More on the WMD and the Commencement Issues

This article does a good job of addressing my thoughts on the existence of Iraq’s WMD and the importance of finding such evidence.

In another ongoing topic, here is a reality check for any liberals out there who may be getting too smug about the intolerence of conservative thinkers who are faced with opposing views during Commencement speeches. Rudeness and/or reflexive dogmatic thinking is not the exclusive property of any one ideology.

And just because no one got around to pulling the plug on the microphone doesn’t put it in a different category than Rockford’s incident. At least Albright was giving a speech within the context of the event.

8 Responses to “More on the WMD and the Commencement Issues”

  1. John Callender Says:

    Excellent point on how the right doesn’t hold a monopoly on the misguided desire to silence the other side.

    On the WMD thing, I find that link really interesting, especially if it really does represent your opinion. Are you saying that _if_ it does turn out that the Iraqi-WMDs justification for the war was a lie, then that would constitute a gross violation by Bush of his duties as president? But you aren’t really worried about that, because you continue to believe quite firmly that Iraqi WMDs really did constitute an imminent threat to this country at the time of the invasion?

    If you’d be willing to post links to additional information supporting that position, I’d be very interested in reading it.

    In the meantime, I’m reminded of something I was reading just the other day, in Edward Tufte’s _Envisioning Information_, describing the resistance Galileo encountered when he started publicizing the fact that telescopic observations showed mountains and craters on the moon. Most educated Europeans of the time, being good Aristotelians, believed that the moon, like all heavenly bodies, was a perfectly smooth sphere. Tufte writes (quoting from Stillman Drake’s _Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo_):

    [begin quotation]

    One of Galileo’s opponents, “who admitted the surface of the moon looked rugged, maintained that it was actually quite smooth and spherical as Aristotle had said, reconciling the two ideas by saying that the moon was covered with a smooth transparent material through which mountains and craters inside it could be discerned. Galileo, sarcastically applauding the ingenuity of this contribution, offered to accept it gladly — provided that his opponent would do him the equal courtesy of allowing him then to assert that the moon was even more rugged than he had thought before, its surface being covered with mountains and craters of this invisible substance ten times as high as any he had seen.”

    [end quotation]

    I’m always fascinated by the lengths to which people (all people; me, you, everbody) will go to preserve their pre-existing beliefs in the face of contradictory evidence. Both of us are intelligent, thoughtful people, with active bullshit detectors and access to a vast array of information. We’ve both obviously spent a lot of time looking into, and thinking about, this particular question. Yet we’ve arrived at mutually exclusive conclusions, and each of us is confident his conclusion is correct.

    People are funny.

    Anyway, thanks again (as usual) for the great links.

  2. Adam Says:

    The Albright story is great, and emphasizes what I said about Rockford. In both cases, the fault is with the audience, not the speaker.

  3. Craig Says:

    I would certainly feel Bush should be ousted if he was proven to have deliberately sold the American people on the existence of actual WMD when he knew there likely wasn’t anything there. If it was the Administration’s belief that there was strong enough evidence of its existence despite some conflicting opinion or information, then its likely that he and the Republican majortity will be swept out of office in 2004.

    I’ve never claimed to be a “straight-line Conservative”, merely Conservative-leaning or Moderate Conservative. Pick a label.

    I guess the different conclusions comes from having two different starting points in one’s basic belief systems, and because we are still dealing with contradictory “information”, not “facts”. Facts are final and indisputable. If we believe something enough and have it reinforced by selective information and collaberating opinions, we may start to view it as a fact before it really is.

    You believe the WMD isn’t and hasn’t been there and Bush has deliberately lied to the American people about it (among other things). I don’t.

    But if some part of what I believe turns out to be wrong, I’m capable of considering it and what the ramifications would be.

  4. Craig Says:

    I would agree in part Adam, as I am all about personal accountability for one’s actions. But I can’t give Hedges a free pass here. He chose to give a controversial, high-handed, political lecture without the faintest attempt to acknowledge the graduates, let alone frame his message within the context of the commencement event.

    I don’t want to totally reiterate all my points on this, as the subject has probably run its course by now.

  5. Adam Says:

    I think Hedges’ speech was somewhat ponderous, and ponderously delivered. But I also think talking about the culture of war in this country is a quite legitimate topic for graduates who will soon be participating, in whatever capacity, in that culture. (And anyone who was surprised by Hedges’ topic, given his background, has their head in the sand.) I personally would rather hear a challenging commencement speaker, on the right or left or anywhere in-between, than the standard “Reach for your dreams!” stuff.

  6. Adam Says:

    And I also think the protests would have been just as loud had Hedges made more of an effort to “frame his message within the context of the event.” His message would have been the same. So I think that’s a little bit of a red herring.

  7. Jay Hurst Says:

    I certainly think it’s time to stop the talk of ‘evidence’ of W.M.D. in Iraq. Providing evidence was necessary before the war and it did’t happen. Now we demand PROOF of W.M.D.

    I want to know why are so many journalist’s shy about stating the apparent fact based on ‘harder’ and more ‘compelling’ evidence than all that shown for W.M.D. before the war that for instance Tony Blair is either a bare faced lier or a class A fucking idiot.

    That the Bush, Cheney, Powel, Rumsfeldt cheerleaders for war are liars hardly needs to be stated. Look at Bushes eyes whenever he speaks now. He thinks it’s all rather funny that anyone is buying this shit at all. Americans, your president has complete contempt for you.

    When supposed W.M.D. ARE found, and they will be, because it is now becoming politically necessary, certainly in the UK, and possibly even in the US, I hope journalists will be able to examine the origins and circumstances of such a discovery.

  8. Tack55 Says:

    Why do we act as if this is somthing new? .

    These are the same biscuit eating facist that stole an election and ran there presidential campane with Enron as there main contributor

    what surprizes me is that the Democrates

    treat them as if they had some kind of integrity

    in the first place.

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