Friday, November 16, 2012
The Illogic of Debate by Art Woodstone
I want to express my appreciation to Art Woodstone for this fine essay!
John T. Reed: "Some people will, on the slightest provocation, fire off a statement or paragraph that contains three, four, five, or six different, intellectually-dishonest arguments in a matter of seconds," writes John T. Reed, a West Pointer, a football coach, and above all a purist. "Alan Colmes who regularly appears on Fox News is one of them."
So is Mitt Romney. He was dishonest throughout the months of his campaign for the presidency, and now that he has lost, embitterment has made him more dishonest than before. Nothing proves that more strikingly than the excuse he offered the other day for losing the election. His opponent, Mr. Obama, he said, bought the election by offering gifts to the poor. Romney's audacity is emboldened by the knowledge that millions of right-wing sympathizers, as embittered as he that the billion dollars they expended failed to "buy" the defeat of the black man in the Oval Office.
John McCain, who lost to Obama four years earlier, proved he, too, is an embittered loser, hoping to feed off of the ignorance of the mainstream right in this country. So intent is he on punishing Obama that in anticipation of her nomination to become Hillary's replacement as Secretary of State, he accused Susan Rice, Obama's ambassador to the United Nations, of lying about the events surrounding Benghazi when, in fact, it is all too apparent that she was reading information supplied by the CIA and had absolutely no hand in bringing about the tragic death of our American ambassador there.
Notice that there was no outcry against Colin Powell, Bush's guy, when he stood up in the UN and declared that there was plenty of proof of Weapons of Mass Destruction to merit making war against Iraq, a war that didn't cost a mere four American lives, but thousands. Blindness is a convenient excuse for right-wing malevolence.
I refer for the umpteenth time to Leslie Gelb's unerring description of the right-wing mainstream, as consisting of unrepentant, savage, "fact-free fanatics." Whoever among us expects that the vitriol and falsehoods flooding out of that quarter will cease now that the election is over is dangerously naive. It is inadvisable to enter a room with open arms, thinking that the other guy, until now your declared enemy, is going to greet you with an open heart and open mind.
It's stunning to realize that they can't or -- to give Romney and McCain the tiniest bit of credit for recognizing the truth -- won't stop the war of lies. I don't remember any other time in my life [not even during the war in Vietnam] that the atmosphere in America was this poisoned.
Take the petulant nonsense currently favored by the ultras who influence legislative thinking in twenty of our fifty states: they threaten to secede from the Union. Of course that won't happen but as my friend and editor, Lowell, asks, somewhat bemused, I think: "How often have we had national movements to secede other than the Civil War?"
[If Texas, Mississippi and Alabama want to go it on their own, maybe we ought to let them, so long as they don't demand visas to cross their territory. The rest of us can hit them with heavy import duties which should go some distance toward reducing the national debt!]
Bad jokes aside, naked hostility, arrogance and ignorance are common among true believers. True believers make the best fanatics, and fanatics are blind to and angered by any fact that disturbs their convictions. I live in the very midst of these people, the Tea Partyers, the Fox and Limbaugh lovers, the evangelical extremists, the turncoat Jews, as capable of bigotry as the worst redneck in the deep south, the priests. Oh, the priests! Some of them, fanatics like the pastor of Queen of Peace Roman Catholic Church just down the road, whose brightly-lit sign prior to election day admonished: "Don't vote for the anti-Christ," the same priest who told parishioners at Sunday mass two days before November 6, "I'm not telling anyone how to vote. You're free to vote for damnation if you choose."
I've met Americans who vow never to do that, and not all of them necessarily insist the world began with Adam and Eve, although all of them believe that the liberal conspiracy and lazy blacks, and latinos are the reasons America must be saved, with no regard for any decency other than the one they have contrived for their own comfort.