Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Last Refuge of Scoundrels

The New York Times asserts they are the good guys in the SWIFT story controversy, yet "Patriotism and the Press" is the title of the New York Times editorial. Funny how this assumes they are two separate things.

The conclusion has some valid points, however:

The United States will soon be marking the fifth anniversary of the war on terror. The country is in this for the long haul, and the fight has to be coupled with a commitment to individual liberties that define America's side in the battle. A half-century ago, the country endured a long period of amorphous, global vigilance against an enemy who was suspected of boring from within, and history suggests that under those conditions, it is easy to err on the side of security and secrecy. The free press has a central place in the Constitution because it can provide information the public needs to make things right again. Even if it runs the risk of being labeled unpatriotic in the process.

Consider the Cold War example the editorial gives.

Despite four decades in which history showed our emphasis on security and secrecy was too much, as the editors say, our freedoms thrived anyway. How else could they be under assault today?

And we did win that Cold War. Despite the calls of the NYT to equate our democracy with their communism--neither better nor worse, really. And with socialized medicine, wasn't the communist side at least admirable in ways we weren't. And literacy. Don't forget the literacy promotion. Yes, the press hated Reagan for calling the Soviet Union the "evil empire." And yes, we should have unilaterally disarmed of our nuclear weapons according to the people who run the Times now. Yet despite all the press efforts to undermine our Cold War efforts, what's the big deal? We won anyway, didn't we?

Of course, our press didn't start sympathizing with the Soviet enemy fewer than five years into the Cold War. Heck, it took them a good 20-25 years to really get rolling on extolling the Soviet system and highlighting our flaws.

So the Times editorial board is right, basically. We won the Cold War and successfully defended freedom without the help of the New York Times. Surely we can win this war and crush the head-lopping Islamist thugs without the Times' help, too.

Of course, it's not like we have a choice in the matter! The Times chose sides.

But don't dare call them unpatriotic.