Friday, June 12, 2009

It's Big Hate all right

Paul Krugman thinks that there is a wave of "extremism" and "hate" being fed by the media and political establishment. If there is, he ought to know. He's doing the serving.

There are three moves here. The first is to pick convenient lunatics who have committed a violent act and whose inner demons express themselves, if loosely, in political terms. The nutters of the hour are Scott Roeder, who shot abortionist George Tiller, and James von Brunn who opened fire at the Holocaust Museum. You ignore inconvenient tilted heads like Carlos Bledsoe (a/k/a Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad) who killed a military recruiter in Little Rock.

Next, you characterize these jumblebrains as "members of" or "associated" with the right as if fevered minds harbored linear thought. This move may be difficult because - at the extremes - left and right often meet. von Brunn, for example, could just as readily be called a member of the extreme left as of the extreme right. Ignore what doesn't fit.

And that brings you to the final move: the blurring of distinctions between the sane and the short circuited. The way to do this is to cherry pick either ill considered statements (Glenn Beck reported internet rumours of FEMA concentration camps before he debunked them) or harsh words (like calling someone who aborts babies that are about to be born a "killer"). You must then claim that whoever has said these oh so awful things is the "face of" conservatism. The leaders of the Republican Party cannot be Sarah Palin, Michael Steele, or Bobby Jindal. They must be entertainers like Rush Limbaugh or Michelle Malkin.

You must, at all costs, avoid any mention of Howard Dean, Keith Olberman, Al Gore, Al Franken, or Joe Biden. (These are, after all, marginal figures on the left.) It is critical to ignore stupid claims (Bush knew 9-11 was coming) and intemperate language (Bush is an evil war criminal) that do not fit the narrative.

You then abandon critical thought. Shooting abortion doctors is a small step from speaking harshly of abortion even if strident attacks on the mission of America's military or wild claims about the "death" of the planet do not - and could not - lead to violence. There is no real difference between Wisconsin Right to Life and Operation Rescue. Opposition to affirmative action is sort of like white supremacy. Imply, if you can, that tonight's broadcast of Hannity and a few Jager shots are all that separates Timothy McVeigh from Bill Kristol.

Suddenly, your political opponents become terrorists. Neat trick if you can pull it off.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey, Shark, the truth hurts doesn't it?

If you think people like Beck, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Cheney, et al., aren't contributing to the hate in this country, you are more naive than I thought. The scare tactics I hear spewing forth from the likes of Beck and O'Reilly (that are so incredibly false), i.e. "warned viewers that the Federal Emergency Management Agency might be building concentration camps as part of the Obama administration's 'totalitarian' agenda" show that certain folks in the media will LIE to agitate folks. O'Reilly's constant harping on Dr. Tiller as the baby killer--well, we all know what happened there. The Washington Times running an opinion piece declaring (not suggesting, but declaring) that Obama "not only identifies with Muslims, but actually may still be one himself" is, again, irresponsibility on the right, kind of reminds me of the goofy woman who, when asking McCain a question, mentioned that Obama was an Arab (at least McCain was honest enough to correct that woman).

Cheney, as a former VP, going on television (of course, Faux News) and claiming that Obama is making this country less safe, is again, shows the lies that some people on the right will keep perpetuating.

Shark--you are indeed naive if you don't understand what Krugman wrote.

Anonymous said...

What kind of hateful comments have come from Olbermann, Gore, Dean, and Biden?

Clutch said...

Glenn Beck reported internet rumours of FEMA concentration camps before he *debunked* them.

Here's me, with a cable news podium set before the nation. I'm going to talk at length about the rumors of Mr Esenberg's history of plagiarism and academic dishonesty.

Um, before I debunk them. Naturally you won't think there's anything nutty or slimy about this. To think that would be to "cherry-pick", and to say you think it's nutty or slimy would be serving up hate. Because, hey, it's all about the debunking of the academic misconduct rumors about you.

Esenberg's widespread, repeated plagiarism -- debunked. People say you're a plagiarist and fraud -- but those people? The ones who say you're a plagiarist and fraud? That talk about your history of misconduct and deception? Debunked! So, please, no cherry-picking or anything else that would misrepresent the fact that I'm actually debunking those rumors that you're a plagiarist and fraud.

Anonymous said...

"at least McCain was honest enough to correct that woman."

Woman: He's an Arab.

McCain: No ma'am, he's a decent family man.

If that counts as honesty.

Clutch said...

Glenn Beck, March 4, Fox and Friends:

"[P:] We are a country that is headed towards socialism, totalitarianism, beyond your wildest imagination…. I wanted to debunk these FEMA camps… I can’t debunk them. We’re going to carry the story tonight. [Fox and Friends: I don’t know anything about them.] If you trust our government, it’s fine. [If P then Q:] If you have any kind of fear that we might be heading towards a totalitarian state, look out! Buckle up! There’s something going on in our country that ain’t good."

Modus ponens.

And Beck was clearly not changing the topic to more general terms of worry about "something going on". Watch the video: he was saying that if you have any kind of fear that the USA might be heading towards a totalitarian state (fear that he had just avowed himself, and has been urging on his viewers since Obama's election), then your attitude towards FEMA concentration camps in particular should be one of reasonable worry.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwegjQ35bJc

1 min 50 sec and following.

A month later, Beck said he was debunking the FEMA camps, and that he'd always said he didn't think there were any. One would have thought that nobody both attentive and honest could have been taken in by this complete howler.

So, talk about "blurring of distinctions between the sane and the short circuited". In Bizarro world, the hateful, execrable, unpredictably weepy and palpably unstable Glenn Beck is recruited as an exemplar of sanity, who is deliberately misunderstood by quote-miners and axe-grinders.

Anonymous said...

As Olbermann would put it: WTF.

Billiam said...

Mr. Rick, you're attracting alot of Trolls these days.

Rick Esenberg said...

It's not my burden to prove that conservatives never say anything inflammatory. The point isn't whether Beck was foolishly credulous about the rumors or took "too long" to debunk them (although one would think that a case like Krugman's would be based on something that the offending speaker actually claimed to be true and stuck with). You can find intemperate and even hateful things said by some conservatives.

And I can find Howard Dean saying that he "hates" Republicans and that the political struggle in the US is between good and evil and the the Democrats are good. If you want something Beck-like, I can find him giving credence to 9-11 truthers. Could Al Gore's factually inaccurate global warming hysteria promopt violence on the part of environmental radicals like ELF? If Cheney shouldn't say we are less safe (even though he believes it), then what about "Bush lied and people died" (a charge that has been repeatedly disproven) or promiscuous charges that he and others are war criminals? Might that prompt some nut to, I don't know, shoot a military recruiter? Could daily charges of racism lead to hate crimes?

Clutch said...

It's not my burden to prove that conservatives never say anything inflammatory.

No indeed. It's just your burden not to say demonstrably false things. When you say that critics' citing Glenn Beck's drum-beating about FEMA concentration camps is itself an exemplar of extremism and hate -- misrepresentative because, gosh, Glenn was actually debunking those rumors! -- then you say something clearly false.

And yes, without conceding the accuracy of your various allusions (an arguendo allowance you have used up, by this point), of course I do not dispute that other people also say crazy things. Citing any obviously crazy statement as an exemplar of sanity getting a bad rap would be just as risible. Your problem is your having done so.

Dad29 said...

Well, well.

We have a Shark who threw chum into the water and attracted trolls.

A whole new planet!

Rick Esenberg said...

Nothing I said about Beck was false. He made what I called an ill considered statement - i.e., he repeated ridiculous rumors - and then, later, he debunked those rumors. But tying Beck's stupid statement to murder is a slander and using it to tar "the right" in general is outrageous and, yes, if it does not encourage hate, it further coarsens debate.

Jay Bullock said...

von Brunn, for example, could just as readily be called a member of the extreme left as of the extreme right.
I'm not trying to ignore anything in particular, but what about being a white supremacist, anti-government, anti-semite is "left"? His political connections in Michigan seem to have been most recently with the Ron Paul campaign!

Franklin Romanowski said...

So if you disagree with Esenberg you're a troll? You're a anonymous coward, Dad29.

Clutch said...

Nothing I said about Beck was false.

Wrong. What you said about Beck was about how Beck was characterized. And that was not just false, but ridiculously false.

In fact what Krugman said about Beck on FEMA camps was not just correct, but fair: that he "warned viewers that the Federal Emergency Management Agency might be building concentration camps as part of the Obama administration’s “totalitarian” agenda (although he eventually conceded that nothing of the kind was happening)."

Quite right, as we've seen.

By contrast, you characterized Krugman's remarks as making a very particular "move: the blurring of distinctions between the sane and the short circuited." In Beck's case, you claimed, this was accomplished by misrepresentation -- "cherry-picking" Beck's merely reporting "internet rumors", before he debunked them.

And that is a goofy falsehood, absurd in the light of (multa inter alia) the video evidence and transcription I provided. There is nothing remotely cherry-picking (quote-mining, misrepresentative, or the like) about impugning Beck's basic reasonableness on the basis of what he said, for one thing. And Krugman didn't even say that Beck was unhinged (though he could have). He just correctly reported the trajectory of Beck's widely broadcasted opinions on the existence of FEMA concentration camps, and left readers to draw their own conclusions about what this says about Beck's hugely privileged position on a major cable news network.

So, yes, what you said about Beck being mischaracterized was false.

tying Beck's stupid statement to murder is a slander ...

You might note also that Krugman actually argues that the direct consequence of this nutbaggery occurs in the actions and utterances of politicians, not of murderers. But I am reluctantly led to doubt that Krugman's actual statements will have any more effect on your claims than Beck's actual statements did.

John Foust said...

Suddenly, your political opponents become terrorists. Neat trick if you can pull it off.

How'd your Palin do with the pallin' 'round with terrrrists trick?

That Dad29, he's always a stitch. Nary a dull moment. Are "trolls" simply defined as anyone you disagree with?

Anonymous said...

"Bush lied and people died" (a charge that has been repeatedly disproven)

Um, you're kidding, right? And the Weapons of Mass Destruction are where again? And Saddam had what to do with 9/11? Booga, booga!!

Anonymous said...

Homeland Security making veterans, pro-lifers and Christians “right wing extremists” is probably the best example of how far the left has gone to divide the counrty.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Bullock, being "left" does not exclude you from being white supremacist, anti-government and anti-semite.

Examples:
White Supremacist - Sen. Robert Byrd, member of KKK
Anti-Government - Most organizations protesting at every WTO meeting
Anti-Semite - A current example is Rev. Wright, Pres. Obama's spiritual advisor for 20 years.

There are wackos on both sides, if you keep going farther and farther to the left and you keep going farther and farther to the right you eventually meet. It is not a straight line left to right, it is a circle. Was the unibomber on the left or right? You would say right, I would say left. However, he probably belongs in the area of the circle where the two meet.

Rick Esenberg said...

Jay

You could call him a left wing nut because, among other things, he is a socialist. (He's anti our government; Hitler's was just fine in his view.) White supremacy is not a "right wing" view and one could argue that there is more anti-semitism on the left than the right.

But I would not argue that he is a left wing nut because he is just a nut. Associating him with what we recognize as the left in American politics would be just as preposterous as associating him with the right.

Rick Esenberg said...

Clutch

I'll give you one more chance to get on point. The issue is not Glen Beck. Let's assume he spews nonsense all the time. (I don't know one way or the other since I have never seen his show.) The "cherry picking" I referred to is not from the remarks of Glen Beck but from the ranks of conservatives generally. Krugman, after all, is not indicting Glen Beck, he is indicting the right generally.

The difficulties - to which you have failed to address yourself - is that there is a huge difference between, say, Beck's remarks and what Krugman and likeminded folks want to label "extremism." He writes that "whatever dividing line there was between mainstream conservatism and the black-helicopter crowd seems to have been virtually erased." (Because, you know, there never really was one.) In fact, this thread demonstrates that - Cheney saying that Obama has made us less safe has suddenly become another example of "extremist" and "hateful" rhetoric. It was not, in fact, extremist to say the George Tiller had blood on his hands. A majority of Americans oppose the abortions that he performed and find them reprehensible.

Beyond that, I can find all sorts of idiotic and hateful remarks from prominent figures on the left. But I'm not going to blame "the left" if some nut goes out and commits a violent act.

The urge here is to demonize one
s political opponents. We can't just be people with differing views, we've got to be moral or intellectual defectives.

Of course conservatives do it too. At some level, we all do. But I think that it's a tendency that should be struggled against rather than indulged. If you really believe that your political opponents are misbegotten monsters, you need to work on yourself.

Rick Esenberg said...

Um, you're kidding, right? And the Weapons of Mass Destruction are where again? And Saddam had what to do with 9/11? Booga, booga!!

Mr. or Ms. Booga

There is a huge difference between lying and believing something that turned out to be wrong. As far as Saddam and 9/11 and what the administration said or did not say, that is far more complicated than you suggest.

Dad29 said...

"...people like Beck, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Cheney, et al., [are] contributing to the hate in this country..."

That would be Troll 101.

By the rhetoric of the statement, we ARE to believe that those players "contribute" to "hate."

In the real world, they contribute to the discussion--although I will grant that O'Reilly is far more bombastic than Cheney or Limbaugh.

So what?

AnonyTroll, have you ever actually READ campaign literature from the early-to-mid 1800's in this country? Some of it makes O'Reilly's chatter look like Sominex.

But it remains a fact that Tiller WAS a baby-killer. The concept of Free Speech still includes actual facts like that, AnonyTroll.

Franklin Romonowski said...

More "if you disagree with me you're a troll" comments from the anonymous blowhard coward Dad29.

"But it remains a fact that Tiller WAS a baby-killer."

He was a fetus remover. And that's a FACT.

See how dumb that sounds when people talk in absolutes?

Oh, and the baby-killer garbage that is Troll 101, whatever that means.

Dad29 said...

A HUMAN foetus?

You mean like a baby?

Clutch said...

I'll give you one more chance to get on point. The issue is not Glen Beck. Let's assume he spews nonsense all the time. (I don't know one way or the other since I have never seen his show.) The "cherry picking" I referred to is not from the remarks of Glen Beck but from the ranks of conservatives generally. Krugman, after all, is not indicting Glen Beck, he is indicting the right generally.

Ah, so Glenn Beck isn't any part of the point. And what Krugman said about Glenn Beck isn't the point. And whether what Krugman said about Glenn Beck was perfectly fair and accurate isn't the point. And how you characterized Krugman's reference to Beck isn't the point.

See, me? I was somehow confused by this:

Paul Krugman thinks that there is a wave of "extremism" and "hate" being fed by the media and political establishment. If there is, he ought to know. He's doing the serving.

There are three moves here... the final move: the blurring of distinctions between the sane and the short circuited. The way to do this is to cherry pick... ill considered statements (Glenn Beck reported internet rumours of FEMA concentration camps before he debunked them)
...

Seriously. Is it really that hard to say, "Okay, I was wrong about Beck. Krugman has a fair point about him, so that example doesn't actually serve to support my claim that Krugman was using misrepresentation as a rhetorical move."

Is it really easier to try brazen this out via some ridiculous fractal pattern of evasions, culminating in the surreal claim that it's somehow not "on point" to talk about your actual argument and its actual premises?

For that matter, what the hell are doing arguing that Glenn Beck is an exemplar of the sane being depicted as "short-circuited", if you've never even seen his frickin' show? Do you realize how disconnected this makes you sound from the very notion of rational support for your assertions?

Aren't you, finally, better than this?

Rick Esenberg said...

One last time. Krugman misrepresents by taking extreme statements as somehow characteristic of conservatives. Whether they are characteristic of Glen Beck is beside the point, his column was not about how Glen Beck foments violence, it was about how conservatives do. If all he wanted to do was smear Glen Beck, no one would much care.

As for whether Krugman has a fair point about Glen Beck, what point are you referring to? Krugman said that Beck "warned" his audience of fantastic internet rumors and then "conceded" they were untrue. I said that Beck reported them (something I also called ill considered) and then debunked them. I did not defend or attack Glen Beck and my characterization of what happened is perfectly consistent with Krugman's.

The point that I don't think is "fair" is the claim that conservatives or Fox News are in any way responsible for the actions of a couple lunatics.

If that is a point you want to defend, be my guest. That is, after all, what my post was about.

Franklin Romonowksi said...

"A HUMAN foetus?

You mean like a baby?"

That's what you call it, you anonymous rage-filled coward.

Sandra said...

Thank you, Clutch, for arguing from evidence and writing with clarity. It's fresh air around here.

Clutch said...

And see what it gets, Sandra? Musings about banning.

Um, because anonymity is bad, honest. Totally not because I pointed out porous reasoning and subsequent wriggling.

Clutch said...

If that is a point you want to defend, be my guest. That is, after all, what my post was about.

Well, I thought your post was very substantially about the three moves you purported to discover, and which you spent much of the post discussing -- the last of which was (I've argued) poorly reasoned or (you seem now to say) not really what you meant anyhow. (I hope you've sent an email correcting Mr McIlheran on this point, though.)

It's my view that the quality of one's overall case tends to be a function of the individual points one adduces in making it. Weak reasoning typically adds up to weak reasoning.

But as to the general and quite different question of whether writers other than Krugman, making points less careful and more sweeping than his, would be correct were they to say that Fox News was directly responsible for either the Tiller or the museum shootings, I can say that I would not find that plausible in the least. If that's all you meant, it's hard to see why the trail led through Krugman or Beck.

Rick Esenberg said...

Um, because anonymity is bad, honest. Totally not because I pointed out porous reasoning and subsequent wriggling.

Well, more because you didn't and wouldn't. But why are you anonymous? Would you be unwilling to point out "porous reasoning and subsequent wriggling" if you had to own it? The question isn't rhetorical. I really want to know.

Yes, there were three moves and none of them had to do with the merits of Glen Beck. That is your obsession. As I explained (and as was fairly clear from the outset) the cherry picking is not from the comment of Glen Beck but from the comments of conservatives. The reason it is is because Krugman is not saying that Glen Beck feeds violence but that what he thinks is mainstream conservatism does. One of the reasons that I have spent so much time on this is that I think that is spectacularly wrong. It is intellectually lazy and politically mendacious. I am truly astonished that intelligent people would buy it.

I think that Beck's comments, however silly, are a fairly weak foundation for accusing - not Beck; not people like Beck - but the "right" and mainstream conservatism (which he now finds indistinguishable from the black helicopter crowd) of feeding violence. If Beck had claimed that he believed that there were concentration camps and had hung on to that belief, it'd still be a weak point and it takes a special bit of ideological blindness and investment in one's sense of moral superiority to think otherwise.


Maybe I can understand why you need to be anonymous.