Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Yesterday’s editorial, “Rep. Dingell and Hezbollah,” unintentionally omitted Mr. Dingell’s full answer to an interviewer’s question asking if he was against Hezbollah. Here are Mr. Dingell’s complete comments:

“No, I happen to be — I happen to be against violence, I think the United States has to bring resolution to this matter. Now, I condemn Hezbollah as does everybody else, for the violence, but I think if we’ve got to talk to them and if we don’t — if we don’t get ourselves in a position where we can talk to both sides and bring both sides together, the killing and the blood let is going to continue.”

We regret not having been aware of and thus not including Mr. Dingell’s complete answer in yesterday’s editorial. However, we stand by our conclusion that Mr. Dingell’s refusal to denounce Hezbollah is appalling.

First, earlier in the interview Mr. Dingell said he believed the United States must be a “friend to all parties,” including Hezbollah. Second, as we quoted yesterday, he pointedly refused to “take sides for or against Hezbollah.” Finally, he condemns Hezbollah only “for the violence,” which is not the same as an unequivocal condemnation of Hezbollah.

For example, one who condemned the Nazi party in the 1930s for its violent acts without attributing those acts to the Nazis’ larger ideological agenda would have been guilty of the same moral blindness which allowed the Nazis to rise to power in the first place.

Similarly, Hezbollah’s stated ideological agenda is the destruction of Israel. Mr. Dingell cannot deny this — indeed he does not in his letter we reprint nearby. But he refused to attribute the butchering of Israelis to Hezbollah’s genocidal philosophy. His full answer makes that clear. And so we remain appalled.

As for Mr. Dingell’s letter, in which he very correctly calls Hezbollah “terrorists pure and simple” and calls upon the “world community” to “work together to eradicate their presence,” we completely agree. At the same time, we find his moral astuteness utterly inconsistent with his earlier insistence that he doesn’t “take sides for or against Hezbollah or for or against Israel.”

Notwithstanding Mr. Dingell’s claim that “in over fifty years in the House of Representatives” he has never been accused of “saying one thing in [his] district and another in Washington,” we much prefer his morally- and factually-correct Washington statements.

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