The always amusing Robert Scheer, “columnist-fanatic” for the Los Angeles Times, never fails to grasp any straw that gives him a chance to rant about the Bush administration. Yesterday he was feverish over the weekend news from Iraq: “Destruction of one of the world’s most significant collections of antiquities.” Scheer arches his eyebrow and notes that the oil fields were protected, but not the museum. Get it?
Scheer is simply echoing a complaint about the antiquities that has ricocheted around the elite media. This is a convenient excuse for disgraced gloom-mongers to switch the subject from the liberation of Iraq to the familiar rhythm of anti-Bush chants. My guess is that not one of the regular talking heads on cable had ever heard of the Iraqi museum until it became an opportunity to turn great news into an occasion for disaster.
Proponents of the liberation of Iraq ought not to shy away from this story. Rather, they ought to use it to frame the question of whether or not this war was just: Forced to choose between leaving the museum unharmed and freeing the children from the now infamous children’s jail, which would you choose? On a broader scale, would you prefer the order of Saddam’s regime, including the horrific practices of its jails, or a week of looting and chaos?
If you missed it, go back and read Jack Kelly’s riveting but revolting USA Today story from April 14:
BAGHDAD – Pictures of dead Iraqis, with their necks slashed, their eyes gouged out and their genitals blackened, fill a bookshelf. Jail cells, with dried blood on the floor and rusted shackles bolted to the walls, line the corridors. And the screams of what could be imprisoned men in an underground detention center echo through air shafts and swear pipes.
Read the whole story. Scheer and his colleagues in the anti-war crowd haven’t, and probably won’t. They don’t care. But the looting of the antiquities museum fills them with rage.
The absurdity of this line of complaint about the looting goes unremarked upon because an entire slice of big media has completely abandoned any idea about what differentiates good and evil. CNN’s stunning admission that it covered-up for Saddam for a decade is just the most obvious evidence that modern “journalism” has not just lost, but positively rejected, any idea of a moral compass.
When the gates of the Nazi death camps swung open in 1945, Scheer would no doubt have been writing about the destruction done to Berlin. A moral blindness so complete can not be credited with any capacity to see good and evil.
Scheer’s not alone of course. His lack of talent combined with the Los Angeles Times’ contempt for its readership just operates to give him so much rope that he inevitably hangs himself in public. The more unconscious among the morally bankrupt simply parrot the storyline as it emerges.
Tim Russert on Sunday made the mistake of asking the secretary of defense how America could have “allowed” the looting of the museum to happen. Rumsfeld immediately seized on the word “allowed” – which, of course, carries with it culpability – and he would not let go, even in the face of Russert’s attempt to recast the question in order to avoid being Rummified.
The defense secretary then gave a tutorial on war: Bad things happen in war. But greater good comes out of it. Rumsfeld didn’t specify the children running free to their parents or the destruction of a system of such cruel repression that it makes ordinary people turn away, but that’s the wellspring of his disgust with dilettantes prattering about museums.
Of course, it is a loss that the museum was ransacked. But the freeing of the people of Iraq was well worth that cost. And had the diversion of troops to protect government buildings, including museums, cost an additional soldier’s or Marine’s life, that would have been too high a price to pay.
Human life matters more than bones, clay tablets and ancient jewels. That’s the bottom line. It is also a dividing line.
The left is reeling, confused by the triumph of the American military in a noble cause and the revelation of a clearly, undeniably evil regime. This sequence of events upends the left because it destroys so many of its pillars.
The American military is never supposed to triumph in a just cause.
The use of force is never supposed to be unambiguously revealed as just.
There is not supposed to be such things as “good” and “evil.”
But there, in every paper and on every television screen, are evidences of all these things – powerful and persuasive evidences that ordinary Americans understand and absorb, and which will shape politics for decades to come.
The left is defeated and its American members know it. And they are bitter. And increasingly alone.