We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” must admit that we haven’t followed the whole “Scott Thomas”-New Republic brouhaha very closely. Although we are regular readers of The New Republic, we didn’t trouble ourselves much over the “Scott Thomas” Baghdad Diarist columns. Frankly, we didn’t recognize that they’d prove so incendiary.
Even so, dear reader, we have kept abreast of the “weblogosphere” fracas related to these articles’ publication, and we have a few thoughts to share about it. By now, you undoubtedly recognize that the pseudonymous columnist for TNR is actually one Scott Thomas Beauchamp, a US military man with the rank of private. The veracity of his account of American servicemen’s atrocities and otherwise troubling behavior has yet to be confirmed, so we haven’t much to say about it.
Still, we think that the whole controversy so far has generated a bit more heat than light. Now, it is undoubtedly true that the columns fit the current ideological positions of the TNR staff, since the magazine has become a latter-day critic of the Iraq War. Yet we have a sense that some of the conservatives criticizing TNR know scarcely little about it.
A few days ago, we saw Brent Bozell on Fox News lambaste TNR over the current “Scott Thomas” brouhaha. TNR, he charged, was a hard-left organ eager to slander American servicemen. As the result of his performance, we got the sneaking suspicion that Brent Bozell hasn’t read TNR in quite some time (if ever).
Now, to be sure, we dislike many of the political stances TNR has taken in the past. Although an erstwhile champion of the liberation of Iraq, the magazine’s abrupt about-face has rubbed us the wrong way. Combine this newfound isolationism with incessant cheerleading for US intervention in Darfur and you’ve got one irritating view on American foreign policy. We mean, come on: Ignominiously depart from Iraq to cause a mass slaughter and head to Darfur to stop a mass slaughter? How selectively moral can you get?
Still, we would be remiss if we failed to mention Mr. Bozell’s unfair characterization of TNR. If you ask us, it is, besides the quarterly Dissent, the best source for left-leaning commentary in America.
In essence, TNR is a moderate liberal outfit. Its editor-in-chief, Martin Peretz, routinely skewers the follies of the far Left. The magazine is very strong on Israel and occasionally gives column space to such right-leaning luminaries as Robert Kagan and Gertrude Himmelfarb.
It strikes us as unfair for conservatives to slam TNR as if it were ideologically indistinct from, say, The Nation or Mother Jones. Sure, the magazine may have made a terrible error in printing the “Scott Thomas” pieces. But this needn’t compel conservatives to mischaracterize TNR in order to score some political points.
With that out of the way, we can make one niggling point about Scott Thomas Beauchamp’s recent statement on the controversy. At one point in this statement, Mr. Beauchamp says:
It’s been maddening, to say the least, to see the plausibility of events that I witnessed questioned by people who have never served in Iraq. I was initially reluctant to take the time out of my already insane schedule fighting an actual war in order to play some role in an ideological battle that I never wanted to join.
This bit is, in a word, odd. After all, if you truly don’t aim “to play some role in an ideological battle that [you] never wanted to join,” you probably shouldn’t write incendiary columns for a left-leaning opinion magazine, now should you? Those adverse to ideological battles would be better off penning articles for, say, Dog Fancy.
It is difficult to believe that Private Beachamp is this naïve. Rather, this remark strikes us as entirely disingenuous. In the days to come, we suppose we’ll see if the other charges tossed at Private Beachamp stick.
(Note: The crack young staff normally “weblog” over at “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” where they are currently shying away from ideological battles by writing polemics for The American Spectator.)