I may be offbase in characterizing Arkin’s relationship to the Post. Because I read the Post online, I ass-u-me that what’s online is also what’s in print.
Here’s a comment from Arkin’s post “The Arrogant and Intolerant Speak Out“:
Seems that the WaPo ombudsman (Deborah Howell) was kind enough to respond to me today:
“Arkin is a columnist only for washingtonpost.com. He does not write for the newspaper. I am the ombudsman only for the newspaper. I suggest you write to firstname.lastname@example.org”
So…The paper disavows it’s relationship with their own online edition and it’s writers?
Posted by: LAH | February 1, 2007 04:58 PM
I’m not sure how this changes my reaction, or whether it does.
Just as an interesting note, I did one fast pass on Technorati (which sucks, BTW) looking for feedback from the leftish blogs for Mr. Arkin – BTW, he’s done another non-apology, about which I’ll try and comment tomorrow – and found only one, from a smallish blog called Dymaxion World:
It’s funny that such a mild rebuke (to my ears) should be getting Arkin raked over the coals. It seems that some people are so in love with the rhetoric of war that it causes them to lose their senses, and make profoundly undemocratic — anti-republican, if you will — arguments. To say that we can’t criticize a war because it would risk hurting the soldiers’ feelings is insane. Soldiers serve the public. We owe much to them — most importantly, not to waste their lives on shitty unwinnable wars — but at the end of the day, we call the shots.
Why the politically inopportune silence? Well, there’s a lot more to it than that…but I want to make a better argument, so it’ll wait a bit.
I’ll leave you with a final quote, from Charles Brown, a former anti-sanction protester:
To be perfectly frank, we were less concerned with the suffering of the Iraqi people than we were in maintaining our moral challenge to U.S. foreign policy. We did not agitate for an end to sanctions for purely humanitarian reasons; it was more important to us to maintain our moral challenge to “violent” U.S. foreign policy, regardless of what happened in Iraq. For example, had we been truly interested in alleviating the suffering in Iraq, we might have considered pushing for an expanded Oil-for-Food program. Nothing could have interested us less. Indeed, we even regarded the paltry amounts of aid that we did bring to Iraq as a logistical hassle. When it suited us, we portrayed ourselves as a humanitarian nongovernmental organization and at other times as a political group lobbying for a policy change. In our attempt to have it both ways, we failed in both of these missions.
The problem I have with much of the progressive antiwar left – the soil from which Mr. Arkin sprung – is that the fundamental challenge to them remains maintaining a ‘moral challenge’ via-a-vis the U.S. and the West. It’s liberation theology, writ small.
Everyone gets to step in it once in a while. William Arkin did yesterday, and complicated things today by steeping in deeper. Is this a characteristic of journalists, or what?
I have one small thing to add to Joe’s post below.
Vehement disagreement =! silencing.
Here’s Arkin from today’s post:
The Arrogant and Intolerant Speak Out
Well, one thing’s abundantly clear about who will actually defend our rights to say what we believe: It isn’t the hundreds who have written me saying they are soldiers or veterans or war supporters or real Americans — who also advise me to move to another country, to get f@##d, or to die a painful, violent death.
The problem of course is that if you wade through the comments (and read the blog posts) the sentiments cited above are a fraction of the abuse heaped on Arkin’s deserving pate. Most of the comments essentially call him an idiot.
As I commented on Mr. Arkin’s blog post:
Mr. Arkin, you have every right to say what you believe, and with rare exceptions, I haven’t seen anyone suggest that you don’t.
You also have the right to have those who read your opinions and think they are arrogant, contemptuous, and foolish respond. And they are…
It’s the height of self-delusion to suggest that public disagreement with you is the same as demanding that you’re silenced. I think it’s great to see you speak up, and great to see people respond. That’s freedom.
William Arkin makes the anti-chickenhawk argument, suggesting that troops unhappy with the antiwar political tone of the country…
…should be grateful that the American public, which by all polls overwhelmingly disapproves of the Iraq war and the President’s handling of it, do still offer their support to them, and their respect.
Through every Abu Ghraib and Haditha, through every rape and murder, the American public has indulged those in uniform, accepting that the incidents were the product of bad apples or even of some administration or command order.
Over at Blackfive, Matt and Uncle Jimbo kind of have their way with Mr. Arkin, and I’ll leave the response to them.
But I’ll point out, first that Mr. Arkin isn’t an opinion columnist at the Post – he’s the domain expert for the military there.
And that he has quite an interesting history.