Sunday, June 15, 2008

An Ignorant Wingnut loses his mind in public

"We get letters, we get letters..."

Stephen Schwartz, fired for incompetence and often confused about many basic things, took the time to comment on the blog. We are responding in kind. Note that there are NO CUSS WORDS used here. At least, not by me. I'm feeling very Lutheran today.

First, his basic background, courtesy of wikipedia:

Schwartz published a book on the subject called The Two Faces of Islam. The book blamed Islamic terrorism on the religious establishment fostered by the Saudi government and also criticized Bush administration officials for their associations with Saudi Arabia. Shortly before it came out Schwartz was dismissed from his position as a news writer for Voice of America. The stated reason was that his work was not competent, although his sympathizers claimed the real motive was his differences with the news director and official concern about his increasing criticism of Saudi Arabia. Schwartz's abrasive personality was also said to have alienated colleagues. He then became a senior policy analyst and the director of the Islam and Democracy program at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a conservative think tank.

Well, here's proof of his abrasiveness:

I may be obscure to you, but I have published a best-selling book (THE TWO FACES OF ISLAM) and write for major international newspapers and magazine. Nobody ever heard of you.

My obscurity and lack of notoriety is not proof that I am wrong.

Trust the supporters of the party of defeat to depend mainly on insults. What, precisely, is a wingnut? I have been a professional journalist and author, both on staff and freelancing, for decades. That is not typical of "nuts" of any sort.

Yes, I am a Democrat and what, if anything have we been defeated at? What's got you so upset at being called a "wingnut?" It's short for a conservative who confuses facts with an episode of Rat Patrol and thinks that only they, in their infinite wisdom, can save America from its enemies by killing everyone with prodigious amounts of machine gun fire.

Wrong is wrong, and when that is pointed out, perhaps fewer people will pay to read what you write.

I am not an employee of THE WEEKLY STANDARD. I am a freelance contributor. THE WEEKLY STANDARD publishes a number of freelance contributors. You should contact your old high-school English teacher to find out what a freelancer is.

Do you fill out a Form-1099? Are you an independent contractor? Who cares? If the intellectual home of William Kristol pays for something you wrote, how do you figure you aren't affiliated with them? Did you consent to being published? Don't like being attacked because your "material" appears in such a publication--have a word with your agent. Manage your affairs a little more closely.

Your pseudo-history is pathetic.

The religious division of Iraq does not invalidate the comparison with Poland, and may be overcome. You should refrain from improvising comments on a subject, Islam, of which you know nothing.

Of course, your insults have so much more "moral authority" than mine. My criticism of your piece was fairly succinct and basic: you CANNOT compare the situation of Iraq--a country split very decisively along religious lines that have been at each other's throats for approximately five years (literally, since the collapse of Saddam Hussein's established authoritarian regime) with that of Poland, a country almost entirely Roman Catholic. Culturally, politically, socially and realistically, anyone who thinks Sunni and Shia have anything in common with Roman Catholics from Eastern Europe is barking up a tree they've never bothered to consider with a serious eye.

Reagan abandoned Lebanon? How is that relevant? Lebanon was not a confrontation with the Soviet Union. Lebanese involvement has proven more than difficult for just about everybody, including Israel.

That's a howler. One would have to ignore the fact that Syria today still uses outdated Soviet military hardware to defend itself. EVERYTHING done in terms of Lebanon by the United States was done in the context of the Cold War. And when it became apparent that Lebanon was not a country that the US could use as a bulwark against the Syrians, who were accepting military assistance and organizing their military along Soviet doctrine, they abandoned it. Mr. Schwartz, trundle off on one of your little intellectual adventures and spend a minute reading about the extensive efforts of men like Kosygin to cultivate ties between the Arabs and the Soviets. One cannot blame Reagan for wanting to find proxies--one can blame him for cutting and running when it all went south.

I wrote that Stalin and Hitler invaded and divided Poland. The Russian seizure of eastern Poland remains uncorrected today, even though the successor states of Belarus and Ukraine hold the former Polish territories. Citing the dates of the 1939-41 partition adds nothing to your so-called argument, which is not an argument, just a typical item of blog-vomit.

You made it appear that the division was a long lasting one--in fact, it was a brief period of time during which the Poles were ruled over by Soviet and German authorities. The period of 1939-41 was a brief part of the overall Polish experience--far more important is it to note that France and England failed to come to the aid of the Poles and that consigned them to a nightmare. Abandoning Poland to Soviet dominance (1944-1991) was a horrible byproduct of accomodating Soviet expansion. Should we have gone to war over this? That's not my call. What is true is that the self-determination of the Poles doesn't even remotely resemble the self-determination of the Iraqis: the differences over religion and their culture in general invalidate the comparison. There is a world of difference between Ukraine and Belarus--I highly doubt you could figure out what that difference is. What was known as "Poland" in 1939 and what was known as "Poland" at the conclusion of 1945 barely resemble each other.

What might have been in 1812 is irrelevant, as you should have learned in the high-school history class you must have cut. The U.S. lost. Given your hatred of our country, that should please you.

Anyone with a Jacksonian grasp of American history will tell you--the slaughter at New Orleans made any conclusion to the War of 1812 irrelevant. Thank you for noticing, but I think my grasp is pretty good. Not great, but pretty good.

Polish sovereignty was never "effectively ceded" to the Soviets. Polish sovereignty was handed over to Stalin by the West. The Russians did not negotiate the status of their forces in Poland with the Poles. The U.S.-led coalition is negotiating quite properly and respectfully with the Iraqis.

The US is attempting to impose its will on Iraq--ring any bells? There doesn't seem to be much give and take, otherwise two allies would have worked this out a long time ago.

One can walk through almost any ex-Communist city outside Russia and Belarus without fear of sectarian violence. Russia, by contrast, is beset by anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, and racist violence. Nobody said Iraq is completely pacified. I wrote specifically that the Poland parallel will not bring instant peace to the Middle East. But following the advice of you American renegades (really, contemporary copperheads -- you should look up the meaning of the comparison) will make it impossible for peace to return to Iraq.

Well, I beg to differ with you on one thing--you can walk the streets of many, many cities in what used to be the Soviet Union and you do have fear of random violence and abduction because of out-of-control organized crime. The unleashing of chaos in Iraq had the effect of creating the opportunity for an organized crime problem somewhat similar to the one in the former Soviet Union--another charming legacy of neoconservative thinking.

Of course the Pope did more than inspire the Poles. My column mentioned the role of the Solidarity labor movement. Your response is just a spew of improvised smears.

It's smearing you to point out that you failed to express just how significant the assistance of Pope John Paul II was in regards to the organized resistance of the Poles?

Your entire comparison falls apart when one considers that there is no Catholic Church involvement in Iraq's culture or society. The role of the Catholic Church in Poland is not something I'm going to get into here, but suffice it to say, the differences are too great to support your claims. The entity of the Catholic Church based in Rome has what equivalent in Arab society?

It's just sad to see the wankery we get from so-called published intellectuals these days. Stephen Schwartz has obviously been getting a lot of heat from all sides--no wonder why he decided to unload on our blog.

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