Critical Thinking About Real Threats

Jerry Coffee
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Wednesday - February 28, 2007
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Dennis Prager, author and speaker, was asked recently on his radio show how he would teach critical thinking. He welcomed the question but admitted it caught him by surprise. His instinctive answer was, “for starters, don’t have an agenda.”

What I assume he meant was, if you have an agenda you can’t be objective, that is, think critically. Taking his spontaneous reply at face value, I’d have to disagree, something I seldom do with Mr. Prager.

As a MidWeek columnist, objectivity is foremost in my mind. And yet I almost always write with an agenda or purpose. We all do; some more, some less. My light commentary last week on the Pro Bowl as a cultural phenomenon was an exception. But when I write about saving our grandchildren from the scourge of fanatical Islamo-fascist terrorists, you bet I have an agenda. When our country is at war to determine whether we fight those terrorists abroad or in America, yes, I have a “pro war” agenda. When I write about the potential of the Akaka Bill to divide the people of Hawaii into “us” and “them” (not to mention its unconstitutionality, as defined by the U.S. Department of Justice), you bet I have an agenda.

The question then is, where is my heart? Does my agenda promote the common good? Is my agenda consistent with the laws of logic and of cause and effect? Is my agenda consistent with the truth as facts, and reasonable people might agree with it?

Today my agenda is straightforward: To expose the dangerous hypocrisy of our supposed leaders in Congress who “support the troops” from one side of their mouth, but make it more difficult for them to win the war out the other side. Their long-debated, non-binding, showcase resolutions opposing the president’s strategy to provide additional troops that could make the difference between winning or losing in Iraq, are the essence of shallow political posturing, meaningless sound and fury.

Meaningless sound and fury, that is, except to the terrorist leaders in the Middle East. Think about it: If you were one of them planning future jihad strategy while watching on Al Jazeera TV the CNN clips of the congressional debate, would you be encouraged or discouraged by the disunity of America’s political leadership?

When terrorist strategists hear presidential candidates demanding a set date or timetable for the pull out of U.S. troops from Iraq, does that give them a clear advantage in their strategizing? Make them more patient? Yes! And the result is a war that will last longer, needlessly cost more U.S. and Iraqi lives, and be even more difficult for us to win.

I have said before, the only similarity between the Iraq war and the Vietnam war is that we could lose again in the streets of America or the halls of Congress. The major difference between losing to the terrorists in Iraq and losing to the communists in Vietnam is that the communists didn’t follow us home to destroy us. The Islamo-fascists - by their own pronouncements - will!

And how might the members of Hawaii’s congressional delegation respond to this column? We would certainly hear “Dissent is the essence of democracy!” And “War is too serious an endeavor to pursue without debate!”

Well, dissent is fine up to a point, but without democracy there is no dissent. When a life and death commitment has been made - for whatever the reason - democracy can only be preserved by unity.

And as for “debate,” there was ample debate before the vast majority of your congressional colleagues voted to go to war in Iraq - for many more reasons than just WMDs.

In a war against an implacable enemy that loves death more than life and is sworn to our destruction, there comes a time when “debate” must be replaced by “fight.”

If you really support our troops, it’s time to just clam up and help them win!

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