There are some broken “arguments” that stupid people deploy with a smug smile and a fold of the arms time and time again. Subject to even superficial analysis these supposedly debate-clinching gambits break. You know the sort of idiot offerings I’m talking about: “I’m not racist, but flooding this country with people of another culture can only lead to trouble”, “How can I be ‘anti-Semitic’, eh, when Arabs are Semites too?”, “So tell me, how is anyone is supposed to make money from software that’s free?”, “We were the ones who armed him in the first place—Rumsfeld wasn’t saying that when he was shaking hands with him!” After a while you know which standard spanner to pull out of your reasoning toolkit and lob at each one. Phil Libin deals with the relatively new old chestnut “You can’t fight an abstract noun” and saves me the bother of doing so again, but online.
06Oct04 — 5
My pet peeve is the overbearing adverb. It’s a technique that only works when actually spoken, and the intent is pass off an aura of wisdom and intellectual authority from someone who has very little of it, to those that have none of either. Gore was an absolute master of this. It’s all in the tone and emphasis, and must always be followed by a brief dramatic pause: certain-ly, usual-ly, sure-ly, etc. When someone is using the overbearing adverb and that condescending tone, you can rest assured they’re trying to sell you up the river, particularly with the addition of scare-quote terms or catch-phrases (Brokaw defending Rather this weekend was a prime example, citing a new-media “jihad” against such an ‘upstanding journalist’. Loaded term? Perish the thought!). Pompous twits.
Okay, I’m with you for the rest of them, but “We were the ones who armed him in the first place—Rumsfeld wasn’t saying that when he was shaking hands with him!” – does really seem to be a bit of a show-stopper of an argument. The same realpolitikniks that were in power twenty years ago are in power today, and, indeed, we still see the same adaptation to barbarism today, but now it’s Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan or ‘President’ Musharraf in Pakistan. There are a dozen others, but it’s a blog commment so I won’t waste space. But I am genuinely interested in the jujitsu you could pull on that argument.
Hmmm, I think it had something to do with the Evil Empire spreading communism to the Middle East (particularly theo-fascist Iran), mutual assured destruction, proxy wars, and a host of other cold war terms and ideas not in the slightest bit relevant to current foreign policy, and therefor quite the lamest “show-stopper” I can think of. Why don’t we just brow-beat you Brits over throwing Ghandi in prison? It makes about as much sense.
Well, it would if the same people who bankrolled Saddam in the eighties weren’t still in power. Further, that was exactly the sort of realpolitik that created the problem of Islamic fundamentalism in the first place – Carter, then Reagan’s employ of Mujahedeen against the USSR in Afghanistan.
And it’s Gandhi, you analphabetic doofus.
Although the Russians armed both sides in the Iran/Iraq war, Saddam was their main man as well as ours. Not surprisingly: who’s more likely to work together – the Soviet Union and a genocidal secular maniac, or the Soviet Union and some hardcore Islamist clerics?