Thursday, July 13, 2006

Mark Shea lie watch (part 1)

I didn't want it to come to this, for a variety of reasons on which I will not elaborate. But Catholic blogger Mark Shea has crossed yet another threshold in his bid to become the Andrew Sullivan of St. Blogs. He is resorting to outright lies (yes, "lies" ... unlike Shea, I choose my words carefully) about Michael Ledeen.

Here is what Shea wrote:
Michael Ledeen Reliably Suggests that our Troops Should Murder Surrendering Enemy Combatants

That, in the final analysis, can only be what is meant by saying, "terrorists should be killed on the battlefield, not captured".
Despicable. Imagine Ledeen writing a piece that said, "Your daughter should sell her virginity to a pimp in order to ensure American security. She'll make an excellent whore and do her nation proud". Would anybody be offended if I suggested that Ledeen's estimation of your daughter is worthy of pistols at dawn?
Yet when Ledeen says, "Your son should commit cold blooded murder of surrendering prisoners in order to keep the quota of captured prisoners down. He'll make an excellent murderer and war criminal and do his nation proud" some of my readers, by some mysterious mental process, somehow decide that my bleat of protest against this insulting estimation of our troops is a sign *I* despise the troops, not Ledeen.
posted by Mark at 2:01 AM
Any relationship between that froth and what Ledeen actually wrote is purely coincidental. Here are the key parts:
Ralph Peters, one of my favorites, has a very strong piece arguing that in almost all cases, terrorists should be killed on the battlefield, not captured. It would be helpful to know how many POWs in previous wars behaved after the conflict, but of course there are many differences between regular soldiers and terrorists.

The "kill or capture?" problem has historically been resolved in favor of "kill" for most of human history. Americans are among the very first to reflexively opt for "capture." ...

A long way of saying I don't know what I would order my soldiers to do, but I would certainly insist that my National Security Council made a clear decision.

But one thing I do know: I would insist that my soldiers have the right of "hot pursuit" into Iran and Syria, and I would order my armed forces to attack the terrorist training camps in those countries. And I'm quite sure I'd go after the terrorist training camps in Pakistan, too.
There are two possible explanations for Shea's characterization. Shea is lying or Shea is illiterate. Further, it should be obvious to anyone reading with the organs God gave him for that purpose, rather than skimming with his patella reflex as Shea does, that the only thing Ledeen endorses in his Corner item is engaging in hot pursuit over national borders and striking at terrorist training camps. This is obviously relevant since Ledeen wants dead terrorists not captured terrorists, and those are two ways of procuring that end (summary execution being another, obviously). So not only is Ledeen not advocating summary execution of captured terrorists, he actually specifically advocates something else. Ledeen says "a friend has a strong column advocating X; I'm not sure what I think, but on related topics, I think P, Q and R." That is in no way, shape or form "advocacy of X." Period. Stick a fork in it. No debate possible.

The literate user of English, which seems to exclude Shea when the subject is the war, the Evil Neocons or any related topic, will also note the specific detail about killing terrorists attempting to surrender never is alluded to in Ledeen's post. It's a potentially relevant tangent to some of the same issues, particularly if the Jihadis follow the WW2 Japanese by persistently (a key caveat) faking surrender as a battle tactic. But Ledeen never brings the issue up, so stating as a fact that Ledeen suggests that "our Troops Should Murder Surrendering Enemy Combatants" is simply a lie. An effing lie.

The person knowledgeable about the laws and customs of war will also note that even Ralph Peters is only arguing for summary execution of caught-red-handed illegal combatants (all illegal combatants can be executed. If caught red-handed, the needed fact-finding can be done by the men on the spot, hence even "summary" executions are defensible in some cases). Here is the nub of Peters words:
Nor should we ever mistreat captured soldiers or insurgents who adhere to standing conventions. On the contrary, we should enforce policies that encourage our enemies to identify themselves according to the laws of war. Ambiguity works to their advantage, never to ours.
Our policy toward terrorists and insurgents in civilian clothing should be straightforward and public: Surrender before firing a shot or taking hostile action toward our troops, and we'll regard you as a legal prisoner. But once you've pulled a trigger, thrown a grenade or detonated a bomb, you will be killed. On the battlefield and on the spot.
Isn't that common sense? It also happens to conform to the traditional conduct of war between civilized nations. Ignorant of history, we've talked ourselves into folly.
As Peters notes, historically, and with centuries of implicit Church approval and Papal-State practice, summary execution has been the fate of illegal combatants, such as spies, assassins and mercenaries. Terrorists manifestly fit those categories, and the latest Geneva Conventions require only that some form of unspecified due process be provided before execution. But again, that's Peters, not Ledeen. To attribute to X (Ledeen) when he is merely quoting Y (Peters), and drawing bad conclusions about X on said basis is slander. Libel. Probably not legally, under NYT v. Sullivan. But certainly morally.

And then the fun began in the comment field. Several posters, and not the usual suspects, called Shea on his misreading. The very first post said: "In the post you refer to, Ledeen simply doesn't say what you say he says. (Ralph Peters seems to.)" The third said: "Hey, Mark, you've done some very selective quoting, here's the quote in its entirety, 'Ralph Peters, one of my favorites, has a very strong piece arguing that in almost all cases, terrorists should be killed on the battlefield, not captured'." Even Shea's prag Zippy offered only the most cautious boot-licking, saying "Whatever the merits of different rules of engagement in an environment of false surrenders, the reasoning behind this particular bit of advocacy is immoral..." and then goes on to quote a sentence from Ralph Peters. (And that particular twit doesn't even understand Peters' argument, typically failing to get the difference between the affirmative "yes" and the rebuttal "no." But that's another post.) So nothing justifies smearing Ledeen as Shea seems to think is his divine calling.

Shea's first comment was his customary question-begging and lying.
It is about the cooly considered evil counsels of Michael Ledeen which say that we should kill rather than capture whenever possible. I repeat: that can *only* mean "Take no prisoners."
No. It CAN mean that certainly. Someone who believes in taking no prisoners could certainly write that. And Peters arguably does say that (and under these circumstances, it'd be defensible in any event). But the phrase "when possible" means a lot. And when Ledeen does draw conclusions and they're not "universal summary execution," it is simply slander to attribute that position to him.

Shea's next comment was even worse and deserves to be reproduced in full
Yes, Ledeen has employed this standard trick of feigning moral puzzlement before as he has advocated "entering into evil" but it's still bullshit designed to make sucker like you think he's really doing heavy duty moral analysis instead recognizing what he's really doing: calling for cold-blooded murder. His pretense of not being sure about making the "tough call" for murder is still just a pretense. Murder is murder and a long face is not a moral disinfectant. Don't be a sucker for Ledeen's bullshit, Chris. You might find yourself in hell for it.
Good ends do not justify evil means, even when Michael Ledeen says they do and even when he pretends that he's a serious moralist as he preaches it. Learn it. Love it. Live it.

The same lies -- the repeated presupposition of "murder." Shea is arguing [sic] like the most shrilly self-righteous opponent of the death penalty. Any killing is murder, and when people try to suggest it isn't, well then ... they're engaging in excuses for murder. And a long face is not a moral disinfectant, good ends do not justify evil means, blah, blah, blah. As is his modus operandi on torture as well, Shea is just being a preening moralistic posturer, while engaging in one long question-beg, by calling an act of homicide "murder" and foreclosing debate on the subject before it has even been determined whether the homicide in question is, in fact, a murder.

Captured terrorists can be executed. Period. Finito. Learn it. Love it. Live it.

And what's the goddamn profanity? Does Shea really think that calling Ledeen's ideas "bullshit" conveys anything other than his own desperation. I also love how Shea claims to be so intimately familiar with Ledeen's mind that he knows what's a pretense, how it's all a standard trick for suckers. This isn't exigesis or thought; it's mystical insight, having more to do with Mistress Cleo than anything else. Shea always already knows that Ledeen's real agenda is, and don;t confuse him with the actual words. They're just ruses. As shown in the Ace of Cups and the Queen of Wands.

My friend Dan Darling promptly ripped Shea a new asshole and demanded that Mark's link to his site be taken down (as of now it has not, despite Shea's posting a piss-poor response). But then Shea began doing something that indicates just what a despicable, pharisaical worm he is. He declared himself right by fiat and banned all future discussion, other than (presumably) thanks and praise for how great he art. Here's the pharisaism to end all pharisaisms.
However, just as I will not have my blog be a forum for Catholics for a Free Choice or Catholics for Torture, so I will not have it be a forum for Catholics for Murder. Future apologias for Ledeen's call for murder of unarmed, wounded, or surrendering combatants will, like torture apologias, be deleted.
I know what's right, and there will be no discussion of the matter. I'm sympathetic to claims that a man's blog is his castle and he has an absolute right to regulate his comboxes. But if you don't want discussion, which necessarily includes at least the potential for agreement, on a subject, then one shouldn't post on it. Or not allow comments on that subject. Otherwise, all you're doing is making it look like your comboxes exist only for public adulation of the Most High Sheasus Christ.

And sure enough, several notes have been deleted. But at least two aren't even actually "apologias for Ledeen's call for murder of unarmed, wounded, or surrendering combatants." They were attempts to point out Shea's misreading and misattributing (that's the kind of stuff that'll send you to hell, Chris).

This kind of shit (CQ) is what moves Shea beyond aggravating to contemptible and beyond-the-pale. It's more than his sloppy reading skills ("I usually just skim stuff" he has said), and his penchant for knee-jerk caricature, but his self-righteousness when confronted over it. Chris Fotos posted the following note in his combox at 620pm (the italics are Chris's, responding to Shea; "your" refers to Dan Darling):
Speakers of English understand that "Terrorists should be killed on the battlefield, not captured" means "Take no prisoners".
Your apologias for this sly and wicked rhetoric are truly tragic. It is a measure of Ledeen's evil that he persuades a decent fellow like you to fight such battles on his behalf....

Mark, what the hell?
Sly and wicked rhetoric? A measure of Ledeen's evil?
This apologia is for the truth. Pardon me if I don't have faith in your invisible mind rays. What. Did. He. Say.
He did not say "Terrorists should be killed on the battlefield, not captured". Er, no. Speakers of English--most--understand that he said Peters "had a strong piece" arguing that, and further that I don't know what I'd order soldiers to do.
Watch out there Pavel. Ledeen has incredible measures of evil, and you seem like a decent fellow.
Christopher Fotos | Email | Homepage | 07.12.06 - 6:20 pm | #
Don't look for that comment of course, because Shea deleted it. And a similar note from Chris Hoover ("Chris 2-4") made the exact same point -- namely that Ledeen is providing a link to a column by someone else and using the words. It too is gone. It is not an apologia for murder to say that X did not call for murder. In fact, saying that X did not call for murder usually presupposes that murder is a bad thing.

Some ex-fundamentalists never leave behind the bad intellectual habits it teaches -- primarily the insistence on proof-texting, and shouting the proof-text louder (and bang on the table with your show) when someone suggests that it doesn't mean what The Fundamentalist insists it means. What makes this episode even more disgusting and contempt-inducing is that Nikita Shea will often link to something with neutral or encouraging language, and then say he doesn't exactly agree with everything in it, but it's worthwhile food for thought. In other words, exactly what Ledeen did.

But we haven't reached the high point [sic] yet. No ... that occurs here and here. In the first post, after repeated claims that he has misrepresting Ledeen's NRO postings, Shea responds by engaging in exigesis of a different article by Ledeen from two years ago. I am not kidding. Unless Shea's point is that Ledeen is so eternally and totally depraved that he's not entitled to have his actual words considered as themselves (and I dare him to make that claim) that has precisely nothing to do with the current article. Zero. Zip. Nada. Two-year-old articles are not guides to what current articles say. Learn it. Love it. Live it. On the second link, he actually bans a well-known St. Blogs pacifist. Who suggested that maybe Shea was misreading Ledeen. Yes, even Chris Sullivan thought the evil Neocon Apologist for Torture wasn't saying what was being attributed to him. That was obviously too much for The Torture Pharisee™ and so He (PBUH) banned Chris Sullvian too.

I could go on, and there was more earlier today, but why bother. On contemporary political and social issues on his blog (as opposed to theological and religious ones and his paid writings, where his style is very different) Shea is a illiterate blowhard who has a handful of prejudices, a ton of arrogance and a thimblefull of knowledge.


Dan said...

What angers me the most is this absurd presumption throughout his reply that he is somehow knowledgeable of Ledeen's true thoughts and intentions, never you mind what the hell he wrote. If you're going in with that as a presupposition, then you've basically ditched all rational argumentation in favor of secret knowledge.

Paul Zummo said...

Thanks for chronicling all of this. I contemplated blogging it, but you've basically said what needs to be said.

What's irritating is that Mark is aping the left in a couple of ways. Remember whan Ramesh Ponnuru's book, The Party of Death, came out? A lot of lefties panned it without having even read it, and they imputed upon Ramesh all sorts of wicked thoughts even when he specifically denied them. The book was not about the Dems per se, but yet the critics wouldn't take him at his work, claiming to have a better grasp on Ramesh's own thoughts than Ramesh himself.

He also seems to ape Andrew Sullivan in several regards. First for his well-known rhetorical overkill, as well as for the army of strawmen that he regularly employs. But he's also like Sullivan because he cannot tolerate anyone who doesn't completely toe his line. Sullivan basically labels anyone who is not completely on board with gay marriage and a whole host of other issues as "homophobic." Similarly, Shea regularly snaps at anyone who even dares to question his stance on torture as a "torture apologist." He seems reluctant to define torture and will just employ the phrase that I presume inspired the title of this blog. I'm not even that far removed from Shea on this topic, but his whole attitude is revolting.

It is a shame. He is a wonderful apologist, and a very sharp writer on Catholic issues. But he's really lost his mind.

daringadventurer1 said...

Let me get this straight: Mark Shea banned CHRIS SULLIVAN for saying Ledeen wasn't necessarily as bad as all that? I think I just saw the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse go whizzing by.

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Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Mark Shea has always been a worthless piece of shit.