Appeasement, Patriotism, and Free Speech

Barack Obama and his supporters like his advocates at MSNBC, are in high dudgeon (do they know any other kind) over President Bush’s remarks to the Israeli Knesset marking the 60th Anniversary of the birth of Israel.

In the video, (see below) Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews revel in his dispatching of over matched radio host Kevin James on Hardball. Matthews repeatedly asked James, “What did Chamberlain do wrong” at Munich? Meaning British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain who foolishly thought he had secured “peace for our time” after essentially ceding the whole of Czechoslovakia to Hitler.

James inexplicably did not have an answer. Maddow and Matthews spent the rest of the segment pretentiously self congratulating each other for slaying their fabulous straw man. Of course if you know anything about Munich or even listened to Obama’s foreign policy pronouncements then the story is more complex than Maddow and Matthews’ neat little package suggests.
“What did Chamberlain Do?”
Needless to say Chris Matthews did not heed his own advice, and his analysis leaves a great deal to be desired.
Initially, Hitler only wanted the Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia, which contained many German-speaking peoples. Oskar Schindler was a Sudeten German. Hitler however, grabbed the rest of Czechoslovakia anyway because all Chamberlain wanted to do was talk in order to avoid war at all costs. The mountainous terrain of the Sudetenland was a far better defensible position against the Wehrmacht, than say the open plains of the Polish frontier. The full annexation of Czechoslovakia also exposed Poland’s southern flank to attack. Poland fell the next year.
The key fact Matthews glosses over is that handing over Czechoslovakia (who had no representation at the conference) to Hitler at Munich was the result of talking with the enemy.
Matthews can crow all day, but it is telling that he did not feature a guest who actually knew anything about Munich.

More mopery from Maddow and Matthews below the fold

Just Words?
Talking with Hitler in and of itself may not be bad. However, this presumes Hitler had reasonable demands. Apparently, Bruce Ramsay of the Seattle Times is the one person left in the world who thinks he did. The point here is that Hitler’s demands were quite unreasonable and talking to him only raised his stature and further emboldened him.
Unfortunately, there are those in our country who don’t understand this very salient point. Columbia University committed a similar form of capitulation by providing an esteem-raising opportunity last fall for Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who called the Holocaust a myth and said Israel, should be wiped off the map. Jimmy Carter tossed away his last shred of credibility when he conferred the imprimatur of an ex President of the United States on the terrorist group Hamas. We can also point to the long drawn out “talks” with Slobodan Milosevic during the 1990s, which allowed him to butcher Croats, Bosnians, and Kosovars. We know that it wasn’t talking that stopped Milosevic, it was American airpower.
Like I said before talking with one’s adversaries in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. However talking without preconditions is something else entirely. For example, it would have been prudent for Chamberlain to have had as a precondition for meeting with Hitler that he take annexing the territory of a sovereign nation off the table, which brings me to the president’s supposedly offending lines:
Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

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Let’s say for the sake of argument that Barack Obama was the intended target for President Bush’s line about appeasement. Was it all that inaccurate? Obama himself said unequivocally, that he would meet with American adversaries without precondition. Now his website does say that he supports “tough, direct” diplomacy. Direct Obama’s diplomacy may be, but take away preconditions, and the adjective tough no longer applies. Perhaps Chris Matthews is too busy enjoying the thrill that goes up his leg to actually understand exactly what Obama’s words actually mean.

Historian Victor Davis Hanson hits the crux of the problem for Obama:

The problem here would not be in theory talking with an Iran or Syria…but in a priori signaling to tyrants such an eagerness to elevate their grievances to head-of-state diplomacy. Under what conditions, how long, and to what degree Obama would be willing to exercise non-diplomatic options when talks proved futile would adjudicate whether his preference for unconditional talks devolved from diplomacy to appeasement.

If a President Obama were to enter into multiple negotiations with Iran, and if Iran were to continue to subvert the Lebanese government and threaten Israel through its surrogate Hezbollah, and continue to develop a nuclear arsenal while promising the destruction of Israel, at what point would he be willing not merely to cease talking, but to accept that his negotiations had done more harm than good and thus required a radical change of course — and would it be in time?

It is clear Maddow and Matthews played in the shallow end of the pool on this issue. Both historical and contemporary facts are inconsequential to them, they were more interested in caterwauling about how in Matthews words, “the whole mindset of the last several years…has been to shut up critics.” The rich irony is that it never dawned on them that they’ve been saying the same thing for the “last several years” and not once have they been silenced. Rather they are given prime time slots on a cable news network to act as if they are.

“Peolple are Basicly Exterminated”
We know the real issue isn’t about what appeasement was or was not. The real issue is that Obama and his sycophants want to create a shield around him where any legitimate criticism is out of bounds.

MATTHEWS: …If you don‘t like a war policy you get branded with a name. You are unpatriotic. You are a cut and runner, you are an appeaser. You can‘t argue politics in America anymore. You can‘t question power. Because if you question it, you‘re going to be drummed out of acceptable society. You are going to be called an appeaser.
These magic words are used for one purpose, to shut you up, so that they can proceed with the policy. And I think that‘s a real problem…. that in a society like ours, arguing over policy, arguing over what our role should be in the world shouldn‘t be unpatriotic or seen as unpatriotic. And many—most cases should be seen as the essence of patriotism. Giving a damn about our policy, what it ought to be, arguing, standing up and having a real debate. We didn‘t have that when we went to war in Iraq. Some, it‘s the media‘s fault. People were intimidated in challenging this president and his war policy. And I think we‘re better off with a hot debate, I

MADDOW: Do you think that this is something new? Do you think that this is something specific to our current contemporaneous politics that we‘ve got these buzzwords and bumper sticker slogans, whether it‘s appeasement or fighting over there so we don‘t fight them here or they hate our freedom. Any of these terms. Are they designed to be repeated and not to be interrogated?

MATTHEWS: Well, just look at the way people are basically exterminated or tried to be exterminated. Bill Maher makes a comment which may not have been the right comment, but he was making a point he was trying to make about stand back weaponry compared to people killing themselves. You can argue about the niceties of that. The Dixie Chicks say something about the war and they shouldn‘t have said it overseas, but they said it. The shutting up of opposition is critical to running a country in an undemocratic way. Let‘s put it that way. So you have buzzwords like appeasers or cut and run and they are used over and over again by the most mindless people. The trouble with them is they tend to work. The dittoheads can use them. Anybody can use them and they seem to have the same effect. They cause people to run from criticism.

Exterminated? Matthews reveals the absurdity of this line of reasoning. It must be that tingle going up his leg again. Its not that people like Matthews run from criticism they deliberately deflect it by smearing those who level it.

Last I heard, Real Time is on hiatus, due to return to HBO in August. Unless of course by hiatus you mean Bill Maher has been marched off the to the gas chamber. No one shut the Dixie Chicks up. What happened was some of their now ex-fans exercised their same first amendment right to voice their disagreement with what Natalie Maines said. No one actually shut them up. In fact, they even produced a documentary about how they were being “silenced.” So much for oppression of their right to speak out.

As with nearly all progressives, their conception free speech is an echo chamber where their pronouncements go unchallenged, and when a conservative shows the temerity to do so progressives recoil like Dracula from sunlight. William F. Buckley hit the nail on the head when said, “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”

Funny how Matthews says that we “better off with a hot debate” but cries foul anytime a debate rears its head.

The Peril of “Unity”

Fred Barnes calls this schtick patriotism paranoia:

There’s method in the Democrats’ paranoia. They’ve figured out how to use it to their advantage: Blame someone for calling you unpatriotic, and you may blow off their legitimate criticism, even stigmatize them as smear artists, while you’re seen responding more in sorrow than in anger.

Democrats have a problem when it comes to foreign policy, and they know it, which is why they reflexively turn to patriotism paranoia to avoid having to answer their critics.Obama himself is a master at this game. In response to Bush’s Knesset speech Obama called it the “politics of fear.” That is, criticisms of his foreign policy positions are off limits.

Lost in Obama’s flowery rhetoric about hope, change, and unity is that they are his code words for patriotism. In other words, Obama is guilty of exactly the same offense that he and his supporters like Chris Matthews constantly accuse Republicans and conservatives of committing. Obama’s campaign manager said that questioning patriotism has no place in his campaign. Really, then I await his explanation of Obama’s sponsorship of the Patriot Corporation Act, where the government would determine which corporations are patriotic and which are not. Under Obama’s plan, corporations are deemed patriotic only if it plays by his rules.

Obama claims his real adversaries in his bid for the White House are “cynicism” and “divisiveness.” Hence, when anyone dares criticize him or his policy prescriptions out comes the “divisive card” or the c-word. The shrieking harpies at MSBC lap up the pablum and spit it back out like an infant learning to eat solid food for the first time. To criticize Obama is to stand athwart hope, and change and “all good things.” If questioning of a Democrats patriotism real or imagined (mostly imagined) by Republicans or conservatives, then why is it kosher for Obama to do so?

Obama tells us that unity is the “great need of the hour.” Only through unity can we fix our “broken souls.” The real sin is that we broken-soul conservatives are cynical enough to see through Obama’s rhetoric and are divisive by pointing out the dangers of what he means. We bitterly “cling” to the quaint notions of individual liberty and limited government espoused by the founding fathers. The founders rightly feared unity as a danger to our liberties, which is why they designed our government to be divided so that the vile forms of unity could be dissipated. Jonah Goldberg, writing in the May 5 edition of National Review (subscription required) reminds us of the lesson we all should have learned from the Federalist Papers:

“Divisiveness”—the setting of factions—against faction, one branch of government against another, and the sovereignty of the individual above the group—was for the founders the great guarantor of our liberties and the source of civic virtue.

Never mind that no one is questioning Obama’s patriotism, rather his foreign policy judgments. When progressives claim that the “right-wing” is questions their patriotism, it really is just them telling us, in code, to shut up.

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