Let's get this out of the way

I suspect that I shall spend the rest of my life being pursued by lefty bloggers who think that linking this six year old post is a substitute for argument. Nonetheless, it occurs to me that while I have repeatedly dealt with it in various places, I probably haven't here. So here's the deal. I'm going to talk about it now, because it was, frankly, a pretty stupid thing to write, and mea culpas are good for the soul. Then I'm never going to talk about it again. I have yet to see anyone deploy it against me who could even vaguely be accused of acting in good faith. On the other hand, there are readers in good faith who are surprised by it, and I think I owe them an explanation.

I first reproduce the entire thing, so that there will be absolutely no question about its contents. This is not difficult, because the entire thing is only about 100 words long, but I do understand that space may be limited on other minds blogs.


Diane E. has a link seeming to indicate that the scruffier element of Saturday's peace rally is planning on demonstrating for peace by, er, wreaking mayhem. Nothing says "Stop the Madness of Western Imperialism" like a white college student from Winnetka opening a can of whup-ass on some Korean vegetable stand!

So I was chatting about this with a friend of mine, a propos of the fact that everyone I know in New York is a) more frightened than they've been since mid-September 2001 and b) madly working on keeping up the who-the-hell-cares-if-I-get-hit-by-a-truck? insouciance that New Yorkers feel is their sole civic obligation. Said friend was, two short years ago, an avowed pacifist and also a little bit to the left of Ho Chi Minh. And do you know what he said? "Bring it on."

I can't be mad at these little dweebs. I'm too busy laughing. And I think some in New York are going to laugh even harder when they try to unleash some civil disobedience, Lenin style, and some New Yorker who understands the horrors of war all too well picks up a two-by-four and teaches them how very effective violence can be when it's applied in a firm, pre-emptive manner.

Starting with a little bit of context: Diane E. wrote the sadly now defunct Letter from Gotham blog. Though her politics--indeed, like mine--changed in those first few post 9/11 years, I think it's safe to say that she would have a very pungent reaction to anyone calling her a neo-con loving warblogger. The post is now gone, but any of the libertarian antiwar bloggers should be happy to confirm that Diane E. was not a rumormongering warhorse who hated peace. The post was written in response to a credible belief that there were antiwar protesters who thought it would be fun to get a little WTO on New York.

Thankfully, this turned out to be a false rumor. That said, I still shouldn't have written what I did.

Not because I'm particularly sympathetic to rioters--which is what people who think it would be fun to turn a peaceful protest into a violent scene are The proper response to such people is to restrain them, by violent force if necessary. I certainly hope that if I were standing behind such people at a protest, I would have the physical courage to jump on them and use my 140 pounds of bony mass to wrestle them to the ground.

(As an aside, I note that riots certainly aren't necessarily the fault of the protesters--I was at an ACT-UP die-in in Philadelphia around 1991 that turned violent because the coffin some of the protesters were carrying tipped over onto the barricades, and Philly's trigger-happy police interpreted this as an attack. Needless to say, we were the ones who got beat on, not them. I mean "we" only in solidarity--the police tended to focus on the folks with the nose rings and the purple hair. Sadly, I had neither the physical courage nor the devil-may-care attitude towards the law that would have allowed me to use my 130 pounds of bony mass to wrestle a baton-wielding cop to the ground. I made like a two dollar bill and got scarce.)

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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