Senator Barbara Boxer used the equivalent of the Chickenhawk Argument that has been used to shut people up when they offer a cogent argument that cannot be refuted.
You Tube of Dr. Rice Responding
Here is the best response to the chickenhawk fallacy:
Let’s shag a few easy fly balls to warm up, shall we?
The Chickenhawk argument goes something like this: anyone who favors military action should not be taken seriously unless they themselves are willing to go and do the actual fighting. This particular piece of work is an anti-war crowd attempt to silence the debate by ruling that the other side is out of bounds for the duration. Like all ad hominem attacks, (argumentum ad hominem means “argument against the person”) it is an act of intellectual surrender. The person who employs an ad hominem attack is admitting they cannot win the debate on merit, and hope to chuck the entire thing out the window by attacking the messenger. This is a logical fallacy of the first order, because the messenger is not the message.
The messenger is not the message. That’s all you need to throw away the entire Chickenhawk response. But why stop there when this one is so much fun?
If you ever see this charge again, you may want to reflect that person’s own logical reasoning in the following fashion: You may not talk about education unless you are willing to become a teacher. You may not discuss poverty unless you yourself are willing to go and form a homeless shelter. How dare you criticize Congress unless you are willing to go out and get elected yourself? Your opinion on a National Health Care System is negated out of hand since you are unwilling to get a medical degree and open a clinic. And as far as your opinions regarding the Democratic Underground or The Huffington Post are concerned, well, you can just keep them to yourself, mister, unless you can produce an advanced degree in Abnormal Psychology and Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Using the internal reasoning behind the Chickenhawk argument means you cannot comment on, speak about or even hold an opinion on any subject that is not part of your paying day job. It is simple-minded and profoundly anti-democratic, which is why it so deeply appeals to those who sling it around the most.
But wait! There’s more!
If you accept the Chickenhawk argument – that only those actually willing to go and fight have a legitimate opinion on the subject of war – then that means that any decision to go to war must rest exclusively in the hands of the military. Is that what this person really wants? To abandon civilian control of the military? That’s the box they have trapped themselves in with this argument. Now to be perfectly honest, I think Robert Heinlein made a very compelling case for just this line of reasoning in Starship Troopers (the book, not the clueless projected travesty). Heinlein said that the only people who should be allowed to vote are those that have served in the military, since only they are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of the state. I don’t agree with that. I think civilian control of the military has been one of the pillars of our nation’s success, and it has withstood the test of both World Wars and Civil ones. But that is the world you are stuck in when you toss that little Chickenhawk grenade.
Finally, if the only legitimate opinion on Iraq, say, is that held by the troops themselves, then they are overwhelmingly in favor of being there and finishing what they started. I recently received an e-mail from an Army major who is heading back for his fourth tour. The Chickenhawk argument, coming from an anti-war commentator, legitimizes only those voices that overwhelmingly contradict the anti-war argument.