Yesterday on Hugh Hewitt's radio talk show, a guy named Scott called in and chastised conservatives for implying that liberals are unpatriotic. Hugh took strong exception and asked him to back it up. It struck me that I've heard an awful lot of that kind of non-argument coming from the left. They don't say conservatives are wrong on policy--Scott started by saying that he supports the war in Afghanistan and Iraq--but that they are wrong for impugning the patriotism of their opponents.
I sent Hugh the following:
Sophistry and Logical Fallacy!
The first response is "So what?" It's a free country. Even if you or your callers did impugn somebody's patriotism, it has nothing to do with the merits of the argument. If it were illegal to be boorish and snotty, Maureen Dowd couldn't work.
Secondly, it begs the question of what patriotism means and what the duties of citizens in a republic are. It's one thing to criticise as the loyal opposition, and its quite another to attack the men and women who are engaged in fighting our enemies. This is, as James Taranto pointed out yesterday, the Copperheads' tactic, trying to undermine the war because they can't stand not controlling the government. Patriotism is love of country. Under that definition, a lot of liberal academics and pundits ARE unpatriotic. Noam Chomsky comes to mind. They can all claim that they love America but hate its foreign policy, but they go beyond that. They accuse the American economic system of being the greatest threat to the world. They are saying that America is evil, but that they really love it. Sure, just like you can hate sin and love it at the same time.
So, my reply to Scott would be, "And what if somebody did impugn the patriotism of the left? They impugn the intelligence and motives of the right on a regular basis. But the real question is whether the President's policy is working or not. In this country we have freedom of speech, so, if your feelings are that tender about your patriotism, maybe you don't belong in the debate."