman is known to have been a well-read individual who had read a number of religious texts, including the Bible, Koran, and Torah. He was, however, particularly fond of the humanist poets Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. [17]

    At his memorial, Tillman’s brother Rich stated that Pat was not religious:

    “Pat isn’t with God … He’s fucking dead. He wasn’t religious. So thank you for your thoughts, but he’s fucking dead.” [18]

  31. The greatest generation is the greatest generation because of the New Deal, the GI Bill, the overwhelming national sacrifice that led to the victory of WWII, Social Security, the end of Jim Crowe, etc.

    The Baby Boomers are the Lousiest Generation.

    Generation X is the Unluckiest.

    JMJ

  32. bubba,

    ‘there are still people that say, “Oh, they’re reasonable men. We can deal with them.”‘

    Who are these people who are saying this? Care to name some names?

    “I was simply pointing out the falsehood of the Left’s claim that all soldiers (or, as they might say, all wise and patriotic soldiers) are anti-war vis a vis Iraq.”

    Does this “Left” consist of any individual speakers or writers, who could be identified by name and maybe quoted for our benefit?

  33. They may have been the greatest generation but mine was the coolest.
    Bow to me, X, Y and Z.

  34. Joe,

    Good luck. One commenter above (Anonymous Coward), said, “I think Phil’s point is that the war supporters tend to be chickenhawks, while those over there fighting often have different views about the war.”

    Bubba construed this isolated statement to illustrate that “the left” thinks that the soldiers are all anti-war.

    Funny thing is, they’re both wrong. Firstly, I don’t think any reasonable person has any illusions about the fact that the military class is, for the most part, supportive of the war effort.

    Secondly, recent polls of soldiers have indicated that Bubba is also incorrect (his anecdotal claims about his military family members who voted for Bush notwithstandinig). As it turns out, more and more soldiers seem to be demoralized and unsupportive of staying in Iraq. At the same time, many of those who still support the war base their support on the proven falsehood that Saddam was responsible for 9/11.

  35. PS
    You disqualified yourself at “New Deal”, Jersey.

  36. Ed,

    Tell that to the four-time greatest president of the 20th century.

    JMJ

  37. I was simply pointing out the falsehood of the Left’s claim that all soldiers (or, as they might say, all wise and patriotic soldiers) are anti-war vis a vis Iraq
    I’ve never heard that claim from anyone, ever. Perhaps you have, and felt as though you had to refute it. If so, it’d be a good thing to state in your original post, since no one here made such a claim.

  38. That’s an inspiring story. As someone who has never served, let alone faced combat, I wonder if I’d have the strength to do what Doss did. I don’t think you can know until you’ve faced that kind of situation.

    What’s this have to do with Iraq, anyhow? COs aren’t much of an issue in a volunteer army, unless they object after enlisting, of course. Thank God we’ve moved away from the draft, which is simply not necessary in a free society. Not that people already enlisted are exactly free (“Hey, what do you mean my National Guard term has been extended?”), but it beats getting pressed into service.

  39. Coming to a libertarian site and calling FDR a great president is like going to Afghanistan and saying you’d like to convert to Christianity. Sans death penalty, of course.

  40. “The jihadists say, “The streets will flow with the blood of the unbeliever!” And though they have shown in the most dramatic possible way that they actually mean it, there are still people that say, “Oh, they’re reasonable men. We can deal with them.””

    i’ve never heard anyone call them reasonable. then again, i don’t travel in those circles, and anything is possible.

    but “worldwide islamic domination” is a fancy way of saying “i am retarded.” for that to happen the shape of world politics would have to have shifted to such a degree that our concerns at this point will look like the daydreams of schoolgirls.

  41. let me put this another way: i’ve heard plenty of asshole evangelical types talk about how, in direct terms, the homos and the secularists and all the other evils of our society should be purged, minimized, and otherwise crumpled, folded and tossed. i don’t take them that seriously because their aims are largely legislative, rather than direct violence.

    the point where i’d have to take them seriously – meaning some kind of civil war – is so far removed from this place and time that it’s not even worth contemplating.

  42. I think Phil’s point is that the war supporters tend to be chickenhawks, while those over there fighting often have different views about the war.

    Anyone applying the chickenhawk label is an, um, jerk. Maybe that’s an ad hominem, but if so, so be it.

    The fact is that it is impossible for most war supporters to go fight this war. The armed forces are pretty selective on who they will take, and even more selective of who it sends to the front. It is simply a mathematical inevitability that most war supporters won’t, and can’t, go fight it themselves.

    Anti-war, um, jerks like Anonymous Coward who call people chickenhawks either know this and don’t care, or are too stupid to figure it out. When the only explanations for your behavior are malice or incompetence, well, you shouldn’t be trying to grab the high ground.

    Any organization the size of our Armed Forces will host a variety of views on any topic. The recent “opinion polls” of troops in Iraq fly in the face of a metric that matters – re-enlistment rates. Last I heard, re-enlistment rates of soldiers who have served in this war are still nice and high.

  43. “Coming to a libertarian site and calling FDR a great president is like going to Afghanistan and saying you’d like to convert to Christianity. Sans death penalty, of course.”

    What do you mean “Sans” death penalty?! I want this SOBs address!!!! Ethyl, get my shotgun!!

  44. Jon H,

    Please note how thoreau was able to respond to the “jihadis threaten our existence” position without resorting to the ad hominem error that you repeated in your attempt to clarify. His advice to some of the morons who support the war (that they defer to those intellegent, reasonable people who support the war) is well met for those of us who oppose it, too. That jihadists have been unsuccessful in establishing control over some predominantly Muslim countries is perhaps the best reason for thinking they don’t pose an “existential” threat. That a lot of pro-war folk don’t enlist isn’t even a good one. What I’m saying is that the people you describe aren’t worth engaging. Their ideas are easily dispatched, and they by no means are presenting the strongest arguments for the war. You are never going to win an argument by tearing down strawmen – not even if they were built by someone on the other side of the debate. The people whose minds can be changed want to hear the best arguments available, and putting forward such obviously fallacious ones as the chickenhawk meme makes the position you are advocating look weaker than it is.

  45. The fact is that it is impossible for most war supporters to go fight this war. The armed forces are pretty selective on who they will take, and even more selective of who it sends to the front. It is simply a mathematical inevitability that most war supporters won’t, and can’t, go fight it themselves.

    What a load of shit RC. This is the most intellectually dishonest thing I have ever read.

    The army has been dropping their “standards” for recruitment left and right. They weren’t that “selective” to being with, and since they have had a hard time recruiting, they have been recruiting people who normally wouldn’t have qualified. They have even pulled back old-timers who thought they were finished, and sent them back — despite having physical problems (bad kness/ back / joint problems etc) that normally would have disqualified them.

    There are plenty of fighting aged “pundits” who are not only for this war, but all like to shreik about how this war on terror is the greatest threat we have ever faced. Most of these people would qualify for the infantry today in a heartbeat. Yet whenever confronted with the “well why don’t you sign up” they are quick to point out how they have a family or kids…or (and this is my favorite) how they are “doing their part” by penning opinion pieces supporting the war.

    The bottom line is, if you support this war, and you are going to pen op/eds about how important this struggle agaisnt “islamofascists” is and how big a threat we are facing, then you should be first in line at the recruitment center.

    And calling fighting aged men and women who swear their support for the war…as long as it is someone else in harm’s way is a very valid argument. Real war supporters enlist. The rest are just a bunch of gas-bags with a political agenda.

  46. When I said :
    And calling fighting aged men and women who swear their support for the war…as long as it is someone else in harm’s way is a very valid argument.

    It should have read:

    And calling fighting aged men and women who swear their support for the war…as long as it is someone else in harm’s way, a coward, is a very valid argument.

  47. Tom’s right on. And RC, not only are the supporters of this war to cowardly to fight in it, but they are too cheap to pay for it, too selfish to send their kids to fight in it, and too stupid to win it.

    JMJ

  48. too selfish to send their kids to fight in it, ..

    In fairness Jersey,

    If the kid is fighting age, (18+) then the parents don’t have the right to “send him” anywhere.

    Encouraging yes, but ulitmately its the kid’s decision. But most of these people don’t encourage their kids to enlist either.

    But somehow people think its wrong to point out that the actions of the war supporters completely contradict their rhetoric. I haven’t seen too many conservative pro-war columnists urging their like minded readers to enlist, either.

  49. If I support the Peace Corps, but don’t go myself, does that make me a chicken-dove?

    The term chicken-hawk is simply a device to disqualify one’s oppnents from engaging in debate, instead of debating them honestly.

    Back on topic, I am in awe of Desmond Doss.

  50. Nobody has the power to send their children, nor to prevent them from going.

    I’m sure my mom would have rathered I stayed home.

  51. S’long as we’re doing argumentum ad anecdotum, my father served more than 25 years in the Army and did three tours in Vietnam, and he voted for a) Gore and b) Kerry.

    Pissing contest!

    My Dad served 30 years in the Navy, and never voted for a Democrat after Kennedy.

    Oh, and if anyone’s wondering, my Dad saw real combat, like on October 24, 1944, when he spent the afternoon mopping up the blood and picking up the body parts of some 600 of his shipmates.

  52. I voted against Kerry via absentee ballot from Iraq.

    First time I ever voted R, btw.

  53. Wingnutx is right. The ad hominems are not interesting, and the gernalizations are just plain stupid.
    I would, however, point out that re-enlistment does not necesarily indicate support for the war. I rejoined the military despite, not because of, my views on the war, and I suspect that the same is true of other re-enlisters. Serving in the military is not about politics or the support of any particular conflict. People join and stay in for reasons that are much deeper and more complex than that.

  54. The term chicken-hawk is simply a device to disqualify one’s oppnents from engaging in debate, instead of debating them honestly.

    So pointing out one’s hypocrisy is debating dishonestly? Good to know.

    What’s dishonest about the criticism:

    “Although you say ‘This is the most important war we have ever fought’, you do not actually feel it’s important enough to enlist and fight this all important war yourself — or encourage like minded people to do so. That leads me to believe that, to you (the war-supporter who wont enlist) the war isn’t as important as you make it out to be and maybe, just maybe, all your war cheerleading is nothing but political propaganda. If the war were really as important as you make it out to be, and we will really be doomed if we fail, shouldn’t you be rushing to sign up and defend this great nation from such a grave threat, instead of penning op/eds attacking people who are opposing the war by labeling them Saddam supporters or terrorist sympathizers? ”

    I think what’s dishonest is to pretend something is the greatest threat to our existance, yet you sit by and let others fight the threat. Shouldn’t you have the courage of your own convictions before you advocate sending other people’s sons and daughters to war?

    If your actions don’t match your rhetoric, is it not fair to question that maybe you have some other agenda?

  55. Wingnutx is right. The ad hominems are not interesting, and the gernalizations are just plain stupid.

    Sorry Number 6, he is not right. It’s not an ad hominem to call out someone’s hypocrisy.

    I think these are 2 very valid questions:

    – If the war is so imporant, would you enlist go fight it?

    – Would you / are you encouraging your sons or daughters to enlist?

    If your answers to either of those questions are “NO”, then you shouldn’t be calling opponents of the war traitors, terrorist sympathizers, Saddam Lovers, cowards, etc. nor cheerlead about what a noble cause it is, without receiving a heaping dose of derision for your hypocrisy.

    No one should be advocating fighting a war which they are unwilling to fight themselves or encourage their own kids to fight.

  56. It’s not an ad hominem to call out someone’s hypocrisy.

    Actually, it is, by definition. It may not be unfair, depending, but it’s an ad hominem.

  57. “Nobody has the power to send their children, nor to prevent them from going.”

    Right. Who listens to their parents, anyway? Loonies, I suppose.

    What a silly coment.

    To say that parents have no leverage over the actions of their children shows what selfish and immature culture we have.

    JMJ

  58. To say that parents have no leverage over the actions of their children shows what selfish and immature culture we have.

    Also by definition, an 18-year-old is not a child.

  59. I think what’s dishonest is to pretend something is the greatest threat to our existance, yet you sit by and let others fight the threat.

    Mmm, if a military enemy is the greatest threat to our existence, I know I’m going to stay out of the way and let better-skilled people handle it (until and unless they say, “yeah, we need every out-of-shape cancer survivor with a history of congenital heart problems we can get – here’s your rifle!”).

  60. Eric, you live in a dream world – full of semantics.

    JMJ

  61. This argument is silly. We let other people do things for us all of the time. I “allow” politicians to represent my interests. But I wouldn’t want to be one. That doesn’t subtract one iota from my right to have opinions about politics or about what my particular representative does or says.

    Ditto with the military. I don’t want to serve unless we’re in immediate danger (e.g., war-crazed Canadians), but that doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally think military action is warranted. I’m no fan of the Iraq war, but I did and do support what we did in Afghanistan. Most of it, anyway. Now if people just started to refuse to be in the military and I wanted to force them–but not me and my family–to fight, that’d be a different issue. Kind of like Vietnam, where wealthy or influential people (and their children and friends) often got out of fighting, while the poor draftees did not. War sucks, and it should be used almost after the last resort. We’re a little too triggerhappy for my tastes, especially considering the insanely huge influence we can exert without firing a shot.

    As for the kids, well, my memory of youth is instructive–if my parents wanted me to fight, I wouldn’t have. Just because they (hypothetically) wanted me to. Heck, I should’ve gone into computer science like my dad wanted me to, but I was a jerk teenager and became (eventually) a stupid lawyer instead. Should’ve listened, I suppose 🙁

  62. I know I’m going to stay out of the way and let better-skilled people handle it

    Right, because everyone who volunteers is already a trained killing machine. They become “better skilled” because they enlist and are taught those skills. Most people aren’t born skilled soldiers.

    Building a house is not the same as fighting a war, anyone can be trained to use a weapon. And when our recruitment numbers are dwindling and the min. requirements are being lowered to make more people eligible, then there is obviously a need for more bodies.

    I don’t want to serve unless we’re in immediate danger

    But that’s the point. These people were and are claiming that we were in immediate danger. In fact, visions of mushroom clouds were dancing in their heads. Yet it’s somehow wrong to point that, if you really believe what you are saying, wouldn’t the proper action be to enlist or to encourage other like-minded people to do so.

    …but that doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally think military action is warranted..

    Let’s not confuse things. I am not saying that anyone who ever thinks military action is warranted should be forced to enlist, but if you are going to claim that if we don’t go in there and topple Saddam NOW — and that this is the most urgent and pressing threat we ever faced, then you should put your money where your mouth is, or tone down the alarmist rhetoric and the attacks on those who disagree with your assesment.

  63. Tom-I disagree. Here’s why: your questions are totally valid if the question at hand is why a particular person or group supports the war. They are not helpful in determining whether the war itself is a good idea.

  64. It’s not an ad hominem to call out someone’s hypocrisy.

    Actually, it is, by definition. It may not be unfair, depending, but it’s an ad hominem

    ad hominem
    1 : appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect
    2 : marked by an attack on an opponent’s character rather than by an answer to the contentions made

    I stand by my statement, pointing out that ones rhetoric does not match ones actions, and that they are saying something that they really do not believe is not an ad-hominem. I am neither appealing to prejudices nor am I attacking someones character — in fact I am directly challenging the contentions being made.

    If someone asserts that the risk is so pressing and urgent that it must be dealth with RIGHT NOW or else we run the risk of being destroyed or overrun by our enemies, logic tells us that when rational people are faced with such a threat they will most likely take up arms against their enemy. If they do neither, then we are left to conclude that their contentions are false / innacurate.

  65. One other thing: ” anyone can be trained to use a weapon,” is a questionable statement. The notion that anyone can be trained to be competant enough that I, or any other service member would be willing to fight next to them is patently silly.

    Also remember that there is more to the military than the infantry.

  66. I’ve got a question for the group I’ve been mulling for some time:

    Back in the day, Americans like Hemingway volunteered to fight in wars in which the US had no role: Hem joined a special American brigade run by the Italians in WWI (before the US joined); Hem, Dos Passos, and others fought in the Spanish Civil War; American pilots flew with the RAF prior to Pearl Harbor; etc.

    One of my neighbors has this big “NOT ON OUR WATCH SAVEDARFUR.ORG” sign in their yard, and every time I see it I’m like, Why don’t you grab a rifle and head on over if you’re so concerned? Like Hemingway did.

    Are there modern ex-pat military forces like there were in Italy, Spain, and so forth that one can join to fight in, say, the Sudan or Iraq? The only one I can think of is the Legion Etrangere.

  67. Actually, it’s always ad hominem to attack the speaker rather than the idea. Even if the speaker is evil. However, I don’t have a problem with noting that a speaker’s assertions may be biased. Strictly speaking, though, bias alone doesn’t make someone wrong. That’s why focusing on the ideas in an argument is the best way at getting at the truth.

    Here’s a for instance: I think someone should go get Osama bin Laden, maybe even kill him. However, I personally am not willing to do it. Does that make the idea of capturing bin Laden wrong? I also think man should be in space, but I don’t know for sure if I’m ready to go (the blowing up part is what I might have a problem with). Am I wrong, then? Pointing out someone’s hypocrisy is well and good and even appropriate, but it doesn’t change the truth or falsity of his argument.

  68. Amanda Hugginkiss,

    It’s ’cause we aren’t manly men like Hemingway. That, or because we don’t drink absinthe in mass quantities.

  69. One other thing: ” anyone can be trained to use a weapon,” is a questionable statement. The notion that anyone can be trained to be competant enough that I, or any other service member would be willing to fight next to them is patently silly.

    What’s your point? The standards for enlisting are not that high as to be unattainable for the majority of young men and women in this country. If it makes you feel better….how about I add “JUST ABOUT” infront of the word “anyone”.

    The point is one doesn’t need to go to West Point or have special training to enlist and become a competent soldier.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to denigrate those who are in the armed services, but to have people argue that we should leave the fighting to be done by the experts is a bullshit argument. Most of the fine young men and women who are serving under these horrid circumstances weren’t specially trained killing machines before enlisting, were they? Nor are most recruits turned away for incompetence, are they?

  70. Amanda- I suppose most of the bumber-sticker warriors don’t want to have a defining experience that will allow them to write one true sentence.
    To seriously address your question, I don’t really know. Certainly, there are merc organizations out there. I don’t know about legitimate militaries. I know that you do not have to be a citizen to join the US military, but have no idea what other nations do.

  71. Tom- I don’t know about “most recruits.” A fair number are turned down for various reasons. I didn’t suggest that the standards are unattainably high, only that to suggest that anyone can be a competent solider is wrong.
    Look, Tom, before you launch another missive, understand this: I am not saying that you’re wrong to critcize the people you call chickenhawks, nor am I suggesting that your comments about them are not valid. If anything, I tend to agree, especially when the folks corking off are able-bodied 19 year-olds. I am stating that those arguments have no bearing on the question of whether invading Iraq was a good idea.

  72. Actually, it’s always ad hominem to attack the speaker rather than the idea

    I’m not attacking the speaker, I am attacking the speakers contentions. I am using the speaker’s and other like minded individuals’ actions to validate my criticism of those contentions. I’m not implying that it doesn’t matter what the speaker thinks, I am instead discrediting the assertions the speaker is making based on the pro-war movements actions.

    But hey, maybe I am wrong. Maybe my view of ad hominems is completly off base. So let’s assume that it is an ad hominem, I still contend that its a very valid criticism of anyone who has called anti-war people appeasers, terrorist sympathizers, or Saddam lovers etc.

    I think that people who believe its such a noble effort should do more then pen op/eds and put yellow ribbon magnets on their cars and demonize those who disagree with the war.

  73. I am stating that those arguments have no bearing on the question of whether invading Iraq was a good idea.

    I get what you are saying, and I agree, to an extent.

    But I do feel it has some bearing the rationale for the Iraq war. The argument was repeatedly made that if we don’t face this threat now, we are doomed. Hence, facing a doomsday scenario, invading Iraq looks like quite a good idea. But when I look at all the doomsday predictors and see that they aren’t willing to make any sacrafice (except sacaficing other peoples lives) for the cause, I think it does discredit the claims of
    necessity and urgency — and that cuts right to the heart of whether going to Iraq was a good idea or not. So it may not have a direct bearing on whther invading Iraq was a good idea, it does have an indirect one.

    But I am willing to drop it here and agree to disagree while still acknowledging that I do see your point and some (most) of it’s validity.

    I just wish honest debates as to whether going into Iraq was a good idea occured before we went there and not now. Sadly many of the doomsday scenarios trotted out hurt that effort.

  74. You know, as angry as I get at our government for its various expressions of stupidity and incompetence, not to mention its acts of corruption, I occasionally wonder what things would’ve been like without 9/11. Bush would’ve likely been an inept do-nothing president–much like his predecessor, with less polish (compassionate conservatism, indeed)–who would’ve lacked the political capital or any substantial justification for the invasion of Iraq. Take that, with a much shorter recession (no doubt that 9/11 deepened it), and we’d be having a much different discussion right now. Probably about a libertarian paradise. Okay, I’m making that up.

  75. Tom, fair enough, and I agree wholeheartedly with your last paragraph.

  76. “yeah, we need every out-of-shape cancer survivor with a history of congenital heart problems we can get – here’s your rifle!”

    None of the pundits being referred to here has said, “Oh, I went down to the recruiting office last month but they said I was 4-F but I really wanted to go.”

    No, they’re just a bunch of chickenshit loudmouths who deserve to have their hypocrisy called out.

  77. And the best one yet was Jonah fucking Goldberg disputing the chickenhawk tag by saying “I’d go, if I was called up.”

    I guess his mommy didn’t tell him we no longer have a draft, and that all those recruiting ads on teevee were his “call-up”.

    Oh well, he’s too old to be eligible now. Fucking convenient, eh?

  78. <Taps.>

    I had a CO medic with my platoon in Vietnam. I figured if he had balls enough to walk into the jungle with us, unarmed, I wasn’t going to bust him for it. And I didn’t let anyone else give him a hard time, either.

  79. I too stand in awe of Doss.

    He was not the only CO Adventist to serve in the front lines in WWII and Korea. There was actually a Medical Cadet Corps that sent thousands of litter bearers and general first aid corpsmen to work alongside the army.

    The Medical Cadet Corps still exists in a greatly scaled back form. My kids have been active in it since High school of for about 15 years now.

    It does a lot of volunteer work in natural disasters but between times it trains.

    I think it is a terrific organization.

    John Henry

  80. http://rhymeswithright.mu.nu/archives/165069.php

    He Served Both Christ And Country

    And in the course of that service performed deeds of heroism so compelling that Desmond Doss was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

    Not bad for a pacifist who refused to carry a weapon out of a profound respect for the word of God and human life.

    Desmond T. Doss, Sr., the only conscientious objector to win the Congressional Medal of Honor during World War II, has died. He was 87 years old.

  81. Thou shalt not kill’?

    I thought it was, “Thou shalt not kill, unless the government of whatever country you happen to live in, regardless of its legitimacy or purpose, tells you to kill, in which case, your government’s order shalt supercede Mine.” That’s not it?

    Independent Worm — if you go back to the original Hebrew (you do read Hebrew, don’t you), you will find that a better translation of the text is “Thou shalt not commit murder.”

  82. “Actually, it’s always ad hominem to attack the speaker rather than the idea”

    I’m not attacking the speaker, I am attacking the speakers contentions.

    OK. I’ll note that pretty much everything I’ve read by you has been remarkably dumb, Chicago Tom. I’ll live you to figure out whether that is an ad hominem attack.

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