William F. Buckley
The flap featuring Rush Limbaugh, Media Matters and MoveOn.org illustrates the importance not only of keeping facts straight but also of lining up symmetrical perspectives.

For instance: An individual soldier fighting in Iraq can believe that the war is ill begotten, that American military leaders are doing a bad job, and that the whole world would be better off if the United States were to pull out. If that soldier were overheard ventilating these preachments and hauled in to the company commander for questioning, what might one expect to hear?

"Soldier, you've been criticizing the conduct of the war and the thinking behind that conduct. Are you protesting your role in current operations?"

"No. No, sir. Are you, sir, suggesting that I am not entitled to criticize the war?"

"No. I'm not saying exactly that. But I am saying that criticisms of the conduct of a war can encourage disloyalty, and that cannot be tolerated in the military."

"I understand that, sir. Sir, you haven't told anybody around here that I am a 'phony soldier,' have you?"

"Certainly not. A phony soldier is a guy who gives the impression that he was fighting on the battlefront when actually he was far removed from action. He is also 'phony' -- not merely as a soldier but as a human being -- if he is out there telling people that most of the soldiers engaged in the Iraq war don't believe in it. There is something that separates an ordinary citizen from a soldier. The soldier has to have a special sense of corporate responsibility. And he has to remind himself, every now and then, that our army is nowadays made up of volunteers."

"Did Rush Limbaugh make that confusion?"

"No. He was criticizing the phony soldier we've mentioned -- a specific individual who had falsified his war record -- but he was hardly including in that category every soldier who has reservations about the war."

"Why is this happening?"


William F. Buckley

William F. Buckley, Jr. is editor-at-large of National Review, the prolific author of Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography.

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