Saturday, September 10, 2005

Ipso Facto Irrational: The Right's Calling Card

There is a common strategy among the right. It can be seen in comments like these:

"They [black leaders saying that the Bush administration's tepid response to the hurricane crisis belies racism] cry racism to promote their own self-egos while exploiting their people and taking advantage of their suffering and grief."

"Cindy Sheehan deserves our sympathy for protesting the war in Iraq. She is driven by shallow thinking, emotion, anti-Bush zealots and the exhilaration of notoriety."

I pick my local newspaper for this one, but everywhere, the right (and sometimes, unfortunately, the left) does it.

To these people, I expand Tim Wise's response to David Horowitz: "Again with the clinical diagnosis. David, where did you get your degree in psychology, such that you can make this diagnosis? And where did you practice your craft as a professional psychologist? Answer: nowhere."

To be crude: Get your head out of your ass and learn some basic logic. One of the many logical fallacies in the book is called an "ad hominem" attack. It attacks the person or entity making the argument rather than the argument itself. Now, it may make for interesting reading to see how Cindy Sheehan once killed a baby goat and sacrificed it to Michael Moore in the manner of a pagan ritual, but it says absolutely nothing about the arguments she proposes. Cindy Sheehan may have come up with a correct argument through astrology, bone reading or hate and grief, but if it was correct, it was correct. QED.

You may say that those who dissent from your opinion are paranoid, egocentric, disingenuous/lying, etc. all you want, but that doesn't make it true. To do so would take quite a bit more evidence than anyone tries to offer or a psychological reading, done preferably in close proximities for an extended period of time. A viewer watching FOX News at home has done none of those things. They are responding to their gut instinct, which may be great for some things but horrible to allow into politics.

To imply that an entire community or sub-community, such as "black leaders" or "Republicans" have a characteristic that is not only somewhat determinative (i.e. Republicans are generally fiscally conservative, but not in some instances or in some programs and may sometimes be hypocritical about it), but is SO determinative that it undermines all individual choice and rationality and makes someone's interlocutor ipso facto irrational and wrong, is to propose an analysis that requires incredible amounts of evidence. If there is no unifying thread that you can identify among individuals, to deny all of them as irrational is to compound the above error about psychology a million times.

Add in that none of this proves that the person's argument is wrong and one wonders why the Right spends so much time admonishing other people that if they can't understand the logic behind "liberating" a people who want us out or the logic of a jingoist national identity replete with an English language, they should just leave. Why those who question national myths are told that they just "don't understand" (as another Union commentator did), and further, never will understand, that Bush and his cadre have found some miraculous truth that only a select few are party to.

Perhaps it might be that, once you scratch away the meaningless and petty personal attacks, the evidence that the Right has to offer is as empty as a whoopee cushion?

Oops, I think I smell a bad gas.


Anonymous Kendall Magnusson said...

Very interesting.

3:13 AM  

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