A conservatory of Ldotter blogs.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Molly Ivins. . .

. . .today retracted a gross misstatement of fact she'd made in her previous column. I think that's a perfectly admirable thing to do, so I'll resist the temptation to heckle her. But, that won't keep me from chiding the presumably large number of MoveOn folks who believed exactly as she had until she was corrected.

I assume Molly didn't arrive at her numbers by accident. One doesn't just pluck a figure out of the air when discussing the number of people Saddam murdered during his reign. It's most likely a number she's heard bandied about in conversation with like-minded acquaintances who appear to have some sense of authority on the issue. So, one would presume that Molly isn't the only one among her circle of indignants who needed to be disabused of the notion that Saddam had killed less than 20,000 human beings over a 30-year period. You really have to wonder how widely held this belief has been among the left. What would cause them to so readily accept such a low number when the reality is that Hussein is directly responsible for at least 300,000 dead Iraqis?

Whether it's willful ignorance, or denial, there is something wrong on the left when one of its beloved opinion writers gets such a basic, important fact so wrong. Whatever the case, it slipped past at least one editor (likely more) before going to publication (assuming anyone bothers to read her work before printing it). To me, that indicates an institutional problem. I know. I'm as stunned as you are.

But, there's an irony in all of this. It seems that Ivins (and many others on the left) feel that the moment the number of civilian dead in this war surpasses the number produced by the Hussein regime, the war becomes inherently unjust and immoral -- and the bodycount was to become a rallying cry. The irony is that the left holds up as its shining example of humanitarian wartime triumph the war in Kosovo, which is far closer to having cost more civilian lives than the ethnic cleansing it sought to end. In the last days leading up to NATO intervention, Clinton administration officials were trumpeting bodycounts of "up to 100,000." As it turns out, the number of bodies that have been discovered in and around Kosovo is much closer to 3,500. And, 3,500 is close to the number of civilians killed over the course of the sustained aerial campaign. At least these are the most recent figures I've heard. I haven't followed the developements very closely over the last several years, so the numbers are subject to revision.

I'd really like to know the genesis of the number Molly cited in her original article.

free website counters