June 12, 2004

Andrew Sullivan

It has been previously noted here that some of Andrew Sullivan's posts and positions seem to be remarkably incongruent with his past writings. Frankly, I wonder if his activist mentality concerning gay marriage is starting to color his perspective on matters that are entirely unrelated. How else to explain his apparent shift to favor John Kerry over President George W. Bush the last couple of months. If you want to know more about why this seems so bizarre just read Andrew's archives. But what do I know, maybe Mr. Sullivan now believes John Kerry's repeatedly stated willingness to yield America's sovereignty to the UN is the right thing to do.

Maybe I should have been tipped off Thursday when Andrew spoke approvingly of Richard Cohen's take on Abu Ghraib and the "torture memos." Today, Andrew wrote something on this topic I just cannot let pass. In his haste to try and and make President George W. Bush look as bad as possible, Andrew drops into an absurd combination of moral equivalence and utopianism that is beyond the pale. Here's Andrew's post:

AIDS IN CHINA: We can be retrospectively critical of Reagan, but no one in America ever sent AIDS activists to forcible psychiatric treatment. But that's what just happened in Communist China:

When a fellow activist attempted to deliver some AIDS materials to Hu Jia on the evening of June 1, police refused to allow them to meet, and gave Hu Jia a brutal thrashing that resulted in injuries to his head and left arm. On June 3, four police officers forced their way into Hu Jia's home and said they would be staying there to monitor his activities. When Hu Jia objected, they struck him in the presence of his father and mother, then took him away and detained him in a cold, damp basement for three days and three nights. Since releasing Hu Jia on June 6, police have continued their surveillance on his home, cutting off all of the family's telephone access and refusing to allow Hu Jia to leave the house.
The more recent order for psychiatric evaluation is causing considerable distress to Hu Jia and his parents. Hu Jia's parents see absolutely no sign of mental abnormality in Hu Jia, and are well aware that "psychiatric treatment" has been forced upon a number of dissidents and religious practitioners, sometimes resulting in them actually becoming mentally unstable. A source passed HRIC a message from Hu Jia's family and friends calling on the international community to take note of Hu Jia's desperate situation. The message states, "If the police forcibly commit Hu Jia to a mental hospital against the wishes of himself and his family, this constitutes using psychiatric treatment as a form of torture and political persecution."

Yes, a form of torture. But how can the U.S. now take a stand against this, when the president has memos drawn up explaining why torture is sometimes okay?

This comment is so wrong on so many levels, tarring the entire United States because of the actions of a few, equating what happens in the confusion of a war zone (justified or not) with systematic, premeditated abuse of its citizens by the Chinese state, insinuating that President George W. Bush sought legal justification for an a priori decision to torture prisoners, and just generally falling into the same tiresome trap of claiming that we have no right to ever judge anyone for anything because we are not perfect all the time. Does Andrew really believe that the depraved actions of a few at Abu Ghraib reduces America and its government to the moral equivalent of the People's Republic of China now that they have adopted the old Soviet tactic of declaring dissidents mentally ill?

What utter rubbish. Andrew should be ashamed of spewing the sort of charges we are more accustomed to hearing from Ted Rall, Sid Blumenthal, James Carville, and, of late, Al Gore. Short of a change of heart and rhetoric, I am beginning to regard Andrew Sullivan as part of the same short-sighted, spinning cabal I generally refer to as Big Media. He now seems to be more interested in pushing an agenda than dealing with reality. That's too bad, because he is very intelligent, well-informed, and a much better writer than I'll ever be. Nonetheless, it is deeply distressing to see anyone, much less someone I have respected for so long, lapse so easily into utopian (postmodern?) moral equivalence because his otherwise clear vision has been obscured by his anger.

Posted by Charles Austin at June 12, 2004 05:05 PM

He is good as a polemicist. I guess that that's the flip side of not always picking the most *reasonable* things to polemicize about.

Posted by: old maltese at 04:15 PM

It's not like this is something new, AS has been trending that way for some time now.

It's sad, but a common thread in his writing is to place satisfying your genitals above just about everything else (see his defense of Condit). Ah, well.

Posted by: Greg D at 08:59 PM

I never read Sullivan anymore. He seems to have lost his moral compass.

Posted by: Tarter at 02:30 PM

I used to read AS regularly, but now only when someone else links to a non-SSM piece he's written. I noticed the change in him right after gay marriage hit San Francisco and Bush suggested that a constitutional amendment might be the only way to prevent national gay marriages. Since then he's been laying the groundwork for him to endorse Kerry come fall. Bet on it.

Posted by: Lawrence at 02:58 PM

Sounds kinda lame to simply say, "I agree".

But I do.

Posted by: BH at 07:15 PM

I think the whole same-sex marriage thing sent him over the edge. He hasn't been the same since. I sent him $20 the first pledge drive, I couldn't make myself do it the second. I don't even want to visit his site. That's too bad, I used to like his writing very much. Even when I disagreed with him, I still liked him.

Posted by: Veeshir at 01:30 PM

I discovered blogging three years age when a friend sent me to his site and it was my first read evry morning. Two months ago I removed him from my favorites and vowed to not go there again when he went "all gay marriage all the time" and threatened to not support President Bush over this one issue.

Posted by: Kevin at 07:31 PM

Told ya.

But itís time to say something very clearly: Bushís endorsement of antigay discrimination in the U.S. Constitution itself is a deal-breaker. I canít endorse him this fall. ... When a president allies himself with forces that really do want to keep gay people in jail, therapy, or the closet, itís time to break off. The deal is broken.

So, while Sullivan has apparently already made his decision, he's keeping up pretenses on his blog. I wonder why.

Posted by: Lawrence at 07:58 AM

"When a president allies himself with forces that really do want to keep gay people in jail, therapy, or the closet, itís time to break off."

It does not logically follow that any "forces" that say marriage is exclusively between a man and a women necessitates that those same "forces" want to put anyone in jail, therapy, or "the closet". Awhile back I would have expected more from Sullivan. Now it's just another example of him going over the edge.

Posted by: Jon at 12:00 PM