Friday, November 05, 2004

Orson Scott Card Goes Off the Deep End

Orson Scott Card has an essay on his site (Emotions, the Draft, UnBush, Black Voters, and Local Candidates) that I'd like to respond to. I enjoy Card's fiction. I have listened to him speak and enjoyed him there, too. Frankly, I was surprised to see him making such weak arguments here.

Point 1: "All the networks" agree not to show footage of the World Trade Center collapse because it will "enflame emotions". Yet some networks are willing to enflame emotions by naming or humanizing the soldiers who have died in Iraq. "We Americans can't be allowed to see footage that would inflame our emotions in support of the war. But anything that might inflame emotions against the war is the networks' civic duty to run."

We have all seen footage of the World Trade Center collapse, over and over and over. I'm sure I've seen it hundreds of times. Eventually, hundreds and thousands of survivors, family members of victims, and other traumatized Americans petitioned the networks to stop showing video of their loved ones being killed over and over again. This is a vastly different situation than one in which the government decides that the American public shall not be allowed to see coffins coming home from war, or hear the names of fallen soldiers read aloud. We have always honored those who sacrifice their lives for our country in this way. No one wants to see bloody footage of soldiers dying, but silence greeting our fallen trivializes their sacrifice.

Point 2: "Of course, the stupid answer to what I just said is, 'Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Therefore footage of 9/11 has nothing to do with this war.'"

It's far more "stupid" to conflate the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It's ridiculous to assert that the war in Iraq (a preemptive strike without adequate planning) has made the world safer from terrorism. Iraq was run by an evil dictator, as are far too many countries on this earth. Sadaam was no friend to al Queda, and the terrorists had no home in Iraq. Terrorist attacks have sharply increased across the globe since the war in Iraq began. Terrorists are not "reduced to murdering Iraqi soldiers" exclusively by any stretch of the imagination.

Point 3: "If Kerry wins, the insurgents and foreign terrorists in Iraq will be vastly encouraged. In fact, Kerry's campaign has been one long promise of hope to the embattled terrorist movement within Islam. They firmly believe that if they can just keep up the pressure, the American Left will deliver them a victory just as forty years ago the American Left delivered the North Vietnamese a victory that they could not win on the battlefield."

Obviously, Card wrote this one before watching the recent bin Laden tape. Global support for a new American administration is what Islamic terrorists want? This one is so far out there and is such complete conjecture – unsupported by any facts whatsoever – that it's hard to know where to begin. And I'd be interested in seeing a version of history that blames Vietnam on "the American Left" by actual historians. Being an armchair revisionist historian is perhaps a danger of writing too much fiction.

Point 4: "Neither the administration nor the military is asking for more troops."

Military officials have repeatedly said that they do not have and have not had enough troops to do the job in Iraq. But Card is right that Bush is not planning to send more troops.

Point 5: "Kerry's election will be interpreted by everyone in the world as meaning that the American people no longer have the will to fight until our enemies are defeated."

This would certainly be an odd interpretation considering Kerry's repeated assertion that he is committed to "hunting down" and "killing" terrorists. Following that bizarre assertion was some blather about how Kerry keeps his plans top secret, insinuating that he doesn't really have plans. It's true that Kerry's plans, like most good foreign and domestic policy, doesn't fit well into 30-second sound bites. If Card had clicked on over to Kerry's website, he could have read at great length about Kerry's plans for fighting the war on terror.

I've got to stop now, but I encourage you all to read on. The essay is funny when Card talks about how Democrats are going to steal the election (especially given the actual result, where only in places where there was receipt-free e-voting were the exit polls substantially off-target). It gets pretty good when Card explains why African-American voters are just too stupid to realize that the Republican party is really the party with their best interests at heart. Then he devolves into a discussion of local politics, wherein he prefers a candidate to be "inept and ineffective". What a patriot.

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