December 16, 2003

"I have nothing to say and I am saying it."

Timothy Noah, Slate's aptly named "Chatterbox" gives blatherers a bad name with his mewling little Good Mission, Bad Name - Why bring the movie Red Dawn into it? . In this item that nobody other than his mother will little note nor long remember, Noah opines:

The problem with calling Saddam's capture Operation Red Dawn is that it subverts the righteousness of our action with Orwellian Newspeak. (By sheerest coincidence, Red Dawn was released in 1984.) The U.S. military isn't mounting an insurgency against a foreign invader. It is the foreign invader. The real insurgents in Iraq -- its Wolverines -- are the Baathists and Islamist extremists who continue to wage guerrilla war against the American occupation and its Iraqi collaborators. By stating this, Chatterbox does not mean to insult our troops or pay any sort of compliment to the Iraqi opposition. In this particular situation, Huge Invading Force = Good Guys, and Scrappy Wolverine Resistance = Bad Guys. Even the most vocal critics of the war usually concede this point. Now the Pentagon has undermined this clarity by introducing an unhelpful vocabulary that invites disaffected Iraqis to make stupid comparisons between the United States and the former Soviet Union. How inept can propaganda get?
Ask rather how inept can a column get when everybody else has said everything about your subject that can be said? It can, I suppose, take on the level of meaningless granulation we get from Noah.

I noted the "Red Dawn" allusion when it went by in the Infostream, but it was clearly not important. Indeed, it was insignificant. But I guess it was the only scrap left when Noah recovered from his 10 Tequila Slammer Saturday night and had to, just had to, write something, anything, about this. That's one thing. But publishing this bit of whining tripe is another. One wonders if there isn't a "designated editor" at Slate to save the chatterers from flipping their brain over a guiderail like this.

First, let us step up to the whiteboard and write on one side "Reality" and on the other side "Movie." Let us draw a line between them and then step back to see how different the connotation and denotation of the words are. It would seem that Noah's gripe is that reality doesn't mirror the movie world, right? Right. Pass the popcorn.

Then let us note that while movies are known for the ability to have many different takes to a scene and massive meetings on nomenclature, reality -- war reality -- runs against a clock and often doesn't have time for the little touches that would warm Noah's heart and give him the confidence in his country and his army that he evidently needs to feel whole. It's evidently of little import to Mr. Noah that this man was caught due to massive effort extending over many months. No, what's important here is that the title was "wrong."

This is why the Army doesn't have a battalion of chatterboxs like Noah on retainer vetting its titles and why Slate has a chatterbox like Noah on its payroll in order to ... well, in order to.... chatter. In this, he has shown he has no equal.

Posted by Vanderleun at December 16, 2003 9:12 AM
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