I don't want to do a tedious point-by-point takedown of his piece -- I leave that sort of thing to him -- but a few things stood out:
"Look: reasoned, principled objections to the war are necessary; we need good debate."
This is about the ten millionth time since September of 2001 that Lileks has trotted out this exact same line about how it's good to have reasoned, principled debate about the war. The only problem is, he never, ever mentions any reasoned, principled debate about the war. He only trots out the line when he's about to mock someone who objects to the war for any number of reasons (which he does with numbing regularity). So, what are we to assume from this? There's two interpretations: the first, that there is no reasoned, principled debate about the war. This, I would guess, is his preferred interpretation. The second is that there actually is quite a bit of reasoned, principled debate about the war from both sides of the ideological fence, but he isn't paying any attention to it, nor does he care to.
"I’m pretty sure Stephen King is skeptical about the war, for example. I know his politics. But he hasn’t made the leap so common to others in the scribbling, warbling and gesturing arts - he doesn’t think we’re all dying to hear his prescriptions for Middle East foreign policy."
Lileks pulls this argument out most recently in reference to John Le Carre's recent tirade against the Bush administration, but in truth, he uses it against anyone -- singer, artist, writer, actor, newspaper columnist -- who opposes the war and is not an actual politician. (Not that he lets elected officials get a free pass if they oppose war.) But, oddly enough, the presumably well-read Lileks is unfamiliar with the "physician heal thyself" maxim, because he apparently believes that even though he gained fame as a modest, Dave-Barry-level humorist, and most visitors to his site came there to look at funny pictures of food, they are nonetheless dying to hear HIS prescriptions for Middle East foreign policy.
I'll leave aside his juvenile prodding of Le Carre, his convoluted attempt to make him seem cowardly and effeminate by making fun of Le Carre's French-sounding pseudonym, and his ridiculous claim that journalists and newspaper columnists can write anything they want in America with nary an interfering word from their superiors, and close with this:
"I'd mail LeCarre all the copies of his books I owned, postage due - if I hadn't dropped them off at the Salvation Army the last time we moved."
Recently, Lileks has been on a big kick of mentioning how he finds himself in the position of forsaking the artistic canon of artists he previously enjoyed because they were foolish enough to express opinions contrary to his about political notions. He can no longer listen to Sheryl Crow because she wore an anti-war t-shirt at the American Music Awards; he can no longer enjoy the films of Martin Scorsese because he fussed needlessly over the possibility of civilian death in Iraq; he can no longer rock out with Chairman Pete Townshend because someone accused him of being in the vicinity of child pornography. Now he proudly thumps his chest that he has forsaken the novels of Le Carre, perhaps sensing in advance that the author would someday express an ideologically unsuitable opinion.
Well, I don't know any kinder way to put it, but that this is a completely juvenile, immature behavior. I long ago realized that while the art and the man are inextricably linked, I don't have to like one to enjoy the other. Many people I admire for their work -- Ezra Pound, Bob Black, Lou Reed -- were pretty abysmal human beings who were either personally or politically reprehensible. And you know what? I don't care. I still enjoy watching the movies of David Lynch, even though Lynch is a right-wing kook. I'm not going to throw away my Miles Davis albums just because Miles was a wife-beating pimp. And I'll keep reading James Lileks (who only yesterday wrote an extremely funny column, and whose Institute is a never-ending delight), even though he's a timid, petrified, ignorant reactionary with as much political insight and sophistication as a little green football.