It’s high time to turn the tables on the war opponents who shriek “Chickenhawk!” at every war supporter whose entire family is not in uniform. The charge is a toothless epithet that nonetheless has gained currency among certain circles on the left because it has a seductive appeal to the illogical. Why conservatives have not turned the tables on anyone who uses the label is mystifying. Here’s how to do it.
Cindy Sheehan asked “why (Bush’s twin daughters) Jenna and Barbara and the other children of the architects of this disastrous war are not in harm’s way, if the cause is so noble?”
The simple answer is: because they did not volunteer for military service. But that is a non-starter for the anti-war left, which claims to believe that authenticity can be bought only by personal sacrifice. If one does not join the military and go fight in Iraq, then one does not believe the cause is noble.
Conservatives need to start flipping that coin to its other side by asking the following questions of anyone who levels the “chickenhawk” charge:
* Why are you not in Darfur feeding starving children?
* Why are you not on the Gulf Coast rescuing hurricane survivors?
* Why are you not in China protesting the political detention of dissidents?
* Why are you not in Swaziland teaching people how to prevent the spread of AIDS?
* Why are you not in Latin America training revolutionaries to overthrow corrupt regimes?
* Why are you not providing abortions to teenage girls?
Admittedly, the chances of this actually working on someone who truly believes in the chickenhawk charge are slim, for it would require the ability to follow a logical path to its conclusion. But it is worth trying, especially on television, where escape from a tough line of questioning is most difficult.
One can believe in the rightness of a cause without devoting one’s life to its execution. I believe people should be taxed to pay for essential government services, but that does not mean I have to go out and collect the taxes. I believe that law enforcement is essential to a free and safe society, but that does not mean I am obligated to quit my job and become a police officer. In this modern, division-of-labor world, we have professionals who do those things for us, just as we have professionals who defend our country for us.
The next time you hear someone use the chickenhawk label, throw it back in the smarmy twit’s smug face. You’ll probably be unable to make the person see his logical fallacy, but you might induce a stammering, failed grasp at self-defense, and that would be fun to watch.