You know it's an awesome day in the blogosphere when Steyn hits two home runs. In the Sun Times, Steyn nails the use of a quote falsely attributed to Thomas Jefferson. It's one that is being used repeatedly and, as Steyn points out, is absurd as well.
What does it mean when so many senior Democrats take refuge in an obvious bit of hooey? Thomas Jefferson would never have said anything half so witless. There is no virtue in dissent per se. When John F. Kennedy said, "We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty" — and, believe it or not, that's a real quote, though it's hard to imagine any Massachusetts Democrat saying such a thing today — I could have yelled out, "Hey, screw you, loser." It would have been "dissent," but it wouldn't have been patriotic, and it's certainly not a useful contribution to the debate, any more than that of the University of North Carolina students at Chapel Hill who recently scrawled on the doors of the ROTC armory "F— OFF!" and "WE WON'T FIGHT YOUR WARS!"
Of course, he's absolutely right. Dissent for the sake of dissent is not patriotic, it is not constructive. Taken together with my earlier post about the envy on the left, this piece practically defines the entire problem we're having right now.
Dissent for its own sake is like the Democrats' energy policy: We're opposed to any kind of energy; we prefer to be mired in enervated passivity. If the right is full of armchair generals, the left is full of armchair generalities: Nothing can be done, any course is futile, everything's a quagmire. All we can say for certain is that saying so for certain is the highest form of patriotism.
It's truer to say that these days patriotism is the highest form of dissent — against a culture where the media award each other Pulitzers for damaging national security, and the only way a soldier's mom can become a household name is if she's a Bush-is-the-real-terrorist kook like Cindy Sheehan, and our grade schools' claims to teach our children about America, "warts and all," has dwindled down into teaching them all the warts and nothing else. Or as the Capital Times of Madison, Wis., concluded its ringing editorial on the subject:
"Thomas Jefferson got it right: 'Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.' And teaching children how to be thoughtful and effective dissenters is the highest form of education."
Teaching them authentic Jefferson quotes would be a better approach.
Damn, that man can write.