This is the “master outline” that (hopefully) lends structure to our new site. The purpose is to provide a hierarchical taxonomy, just like a phylum/class/species zoological tree, of the chestnuts we’re taking apart. Of course, it’s going to be next to useless, just-another-blog-post, if it doesn’t reflect the overall makeup of the blog, so we’ll be making some efforts to keep it tied in to the categories, by way of hyperlinks to material both inside & outside of the Rotten Chestnuts blog.
- Why Do You Hate [blank]?
Common is the experience of dealing with some progressives who find creative new ways of subtly changing the subject of conversation; it comes with the territory when you get them cornered, to the point that they themselves can see there’s no way out. To start exploring things about the psyche of the opposition, is an effective way of doing this, and it has the added benefit of allowing the proggy to continue to deceive himself. It is a form of rationalization, looking something like: Well, it doesn’t really matter if he has good facts & logic on his side, it’s a non-starter, because he has something wrong with him and therefore everyone who’d agree with him would have to have something wrong with them…and who would want to be in that sorry lot?
- Why do you hate veterans?
- Why do you hate handicapped people?
- Why do you hate ethnic minorities, or “brown people”?
- Why do you hate teachers/students?
- Why do you hate puppies, kittens, etc.?
- Moral Equivocating
- Christians are just as bad as the Taliban
- Roman Polanski didn’t commit “rape rape”
- Pretending Dangerous Things Are Safe, And Vice-Versa
Like I said a few years back, “Intellectualism has become the readiness, willingness and ability to call dangerous things safe, and safe things dangerous.” After John Hawkins named that the eleventh best political quote of 2009 — hey, flattery will getcha anywhere with me — he did his bit to get it circulated far & wide, even including it in an interview with Thomas Sowell. The Professor responded in approving terms, as did much of the Internet that became aware of it. If I want to make my own “chestnut,” deluding myself into thinking I’ve arrived or something, this remains probably the best way to do that. But, yes. Like Sowell mentioned, he himself has written about this (the good stuff starts on p. 215). Left-wing political figures, authors, poets, playwrights, they couldn’t butt out, or even stay quiet. It was a phony “war” against war itself, and a real war was the eventual result.
The problem is, near as we can make out, that once you’ve earned a reputation as a “smart” person — or your ego is wrapped up in chasing such a rep — there is a quiet little instinct setting in of revulsion against any behavioral response that would resemble something a commoner would do. So the answer has to be different. Two and two no longer make four. The thinking seems to be, “If that dumbass Sarah Palin isn’t wrong, then I don’t wanna be right.”
- Pretending dangerous things are safe: Terrorists haven’t killed as many people as tobacco
- Pretending safe things are dangerous: Global warming
- If You Don’t Support Our Efforts To Cure [problem], You Must Want More Of [problem]
This one can be a bit discombobulating to people who haven’t encountered it before. It’s a lot like the “Why do you hate [X]” thing discussed earlier, but it can be more sincere and there may be some actual good-faith discussion going on with it. It works like this: The liberal political class or intelligentsia, figures out not only that there is some kind of a problem, but that there is a certain solution to it as well. So the common-class liberal in front of you advocates this as a solution, you resist this or provide these scrutinizing questions against it…in the liberal’s mind, that means you are opposed to solving the problem, because you are opposed to the solution. In other words, they start to invest themselves in this idea that the problem can be solved through, and only through, this one named solution…everybody knows this…so anybody who’s opposed to the solution must want the problem to continue. Examples: Poverty, illiteracy, illegitimacy, global warming, deforestation, pestilence, the list goes on and on and on…
- There’s No Use Discussing This With [X]
Perhaps the easiest way and most reliable way to determine whether an argument is strong or weak, apart from analyzing its content, is to ask yourself the fundamental question: Can it withstand scrutiny? Of course such an exercise is a waste of effort if there is an agenda in place to make sure the argument survives in good shape; if there is any bias at all, it should be in the opposite direction. Can the argument withstand an actual assault?
Progressive arguments generally cannot. And so they are loaded down with “wagon circling” chestnuts, chestnuts designed to prevent such an assault. As a consequence, it is not at all rare to hear of a left-winger saying something like “Well, there’s no use discussing this with someone who refuses to acknowledge the obvious signs of climate change” or some such.
- Symmetry Myth
This might be the most sultry and seductive of all the proggy chestnuts, because it bears so much responsibility for the leftward tack of our national discourse over a prolonged period of time. It works this way: A bad idea is associated with the left side in some way, usually by way of a lefty politician of significant visibility and profile being caught in shenanigans. It may be a personal scandal or it may be an abuse of truth and logic…although those two tend to go hand in hand. For those voters out in “real America” who are part of the coveted mainstream vote, the undecided vote, the noted “low information voter” — this is their opportunity to learn that democrats lie, if they weren’t previously open to such a thing. Or, more frequently, this is the opportunity to learn that left-wing politics sustain a long-term interest in lying, that lefty ideas cannot be made to look like good ideas, without some perversion of truth taking place to enable the illusion
And…just as sure as you know your two-year-old is up to something bad when you hear too much silence…as inevitable as the next full moon…someone will “helpfully” intone something similar to the following: “Oh well, they’re politicians, whaddya expect.” Or “both sides lie like this.”
Well, when one inspects the facts only with a cursory glance, that seems hard to deny. First time a Republican or a right-winger gets caught lying, it’s “proven” to be true, is it not? But that is the problem: It is a statement prepared for those who have offered only cursory glances, bothered themselves to learn only cursory things. In truth, although “both sides lie,” our tendency is to blame only the side that holds itself up to some kind of a moral standard. Witness the political damage that was done against George W. Bush for “lying” about Saddam Hussein looking for Uranium in Africa…versus the sickening wagon-circling exercise we saw after Bill Clinton lied about Monica Lewinsky. There really is no comparison.
- Positive: There is goodness/truth/beauty on both sides of the aisle (positive)
- Negative: You might have caught our guy doing it, but a Republican did the same thing so…move on! (negative)
- I’m an independent! And I want to see all rich people punished, like any good indie
- Read & Watch What We Tell You To
As noted up above, a lot of proggy arguments cannot withstand scrutiny from an antagonistic, or even neutral, source. In fact, in recent years those who are leftward of leaning have become quite brazen in all-but-admitting to this, going so far as to give actual orders to friends and relatives about what to watch, or much more often, what not to watch.
- I shall make fun of you as long as you ‘fess up to watching “Faux” News!
- Guilt by association
- Don’t you dare think that, or you’re some kind of an “ist”