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Adventures In Manufactured Controversies

July 26, 2007

I hang out on blogs on all sides of the political spectrum, and I usually follow the stories that generate a lot of buzz pretty closely.  Usually.  One exception has been all this controversy in the rightosphere over this soldier who posted diaries over on The New Republic under a pseudonym (Scott Thomas).  Why?  Because it’s a war, and ugly things happen in war.  I don’t think that you have to actually be fighting in one to know that even the people who you like to think of as the “good guys” are going to do some nasty things.  It seems pretty intuitive to me, really.   The rightys, however, just didn’t want to believe what this guy was writing, or that he was even a real soldier in Iraq.  I don’t know how many hours were collectively spent by bloggers over there who were trying to get to the bottom of this (wherever it might lead), but I’m sure that number would be staggering.  Well, today, Mr. ‘Scott Thomas’, stepped forward, and it turns out that…wait for it…he’s real. 

Andrew Sullivan sums up the reasoning behind this phenomenon pretty well:

It combines all the usual Weimar themes out there: treasonous MSM journalists, treasonous soldiers, stories of atrocities that undermine morale (regardless of whether they’re true or not), and blanket ideological denial. We have to understand that some people still do not believe that the U.S. is torturing or has tortured detainees, still do not believe that torture or murder or rape occurred at Abu Ghraib, still believe that everyone at Gitmo is a dangerous terrorist captured by US forces, and still believe we’re winning in Iraq. If you believe all this and face the mountains of evidence against you, you have to act ever more decisively and emphatically to refute any evidence that might undermine this worldview.

I’m not going to link directly to all the head-popping reaction;  instead, I’ll just leave links to the memeorandum tabs so that if you really want to dive into this whole thing, I have it here for the record…

That should capture it.  Prepare to be dazzled!

On second thought, I will link to a thread over at Hot Air from last week that appears to have kicked off the entire pathetic affair.  You see, Bryan the armchair commando had set his ‘BS detector’ on low and figured he had snuffed some out because he’s an expert on Glocks in Iraq.  Or something.  His conclusion:

“Scott Thomas” is bogus. He’s a fraud. He might be Clifton Hicks, he might be someone else, but whoever he is, it’s become clear that he has an eye for made-up detail but doesn’t know much about reality.

The New Republic will have to out “Scott Thomas” in order to protect its own credibility. It’s that simple.

Anyway, I guess my point is that when you agree to a war, you’re agreeing to war in all it’s ugliness.  All the stories of massacres and torture, all the propaganda and spin…all of it should be expected.  It’s war.  This expectation was one of the reasons I was against the invasion of Iraq from the very beginning.  So I guess that’s why I’ve been so indifferent towards this ‘Scott Thomas’ thing.  Oh well…the saga continues.

Update:  Uh Oh….ad hominem time…Scott Thomas’ stories can’t be true because…because…he’s married to a TNR staffer

Thanks to Liberrocky for nailing down confirmation of the marriage/engagement angle. I was up half the night googling that.

This is amazing.  Let me know when you find out if the stories are true or not, OK guys?  Get on a plane, go to Iraq, and verify them.  Or, how about a thread on the story that we seem to have an administration that can’t tell the truth? 

One final thought.

I have no idea whether what this guy might have written is all true, part true, or completely made up.  I don’t read TNR, and the only reason I even heard about all this is because it caused such a commotion.  In fact, I still haven’t read any of his stuff.  I guess there’s nothing wrong with doing more digging if you spot a story that you feel is fishy and holding those people’s feet to the fire.  What I’m trying to point out here is that these bloggers on the right only seem to do this type of rigorous fact-checking when the fishy story is something that contradicts their worldview. 

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10 comments

  1. Is this the Elliot Spitzer thread?


  2. More like the “I support the troops until they tell me something I don’t want to hear” thread.


  3. Update: Uh Oh….ad hominem time…Scott Thomas’ stories can’t be true because…because…he’s married to a TNR staffer!

    Let me know when you find out if the stories are true or not, OK guys? Get on a plane, go to Iraq, and verify them.
    Lucky for you McDonald’s just began serving a chipotle crow wrap, cause should be eating a lot of it.

    I mean what is it like to be so smug and then be so wrong?

    Or, how about a thread on the story that we seem to
    have an administration that can’t tell the truth?

    Whoops wrong again…

    Maybe there is a twelve step program to help you break your addiction to being wrong.

    Liberrocky


  4. What the heck does that story about Saddam have to do with this?


  5. What the heck does that story about Saddam have to do with this?

    That was in response to this:
    Or, how about a thread on the story that we seem to have an administration that can’t tell the truth?
    The saddam article puts a timely stake in the “bush lied people died” meme that you were pushing in the above quote.


  6. I know what it was in response to, but the above quote included a link to the Gonzales fracas, so it wasn’t quite the meme I was pushing.

    In regards to Iraq, I’ve never really implied on this blog that Bush “lied” about Saddam’s supposed WMD capability or aspirations. My accusations of dishonesty are much broader and more fundamental. Bush’s lie on Iraq was stating “hopefully no military action”, when clearly he had no other intention. See this thread and its comments section for a good roundup of my position on this.


  7. I know what it was in response to, but the above quote included a link to the Gonzales fracas, so it wasn’t quite the meme I was pushing.

    In regards to Iraq, I’ve never really implied on this blog that Bush “lied” about Saddam’s supposed WMD capability or aspirations. My accusations of dishonesty are much broader and more fundamental. Bush’s lie on Iraq was stating “hopefully no military action”, when clearly he had no other intention. See this thread and its comments section for a good roundup of my position on this.

    OK, coolie with me. Thanks for clarifying.


  8. It is an interesting story about Saddam that you linked to, however. If true, it verifies what many have suspected for some time, in that he wanted people to believe that he had WMD, perhaps right up until 1441. It would also suggest that the sanctions and inpections were, in fact, keeping him from actually aquiring them.

    There are a lot of ways to spin this, of course.


  9. Yupper. It is tough though. If someone is mugging you with their finger in their pocket and you can’t tell if it is really a gun or not, and you know they have a criminal record. Do you assume they have a gun?


    • …why not invite him along to make a big withdrawl from your neighborhood bank, you might
      be the talent scout who discovers the new willy
      sutton? don’t pass up the chance. friends are hard to find these days, or do you already know this guy? it might be his first time. in that
      case bet on the finger and hand your money over
      anyway, unless it’s a shirt that’s been to the laundry too many times. if it’s a girl, she has
      a gun, and a dog too. think quick, yupper.



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