Friday, October 27, 2006

Oh what a tangled Webb we weave. . .

I must confess that when I heard of the flap over what James Webb wrote in some of his novels I had mixed feelings.

On the one hand what an author writes and signs his name to belongs to him. He is responsible for it and must stand behind it. Webb cashed the checks that his publisher sent him, what he is going through now is just another consequence of his work, albeit a much less pleasant one - for him.

On the other hand the real world is full of events of which we disapprove and/or find distasteful. Wars, like the one we fought in Viet Nam are violent, dangerous and stressful things and the soldiers who fight them tend to relieve the stress of combat with alcohol and women when on liberty. Alcohol and women (sometimes - often - girls in their early teens) were available for sale in the towns which surrounded our military bases in South Viet Nam. That is a fact and anyone who wishes to present a soldiers-eye view of the war that ignores that is presenting a sanitized, and therefore inaccurate, view of the way it was.

Another incident from one of Webb's novels which is stirring controversy is a scene where a 13-year-old boy loses his virginity with a 15-year-old girl. Is there anyone out there who thinks that this kind of thing doesn't happen? Are authors to ignore reality because we would prefer that things were different?

There are some legitimate issues being raised. It does seem that Webb's writing betrays a low view of women. After all if an author wrote a number of books in which every last Black character was some kind of criminal it would be fair to ask what he really thought of Black people.

In the final analysis I believe that this all needs to be viewed in the context of the entire political situation in the country today. Jim Geraghty summed up my feelings on NRO in this way:

Yeah, after the campaign Webb has run - all Macaca all the time; Is-Allen-Jewish?; did a guy hear from a guy that a guy heard from a guy that he used the N-word; and "Every Republican Is As Bad As Foley" - it's kind of hard to say this stuff is out of bounds.
In other words the Democrat Party has behaved reprehensibly, not just in this election cycle, but as far back as I can remember. Ever since LBJ nuked Goldwater with the little girl and the daisy the Dems have been working their way down to the bottom of the barrel. During the Senate confirmation hearings over the Supreme Court nomination of Robert Bork they hit bottom and started digging.

Perhaps a dose of their own medicine will wake them up, that is if they have any vestige of conscience left.

Ok, the title of this post is lame, but it's late and I'm tired. You come up with something better.