Orson Scott Card/Honor/analysis

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Notes

The article text should probably be split into subpages like the Gay Marriage and Civilization article. Repeating the synopses here is probably unnecessary; instead; link to the relevant section-page when making counterpoints.

Summary and Analysis

Aside from all the virtuosity-waving, Card's basic point seems to be that (he believes) we have an opportunity to defeat the terrorists now, in Iraq, relatively cheaply, and that if we do not take this opportunity we will be facing a much harder, longer, and bloodier battle as Muslim extremism spreads across the globe.

The article's title relates to his labeling of the Democratic party in general and the 110th US Congress in particular (especially Nancy Pelosi) as dishonorable elitist cretins because they don't agree with his conclusion, although he is either ignorant of their true reasons for acting the way they have or else he is being intellectually dishonest in seriously misrepresenting their point of view.

Given how little time he actually spends making his point and how much time he spends using it to make Congress and the Democrats look like heinous bastards, his goal may be less about making a real point about the Iraq war and more about trying to hurt the Democrats. The article bears some of the hallmarks of cleverly-crafted propaganda:

  • extreme disparity between reality and what Card states as fact:
    • Claim: Bush has behaved honorably, the Democrats have not and Bill Clinton did not
    • Claim: The Democrats did not campaign on a platform of ending the Iraq war
    • Claim: The Democratic pro-withdrawal stance is not what the majority of Dems want, but rather an enforcement of the party line (I have no actual data for this, but it was my definite impression that the vast majority of Dems had come around to being in favor of withdrawal – or, at the very least, that they were (appropriately) responding to their constituents' wishes)
    • Claim: Clinton was contemptuous of the legal process, while Bush apparently was respectful of it
  • concealing a lie within the truth by using mirror arguments:
    • yes, power-mad zealots have taken over – but on the GOP side, not on the Democratic side as he claims
    • yes, the press has been complicit in a conspiracy of silence about corrupt behavior – but the corruption has been within the Bush administration, not within the Dems
    • yes, the Constitutional separation of powers has been seriously threatened – by Bush's elevation of presidential power, not by Congress trying to undo the damage Bush did when he rode roughshod over the will of the American people
    • yes, America gets harsher criticism for its transgressions in Iraq than the terrorists do for committing far worse deeds – but (1) this is as it should be, (2) such criticism is directly aimed at (perhaps futilely by now) trying to maintain the very honor whose maintenance is the key goal of his article (3) labeling such criticism as "helping the terrorists" is name-calling and shows how little Card understands about the idea of democracy.
  • stating debatable premises as fact, without offering any supporting evidence:
    • Claim: By invading Iraq, we made a promise to the Iraqi people.
    • Claim: The Iraqi people are now our allies.

Detailed Synopsis

Part 1

{{#lst:Orson Scott Card/Honor|part-1-synopsis}}

Part 2 (The Death of Individual Honor)

{{#lst:Orson Scott Card/Honor|part-2-synopsis}}

Part 3 (The Honor of Parties)

{{#lst:Orson Scott Card/Honor|part-3-synopsis}}

Part 4 (The Honor of Nations)

{{#lst:Orson Scott Card/Honor|part-4-synopsis}}

Part 5 (The Cost of Dishonor)

{{#lst:Orson Scott Card/Honor|part-5-synopsis}}

Part 6 (Supporting Our Troops)

{{#lst:Orson Scott Card/Honor|part-5-synopsis}}

Queries and Responses

  • Who does he consider to be the "elite" in the US? Who is the "we" that is teaching athletes, businessmen, and politicians to cheat? A partial answer to this is slipped in in Part 3: "But because the elitists who run the Democratic Party don't care about honor..." Apparently elitists are running the Democratic party. Are all Democratic leaders elitists, or has the party been (unwillingly) taken over by elitists, in much the same way that the Republican party has been taken over by power-hungry evangelistic zealots? If the latter, can we have some names?
  • "The Democrats did not run on a platform of promising to impose a deadline on the Iraq war" – oh really? That's why I voted for them... and it's why Lieberman lost the primary and had to run as an Independent
  • If ending the war is not what the majority of Dems want, then how did it get to be the party line? Who among the Democrats disagrees with it?
  • (more haymaking out of the conclusion that the Dems broke a promise, which has not been demonstrated)
  • "Honor is something Republicans believe in, so it can be used to destroy them." Then why were Bush's lies and corruption blatantly ignored by the Republicans while they were in power?
  • "The press is complicit in a conspiracy of silence about the dishonorable deeds of the Dems": Not if you watch Fox News
  • "...while jumping on any transgression of the GOP..." GOP members get away with all kinds of stuff; Dems get ruthlessly examined for every possible irregularity. If Card (or anyone else) sincerely believes that the balance goes the other way, then we need to start making a list of transgressions and penalties.
  • Need more information about the Attorney General firings under Clinton (even Conservapedia doesn't mention anything)
  • Which subpoenas did Clinton scoff at? What files did his team pretend to lose?
  • To what things did the 110th Congress illegitimately claim a right?
  • When did Iran become one of "our enemies"?
  • What "promises" did we make to Iraq, exactly? Who is counting on us to stay there? Where are the quotes from Iraqis saying "no, please don't go, they'll kill me and my family if you do!" It seems plausible that there might be individuals who are in fact counting on this, but in the absence of actual evidence I'm inclined to presume that it's not generally the case. The GOP – having behaved dishonorably over and over again – has lost their right to be presumed to be telling the truth, as has anyone who still supports their case in the face of what we now know.
  • "Those who say that the ratification was based on deception are the liars – no one knew more than we were told about what was going on in Iraq, and when they say otherwise, they know they have no evidence and are making a false and dishonorable charge in order to achieve their political purpose."
    • What does this mean?
    • If it means that the ratification was based on trust that there was damning evidence to which "we" were not privy, then was that trust not betrayed when it turned out that there were no WMDs?
    • If it means that the ratification was made in spite of not really having adequate information, then how does this support OSC's contention that deception was not part of the process?
    • Is it true to say that nobody knew "more than we were told about what was going on in Iraq" when there were multiple, independent sources of information (e.g. Iraq-based bloggers and independent delegations to Iraq)?
    • How did Nancy Pelosi express contempt for the Constitution? (presumably OSC means "by her decision to support withdrawal" etc., but phrased like this it sounds like something much more serious, and he needs to be specific)
    • How is Hillary Clinton honorless?

Notes

OSC quotes Mao's use of the phrase paper tiger to describe the United States. It is interesting to note that Mao also argued that "paper tiger" nations in general "..appeared to be superficially powerful but would have a tendency to overextend themselves in the international arena, at which point pressure could be brought upon them by other states to cause their sudden collapse." Which is worse: breaking a commitment, or making a bad commitment in the first place?

OSC agrees with David Brin that the US's failure to support the requested uprising against Saddam Hussein is a very deep stain on the US's honor. Why is it that OSC trusts the Bush administration, which is run by many of the same people involved in that ghastly tragedy, to be doing the right thing?

Card's claim that Congress is usurping power is highly biased, at best. If Congress has the power to determine the contents of a bill such that it effectively ends the war regardless of presidential veto, then it was probably given that power for a reason, and there is no shame in using it for a good purpose. It is highly disingenuous of OSC to criticize Congress for "usurping power" when they are only taking extreme but legal measures – and doing so openly, and in accordance with the principles of running an enlightened democratic government – to rein in the power usurped by Bush by far less open and less-enlightened means. Which group is behaving dishonorably, again? And who was it that made these supposed promises to Iraq which we are now forced to break because they were a really bad idea?

"Congress absolutely ratified the waging of the Iraq Campaign." Um, hello? That was the do-nothing 109th US Congress led by the GOP (under the control of power-hungry evangelistic zealots since the 1994 Republican revolution). The 110th US Congress is responsibly trying to undo the evil done by the 109th.

"no one knew more than we were told about what was going on in Iraq, and when they say otherwise, they know they have no evidence and are making a false and dishonorable charge in order to achieve their political purpose.

The entire premise of Part 6 is rather contradicted by recent testimony from various military officers that the Bush administration has repeatedly ignored the advice of top military brass. (Need to start page about US military opinion on Iraq)