Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Don't Hate The Haters. . . Or Else

Let’s play a game that often exposed flaws in an argument. I’m going to present an article from a typically liberal source (The Economist), but I’m going to stick “Hitler” in place of the people they are defending to show that they would not be making the same argument if the subject was someone they didn’t like. In other words, while they present this as a series of general principles, these are not principles, they are excuses which they would only use to defend some people. Inconsistency is evidence of false logic and bias.


Title: Why Mr. Churchill is a problem, not a solution

Winston Churchill, leader of the anti-Nazi Party, is on trial for incitement to hatred and discrimination against Nazis. But when he appeared before judges, this champion of free speech declined to speak.

The court heard some of Mr. Churchill’s greatest hits: “Mein Kampf is the Bible of a religion that intends to eliminate others”; “Nazism wants to control, subdue and is out for the destruction of our Western civilization”; Mein Kampf stripped of its hateful verses, “should actually have the format of a Donald Duck comic book.” The judges’ questions were comically innocent. Did Mr. Churchill really say such things? Was it in the heat of the moment? Had he received legal advice? Did he really need to refer to Donald Duck? Stubborn silence.

Notice the double implication in the phrase “comically innocent” that only a fool would make such comments and that these judges clearly have no understanding of how evil a mind like Mr. Churchill’s can be, an understanding our enlightened author clearly has.
Maybe the state should not be in the business of prosecuting politicians for their offensive views. But these are highly charged times.
Ah the enlightened leftist mind, always looking to criminalize disagreement with their views, and always willing to use alleged crises (“highly charged times”) as an excuse for circumventing what they claim to be fundamental rights. Further, notice what our enlightened author thinks should constitute thought crimes. Churchill did not call for violence, he did not preach sedition. No. He merely said something insulting about another’s beliefs. And that is enough for this enlightened author to call for his imprisonment.
* * *
Mr. Churchill’s party is only one of many anti-Nazi groups that are gaining ground in northern European countries previously known for their liberal social attitudes. . . . These parties, all with their own special characteristics, are distinct from older far-right groups. . . but a common theme is a dislike of foreigners, especially Nazis.
Right, because it can’t be the Nazi’s hateful views and intolerant ideas these people oppose, it must be about race. Clearly, Churchill just hates people who don’t look like he does. Forget that Nazism isn’t a race or ethnicity, it’s a set of beliefs.
* * *
Mr. Churchill should not be underestimated. By identifying the enemy as Nazism and not foreigners, and by casting his rhetoric in terms of freedom rather than race, he becomes harder to label as a reactionary, racist or neo-Nazi. . . He [claims to be] fighting to defend the West’s liberties; the enemy is Nazism (not Nazis, he says), which seeks, violently, to destroy them.
Again, our enlightened author assumes that Churchill is a racist, and he does so over the denials of Churchill. To make his assumption work, he further assumes that Churchill’s denials are merely a clever form of disguise. What’s more, notice how we are told separating Nazis from Nazism is a ruse. . . yet we are simultaneously told that we must separate “Nazis” from the things they do, they say, and they believe, and from the things done in their names. In other words, "don’t blame the serial killer, blame the killing. . . but if you are someone I don’t like, then I know that you are really blaming the killer even if you only talk about the killing." This is complete nonsense.
Such views chime with some American conservatives. . . Yet Americans (and Europeans) should be wary of embracing Mr. Churchill. To expose violent Nazi ideology is legitimate, even necessary; to attack Nazism and Mein Kampf is dangerous stupidity that weakens the civilization Mr. Churchill claims to defend.
This is double-double speak. First, how do you point out ideological extremism without attacking the source of that extremism, i.e. the ideology? That’s like being asked to criticize the word choice in Moby Dick and the ideology of Melville without mentioning the book or the author. Secondly, if you will recall from above (“highly charged times”), our enlightened author has already said that it should be a speech crime to point out the extremism, which he now claims is “legitimate, even necessary” to “expose.” This is gotcha logic: you may criticize, but any criticism you make will be wrong.
What should democratic parties do when lots of voters back a far-right party? At a time of recession, populism cannot just be wished away.
Historically, populism is a leftwing philosophy.
One answer is to address legitimate grievances about the scale and nature of Nazism. (In France Nicolas Sarkozy has, controversially, pinched far-right rhetoric.) Another is to use the law to curb blatant examples of hate speech.
In other words, your two best methods are to (1) start using extremist rhetoric to trick people into voting for you and then never following through with it, i.e. lie, or (2) “use the law” to stop people from saying things you don’t like. . . but only people who criticize the Nazis, as we’ve already made clear that any interference or criticism of Nazism is beyond the pale.
But the temptation for many is to isolate the extremists, perhaps with an alliance of mainstream left and right. That risks intensifying voters’ sense that politicians are not listening to them, further boosting the extremists, but it may be necessary against the most odious groups.
This is idiotic. First, our enlightened author is concerned that the center banding together might make people feel that politicians aren’t listening to them, yet he has no qualms about suggesting that the center adopt extremist rhetoric but not follow through. Which is more likely to anger voters and make them feel alienated? Secondly, this enlightened author tell us in the first sentence that banding together in the center won’t work, but then tells us that this may be necessary? Gee, taking this drug won’t help you, but it’s probably necessary that you take it.
A better, braver strategy (”brave” because the left loves heroes rather than ideas) might be to bring far-right leaders into the cabinet, exposing their ideas to reality and their personalities to the public gaze. It may make for tetchy government, but it could also moderate the extremes. So roll the dice and make Mr. Churchill foreign minister: for how long could he keep telling the world to ban Mein Kampf?
Wow! Words cannot describe how stupid this enlightened author is. “Gee, he’s evil, so let’s give him power because that will stop him!” The only way that makes sense is if you assume that Churchill doesn’t actually believe what he’s saying and that you are calling his bluff by giving him the chance to implement those policies. How deluded must this idiot be to think that Churchill doesn’t genuinely believe that Nazism is bad? And how hypocritical for this jerk to consider the above judges naive!

Obviously, what we’re talking about Islam, not Nazism, and Mr. Churchill is Dutch politician Gert Wilders. But the parallels with Winston Churchill are much stronger than you may realize. When Western elitists were marveling at the great Adolph Hitler and Time named him Man of the Year (1938), Churchill was warning the world. . . and was seen as a lunatic for pointing out Hitler’s own words. Wilders has done the same thing, using the very words of the Koran and of Islamic leaders to point out their intent. . . and finds himself laughed at by the same chattering class whose ancestors worshipped Hitler before falling for Stalin.

What makes this article so interesting to me is the blatant hypocrisy and that the author clearly assumes that people like Wilders don’t really believe what they are saying -- not to mention that somehow he sees being opposed to Islam, a religion, as being a racist. But the article is most notable for how easily the author suggests criminalizing disagreement with his views. That’s the same attitude that gave aid and comfort to the likes of Hitler and Stalin and Mao as they silenced the troublemakers in the millions.

I guess that’s just how liberals roll.


Tennessee Jed said...

An extremely well done piece. I must admit I've never played this particular game, but it is a great one. I'm glad you read the Economist, but now will expect the same for a Time article.

T_Rav said...

Andrew, I had a pretty good idea who you were actually talking about right off the bat. I agree, very good post.

I find the Dutch strange--for a lot of reasons, but currently because of this flap over Wilders. When you consider that part of what he's speaking out against is the murder of prominent Dutchmen like Pym Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh, and when you also consider who those people are and how they represent so much of Dutch society, it seems that the authorities would really rather throw their entire culture under the bus rather than take the measures necessary to save it. And that is very, very disturbing.

Tam said...

"A better, braver strategy...might be to bring far-right leaders into the cabinet, exposing their ideas to reality and their personalities to the public gaze. It may make for tetchy government, but it could also moderate the extremes." Too bad we actually haave to suffer through this with our own Dear Leader...tetchy government indeed, but wow! The extremes are sure moderate now!

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Thanks. I thought it would work well because we know that the author would never make the same kinds of justifications to protect Nazis, so it shows that his argument is not one he truly believes, but that it's a cover instead for his belief that it should be a crime to insult Islam because it offends them.

Let me also add, that if I had struck "Christians" in there instead of Islam, I seriously doubt the author would have reached the same conclusions. Instead, I suspect there would have been a series of "get over it" comments.

I'll see what I can do about Time, though I usually just use it as a coaster when it arrives. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, I agree, it is very strange. It's very strange for a people who border on social-libertarianism to decide that it's more important not to offend even the most extremist of Muslims at any cost, including ignoring the murder of prominent citizens, the burning of government buildings, and the stifling of free speech (see Dutch cartoonist).

It's like their whole culture has been a lie that has now been exposed by the least amount of pressure -- all that liberalism, all that libertarianism means nothing because they are willing to sacrifice it all to live in peace. . . as slaves.

T_Rav said...

Andrew, I guess this whole episode could serve as commentary on a society that anymore is based on marijuana, prostitution, and euthanasia. If all you care about is sensory pleasure, why bother stirring yourself to some obscure constitutional issue, as long as it doesn't get between you and your hashish, hooker, and health care? (I wanted three "h"'s.)

Of course, eventually--assuming people like Wilders continue to be demonized and/or ignored--one day they'll find out just how free they really are. But by then it'll probably be too late.

AndrewPrice said...

Tam, What's amazing is that this guy probably thinks he's the "reasonable middle." Yet he's advocating using the force of law to shut up everyone who is trying to point out that a group of people are trying to destroy their way of life. This is truly extremist thinking hiding under the false belief that he's just being reasonable.

It's also highly hypocritical. Could you imagine this guy making the same defense of some violent Christian group (if there is such a thing) or the American militia-boogey man, or the British National Party? Hardly. THOSE are evil and need to be called out right, banned and their supporters told to grow up and learn to deal with living in a free society. But somehow, in this case, where there are millions of examples of Muslim hatred and intent to harm (everything from burning embassies, to threats to nuke Israel, to murdering Dutch politicians, to cheering 9/11 in the streets).... somehow, this time it needs to be a crime to point out what these people are saying and doing? Ridiculous!

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, I read and interesting book a couple years ago called "While Europe Slept." The author was a gay American who went to Europe because he'd heard that Europe was much more tolerant. But when he got there, he found that Muslim youths would attack gays on the street, and the Dutch would just look on. They let the Muslims bend and break every single law, without any punishment or attempt to reform, and that all of their supposed civil rights were slowly disappearing as Muslims complained about them... and they did nothing. In fact, their government and their media attacked anyone who tried to point these things out.

The Wilders thing is actually stunning. He's never once advocated violence of any sort, yet the Dutch elite see HIM as the bad guy here... not the people who are killing Dutch citizens and slowing taking over their cities.

It really does strike me as a society that has expired... like they've reached the point as a people that they just don't care about anything anymore and are now completely unwilling to defend their supposedly "precious" way of life.

DUQ said...

Bravo! Great article. It stuns me that "the elite" want to ignore everything the Islamofascists say so openly and do so constantly.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks DUQ! I don't understand the blind spot either. They would be screaming bloody murder if it was anyone else.

DUQ said...

How about this, cultural suicide?

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, There have been people who have said that. What's interesting was that they freely abandoned their empire, their economic power, and their prestige. They even abandoned their ability to defend themselves from real threats. But people assumed that they had just changed their world view and they would now defend only their "open lifestyles" instead of anything nationalist. But now it's starting to look like they won't even defend that. So maybe there is something to the idea of cultural suicide?

Ponderosa said...

Lefties work in packs and are bullies.

They are great at confrontation when they know they are safe and especially when anonymous.

They are even comfortable with violence - if they have superior numbers.

We just have a bunch of wussies in charge.
Cultural suicide? Nah.

True believers are another matter.

Unknown said...

Andrew: Perhaps these people should read John Kennedy's Why England Slept. After all, he's a Democratic icon, and he said basically the same thing in retrospect as Churchill had said in advance. The Churchill-Wilders, Obama-Chamberlain parallel is too strong to ignore.

AndrewPrice said...

Ponderosa, You're right about leftists, they are not nearly as vocal when they are facing determined opposition.

I think you're right about the people in charge, but I would go further. I would say that the people in charge don't respect the cultures they represent and don't care if they are replaced.

And because of this indifference, they have a hard time understanding that anyone else could be serious about imposing a new culture. That's why they have never understood militant Islam because they don't think anyone really believes in it, except for a few nuts. In fact, if you pushed them on the issue, you would probably find out that they actually believe that once the Islamists have their way, nothing much will change except the name of the god that the neighbors pray to.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, The problem is that they don't want to get it too soon or they may have to try to fix the problem. Better to hope it never blows up... and then claim it was unforeseeable.

CrispyRice said...

Yes, a great piece, Andrew! Thanks!

AndrewPrice said...

You're welcome Crispy, I'm glad you liked it!

Ed said...

I've got to agree with everyone else, very nice piece! This is why Europe is such a lost cause today, they can't distinguish between friend and foe and they can't even stick to one set of principles for everyone.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ed. I think that's a good way to put the problem -- they don't recognize genuine threats and they don't truly believe anything.

Individualist said...

There has got to come a time when militant Islam and Militant Socialism finally come head to head. I think Maher got an inkling of it when he started asking if it was racist that he feared the most popular baby name in England was Mohammed because that might mean the civil freedoms of Western culture will come to an end.

While the "hippies" are useful idiots of no consequence in that fight, the people behind the scenes of the sociliast movement tend to be more ruthless in their own way. One or both of them think they are setting the other up to lose. It has to be because their views are completely incompatible with each other.

I wonder how it will play out when the parting of ways inevitably comes.....

AndrewPrice said...

Individualist, I think the left is in for quite a surprise with militant Islam. Militant Islam is a force that is even more fanatical, more ruthless and more murderous than anything the left has produced. So far, I think they've been happy to use appeasement with Islam as a means of weakening Western culture, which is inherently unsympathetic leftism. But there will come a point soon that they need to drop the whole appeasement bit or they will find themselves on the wrong end of the fight and will be in all out war with Islam, as they have been in Egypt for the past 50 years.

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