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Hyperbolize Much

There's an awful lot of absurdity in this Deroy Murdoch article building to the absurd conlcusion that "After inspecting the Democrats' handiwork — e.g. the tar pit that is public assistance, the Dresden that is the ghetto school system, and the pyramid scheme that is Social Security (which robs too many blacks who die before recouping their 'investment') — black Americans should ask Democrats: 'Yesterday's gone. What have you done for us lately?'" Ignoring the lies about Social Security and even all the substantive issue here, in what possible sense is the ghetto school system comparable to Dresden? Then, of course, there's hyperbole on the other side as we learn that "If ever there was a war crime, then certainly the Dresden Holocaust ranks as the most sordid one of all time." That's a mighty, er . . . convenient . . theory from the Germany point of view.

February 18, 2005 | Permalink

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» Dresden redux from Respectful Insolence
One week ago, I posted a rather lengthy piece about the 60th anniversary of the firebombing of Dresden. In it, I mentioned that there are many myths about the firebombing (inflated death tolls, that Dresden had "no military significance," etc.). [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 20, 2005 7:22:29 AM

Comments

The fire bombings of Dresden and Tokyo were war crimes.

Posted by: Jeff I | Feb 18, 2005 11:37:20 AM

Ugh, Murdoch is syndicated in my home town paper. He's one of the most inane op-eds out there. But alas, his columns are like train wrecks. You...just...can't...look...away

Posted by: brooks | Feb 18, 2005 11:42:46 AM

Was Dresden a war crime? Sure. The most sordid war cimre of all history? Sadly, no.

Posted by: Matthew Yglesias | Feb 18, 2005 11:44:24 AM

That's a mighty, er . . . convenient . . theory from the Germany point of view.

Matt, are you familiar with Jeff Rense?

Posted by: SoCalJustice | Feb 18, 2005 11:48:12 AM

Dude, in a half day, a half milloin people, mostly civilians, were killed. How is that not "the worst single event massacre of all time"? It tops both Japan atomic bombings and the Tokyo fires. If you can come up with a similar event on a similar time-scale, I'm all ears.

Posted by: Hyperbolize This | Feb 18, 2005 11:52:05 AM

Hysterical! The closing line of the piece is "yesterday is gone, what have you done for us lately," but he spend the majority of the piece talking abot things Republicans did in the mid nineteenth century. Priceless!

as for Dresden/ghetto school system--wtf?

I do love me the word sordid, though, even if it's being utterly inappropriately used in that context.

Posted by: flip | Feb 18, 2005 11:53:11 AM

This man is a world class fool. Sadly, too many on the right, even if they make flourishes about disliking his hyperbole, will quickly follow up with "but he's right, of course."

How did so much medievalism creep into the US? Public assistance, public education, pension insurance, these things are great crimes? Funny, the Republican idea of "reform" is to kill all these things. So even if you accepted the bullshit characterizations this over-the-top con man of a reporter gives, you can only draw the conclusion that if Democrats are fucking blacks, Republicans want to do it more often, and take away the lube.

Posted by: Timothy Klein | Feb 18, 2005 12:01:34 PM

I'm more confused about why Democrats should be blamed for ghetto schools. I can't say Democrats are blameless -- but apart from generally supporting public schools, what did Dems do to metaphorically firebomb the inner city?

Posted by: Grumpy | Feb 18, 2005 12:01:38 PM

The fire bombings of Dresden and Tokyo were war crimes.

Worse than Hiroshima or Nagasaki? That's a wierd ommission.

I don't think rense is "the other side" of anything. If you asked them I'm sure they would identify themselves as rightists, they think they belong at freerepublic.com. They don't have a coherent political ideology.

Posted by: absynthe | Feb 18, 2005 12:02:29 PM

I fear you misread: surely the comparison was to The Dresden where aging hippies Marty and Elaine entertain us to this very day?

Posted by: Fcb | Feb 18, 2005 12:02:36 PM

It may be that Churchill, and reluctantly I guess I'd have to add FDR, and not to mention Truman, were the most sordid war criminals who don't get that reputation. The by-then cold blooded slaughter of so many innocents, under reasoning that is easily matched to the definition of terrorism, at least troubled both FDR and Truman, who knew of the old and long standing military codes against warring against civilians. Churchill, on the other hand, evidently liked total war, with its lack of humanitarian standards or honor or moral code, as he pushed for those kinds of things.

Remember the old 'he gassed his own people' line about Saddam, proving his evil character? Churchill was the first to initiate the use of gas warfare, and oddly, against the Iraqi people that Britain was then occupying.

Posted by: sofla | Feb 18, 2005 12:02:37 PM

The thing is, he's right -- the Democratic Party doesn't do jack squat for the African-American population. And we can still count on their votes, because every sensible person knows that the Republicans aren't into benign neglect; they're the active enemies of the community.

Posted by: Kimmitt | Feb 18, 2005 12:04:40 PM

Dude, in a half day, a half milloin people, mostly civilians, were killed. How is that not "the worst single event massacre of all time"? It tops both Japan atomic bombings and the Tokyo fires.

No one really knows how many people died in Dresden, Hiroshima, Tokyo, or Nagasaki because the bodies were completely burned it's all estimates.

However, Dresden was just Dresden, Nagasaki and Hiroshima went on killing people for years and years and years.

He didn't say "the worst single event massacre of all time" he said the greatest war crime and maybe once you get into mass murder it gets harder to seperate out a "better" war crime but by any metric Hitler's extermination programs and their side projects were worse.

Posted by: absynthe | Feb 18, 2005 12:12:11 PM

Grumpy,

Murdoch think its Dems' fault ghetto schools are bad because we oppose vouchers, the magical panacea for all educational woes.

Posted by: flip | Feb 18, 2005 12:12:42 PM

oops, sorry :D

Posted by: absynthe | Feb 18, 2005 12:14:55 PM

Mr. Yglesias,

Mr. Murdoch has a point regarding inner-city schools and school districts. There is a good argument to be made in that most of these have largely been under liberal control for 60 years now, and there has been little progress, and for a long time an absolute decline.

The people to blame, if one has to blame a political class, is pretty clear. The educational establishment and its political clients - the networks of professional educators, the schools of education, the professors of educational philosophy, the ranks of school administrators, the teachers unions, the liberal NGO's, pressure groups, the Democratic party in its local branches, etc., are all in the same swamp and closely aligned politically. It is a broad collective failure.

Comparisons to fire-bombings are intemperate and sound silly of course. This situation is not the result of bad intentions, it is a failure to produce results with what were on the whole the best of intentions. Too many people interfered, too many "reforms" and specialized benefits and ameliorations and demands, make the running of the system an impossible task, they all get in each others way, and too many of the players have a fond attachment to ideas that did not work out in the real world.

This gross series of errors on the part of that class isn't the only reason for this failure. The real problem seems to be, as per people like the late James Ogbu, a problem with culture, which no poiticians or educators are going to fix. There are many people, and communities of people, who manage to succeed in public education in spite of the Keystone Kops chaos.

Posted by: luisalegria | Feb 18, 2005 12:17:41 PM

So every sentence that mentions War Crimes of any sort must include a tip of the hat to Hiroshima and Nagasaki? And I thought teaching Japanese kids the English lesson dealing with the bomb was headache inducing...

[short version of Japanese English lesson on the bomb: Bomb is discussed without mentioning at all that there was a War going on at the time. NOtes to the English teacher explain that the Bomb was an anti-Hitler weapon and the war against Hitler ended in April 1945]

Can we please, perhaps, just agree that invoking Hiroshima, The Holocaust, Dresden, The Rape of Nanjing, The Cultural Revolution, The Trail of Tears, The St. Bartholemew's day Massacre, Rwanda, The Black Plague, or The Extinction of the Dinosaurs are all rhetorically excessive when compared to just about any domestic social issue?

Posted by: Wrye | Feb 18, 2005 12:19:04 PM

The firebombing of Dresden was a war crime (it killed about 40,000 civilians, probably, but that's enough). So was the bombing of Guernica, Hamburg, London, Tokyo, and Stalingrad. So was the Battle of the Halde and the suppression of the Warsaw rebellion. So were Saddam's chemical attacks on Kurdish rebel villages. So was Nagasaki and Hiroshima. So was Baba Yar, Sobibor, Auschwitz, and the rest. So was the rape of perhaps two-million German women by Soviet troops, not to mention the Rape of Nanking by the Imperial Army. So is the imprisonment without trial of Iraqis merely suspected of being part of an insurgency, torture at Abu Ghraib, and so are the deaths and maiming of thousands of Iraqis in a war launched by the United States on the assumption that their feeble country might one distant day, under uncertain circumstances, become a threat to the mightiest military power and richest republic in all history. They are all war crimes, and if you're one of the victims, it probably doesn't matter whether you were caught up in a crime of great scope, one of millions targeted, or just singled out. It's a difference in size, not in kind. You don't get war without war crimes. That innocents will suffer badly is part of the calculation, which is why it's immoral to start a war on any but the narrowest of grounds--immmediate threat or immediately preventing a far larger crime.

Back on thread, yeah. It's Hypberbole Unleashed Season in the GOP punditocracy. I continue maintain that it's all a contest within the GOP for "Most Shrill Truest Believer I'm Totally Devoted to the Bush Faction How About You?" and that these missives are directed at an audience already putatively within the Faith.

Posted by: Brian C.B. | Feb 18, 2005 12:24:14 PM

There's no such thing as "rhetorically excessive". Rhetoric can be effective or ineffective. The "Hiroshima/Plague" rhetoric can be, of course, very effictive.

Posted by: abb1 | Feb 18, 2005 12:27:12 PM

I fear you misread: surely the comparison was to The Dresden where aging hippies Marty and Elaine entertain us to this very day? Posted by: Fcb

Why do I suspect that firebombing the Dresdens wouldn't be considered a crime of any kind.

They don't look like aging hippies, however, so much as wannabe extras for a remake of Saturday Night Fever.

Posted by: Jeff I | Feb 18, 2005 12:27:39 PM

Can we please, perhaps, just agree that invoking Hiroshima, The Holocaust, Dresden, The Rape of Nanjing, The Cultural Revolution, The Trail of Tears, The St. Bartholemew's day Massacre, Rwanda, The Black Plague, or The Extinction of the Dinosaurs are all rhetorically excessive when compared to just about any domestic social issue?Posted by: Wrye

You forgot Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge, thank you very much Richard Nixon.

Posted by: Jeff I | Feb 18, 2005 12:29:21 PM

Half a million people were not killed at Dresden. More like 25,000-35,000. This is about the number of civilians killed when the Luftwaffe leveled Stalingrad.

The firebombing of Tokyo killed about 80,000-100,000 while Nagasaki killed around 70,000-80,000 and Hiroshima killed 120,000 - 150,000.

Posted by: Ckrisz | Feb 18, 2005 12:35:02 PM

The people to blame, if one has to blame a political class, is pretty clear. The educational establishment and its political clients - the networks of professional educators, the schools of education, the professors of educational philosophy, the ranks of school administrators, the teachers unions, the liberal NGO's, pressure groups, the Democratic party in its local branches, etc., are all in the same swamp and closely aligned politically. It is a broad collective failure. Posted by: luisalegria

This is the oldest and driest pile of horse shit on this topic.

Can you assign some blame to the school system as a whole, probably. However, unless you want to turn every inner city school into a boarding school, the lion's share of the blame for "failing schools" goes to parents. Administrators and teachers have no control of or influence over students once they leave the building. It is outside the school where the failure begins and is reinforced. Not in the classroom.

However, if you want to make the schools responsible, try first doubling or tripling their budgets and staff, give them a decade to be not only teachers but social workers, public health workers etc., etc., and then check back. Otherwise, fuck off because you are expecting schools to raise children from largely disadvantaged or completely dysfunction "families."

Posted by: Jeff I | Feb 18, 2005 12:47:01 PM

luisalegria, you're normally a fairly sensible sort, but on what planet have "liberals" controlled the schools since 1945. It is certainly not here on planet earth.

And if you'd care to provide the evidence that the "schools" were so much frickin' better in 1944 than they are today, you are welcome to do so. Space is free here, so carry on to the degree that you need to. Be sure to make us understand how de jure segregation contributed to the wonderfulness of schools before the liberal takeover in 1945....

Posted by: howard | Feb 18, 2005 1:01:54 PM

Mr. Jeff I,

I said about as much as you did, in my last paragraph.

There are several reasons for the failure, and the failure of the liberal political class is not the most important. But they did fail.

The mass of regulations, specialized programs, mandates for this or that group, school funding complexity, etc., is mainly their failure. They, through indiscipline, made the whole structure unworkable.

And then there are the curriculum problems. This is finally being somewhat cleared up, but as I see it a good portion of the decline in performance up through the mid-1990's can be blamed on that alone. This was the result of pure ideology.

Posted by: luisalegria | Feb 18, 2005 1:02:00 PM

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