If you don’t have an informed opinion, it doesn’t matter whether you support the war or you’re against it. Part of civil discourse and adult conversation is the ability to articulate the views of those you disagree with. Absent understanding the other person’s position, any attempt at a debate quickly degenerates into a childish waste of time.
It is also important to understand your own opinions. Opinions based on emotional wants lead to confusion, embarrassment and insecurity. Opinions derived from intellectual honesty have a clarity that spawns unmatched confidence. What type of opinion do you have about the war?
Pop quiz time. In his Veterans Day speech, President Bush clearly articulated his position on the War on Terror. He provided the answers to all of the following questions. How many can you get right?
1) What is the scope and network of our enemy? Where have they attacked? What binds them together?
2) How do we know the vision of the enemy?
3) What are the three primary components of the enemy’s vision and goals?
4) Why is it difficult to defeat the enemy?
5) What help does the enemy have that magnifies its capabilities?
6) Why is it wrong to assume that our efforts in Iraq have exacerbated the problem?
7) What are the five similarities between our fight with our current enemy and our previous struggle against communism?
8) Did we start this war?
9) What are the five main elements of our strategy to win this war?
10) When will Americans stand down?
11) What progress has the Iraqi military made in the last year?
12) Why must our debate at home be fair-minded? What would be legitimate to criticize and what is a deeply irresponsible tactic in the debate about the war?
13) Give an example of a deeply irresponsible tactic opponents of the President have used as they debate the war.
14) What is the historical (past and future) significance of this war?
To have an informed opinion, you must be able to answer all of the questions above. There are people who have no problem with this list of questions. Some of these people support the war and some of them oppose the war, but all of them are informed. Most of the people are stumped by these questions, but are still willing to voice their opinion. Like the first group, some of these people support the war and some of them oppose it.
Sadly, many of those who think they are informed, are actually uninformed or misinformed. They operate under the faulty perception they can get all the information they need by paying attention to the news. Unfortunately, regarding the war, the mainstream news media has neglected the President’s message and those who wish to understand his position must ferret it out for themselves.
In a recent column, I documented how liberally biased Deb Riechmann of the Associated Press has slanted her reporting to favor the message of the antiwar movement. Anyone needing more proof that Riechmann is deceptively packaging her political commentary, as objective news simply has to read three items:
1) Deb Riechmann’s coverage of President Bush’s Veterans Day speech.
2) Fox News’ coverage of President Bush’s Veterans Day speech.
Read those items in that order is eye opening. Rely only on the information contained in item No. 1 and you won’t be able to answer very many of the questions above. Rely only on the information contained in item No. 2, and you will be able to answer most of the questions. Read item number three and you will be able to answer all of the questions. If you want to have an informed opinion, you must at least understand President Bush’s position on the War on Terror.
Is your opinion regarding liberal media bias well formed? My opinion: Deb Riechmann has an obvious antiwar bias and has no business issuing dispatches for the Associated Press that are packaged and printed as “news” in our nation’s newspapers. Regarding the President’s Veterans Day speech, Riechmann managed to get the who, when and where correct. She failed miserably, however, in her reporting of the what and the why. Do you agree or disagree with me? Is your opinion informed?
I’m giving anyone who disagrees with me the opportunity to debate me. Consider this a formal challenge. Here are the rules:
1) All challengers must read my column from November 9 and the three items above.
2) Make your point in 400 words or less.
3) Use this form and submit your argument by Thursday, November 17.
4) My reply to your argument (in 400 words or less) will be posted at The Right Angle.
5) Stay on topic, the debate is about media bias, not the war.
If you disagree with me, are capable of engaging in civil discourse and have enough intellectual honesty to articulate a good point, I look forward to hearing from you. By the way, the first thing I did after this column was posted was to send it to Deb Riechmann. Do you think I’ll get a response from her?