Along the Tracks

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

I got James' back - not that he needs me

The Dennis Perrin column, pointed out by Glenn Reynolds, makes no sense as a criticism of a particular blog or blogs in general. He seems to think blog=newspaper column and all the rules and conventions are identical.

Set that aside for a moment, and consider some of his specific criticisms of James Lileks' Bleats and Screeds:

1. Armchair warriors. Bloggers, or more specifically, "warbloggers," are not allowed to write with emotion or, God forbid, bravado about our own nation's military efforts. Yet Perrin and his like are free to romanticize Palestinian violence or brag that in Miami they braved "one of the most repressive police states North America has ever witnessed" without any requirements to back up their claims with proof of personal credentials, let alone basic facts.

2. The Left lets many flowers bloom - unlike the right. Lileks is wrong to tar all Lefties with the grime provided by a "starry-eyed teen PETA activist" because "there are lefts of many creeds and moods." Yet, not only does Perrin find no irony in lumping together all warbloggers - he says "Lileks can rant with the worst of them" (and I may be merely flattering myself to accept the honor of being lumped with James Lileks) - but he mentions in passing that he left the Left in times past when he was pissed off. Apparently, Perrin is saying the Left lets many flowers bloom - as long as they are all one color.

3. The intricate web. One of my personal favorites regularly tossed out by the left, the "lack of historical perspective" criticism is lobbed at James with much relish. "Historical context is seldom welcome at The Bleat," says Perrin, who notes only Lileksian comparisons between the present war and World War II - and then scoffs, "images of which have adorned many a Lileks rant." Instead, we are given the usual litany of Saddam enablers from previous administrations (self-blame included absolutely free!), "timeless tribal conflict" between the Jews and their suicide-bomber attackers, and the deep understanding of clashing paradigms Perrin reserves for the serious intellectual, who is, not surprisingly, by definition a Leftist. The history of "people the world over [who] have always chafed against great powers and imperial states" indeed seems an accurate comparison to much of the difficulty America and all the West have faced since the end of the Cold War. Yet Perrin's noble addendum to that phrase, "for good reasons and bad," is ignored when the Left analyzes this and almost any other military action by the West. For them, if the U.S. is leading the effort, the opposition need not justify its "good reasons."

4. Only one way to skin a cat. Finally, Perrin clearly draws before us dividing line separating those who, despite misgivings on specifics, agree this is a real war we must fight and those who believe it is not a real war and we face no true threat to our liberties or livelihood from Islamic totalitarianism. He says "Lileks likes playing the It's Their Terms or Ours card, as if we're down to house-to-house fighting." Ignore for a moment whether the West really wants to wait that long before "playing the card." Instead, consider what the domestic effects of Islamic totalitarian aggression have been: potential and real limitations on civil liberties and economic strain which hurts the less wealthy disproportionately. Are these not two of the Left's primary concerns? Would not another even more catastrophic terrorist attack result in tighter restrictions and greater economic damage - regardless of who is president? Losses of civil liberties and increased financial stress affect you, me, James Lileks, Dennis Perrin - and his next door neighbor.

House to house to house. The fight itself may or may not be there yet (tell it to Lower Manhattan), but those houses, and the rights and well-being of those inside them, are indeed what we are fighting to protect.

UPDATE: Thanks, Glenn Reynolds, for the link, and welcome to visitors clicking over. I know my blog isn't very "bloggish," but I hope you find something here amusing, entertaining or even interesting. Also, I've changed references to Lileks inside my post from "Jim" to "James," as e-mailers have suggested this is his preference. I'm e-mailing Lileks to find out if this is true, but will follow the advice in the meantime - except for the post's headline, which I think is catchy. ;-)

FINAL UPDATE: More feedback (thanks to the many who have written) indicates that, yes, he prefers James - and I've eliminated the final reference, in the headline.

Now, if I can just get people to stop calling me "Pa Miller" ....

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