October 31st, 2007

Beware of conservative speakers on campus—they might actually change a mind or two

Dennis Prager was on the college lecture circuit recently. The occasion? “Islamo-fascism Awareness Week.” The Left’s response was to spearhead a drive to discredit him and the other speakers on the subject with a favorite insult: racist bigots.

It’s interesting to see how charges of racism and bigotry, once reserved for those who unfairly targeted an entire group of people on the grounds of race, religion, and/or ethnicity, have now come to be leveled at those who fairly target part of such a group. As far as the Left is concerned, it has become almost impossible to speak in terms of any such ethnic, racial, or religious categories for any reason—unless, of course, the group in question is being pitied and/or rewarded for victimhood.

But Prager persevered. Strangely enough, he found that he was well-received at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he addressed 300 students on the subject, about a fourth of whom were Leftists originally opposed to him. Afterwards, he received apologies from some, including a student journalist who had written a column (prior to hearing him speak) that compared him to members of the Ku Klux Klan.

Instead of a white-hooded, hatred-spouting firebrand, they found—much to their surprise—a reasonable and reasoning man who was not bigoted at all. Prager writes:

….ad hominem labels are the left’s primary rhetorical weapons. So when leftist students are actually confronted with even one articulate conservative, many enter a world of cognitive dissonance. That is one reason why universities rarely invite conservatives to speak: they might change some students’ minds.

This coincides with my own experience, not in the university, but in my personal encounters with liberals and those on the Left. Their misconceptions about the Right are rife, and include the very bunch of attributes Prager lists as visions the Left has of virtually everyone on the Right: “mean-spirited, war-loving, greedy, bigoted, racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, homophobic, sexist, intolerant and oblivious to human suffering.”

The fact that I don’t seem to demonstrate these characteristics and yet I’m on the other side of many arguments tends to throw my listeners into a sort of turmoil that leads them to yell a bit and then close the conversation down, perhaps because it is just too threatening (some of them have actually said as much). The sort of cognitive dissonance that Prager describes is a very unpleasant sensation, one that most people will avoid like the plague.

And I, likewise, have come to shy away from such conversations these days, not because of cognitive dissonance or the idea that my mind will be changed—the arguments I encounter on the Left are hardly new to me—but because I’ve learned that these exchanges almost never lead to anything constructive. Perhaps this is because those with whom I tend to engage are usually quite a bit older than the average college student, whose ideas are still in flux—in fact, they are usually more or less my contemporaries. By that age, the vast majority of people have political beliefs that are set in stone.

And the only cognitive dissonance I experience when talking to them is one I’ve finally adjusted to, although it shocked me at the outset: the fact that liberals/Leftists, for all their vaunted open-mindedness and tolerance of different attitudes and opinions, are every bit as closed-minded as they presume the Right to be, if not more.

It’s a sad commentary on university life that what Prager calls “articulate conservatives” are so rare on the university lecture circuit. This fact, if true, would indicate that the Left can’t feel so very confident that it would win the argument in a free and open marketplace of ideas.

22 Responses to “Beware of conservative speakers on campus—they might actually change a mind or two”

  1. Thomas Says:

    Its nothing new neo. My whole life I’ve watched the left pay the discrediting game (accusing people of bad motives for not agreeing).

    I think it’s always been like that. If you were not for their program, it was because of your class… now it’s just expanded.

  2. Tom Grey - Liberty Dad Says:

    I suggest a tactic that has had interesting results when I’ve used it.

    Situation: somebody has said something Leftist that you disagree with.

    First, suggest that you’d like to make a couple of comments, and ask if that would be OK.

    Next, ask if it is OK to agree on the facts but still disagree on the right policy.

    Third, specify that if the facts were different, you might have a different opinion.

    Then give an example.
    One of my most frequent arguments is on drug legalization — I favor it, because of the reduced murders. However, if there were very few murders or crimes due to drugs being illegal, I wouldn’t favor legalization, because I think drug use is bad. (My wife disagrees on this policy.)

    Next to last, ask if there is any fact which, were it different, would make YOU change YOUR mind on the issue. Usually there is (not religion, nor abortion). Then ask, if there is any fact which would make them change their mind?

    If not, then you should suggest to agree on disagreement, and discuss something else!

    [Neo-your own "mind is a difficult thing to change" remains a blogosphere highlight.]

    I claim that most useless shouting arguments should be avoided because no facts would make either side change.

    Agreeing that you have different beliefs about what the “facts” are, is a reasonable outcome. How much heroin is Afghanistan producing? How much would they have to produce to make me against the invasion? The heroin production fact doesn’t change my support for the invasion. It does change how overall good or bad the regime change evaluation is.

    As you say, arguing with Leftists usually doesn’t lead to much constructive, so try to keep the discussion at the level of ‘argument rule setting’.

    Remember Butch Cassidy:
    Let’s get the rules straight first.
    “There ain’t no rules in a knife fight.”
    Boom, kicked in the balls. No rule violation…

    Actually, too much parental organized play for kids has probably made this problem worse. Previously half the time was spent in “arguing over the rules”, with some authority figure dictating rules, the “play” can be more efficient.

    But a huge social benefit of prior play was in learning how to, and practicing, discussing and agreeing to new rules of new games.

    My kids have gone from playing Pokemon outside, to ‘Pokemon of Cataan’ inside, to their new craze of Naruto (young ninja learning jitsu techniques, essentially magic). It’s great to see their senses of justice and fair play!

  3. gcotharn Says:

    “…the Left can’t feel so very confident that it would win the argument in a free and open marketplace of ideas.”

    Is the left insecure? Definitely! This accounts for some leftists’ levels of volume and beligerance.

    Tom Grey: excellent summation. Especially this:
    “As you say, arguing with Leftists usually doesn’t lead to much constructive, so try to keep the discussion at the level of ‘argument rule setting’.”

    My frequent lamentation is that the left and the right rarely agree on an underlying foundation for a conversation.

    Sometimes this is b/c the left and right use different (opposite?) sources of information, and thus do not agree upon a fact set to form a foundation for a conversation.

    Sometimes this is b/c the left and right have opposite understandings of what existence is about, and thus have no foundation for a conversation which can stretch beyond that disagreement.

    I often see left and right talking past each other. Left and right are engaged in two conversations, all the while believing they are engaged in the same conversation. I am not immune. I fall into this ridiculous dance of separate conversations far too often.

  4. sergey Says:

    Inherent totalitarian attitude of every Leftist ideology eventually induces them to avoid free and open discussion on any topic. Methods of avoidance are different for closed societies, such as Communist states, and for open, as Western democracies, but the tendency is the same. Speech codes, demonization of opponents, PC-hypocrisy – all these devices, aimed at suppression of free speech, are integral parts of leftist political culture.

  5. A Second Hand Conjecture » Closed Minded Bigots Says:

    [...] found this post very apt to a situation we’ve highlighted here on this blog. I’ve noticed this time and [...]

  6. Richard Aubrey Says:

    You mean the lefties actually believe all the insults they spew?
    Jeez. I figured they were smart enough to tie their shoes and, so, knew better and were simply trying the “two legs bad, four legs good” noise schtick.
    Or force the conservative to start defending himself on a subject (I am not a racist) where the rules of the game belong to the lefties.

    Now I have to think of them as being really, really, actually, stupid.

    My mind’s been changed.

  7. Trimegistus Says:

    I have a different problem. I’ll be arguing in a generally good-spirited way with one of my Lefty acquaintances, and then at some point they’ll reveal some completely frickin’ insane belief which is totally contrary to fact and impervious to disproof. (Example: “Bush stole the 2000 election!” Never mind that all the recounts said otherwise.) They seem to live in a kind of alternate universe with different history and natural laws.

  8. Perfected democrat Says:

    Trimegistus Says…. They seem to live in a kind of alternate universe with different history…

    Very well expressed, and exactly the problem… but then everyone, repeat, everyone focuses on that, and only that which supports their agenda… getting off the topic here a bit, but apparently it truly is only the law of the jungle which rules in the end, and the smartest animal which survives and prevails… and simple observation corroborates that the Judeo-Christian value system in concert with democracy and free enterprise is the force which is slowly but surely dragging the rest of human civilization into the future (jihadis and socialist societies are mostly empowered by lethal and high technology they take from the “west”) …. Finding needles in haystacks, preventing the eventual proliferation of WMD may well be ultimately impossible…. preemption in concert with walled societies are our future, like it or not…

  9. Ymarsakar Says:

    To Neo, and to Grey at the end. Others also.

    Instead of a white-hooded, hatred-spouting firebrand, they found—much to their surprise—a reasonable and reasoning man who was not bigoted at all. Prager writes:

    This is why propaganda must have some bearing on reality and also why useful idiots were originally slated for termination afterwards by the Soviet Union.

    Once a person becomes convinced that he has been told the truth about something and then realizes that he was lied to and manipulated, then that person could go off on you in one of several ways. The Soviet Union used to employ these useful and rather naive recruits by telling them that their way is the right way. Once the Soviet Union and Marxism comes into power, some of those recruits might begin having second thoughts. That is very dangerous, Neo.

    Good propaganda tries to avoid situations in which you have to manipulate people into unknowingly betraying their natural beliefs. If at all possible, you need people that truly believe in the cause, but actually know what the cause is in addition to doing what it takes. True believers in essence, rather than say… expendable and ignorant tools.

    Leftism, because it is primarily a parasitic method of survival rather than a cooperative model, can’t tell the truth. Is a parasite going to tell the host that the host will suffer and get nothing in return by hosting the parasite? No. That is not part of the survival method of parasitism. Lies, manipulation, and betrayal are thus inevitable byproducts of Leftist operations.

    Such things are not optimal, however. The truth is better in propaganda since it is far easier to maintain operations tempo through the truth than through lies. If you lie, then extra energy must be used to sustain that lie, and eventually it will slip out one way or another. For one thing, it is far easier to tell the truth about a person being dead than to lie and then have to worry about the live person showing up. Propaganda has severe limits concerning how it can shape reality. Enough propaganda at the right time can shape reality, as with Cronkite, Vietnam, and WMDs, but it does not replace reality in the long term. Dead is still dead and life is still full of hope.

    “mean-spirited, war-loving, greedy, bigoted, racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, homophobic, sexist, intolerant and oblivious to human suffering.”

    It is a simple explanation in truth. If they were wrong about the Other being such, then that must mean that they are the mean spirited ones. Thus the human mind tries to preserve its self-identity matrix through denial and blocking off painful memories. Natural survival methods adapted to parasitism. Essentially the parasite excretes enzymes that deaden the pain of the host, since why bother the host with knowledge of things it can’t change? In order to remove the parasite from the host, the host must face self-destruction or much pain. Survival says “not worth it”. Yet human beings have free will, we are not controlled entirely by hard coded genetics and survival reflexes. Those that are, have lost most of their humanity already.

    In the above analogy, the host is analogous to a believer whle the parasite is the system of socialism and other kinds of thought control. There is also the system of parasitism as a survival strategy which the entire group of Leftists engage in, such as taxation, feeding off of the wealth and health of others, etc. The Islamic Jihad does a similar thing with Western weapons and techn.

    My kids have gone from playing Pokemon outside, to ‘Pokemon of Cataan’ inside, to their new craze of Naruto (young ninja learning jitsu techniques, essentially magic)

    If they are watching the English version, I would strongly recommend you get them the Japanese audio subtitled in (Eng) versions. Much better audio wise, for Naruto.

    Sometimes this is b/c the left and right use different (opposite?) sources of information, and thus do not agree upon a fact set to form a foundation for a conversation.

    Or you could even get the same facts but different interpretations. The Left thinks of global warming as bad, yet with the same set of facts you could easily make a case that global warming is good. A person could look at war and see the same thing and think all war is bad and futile. Another person would see the same thing and say that well fought wars lead to better situations. At the core though, it is not so much a factual disagreement as it is a philosophical disagreement. If you are a nihilist, then does it truly matter what people are fighting about in a war if you believe that nothing is ever worth fighting or dying for?

    Of course we have to realize that many Leftists are in self-denial and thus cannot really discuss their philosophy or how they really see things. They argue as if your beliefs are their beliefs, just like a politician. Their often used tu quoque attacks are based upon a guilt fixation which tries to use your morality to undermine your own arguments. If you believe X is bad and therefore the Left will say you do X too, which is an argument based off of your philosophy, not theirs. They don’t want to discuss what they believe, which is that “X” doesn’t really matter. Genocide, WMDs, etc do not matter at all to the Left. What matters to the Left is survival, and in this sense wealth and power stolen from others provides a higher survival chance to the parasite. Logical, no? Our method of survival, or even of ethics, is much difference.

    Now I have to think of them as being really, really, actually, stupid.

    In any useful idiot subversion operation, you are going to have a pyramidal hierarchy where at the top are the spiritual leaders that know what is up while at the bottom are the cannon fodder. Same for the Islamic Jihad. I mean seriously, why else could you get people to blow themselves up so that you could benefit personally?

    then at some point they’ll reveal some completely frickin’ insane belief which is totally contrary to fact and impervious to disproof.

    That is called a philosophical difference, Trime. It can only be discussed, or argued, effectively via a philosophical framework. Which sort of means that both parties must engage in philosophy debate, which is not common knowledge to most. This is even harder since most Leftists do not know what their philosophy actually is. It does not pay to have the tools realize that they are tools and thus expendable, you know. So they were never taught what their philosophy is, what they are fighting for, or even what their role in the game is.

    There have been people on the Left, or rather people in the Democrat party, like Neo here, who believed that the Left were fighting for what they claimed they were fighting for. If such people were told the truth, they would no longer help the Left or their Democrat allies. Thus classical liberals cannot be told the truth for those kinds of people do not truly believe in what the Left believes. If you truly believe in saving lives, your actions will automatically be different from someone who believes that saving lives is less of a priority than amoral familism or bringing down the US.

    People do have values after all and a hierarchy of values to go with it. The Left has a couple of philosophy motifs. Amoral familism is one. Global entropy, aka nihilism, is another. Then there is multiculturalism, which is very similar to nihilism and accelerated entropy. PCness you already know is very similar to totalitarianism and fascism, but not the same. The Left creates the vacuum into which fascism steps, since fascists really hate socialists and communists. One of those family dispute things you see reflected between Sunnis and Shia, for example. The Left destabilizes and decreases the health of nations, much as a parasite does. Fascism then takes over a weakened organism and eradicates the parasites in them, meaning the Left.

    Islamofascism would do the same. It would be a coin toss to see who Islamofascism would execute first, the gays, the Leftist politicians, the intellectuals, or you name it.

  10. Neo Speaks: The Problems of Arguing with the Left « Sake White Says:

    [...] with the Left November 1, 2007 Posted by ymarsakar in Arguments, Politics. trackback To Neo, and to Grey at the end. Others [...]

  11. Danny L. McDaniel Says:

    The Left has traditional played the college teaching game of I am smarter than you. It similiar to college professor who has never had any real practical experience in the field they teach, yet are “experts.” Much like college teaching you take something easy and make it complicated and take something complex and make it easy. They are all ideas and chepa rhetoric and no solutions. That is the beauty of their position: You can be for everything and stand for nothing.

  12. douglas Says:

    Living in a strongly liberal community, my favored tactic is to keep my political beliefs under wraps as long as possible, and use my concealed position to simply question things that come up in conversation. Lefties rarely hold back, even though they know nothing about my views. Perhaps then they can start to see that they hadn’t really thought things through, and should reevaluate a bit. I don’t push my view, I just help them question theirs. It actually works fairly well. Over time, as they get to know me as a decent enough fellow (not a bigot or evil corporate shill), and trust me a bit, I can gradually reveal my positions, and erode their ability to dehumanize their political enemies.

  13. srandom Says:

    “Now I have to think of them as being really, really, actually, stupid.”

    as an american leftist i find these words rather disheartening (and the rest of the commentary downright depressing).
    since reading this yesterday, i have been wondering:
    if one is a leftist, how can one engage in fruitful discussion with his counterparts on the right? what would it take to convince a conservative that i am not stupid or crazy, and, as such, deserve to be listened to?

  14. Ymarsakar Says:

    People have defensive measures, so it is always better to evade their strongest defensive point, as advised by Sun Tzu, in order to strike at the underbelly, as Douglas did.

    Any situation in which the opponent is not expecting an attack, becomes a point of weakness.

  15. Ymarsakar Says:

    if one is a leftist, how can one engage in fruitful discussion with his counterparts on the right?

    As I mentioned, in such a situation the best thing to do is to discuss premises, beliefs, and assumptions rather than politics, policy, or opinions about things being good or bad.

    Most conservatives treat people as individuals, thus the prefered reaction is that your group affiliation doesn’t matter nearly as much as what you personally believe.

    The more important question is why do you wish to talk to people that disagree with Leftist beliefs and actions? Not how to get them to treat you as someone deserving of admiration, respect, or etc.

    Is it not individuals or even individualism that is the problem, but that the Left is required to create slaves out of free men and women. Such things are inevitable using logic. Logic is its own field of discussion, and is much like facts. It depends upon the premises, analogous to the various different interpretations of facts.

    The reason why philosophy is important is because without an adequate clarification over the logic and the premises, most arguments devolve into picking sides and loyalties.

    A simple example would be healthcare. The Left believes that government may and should be trusted to safeguard and take care of things that individuals or individuals running corporations cannot. This is based upon the premise, also known as an assumption, that the free market is the ultimate form of chaos, and thus nothing good or constructive can ever come from giving people free reign to take advantage of each other.

    Conservatives believe that allowing government free reign on what its powers are, produces the worst in human beings, human beings that are the decision makers in government. The ultimate chaos and unfairness of a free market is the government, rather than the free market, such is what conservatives believe in.

    The logic chains approaches infinity in the number of possibilities and different sub-branches around.

    The Left believes government is the solution because the Left will be part of government. Hillary Clinton will be part of the body that decides what government does, and the Left believes that they in turn will control what Clinton decides to do. They believe that they can then use this hierarchy to do what is good for them and they are right. However, what is good for the Left is not what is good for anyone else.

    This gets into the subject of Epistemology. How do you know what is the Good? How do you know whether what is good for you is good for anyone else?

    The Left believes that they are good people, they believe that the Left and their Democrat allies will help other people. The objectivity of beliefs is very inflexible, since a belief can be either wrong or right or simply incomplete. If the Left was correct in their belief that they are good people, strong people, and folks that could speak “truth” to “power”, then yes the Left’s vision of what is good and what is bad would then be correct and based upon that correctness they would then be correct about the free market and various other topic branches.

    The fundamental difference concerns who is the better person. It even involves how to tell which side has the better people. Conservatives believe that they are good people, yet conservative beliefs are totally different and mutually exclusive with fake liberal beliefs. Such a deadlock cannot be sustained, both sides cannot be correct in their philosophy and actions given the mutually exclusive set of beliefs and actions in play.

    The field which studies what is right as opposed to what is wrong is Ethics in philosophy. Ethics are based upon Epistemology and Metaphysics. This is why most conservatives see Bush and Iraq as morally different than what the Left sees Bush and Iraq as.

    When your Epistemology and Metaphysics are different, so will your Ethics be different as well.

    Individuals can disagree on single policies many times. But it is different when individuals start thinking in ways that cancel each other out. Epistemology thus is about how you are able to think about a subject, how you are able to tell one thing from another, while metaphysics provides you the answers to the question “does this object exist”. Conservatives, logically, then must disagree with not only Leftist policy and beliefs, but Leftist thinking as well. Not only what a person thinks, but how he thinks. The vice a versa is true as well.

    In objective terms, only side of a mutually exclusive equation is correct. It is simple causality, after all. If you push a button and a bomb gets dropped, then it is not as if you can push a button and not have the bomb be dropped. It is mutually exclusive, you can either push the button and have the bomb drop on a city or you can not push a button and avoid having that bomb droped on the city.

    Leftist beliefs in reality shaping, aka illusion making and propaganda supremacy, as well as Leftist beliefs concerning multiculturalism and political correctness is a different Epistemology from the classic Greek sort. That wouldn’t really be a problem since all systems either have internal consistency or not. It just so happens to be that the Left attempts to use both systems of philosophy, the Leftist version and the version of their opponents. This ensures that the Left can never be found inconsistent in their own framework.

    Now many on the Left says the same about the Right. That we shift the goal posts around, or ignore “facts”.

    Before 9/11, the question of which side had better people was a 50/50 kind of question. There just wasn’t many notable instances to probe out each side’s ethics. Things such as abortion and spending never really cut it. The Left had crime against them, of course, but crime was never really a subject that the Left actually supported openly. After 9/11 we saw the Left’s true colors. Their true ethics, their true epistemology and metaphysics. Not just their claimed versions, not just the camouflaged versions put on for the show of the audience, but the true nature and the true beliefs of Leftist parasitism. The question of which side had better people to run the sorts of idealized projects such as war (for the right) and peaceful slavery (for the left) became much clearer.

    Individuals make the choices that affect us all. Individuals that are weak will choose decisions that reflect their weakness. Politicians that are weak at heart cannot resist corruption and enemy action. Thus weak people vote for weak leaders, and given the Republic as it stands that means weak leaders ruling over all of us. Weak leaders in power do not become weaker nor do they become more powerful, rather what they do is to make everyone else weaker and dependent upon them. With welfare and gun confiscation, more people will depend upon the weak leaders to protect them. They wouldn’t have done so, they wouldn’t have trusted in such weak leaders, if the leaders had not prevented the individuals in question from being able to protect and look after themselves.

    Before Fallujah 2 and the Iraq war, conservatism only had Reagan, the Cold War, and WWII as examples of what it means to be strong. American Revolution as well, for the rare history buffs. Mostly, though, people didn’t have any contemporary examples to look to to determine what it means to be a strong and good person as opposed to a weak and despicable person. Post 9/11 changed all of that.

    The US military demonstrated what it means to be “good” not only in the present time, but for every time and place. Their example was the example of strength. So would not people that were interested in strength look towards the US military to emulate. They would, if they were who they claimed to be.

    Some Leftists are indeed awed by people willing to risk their individual lives for the lives of Leftist individuals. I admit that. They admire, if not respect, such soldiers in Iraq. The point is, such admiration is not really an attempt at emulation. The parasite does not seek to emulate strength, rather the parasite simply admires strength in its host.

    This again goes back to the field of epistemology. How exactly does one determine who wishes to emulate US soldiers as opposed to who wishes to make use of US soldiers as tools?

    The philosophy debate is endless, but unlike political arguments, philosophical debates can actually produce some beneficial results.

  16. Ymarsakar Says:

    One small elaboration concerning where I cut off concerning why the Left believes their opponents shift the goal posts around. This is more or less an attempt to mirror the philosophy of their opponents. Because the opponents of Leftism believe that fair play and not shifting the goal posts around – which means not conveniently shifting your beliefs in epistemology and metaphysics when you hit a contradiction – are important, the Left then has a reason to adopt such beliefs as if it it was their own. Just as they adopted the beliefs of classical liberals when it suited them to portray the United States as bad for not helping women in Afghanistan and children in Iraq.

    The opponents of the Left thus believes that if the Left couldn’t change the rules, the Left would then lose out in a fair fight. After all, if terrorists were strongly enough to take on the US Marines, why then would the terrorists have to flee at the sight of US Marines?

    The mutually exclusive nature of a fight, even a fair fight, inevitably decides which side is right. Is the Left right that the Left would win a fair fight if only their opponents would stop moving the goal posts? Or is the Left’s opponents right that the Left would lose if it came to a fair fight?

    In the end, fighting, or warfare, decides which side is correct. If you win an unfair fight, you are still the victor and the enemy is still dead. In one sense, it then doesn’t matter which side was right. But in another, it matters very much which side was correct. If the Left wins, it is very important to know whether they won through fair means or not, since it determines how to bring the Left down in the future and it also determines how the Left will themselves attempt to defend themselves. Wars are never one time deals.

    A simple analogy would suffice. To me, it doesn’t really matter how Vietnam was won or lost. What matters, though, is Iraq. So depending upon what the Left did in Vietnam, it also determines what they can do in Iraq and how they can be defeated. So Vietnam does matter, for the non-dead at least.

  17. Wilf Says:

    Why do you only look at the fallacies used by the left side of the American political spectrum and not those on the right?

    The problem is not that the “left” (I put it in quotes because the American Left is actually very right compared to the political spectrum of the rest of the world) but in the entire arena of American politics. Ann Coulter comes to mind as someone who loves to use ad hom attacks and bases all her arguments in detestable double standards. O’Reilly is very keen on telling his interview subjects to “shut up”, and commits such outrageous false dilemmas as to say that because Hitler was an atheist all atheists have no moral fibre.

    You yourself are very careful in selecting the bits of evidence that discredit your opponents but not yourself.

    Illogical argument is not a problem confined to the American democratic party, but a problem spanning the whole of American politics.

    Wilf
    newsdiffusal.blogspot.com

  18. Ymarsakar Says:

    I put it in quotes because the American Left is actually very right compared to the political spectrum of the rest of the world

    This is inconsistent with the fact that many Leftists in Europe use anti-American propaganda from Hollywood as the template for how to criticize America. Socialism might have started in the ranks of aristocracy in Europe, but even they wait for America to set the lead, especially on anti-Americanism.

    O’Reilly is very keen on telling his interview subjects to “shut up”, and commits such outrageous false dilemmas as to say that because Hitler was an atheist all atheists have no moral fibre.

    O’Reilly’s not even a conservative to begin with. Coulter’s not a Jacksonian, except in how she can take criticism and public attacks. Neither of the two are leaders that set the ideological constraints of another person’s beliefs. They therefore do not have a single coherent philosophical movement that can be analyzed by analyzing the behavior and beliefs of O’Reilly or Coulter. Philosophical movements on the right would be characterized by such figures as Reagan or Andrew Jackson.

    People can, and certainly do, criticize Coulter, but their analysis is limited solely to their personal dislike over what she wrote or said. It has little to nothing to do with what other conservatives believe. Many conservative criticisms of Coulter is in how she said things rather than over her incorrectness.

    When analyzing the logic of the Left, such analysis must be consistent for most, if not all, Leftists. This requires targeting the structural supports and original leaders that set down the philosophy and ideas in the first place. A Reagan, not a Coulter, is the optimal topic.

    The Left prides themselves on being members of a movement, a progressive movement, rather than followers of a single man or woman’s cause. Their psychology and behavior dictates their weaknesses and strengths. It tends to make them more monolithic and predictable than conservatives.

  19. Vince P Says:

    Tammy Bruce gave a great lecture on this topic. The audio is here

    http://www.townhall.com/TalkRadio/Show.aspx?RadioShowID=22&ContentGuid=9a21e873-0985-4cee-b120-ffae77e62281

    Friday Jun 01, 2007
    Tammy Bruce: How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life
    Young Americas Foundation
    Best-Selling author and radio talk show host Tammy Bruce explains how Ronald Reagan helped change her worldview. From her own personal experience, she also provides insight into how the liberals and conservatives view the world differently.

  20. Wilf Says:

    This is inconsistent with the fact that many Leftists in Europe use anti-American propaganda from Hollywood as the template for how to criticize America.

    I’m sorry about citing the straw man fallacy, it’s the most clichéd fallacy out there, but this really is. The fact that “many leftists” borrow ideas from American films doesn’t change the fact that in France Ségolène Royal, a real socialist, was almost elected president recently, whereas the only American presidential candidate who is left enough to actually suggest a National Healthcare Service is Kucinich – considered a maverick. The fact that “many Leftists in Europe” do this certainly doesn’t change the fact that all around the American continent there are socialist states – but no one in American politics (that I can think of – if anyone can think of someone I’d love to know) has ever cited any Marx, ever.

    What does that say to you? It seems to me that the Democratic and Republican party only have very subtle differences – they seem more like separate factions of the same party. Elsewhere in the world people have the ability to actually vote for a real alternative. E.g. France.

    And your claims that I can only criticise right wing leaders and not advocates or other proponents of the right wing political spectrum in America are only logically consistent (however, I personally may not agree with them being valid) if you make the same criticism of Neo Neocon for her use of the same “fallacy”. You bunch the “left” together as one, making the claim that you can criticise them as one because they claim to be part of a “movement”. However, there are many, many different leftist movements, you can’t block them together like that. And I wouldn’t even count the American “left” as being a “movement” any more then the Republicans are and I doubt they would either.

  21. Ymarsakar Says:

    The fact that “many Leftists in Europe” do this certainly doesn’t change the fact

    Being inconsistent doesn’t change anything. It just means it is inconsistent.

    I’m sorry about citing the straw man fallacy

    The straw man fallacy is taking the weakest argument of an opponent position. I’m using logic here, as in logical consistency. So unless you wish to claim that it is “consistent” or that it is not a “fact”, then you have no traction here.

    Elsewhere in the world people have the ability to actually vote for a real alternative. E.g. France.

    What you mean is that people can vote for extremes, in a way, and have a chance to win in Europe. Whereas in America, the Coalitional Winner Takes All system, developed in part by Andrew Jackson, demands that each party play to the center or the majority of people’s needs.

    What this has to do with socialism and communism, is not apparent.

    You bunch the “left” together as one, making the claim that you can criticise them as one because they claim to be part of a “movement”.

    Actually, I criticize the Left because Leftists share very similar philosophical beliefs and political policies. The same is not true of the Republican coalition. A Neo-Neocon may be a classical liberal, but not all neo-cons are classical liberals. Not even close. And that is just for the neo-cons. This doesn’t even include the isolationist paleo-cons. The Ron Paul libertarian or the Ayn Rand libertarian factions. Or how about the David Duke wannabes and the anti-gay anti-homosexual anti-military Church members at funerals. Some of those people are actually allied with the Left, even when these people are supposed to be on the “Right”, whatever the right means at any given moment.

    Leftists and their allies, the Democrats, share many similar philosophical premises and political policies. Their homogeneity is very convenient in terms of arguing or defending a point, since they have the same arguments either way. One argument from a Leftist for one subject is almost the same, on a 1 to 1 mirror basis, as another Leftist’s argument for that subject. This could be because they are reading the same propaganda or it could be because Leftists share the same common philosophical beliefs.

    However, there are many, many different leftist movements, you can’t block them together like that.

    That’s like saying Hitler and Stalin disagreed. It doesn’t change the fundamental similarity or difference between Leftist organizations, however. Not enough to matter.

    There may be many many different Leftist movements, but they don’t differ in any appreciable way that matters. I can’t change that. Whether you are talking CAIR, ACLU, PETA, NAMBLA, Rainbow Coalition, MoveOn, DemocratUnderground, or whatever Leftist organization you are talking about, they all share the same philosophical beliefs.

    There is almost no commonality between a classical liberal and an isolationist paleo-con. Except both might live in the same country and wish advantages on that country. But those are cultural ties and political ties, not philosophical ties.

    And I wouldn’t even count the American “left” as being a “movement” any more then the Republicans are and I doubt they would either.

    It is not that the American Left isn’t far enough to the Left. It is just that Europe can afford to go to the extremes that they are and have, because Europe can use the military protection they acquire from America’s blood and treasure in order to devote more energies to extreme ideology.

  22. Jessie NYC Says:

    think its funny how the right is blaming the left even though they are doing the same thing they claim the left is doing. Demonizing the other side. the left don’t like people that disagree with thier view points just as much as the right. I like to call myself a moderate Independent its called thinking for yourself. As the left ruined politics in the 60’s and 70’s. The right has ruined politics in the 80’s, 90’s and even today. With thier neoliberal economic policies I can see why are country is in shambles today.

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About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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