Ramesh Ponnuru: Ignoramus, or Bald-Faced Liar?

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by
Gene Callahan

Greeley
spoke out against killing innocent civilians in our response
to the attacks. Ponnuru points out (correctly) that even in
a just war, one cannot possibly guarantee that no civilians
are killed. But he goes on to say:

“Perhaps
Fr. Greeley merely means that President Bush should renounce
any intention of killing civilians deliberately. Then Fr. Greeley’s
demand would not be irresponsible. It would instead be a grave
insult to the president and the nation he leads. Nobody has
proposed such killing.”

Nobody?
Nobody at all?

What
about Senator Zell Miller: “I say, bomb the hell out of them.
If there’s collateral damage, so be it. They certainly found
our civilians to be expendable.”

Or
how about Chris Weinkopf of the Daily News, in an article
in Frontpage: “…the tactical use of nuclear weapons
could provide the key to such a victory [over radical Islam].”
(Note: Nuclear weapons will tend to kill a few civilians.)

Steve
Dunleavy of the New York Post says (9/12/01): “As for
cities or countries that host these worms, bomb them into basketball
courts.”

Then
there is this sequence:

Bill
O’Reilly: “If the Taliban government of Afghanistan does not
cooperate, then we will damage that government with air power,
probably. All right? We will blast them, because…”
Sam Husseini, Institute for Public Accuracy: “Who will you kill
in the process?”
O’Reilly: “Doesn’t make any difference.”
~ (“The O’Reilly Factor,” Fox News Channel, 9/13/01)

And
here is National Review editor Rich Lowry, speaking to
Howard Kurtz (Washington Post, 9/13/01): “If we flatten
part of Damascus or Tehran or whatever it takes, that is part
of the solution.”

Or
John Derbyshire, writing
in National Review Online: “Justice must go by the board
for a while, as it did when we firebombed German and Japanese
cities, incinerating helpless babies and old folk who wished
us no harm.”

And
we close off with Ann Coulter, also writing
in NRO: “We should invade their countries, kill their
leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious
about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers.
We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That’s
war. And this is war.”

(Thanks
are due to FAIR, who has assembled a collection
of such quotes.)

It
just doesn’t work to say that none of these actions deliberately
kills civilians. It’s tragic if you shoot at an enemy soldier
and hit a civilian who happens to be passing in a car, but not
a war crime. But if you’re nuking major cities, you are deliberately
killing civilians. A defense that says killing them wasn’t your
goal is analogous to an arsonist defending himself by saying:
“Well, yes, I knew the family was in the house, and I knew they
would die, but all I wanted was to see the house burn!”

There
are two possibilities here. The first is that Ponnuru is completely
ignorant of what is being written and said in the media, including
his own magazine’s web site. In this case, he should
shut up until he figures out what he is talking about.

The
second is that he is a bald-faced liar. He knows that many of
his friends are calling for the murder of civilians on a massive
scale. But when a Catholic priest points out this evil, Ponnuru
tries to claim that nobody said any such thing.

If
neither of the above are true, then we should see Ponnuru slapping
me with a huge lawsuit. But don’t hold your breath.

September
20,
2001

Gene
Callahan [send him mail]
has just finished a book, Economics for Real People, to
be published this year by the Ludwig
von Mises Institute
.

2001, Gene Callahan

Gene
Callahan/Stu Morgenstern Archives

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