Wouldn’t this sort of self-righteous posturing be more credible if any Berkeley professor, anywhere, anytime, had protested the mistreatment of American prisoners by the North Vietnamese? Just in case you wonder why I don’t take you seriously.
What??? When I lived in Berkeley, there were protests against the governments of Israel and South Africa all the time. On campus, off campus, professors, the City Council, the student union, ballot propositions, the whole works. So what you say is, basically, flatly untrue.
Now if what you meant is, no Berkeley professor (or grad student) would ever support the actions of their own government, that may be true.
But of course the fact that the Berkeley of a generation ago didn’t protest the Vietnamese torture of our troops obviously doesn’t mean that I – who was, umm, not even born when you were a student there there – am, simply by dint of my affiliation with the institution, not entitled to protest the American torture of others. The suggestion that things should be otherwise is so ridiculous I don’t even know where to begin.
Mr. Schwenkler: Protest all you want. Everyone else in Berkeley does. I’m just pointing that you would be more persuasive if you, or any of your allies in this particular cause, had (i) a consistent witness and (ii) an evident patriotism.
Yes, John, I’d find your arguments so much more persuasive if you wore, for example, an American flag lapel pin. After all, the question of whether the American government contravenes law and morality to torture sometimes innocent prisoners is, when you get down to it, basically about whether you, John Schwenkler, demonstrate publicly that you love your country.
y81, many people want their country to do the right thing because of patriotism. It’s an idea that you’ll have plenty of time to ponder while you wander the conservative wilderness. For example, imagine if a year from now a conservative complains about our shiny new national health care system, and someone responds, “Well, those conservatives would have some credibility if they protested when Australia or Holland set up national health care systems back in the 60s.” I trust you’ll be able to figure out what’s wrong with that sort of argument.