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November 01, 2008

Palling around with people who pal around with terrorists

Great post from Revere about being a young politically active doctor resisting the Vietnam war: Annals of McCain - Palin, XLI: how I palled around with terrorists. I've palled around with Revere, so by the principle of transitivity of terrorism, I can never be president. The first time I met Revere, we went to a pub called the Irish Eyes in Somerville, Mass. We picked the bar because a fifty dog fanciers and their canines had overrun the Tir Na Nog and we needed a spur of the moment fallback plan. I later learned that this was one of the most notorious IRA bar in greater Boston, so we inadvertently palled around with people who palled around with international terrorists, too. Good times!

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Sadly, both Irish Eyes and Tir Na Nog have closed.

I miss Somerville.

Over at Atlas Shrugs Pamela Geller names names. She’s got the whole terrifying Obama background story just in time for Halloween. Turns out that Obama has been palling around with communists, terrorists, Maoists, anarchists, Islamofascists, Islamonegros, killers, dopers, psychos, libertines, French cat-fanciers, and fuck-all knows who since before he was even born! She strongly suggests that Obama’s real father is actually none other than Scary Negro Number One: Malcom X! (Or at least that’s what I think she’s saying. It’s hard to follow the word salad mumblings of a psychopath off her medications.)

First, Lindsay, I'm pretty sure there are other reasons you can never be President.

Second, that defense of Obama is really weak. McCain isn't saying that Obama met Ayers once, but that they were close and Obama should have known better. There are a lot of good responses for that - e.g. the Ayers interview published on 9/11 says the opposite of what Republicans think it does - but "I too know a guy who might possibly have known a terrorist once" is just ridiculous.

I think we passed the point a few months ago where a "defense" of Obama on Ayers, Rev. Wright, or any number of other charges is necessary. We're even beyond the point of outrage; all that's left in our choice of responses (besides silence) is ridicule.

The substantive charges have already been debunked here and elsewhere. We're in the straight up ridicule phase now.

Guilt by association requires two parts. First, the six degrees of separation. If one digs deep enough and long enough, eventually one can link anybody to anybody. But that is not good enough without the second part: The hyperbole fallacy.

You see, the problem with the first part is that most folks will not know an obscure name until you attach it to a hot button word like terrorist, fascist, or commie, etc. Then ... Kaboom ... the gambit explodes into a full-fledged guilt by association. Think of the reductio ad Hitlerum form of ad hominem attack. Supposedly, the Internet has the so-called Godwin Fallacy which states "the first person to call the other a Nazi automatically loses the argument." No such conventions guard against character assassinations in politics. Sometimes the term "anti-Semite" is overused as Lindsay points in her post, "The McCain spokesman and the phantom antisemite."

My own mother once used this gambit me. She was asking me how European TV was reporting the first Infitada, i.e., the Palestinian uprising in the 1980s. My response was that the images were not good, that it appeared Israeli soldiers were using excessive force. When I mumbled some Chomsky-like sentiments on behalf of the Palestinians that were not to my mother's liking, she said: "Son, I always knew you were a closet anti-Semite."

A month later, to my good fortune, my foreskin grew back.

Skatje's Law: The longer you talk philosophy with some woo-spinning new age acid casualty, the probability of them bringing up quantum physics approaches 1.

Funny you should say that, Indy, my entire wardrobe is comprised of Princeton University E=MC^2 T-Shirts.

octopus, i like your style.

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