Forbes on Sensing on Liberals and Conservatives on Berg and Abu Ghraib

Scott Forbes (of A Yank in Oz) has a lengthy post on a lengthy post by Donald Sensing (of One Hand Clapping): That I will bear true faith and allegiance…

I have something of a love-hate relationship with Donald Sensing. On the one hand, his credentials (as a former high-level PR flunky in the US Army, who then became a Methodist minister) make him someone whose opinions on the subject of our shared obsessions ought to be interesting to me. On the other hand, his actual opinions frequently strike me as being less-interesting than his background would lead me to expect. Many of the things he has written lead me to suspect him of harboring a deep-rooted anti-Arab racism, for example. And there’s an element of pomposity in his bio, and a tendency to bristle at criticism (he huffily polices his comments for characterizations he deems insulting), that signifies, at least in my mind, a surprising degree of narcissistic insecurity.

With Reverend Sensing, it’s not so much his stated opinions that I find interesting, as it is the inherent contradictions he represents. He’s interesting to me on a meta-level. It’s a tamer version of the fascination Janus/Onan has with Adam Yoshida, I think.

Anyway, to stop rambling and return to the subject of Scott Forbes’ response to Sensing’s post, he (Forbes) is responding to Sensing’s assertion that the media, and online pundits, reveal their biases in how they treat the competing stories of the Berg beheading and the Abu Ghraib abuses. And for Sensing, it’s apparently a pretty short step from there to asserting that those who play down the former and play up the latter basically hate America and want the terrorists to win.

I’m reminded of Al Franken’s comment about the difference between how conservatives and liberals love America. Conservatives, says Franken, love America the way a child loves his mommy: with a belief that nothing America does could ever be wrong, and with anger toward anyone who is critical of her. Liberals, on the other hand, love America the way a grown-up loves somone: aware of the other person’s flaws, and willing to tell her when she isn’t living up to her highest, best nature.

Like Knightly to Emma:

Emma recollected, blushed, was sorry, but tried to laugh it off.

“Nay, how could I help saying what I did? — Nobody could have helped it. It was not so very bad. I dare say she did not understand me.”

“I assure you she did. She felt your full meaning. She has talked of it since. I wish you could have heard how she talked of it — with what candour and generosity. I wish you could have heard her honouring your forbearance, in being able to pay her such attentions, as she was for ever receiving from yourself and your father, when her society must be so irksome.”

“Oh!” cried Emma, “I know there is not a better creature in the world: but you must allow, that what is good and what is ridiculous are most unfortunately blended in her.”

“They are blended,” said he, “I acknowledge; and, were she prosperous, I could allow much for the occasional prevalence of the ridiculous over the good. Were she a woman of fortune, I would leave every harmless absurdity to take its chance, I would not quarrel with you for any liberties of manner. Were she your equal in situation — but, Emma, consider how far this is from being the case. She is poor; she has sunk from the comforts she was born to; and, if she live to old age, must probably sink more. Her situation should secure your compassion. It was badly done, indeed! You, whom she had known from an infant, whom she had seen grow up from a period when her notice was an honour, to have you now, in thoughtless spirits, and the pride of the moment, laugh at her, humble her — and before her niece, too — and before others, many of whom (certainly some,) would be entirely guided by your treatment of her. — This is not pleasant to you, Emma — and it is very far from pleasant to me; but I must, I will, — I will tell you truths while I can; satisfied with proving myself your friend by very faithful counsel, and trusting that you will some time or other do me greater justice than you can do now.”

(I love Austen. And in this case, it’s much more the way a child loves his mommy, so don’t say anything mean about her.)

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