On April 22, Allen West gave a now-famous speech to a group called Women Impacting the Nation explaining that the most pressing duty of strong, American women is to breed and support strong, American men. I reported on this fascinating contention, and the story traveled a goodly ways -- even getting a mention in the New York Times. At length, the folks at Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism got a hold of it and answered my original essay with this rebuttal: "Telling Us Who They Fear: Left Wing Journo Attacks Rep. Allen West," by Warner Todd Huston.
Note: I have just linked to Huston's story. Even though Huston spent 750 words grousing about my horribleness, he never linked to mine. This lapse is very nearly an admission of defeat. So's his first line:
Brandon K. Thorp, a gay activist from the alternative newsweekly Broward-Palm Beach New Times newspaper, is only the latest left-winger to launch a verbal assault on Lt. Col. Allen West...
Thus does Huston edge dangerously close to ad hominem twice before even explaining what he's on about. A logician Huston isn't. (And a gay activist, I'm not. Nor am I merely the "latest" person to criticize West; I was also among the first, and I'm certainly the most constant.) A serious critique can withstand open comparison with the object of criticism and can be made without reference to anybody's sexual proclivities.
In my article, I took issue with West's admonishment of women for failing to raise a generation of strong men. I suggested it was American men, and not American women, who are most in need of a parental pep talk. I didn't think this was a controversial point. I worked for several years at a homeless shelter for teens and saw many, many 16-, 17-, and 18-year-old mothers deserted by their boyfriends. I never met a 16-year-old father left in the lurch by his girl. Has anyone documented an epidemic of abandoned young fathers? Ever?
Here's what Huston has to say on the matter:
...who is it, might I ask, that allows these men to roam from baby-momma to baby-momma? Why, yes, that would be women. Sorry, Thorpster, but women set the tone for marriage and a family. It has always been thus. Does it absolve men from roaming around? No, of course not. But to say, as Thorp did, that women are any less in need than a pep talk about childrearing is simply Thorp's PCism run amock. He is one of those castrati that can't possibly imagine that a woman might need a pep-talk about anything. In his weak-willed world, women can't be wrong, because they are oppressed "minorities," you see?
I must struggle mightily to banish from my mind the fascinating notion that "worlds" have "wills," and focus instead on Huston's first point: That women are somehow responsible not only for their own behavior, but for the sluttiness of their menfolk. I'm not sure Huston quite realizes he's made this argument, but since he has, let's hope he'll expand on it. How is it that women "allow" their men to slut around, and how might they curb this permissiveness? The young women of America need to know.
Elsewhere, Huston claims that I've called Allen West "hateful and stupid." I didn't. I said that one of Allen West's statements was hateful and stupid, and it was. In that statement, West said that the women of Code Pink are "neutering American men and bringing us to this point of incredible weakness." The utterance is hateful because it paints West's ideological opponents as actual enemies, as creatures of evil out to sabotage an entire gender. It's stupid because nobody wants to inhabit a world in which people think this way. Believe it or not, it really is possible to disagree with people without thinking the worst of them. Allen West hasn't mastered that trick, and if Huston's column is at all representative, neither have his fans.
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I''m sick to death of repeating this point, but here goes: The problem with West is that thinking of one's law-abiding, civically engaged fellow citizens in terms of friends and enemies, good and evil, inevitably makes hash out of debate and renders meaningful discourse impossible. And a republic that cannot talk to itself cannot endure. I never called Allen West "hateful" or "stupid," nor would I. But Mr. Huston -- a grown man and a successful political columnist -- really did call me a castrati. If he'd done so at a bar, I'd take him outside. Since he did so in print, I'll just thank him for proving my point.
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