Monday, July 04, 2005

Brian Williams' comments and non-apology apology Updated

Well, here's another to add to the new category of "Durbinisms." For those not already aware, Brian Williams over at MSNBC posed a question containing a statement within it that appears to be calling the Founders "terrorists." Here's the comment:

::::::::"What would it all matter if proven true? Someone brought up today: The first several U.S. presidents were certainly revolutionaries... and might have been called "terrorists" at the time by the BRITISH CROWN, after all..."::::::::

OK, quick aside: the caps on "British Crown" were not part of the original transcript. Williams added that in during his "apology" explanation. Now, all deference to my colleagues in the blogosphere, but if you read that note and claim that Williams is calling the Founders - specifically the first several US Presidents - "terrorists" then you're reading into it what you want to see. Come on, folks, Williams is clearly saying that the British Crown, the government of England, considered them terrorists. In the post I've linked, you see that he mentions the term "terrorist" didn't exist 229 years ago, so the Crown "might have" called them that had the term actually existed. It didn't, therefore they didn't. So, follow me? He's saying that the government of the opposing power in the conflict might have viewed them as terrorists, which would have been a hugely biased mistake on their part. They aren't terrorists, they're revolutionaries. He's not calling the Founders terrorists and he's not equating them to an Iranian hostage taker who may or may not have been elected President of Iran.

He's saying the this aforementioned person - even being a hostage-taker in 1979 - would only be considered a terrorist by a hugely biased individual. That this person is a revolutionary, just like the first several US Presidents. It's not George Washington that's being equivalized, it's Ahmadinejad. Williams is suggesting that even if Ahmadinejad turns out to be one of the hostage-takers, he shouldn't be considered a terrorist who takes hostages. He should be considered in the same light as George Washington, a victorious and completely honorable revolutionary.

George Washington did not once target innocent, non-combatant civilians and hold them in conditions the likes of which we know for a fact existed inside that embassy in 1979 and 1980. Washington could very easily be termed "an insurgent" by the Crown, and I mean that for real, not in some euphemistic way like when AP and AFP call Al Qaeda suicide bombers "insurgents." Washington might have been called a "guerilla", although that's stretching it to the breaking point. Properly titled, he is exactly what we said he was: a general of an army. He operated in uniform, in a command hierarchy, and in accordance with honorable rules of war. No member of the force that took over the US embassy in Iran in 1979 can make that claim and they comported themselves as terrorists.

So Williams is correct in that he didn't call the Founders terrorists. He simply soiled their names by suggesting terrorists should be part of their group.

Following standard protocol these days, he finished up his post with the standard non-apology apology:

::::::::While I insist that a re-reading of my question will prove that in no way was I calling the framers "terrorists" (for starters, the word did not exist 229 years ago), I regret that anyone thought that after a life spent reading and loving American history, I had suddenly changed my mind about the founders of our nation.::::::::

And there's the Durbin Effect&trade loud and clear. It's not that Williams said something wrong that's regrettable. It's that someone might have thought Williams meant to equate known terrorists with our Founders. Silly people.

Hat tip: Michelle Malkin

Update: Darn! I thought I was making an original point, here, and The Jawa Report beat me to it! Oh well...