SHOULD I FIRE MYSELF?" is the head to Rich Lowry's response to my recent
article on The American Prospect Online ["That's Rich: National Review's editor suggests nuking Mecca. We're not kidding," 3.11.02]. It's followed by "WHY I WON'T," an apologia for his earlier comments on nuclear war.
Lowry calls my piece "sloppy" and a "cheap shot" and laments with a flick of the wrist that I have "occasionally written for NRO." I'm also judged to be lacking one "sarcasm detector."
Somebody is mighty testy.
My point is that Lowry seriously entertained the idea of nuking Mecca in the event of a nuclear strike on the U.S. I think that is one of the craziest, most dangerous ideas I have heard in a long time. His response does nothing to rebut that reading. He quotes his caveat that "This is a tough one, and I don't know quite what to think" but neglects to pass along the content of the paragraph that that sentence begins:
Mecca seems extreme, of course, but then again few people would die and it would send a signal. Religions have suffered such catastrophic setbacks before. As for the Saudis, my only thought is that if we're going to hold them responsible for terrorism, we had better start doing it now, not after an even more catastrophic attack. And, as a general matter, the time for seriousness -- including figuring out what we would do in retaliation, so maybe it can have some slight deterrent effect -- is now rather than after thousands and thousands more American casualties.
Where was the sarcasm I was supposed to detect in that paragraph? A few friends have suggested it's there but if so, I detect not one whiff.
Lowry, of course, is well within his rights to think me a jerk for pointing all this out. And I'll even admit, on rereading my article, that he makes one good point. I do leave the impression that he wrote the words that were in an e-mail, though he only quoted them (although he does entertain this notion right along with nuking Mecca, so I'm not sure it's that important of a distinction). But his response as a whole reminds me of somebody, called out for saying something he knows he shouldn't have said, who tries to change the subject by lashing out at the person who nailed him.
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