Right Thinking From The Left Coast
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Friday, September 17, 2010

Defending The Indefensible

Brace yourselves.  I’m going to defense Christine O’Donnell.  There’s plenty to criticize her for, including her apparent paranoia about political opponents spying on her.  But I actually think this one is a little overblown:

Appearing on the “Politically Incorrect” show in 1998, anti-wanking GOP creationist Christine O’Donnell was asked by Eddie Izzard, “What if someone comes to you in the middle of the Second World War and says, ‘do you have any Jewish people in your house?’ and you do have them. That would be a lie. That would be disrespectful to Hitler.”

O’Donnell’s reply: “I believe if I were in that situation, God would provide a way to do the right thing righteously. I believe that! … You never have to practice deception. God always provides a way out.”

What she said is stupid and somewhat offensive, no question.  I’m not going to defend it or her.  Good and moral people lie when necessary and lying in a good cause is a good thing. There is tons of Judeo-Christian biblical commentary on this point.

But I will point out that the clip is from 1998 and is a side remark made by a 29-year-old on a TV show know for people saying stupid ideological crap.  It doesn’t sound anti-semetic to me—it sounds like the sort of dumb thing people say when they’re still added by ideology and have yet to realize that the world is much more complicated and gray than it is in college dorm rooms and think tanks (and churches).  And on the scale of Offensive Things Said About the Holocaust, this ranks far below anything Pat Buchanan has said.  Or anything Mohandas Gandhi said, for that matter.

Now if O’Donnell, when asked, maintains that she would still tell the Nazis about Anne Frank in the attic, then we can jump all over her.  If she’s said similar things recently, have fun.  But I’m grown tired of this business of digging through everyone’s past for anything stupid or embarrassing they’ve said.  There has to be a Statute of Limitations on verbal diarrhea, no?  I mean, were told we can’t even hold Democrats accountable for things they said two years ago, least of all 12.

I don’t put up with this when it comes to politicians I like and I won’t put up with it for politicians I don’t.  I don’t care what Christine O’Donnell said on TV 12 years ago.  I care what she thinks now.

Update: O’Donnell is asking than any embarrassing past utterances be ignored, claiming her faith has matured.  Make what you will of that.  She’s also apparently refusing to debate unless provided questions in advance.  And her website only solicits donations without expressing any of her views.

I am not down with this.  She should be questioned about her past views, including the statement on Politically Incorrect.  She has to make it clear exactly where she stand on the issues (and that she knows what they are).  But our judgement should be based on how she responds to such questions and whether we believe she has honestly changed her views.  Citing a clip from 1998 just doesn’t do it for me.  Certainly not for an accusation as inflammatory as “you would turn over Jews to the Nazis”.

Update: Now we’re turning the wayback machine all the way back to 1997.  O’Donnell said we should spend less on AIDS to support other healthcare research and that distributing condoms would increase AIDS distribution.  This wasn’t even that far out of the mainstream in 1997.  I heard a lot of conservatives say this.  In fact, I probably thought something similar up until the early 90’s.  The condom paranoia turned out to be bullshit—condom distribution in the US has helped to massively cut our teen pregnancy rate and the spread of venereal diseases.  But this is much more obvious in hindsight than it was in foresight.

Again, if she still thinks making condoms available is bad, that’s a legitimate issue.  But she has to have said it more recently than when Men in Black was #1 in the box office.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 09/17/10 at 10:37 AM in Elections   Election 2010  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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