Adventures In Manufactured ControversiesJuly 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.