Sticking to your stance

Michael J. Greenberg

When I read the newspapers, I’m appalled by how fast some commentators change their positions. I’m not talking about local columnists, nor regional ones. I’m talking about those with national stature.

Recall that when Bush was building his coalition for the war in Iraq, there were minor voices of opposition at home. After Bush failed to locate weapons of mass destruction subsequent to our overthrow of Saddam’s regime, more jumped on the anti-war bandwagon. Later, with daily terrorist bombings and the mounting American death toll in Iraq, it came to a point where it almost seemed like — at least among those self-proclaimed intellectuals — being in favor of Operation Iraqi Freedom was naturally stupid.

In the last few weeks, however, they saw how millions of ordinary freedom-loving Iraqis defied terrorists’ threats and turned out to vote in their first democratic election in decades. This was quickly followed by equally encouraging developments in Palestine, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and, perhaps most noticeable of all, Lebanon. As a result, according to the Economist, some of these anti-war commentators started to wonder if maybe Bush was right after all.

Naturally, being the ultra-conservative I am, I’m not particularly against these columnists’ most recent changes of heart. However, I can’t agree with their lack of independent judgment and capricious manner. Going with the flow may be advisable to most people in protecting their jobs or making lives generally more pleasant. But, for an important, potentially opinion-forming and side-changing commentator, one should hold oneself to a higher standard and lead by example. Switching sides with the slightest change in scenery should count as conduct unbecoming of a commentator.

Last week, on their covers, many leading magazines published photos of young Lebanese demonstrators who were demanding the withdrawal of Syrian troops from their homeland, and, seeing this apparent change of events in the Middle East, some anti-war commentators cringed. However, witnessing the large media effects of such demonstrations, pro-Syrian forces trucked in more demonstrators of their own, supporting Syrian military presence. I’m sure at least some of those fickle commentators are now beginning to regret last week’s decision to support Bush.

My opinion is, when something’s right, you do it. When something isn’t right, you just don’t do it. Of course, what’s right and what’s wrong makes for good, lengthy, heated arguments. But, needless to say, one who constantly changes his position clearly doesn’t have a set of values, principles or any inkling of what is right or wrong. Their theory of deciding what to believe in or do is: Whatever the polls say 50.1 percent of the people today think is right, I’ll do it. If the polls move in another direction tomorrow, I’ll follow that move, too.

Personally, I can’t stand politicians or commentators who switch sides like they change their socks. If 30-second fame is all they’re looking for, they shouldn’t even switch sides to “fit in” and turn off people like me. Just hold on to your stance, wait a little while and the wind will blow your way.

Michael J. Greenberg is a graduate student and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.

Editor’s note: Michael J. Greenberg is a pseudonym. He can be contacted through the editor at [email protected].