Conservatives have a tendency to associate “political correctness” with liberalism. That is a mistake, because doing so would politicize the term. Critics of political correctness shouldn’t discriminate when opposing PC.

What would you call an incident where someone made a speech expression and then that person’s critics expressed unreasonably emotional outrage, twisted the facts, and then tried to boycott that person? When Rush Limbaugh tried to buy the NFL’s Rams as part of an ownership group and was forced to drop out after a campaign that involved Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton argued that views he had expressed were too racist (some of which were fake quotes, which CNN apologized for). Limbaugh attributed it at the time to “political correctness.”

Now go back to the NFL and there is currently another outrage-induced racial controversy going on. Only this time, it’s conservatives who are outraged and calling for a boycott.

Beyonce and Black Panthers

Conservatives are outraged that at the Super Bowl halftime show Beyonce had a group of dancers come out and do a gesture of homage to the Black Panthers.

No one can stop someone from being annoyed or even offended–and what is a political statement doing in the biggest TV entertainment event of the year?, some might ask–but you can decide how you express yourself. Calls to try to boycott Beyonce have been made. Local police officers, like those of a department in Tampa, have decided to boycott signing up for security at her shows. Grassroots conservative bloggers like Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit have supported the boycott and called Beyonce’s stunt a “racist performance”. Aren’t conservatives supposed to be against race-baiting?

Conservative Review upped the ante by being “outraged” over Beyonce’s lyrics. (Pro-tip from Jay-Z: “If you don’t like the lyrics, you can press fast forward.”) Mike Huckabee started his failed presidential campaign with this line of attack on Jay-Z and Beyonce. Yeah, musicians curse, get over it, PC police.

The Black Panthers were certainly controversial and open for criticism. Conservative Review referenced some of the allegations of violence committed by Black Panthers cofounder Huey Newton, including his killing of Kathleen Smith and his voluntary manslaughter conviction for the death of John Frey. But some things the Black Panthers did, like carrying around guns on the grounds that they were resisting law-enforcement tyranny, are very similar to what some conservatives defended or supported the Bundy family members and militias doing with weapons on federal lands.

On the other side of the political hypocrisy spectrum, cultural liberal outlets like Clutch Mag Online tone-deafly mock the boycotters, even though that very magazine wrote laudatory pieces about Rush Limbaugh boycott efforts.

Bush lied about Iraq

Since Trump accused Bush of lying about Iraq, in his very Trump way, at the South Carolina debates, a lot of conservatives have been outraged that Trump is repeating a “conspiracy theory.”

Trump also said that Saddam Hussein “made a living off killing terrorists” but that now Iraq is “like the Harvard of terrorism.” What a rational person would have said is this: Iraq was a stable state when Saddam was in charge, and now it is an unstable breeding grounds for ISIS, where the government doesn’t even control the whole state.

That’s true, and if veterans died to make Iraq that way, then that is a tragedy, and it is on the government for having made that mistake. However, National Review writer David French called Trump’s comments “an Insult to the Veterans He Claims to Love.”

Note that even if it was insulting, that wouldn’t change the truth value of the statement. However, Trump never mentioned the veterans. He attacked Bush personally, not the soldiers, since it was, after all, Bush and his administration’s idea to invade.

French goes on to talk about Hussein being a bad guy who invaded other states and financed anti-Israel terrorists and also argued that Hussein’s fall didn’t cause the rise of ISIS. (But it, coupled with the weak government that replaced his, caused Iraq to have a weak government that ISIS exploited.) All of that may be true, but it doesn’t mean Trump insulted any soldiers by disagreeing with French about the cost-benefit analysis of the Iraq War.

Here is the reason it is apparently an insult to disagree with a veteran:

It amounts to a dismissal, a contemptuous pat on the head for all us fools and dupes who volunteered to be participants in the greatest crime in American history. The families of the fallen can’t feel good that their sons and daughters died as victims of a deceitful president, deposing a man who actually “fought terrorists.” Many of us volunteered because we knew more than Trump did. We knew who Saddam Hussein was, and we knew that defeating not just him but the Salafist movement he incubated was vital to American national security.

Even if you consider a veteran who volunteered specifically to fight Saddam rather than one who was already serving before the war started, why can’t a veteran be wrong? Are veterans infallible just because they served? Would a veteran who said “Iraq has a nuclear weapons program” be right, even though Iraq didn’t have a nuclear weapons program?

With 16 infamous words in a State of the Union address, Bush stated that intel suggested Saddam was trying to develop a nuclear program. The intel was considered unreliable and false before Bush said it, and the CIA reported warned the White House it wasn’t accurate. If you want to talk about “Bush lying,” that would be one example of a time he mislead or exaggerated or spread false info.

The broader argument about whether the CIA and other countries and Bill Clinton thought Iraq had WMDs misses the trees for the forest. Specific facts must be cited to make a case, and some of those claims can be wrong or unreliable.

So if Bush was wrong about WMDs, how could a hypothetical veteran who said the same things as Bush have been right? 1+1=2 no matter who says it.

The idea that, “The families of the fallen can’t feel good that their sons and daughters died as victims of a deceitful president, deposing a man who actually ‘fought terrorists,'” is just a version of the “died in vain” argument. (Not that Saddam fought terrorists, but that the war was a destabilizing mistake.) It may be true that the families of the fallen should be sad about their losses.

Anti-war people who know dead soldiers are outraged that soldiers died. By saying they died for a war that ultimately helped the U.S., French ultimately absolves the government of blame.

North Korean soldiers died to install a dictator who ruined their country. Their families suffered when they died. Is the Kim maffia somehow not deceitful just because (someone who makes the same argument as) French thinks that it would be “insulting” to the families?

(American and South Korean soldiers in that war actually died to prevent North Korea from taking over South Korea, after North Korea initially invaded, so they did indeed get something valuable out of their sacrifice.)

Japanese soldiers died for a government that was spreading tyrannical colonialism across Asia, while their country supported an ally that genocided millions. There is case after case of times countries fought wars for evil, bad, or mistaken (Iraq, in this case) reasons. In most cases, it is the government that bears most of the blame for starting the war. And in any case, soldiers who believe the government have just as much capacity for being wrong as anyone else.

Photo by Flickr user idrewuk, used with Creative Commons/Wikimedia license.

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