Friday, August 13, 2010

V. D. Hanson, Bigotry, and the Cordoban Project

The Classicist turned Military Historian turned political pundit, Victor Davis Hanson comments a bit on the Cordoban mosque controversy. But he does it within the context of what he sees as a willingness on the part of (he doesn't say Leftists or Liberals, but I will) Liberals and Leftists who either have no arguments, don't know how to argue, know that the opposition has better arguments, or all three.

He observes that the ad hominem accusation of bigotry is being severely overused in these times: Do Arizonians want to inhibit immigration? Don't listen to their arguments against their loose immigration laws and procedures. The only reason they oppose immigration is that they are bigots.

Do Californians vote overwhelmingly time after time to keep the same marriage standards that have existed for 2,500 years in Western custom and practices? Well that isn't because they think these marriage standards are the best ones. They only reason they vote to keep them is that they are homophobes.

Is Charles Rangel being accused of unethical conduct? There was no unethical conduct, only racism.

Is Maxine Waters facing ethics questions? Of course these questions can't be sincere. The only thing at work here is "racism."

Are eight members of the Congressional Black Caucus facing ethics inquires? This is just one more example of racism.

Hanson is afraid that the misuse of the "Bigotry"charge will cause more serious problems. Real cases of bigotry and racism may in the future not be taken seriously because they are annoyingly unserious at the present time. He says that this signals "a failure to persuade 51 percent of the people of the merits of an argument."

Hanson is kinder than I have been on this subject. I haven't seen many arguments. Why argue when you can cry "bigot" and "racist"? Why argue against the opinions of someone when you can dismiss him as "fascist scum"?

Hanson mentions the Cordoban Mosque only in passing. He writes, "Another controversy is brewing a mere 600 feet from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, site of the 9/11 attacks, when a Muslim group wishes to build a mosque. Opponents feel this is a provocative act that tarnishes the memory of the nearly 3,000 people who died at the hands of radical Islamic terrorists.

"New York state residents' unease reflects legitimate questions over the nature of the foreign funding for the project, and the disturbing writings and statements of the chief proponent of the plan, Feisal Abdul Rauf.

"In response, once again the majority has been dubbed bigoted and prejudiced, this time against Muslims, for asking for a more appropriate location, further away from Ground Zero."

Yesterday I posted an article that touched on this issue in a slightly different manner - - I saw a parallel between the present unwillingness to credit an Islamist threat to the Liberal scoffing at the Communist danger in the 50s. But those who argued against my article demonstrated the validity of Hanson's. They didn't present arguments against mine. Instead they used ad hominem attacks: to paraphrase and encapsulate their "argument" they asserted "McCarthy, HUAC! Enough said!" They thereby get extra mileage out of earlier ad hominem arguments.

While evidence didn't exist to support all the accusations of spying leveled against the Communists back in the 40s and 50s, it does now. The KGB archives have been studied and we now know that there was indeed Soviet spying going on back then, and much more than spying. So what good does it do for Leftists to invoke those same prejudices, prejudices that have been discredited? Such behavior strikes me as moronic -- literally an example of a substandard use of intelligence. I recall when the KGB files were first opened and the researchers first heard mention of the FBI's Venona project (resulting from cryptologists cracking the Soviet diplomatic code). We learned that J. Edgar Hoover was feeding McCarthy information, while telling him he couldn't say where he got it. We learned also that there was conclusive proof that the great heroes of American Leftists back then, the Rosenbergs were indeed guilty.

One of the most eloquent anti-communist journalists of that day was I. F. Stone. He set the tone for anti-McCarthy rhetoric. The present day "McCarthy, HUAC! Enough Said!" ad hominem arguments originated to some extent from the pen of I. F. Stone. We now know that he was a Communist -- not a spy, but something just as dangerous, an effective purveyor of communist propaganda. His code name was BLINTZ. This isn't opinion. This isn't innuendo. We have the KGB records. We have the decryptions from Venona. So why do modern-day Leftists and Liberals use the same old attacks, the ones that don't take into account the latter KGB and Venona disclosures? I don't know. Whenever I ask them they become so angry that thy gibber.

What I have encountered is very like what Hanson is referring to, ad hominem attacks in lieu of arguments. Hanson sounds in this article as though he isn't worrying all that much about this phenomenon, but I know he is concerned. Leftists and Liberals may not comprise a majority in the U.S. but they are a significant and potent minority. And when a large group of people resorts to ad hominem attack in lieu of reasoned argument, it becomes indistinguishable from a mob. That the "mob" in New York can be called to arms by Mayor Bloomberg is indicative.

I do tend to feel misanthropic at such times. The mob chuckles at Bloombergian witticisms. See The Wit and Wisdom of Michael Bloomberg. Or refer to which makes me feel even more misanthropic.

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