Triumph of the Will, real soon now

A disagreeable debate has flared up at the normally excellent Obsidian Wings. A contributor, Charles, sparked it off by blasting a Congressman who called for US withdrawal from Iraq, a ‘loser’ and a ‘defeatist’, and – essentially – blaming anyone on the left of the political spectrum for not having the balls to go through with the war.

There are two things that make me sad about this. The first is that anything even slightly tending to withdrawal (such as in-due-course replacement of US troops by a Muslim-led UN contingent) is shouted from the rooftops as sedition, treason, and possibly also a sin against the Holy Ghost.

Even more worrying is that the name-calling level of debate which is increasingly familiar in the US is contaminating even self-proclaimed moderate sites like OW. It’s a great shame – not just for politics, but even politeness – when we can’t hold ourselves to the same standard as a bunch of rowdy 17th-century barons:

Standing Order of the House of Lords 33 (1632): To prevent misunderstanding, and for avoiding of offensive speeches, when matters are debating, either in the House or at Committees, it is for honour sake thought fit, and so ordered, That all personal, sharp, or taxing speeches be forborn, and whosoever answereth another man’s speech shall apply his answer to the matter without wrong to the person.

Wouldn’t that be nice?