Enough stuff that you have to think she knows she's only telling you a partial story (let's hope that's the case).
Let's start with what she gets (mostly) right. It's about a wife and mother who changed her mind:
“One of my good friends said, ‘I’m really uncomfortable letting my children play with your children because of your decision not to vaccinate,’ ” Ms. Elliott recalled while toddlers tumbled around her.Pop quiz: when Dailey describes these parents as "well-educated, plugged into social networks and alternative medicines" what sort of person flashes in your head? Better yet, what sort of person do you think Dailey thinks she was describing?
What changed her mind was her little girl’s bout last year with whooping cough, which a vaccine might have prevented.
“I let my pride keep me from vaccinating my children,” she confessed.
She said these words slowly and simply, sitting in a cozy living room of jam-packed bookshelves, piano, wicker and rose-printed chintz.
It used to be that failure to get one’s children all the recommended vaccines was mostly connected to poverty and lack of access to regular health care. These days, the parents skipping vaccines are more likely to be well-educated, plugged into social networks and alternative medicines.
Whereas I do not doubt a significant portion of the so called "anti-vaxx" crowd being college-educated, facebook-friendly, new-agey types, I am also not surprised that a faith-defender like Dailey would omit the religious exemption from compulsory school-age vaccination.
That's right. If you have a sincere religious objection to vaccinating your child, you ignore all the science regarding their safety, and in doing so possibly be part of a serious public health issue. Yay, religious freedom!
Did you know that there's an exemption in Pennsylvania? Take a look:
Children need not be immunized if the parent, guardian or emancipated child objects in writing to the immunization on religious grounds or on the basis of a strong moral or ethical conviction similar to a religious belief.It would have been nice to have seen that rather small point injected into an otherwise OK portion of Dailey's column. I don't mean to be a prick about it, needling Ruth Ann Daily like this, so let's plunge on.
This is really about, once again, John McCain and his defense of Henry Kissinger. Dailey wrote:
After more than a minute of their chanting “Arrest Henry Kissinger for war crimes” as initially bemused onlookers grew visibly irritated, the U.S. Capitol Police arrived to intervene.This is nearly incorrect - but we should expect more (at least "close to correct") from such an established columnist as Ruth Ann Dailey. As we know from this blog post, the protest was barely longer (by a second or two) than a minute and there was no need for the Capitol Police to arrive as they were already there (the proof of the policing is in video).
But her real sin occurs in these paragraphs:
I respect my pacifist friends. I think they are wrong, yet principled, their stance unrealistic in this dangerous world. They tend to a quiet opposition.Perhaps they're haunted by the slaughter instigated by the man they were protesting.
But if you’re going to loudly denounce those who (usually reluctantly) accept the merits of war, then at least be intellectually consistent.
If war is wrong, then engaging in it through any means is a “crime,” whether it’s Kissinger’s realpolitik, the nation-building of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, or the puzzling disarray of the Obama administration (which Mr. Kissinger is now advising).
Why target only the man whose era was haunted by the slaughter of totalitarian regimes and the long “socialist republic” nightmare? Hmmm.
For Dailey to belittle his actions by hiding them under one word ("realpolitik") and then equating that word with whatever she means by Clinton's "nation-building" is simply astonishing. We can, perhaps, equate Kissinger's 180,000 dead Timorese with Dubya's 100,000+ dead Iraqis in terms of war crimes, but I don't think that's where Dailey was headed.
Let's look a little deeper into Kissinger's
Kissinger, who does not find room to mention East Timor even in the index of his three-volume memoir, has more than once stated that the invasion came to him as a surprise, and that he barely knew of the existence of the Timorese question. He was obviously lying. But the breathtaking extent of his mendacity has only just become fully apparent, with the declassification of a secret State Department telegram. The document, which has been made public by the National Security Archive at George Washington University, contains a verbatim record of the conversation among Suharto, Ford and Kissinger. "We want your understanding if we deem it necessary to take rapid or drastic action," Suharto opened bluntly. "We will understand and will not press you on the issue," Ford responded. "We understand the problem you have and the intentions you have." Kissinger was even more emphatic, but had an awareness of the possible "spin" problems back home. "It is important that whatever you do succeeds quickly," he instructed the despot. "We would be able to influence the reaction if whatever happens, happens after we return.... If you have made plans, we will do our best to keep everyone quiet until the President returns home." Micromanaging things for Suharto, he added: "The President will be back on Monday at 2 pm Jakarta time. We understand your problem and the need to move quickly but I am only saying that it would be better if it were done after we returned." As ever, deniability supersedes accountability.You can read the Ford-Kissinger-Suharto conversation here and you can read Hertsgaard's piece here.
There came then the awkward question of weaponry. Indonesia's armed forces, which had never yet lost a battle against civilians, were equipped with US-supplied matériel. But the Foreign Assistance Act forbade the use of such armaments except in self-defense. "It depends on how we construe it; whether it is in self-defense or is a foreign operation," Kissinger mused. (At a later meeting back at the State Department on December 18, the minutes of which have also been declassified, he was blunt about knowingly violating the statute. For a transcript of the minutes, see Mark Hertsgaard, "The Secret Life of Henry Kissinger," October 29, 1990.)
Back to Hitchens:
Adam Malik, Indonesia's foreign minister at the time, later conceded in public that between 50,000 and 80,000 Timorese civilians were killed in the first eighteen months of the occupation. These civilians were killed with American weapons, which Kissinger contrived to supply over Congressional protests, and their murders were covered up by American diplomacy, and the rapid rate of their murder was something that had been urged in so many words by an American Secretary of State.That's what Ruth Ann Dailey hides with her simple use of the term "realpolitik."
Or is that precisely what "realpolitik" means? At a time when totalitarian regimes were slaughtering thousands, it's OK to allow our allies to slaughter thousands in response? Then lie about it to the American people and to Congress?
And for the person who did all that to be defended by that same Congress a few decades later when some citizens decide to exercise their First Amendment rights to protest his presence?
Is that what realpolitik means, Ruth Ann?