Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Matthew 7:5 and the Iraqi Elections

Why is it that some people will do anything (and I mean anything) to show their moral superiority? I mean, some would even lie, or at least stretch the truth. That doesn't sound too moral to me, but perhaps I'm being naive. Unfortunately, the Iraqi Elections are one of those things that gets out the the wowsers and moralizers in numbers. At this point, I feel I should say what I feel. Here goes:

Firstly, I am pleasantly surprised how well the elections went. 42 dead is not good at all, but I feared a lot, lot worse: serious bombs, serious violence, serious disruption. However, the end result was 8 million voting - or about 60% of the electorate. You can't but helped be moved by stories like this:

In the dirt-poor town of Sumawa, right on Iraq's southern border, a baby was born in a polling station to an expectant mother determined that nothing would stop her from casting a ballot.

In the holy city of Najaf, 80-year-old Mahdeya Saleh, dressed in a black abeya, declared: "I was often forced to vote under Saddam. Today, I come out of my own will to choose freely cast my voted."

And in Baghdad, Samir Hassan refused to let the security ban on private cars stop him from voting, despite losing his leg to a bomb last October. "I would have crawled here if I had to," he said. "I don't want terrorists to kill other Iraqis like they tried to kill me. Today I am voting for peace."

Put it this way: as a person who anticipated one Mofo of a disaster of an election, I cannot be more pleased to say "I wuz wrong". Hey, I'm only human. I make mistakes. Maybe I was too much of a pessimist - I still am. (What if the Shi'ites want the Americans to leave? What if they want to impose their own version of Islamic law?) But can we all agree that these elections - their flaws aside- were good? Well, I hope so. (However, a comments link is provided for the contrarians.)

But for some people, that's not good enough. They want to say "You were wrong!", and not just factually wrong, but morally wrong. They want to take potshots at their chosen ideological opponents. They want the moral high ground. They are devotees of "Conspicuous Indignation", a truly, lovely term coined by Chris Sheil of Back Pages Blog. It is used to describe pundits and pollies getting all hot and bothered about something without actually doing anything effective about it. A good example of this is displayed by Michelle Malkin, where she's attempting to insinuate some "selective ignorance":

With the exception of Sullivan, the top bloggers on the left side of the blogosphere have decided to mark this historic day by hiding under their bedcovers.

As of 1:45pm EST today,...

Crooked Timber is silent on the Iraqi elections...

Kieran of Crooked Timber replied:

I suppose I should have expected the likes of Michelle Malkin to treat the Iraqi elections as an opportunity to take a pot shot at “the Left.” As you know, we on The LeftTM are all for for more death and suffering in Iraq because it improves our case for universal health care and better prescription drug coverage. Like an excited kid on Christmas morning, Malkin wasn’t able to wait all day. She restrained herself till lunchtime (U.S. east coast time) on Sunday before indicting us along with a few other blogs: “Left goes into Hibernation”, “Crooked Timber is Silent on the Iraqi Elections”. Silent, silent, silent. You can practically hear the wind whistling through the trees around here. An excerpt from our non-existent commentary on the election appears on the Op-Ed page of Tuesday’s Dallas Morning News, presumably as a big ole chunk of white space. I suppose we were hibernating, really, as long as you think “Hibernation” means “Doing some other things on Sunday (in our own time zones) before catching up on the news.”

Kids, that's meant to be sarcasm. (That's also the whole post. Short and sweet.)

Now I am aware that Conspicuous Indignation is as old as the hills. But it's been getting really bad lately, and I hate it. Conspicuous indignation seems to be the last resort of any hack with a column to fill, no ideas of their own, and a looming deadline. It's the reason I stop reading newspapers - too many opinion writers nowadays resort to this. Hell, some opinion writers specialize in this. Still, you need to start somewhere, and what better than the blogosphere and the trackback link?

So to Michelle Malkin (if she is reading this), I can only say "Stop it." Your example makes you look like a hypocrite. Or a lazy-fact checker. Or both. Maybe you should be less quick with the denunciations. Or remember Matthew 7:5:

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

The only problem is that she may not be able to stop. Maybe she is one of those empty headed hacks who can only denounce because she's not too good at the fact-checking side, and it is too late for a change of career. In that case, I can do nothing else but pity her.