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Commentary :: Resistance & Tactics

Right Silly Arguments

How come so many screwball claims about the left from the right come right from left field? Why don’t conservatives balk at throwing so many verbal wild pitches? How many really bad baseball analogies can one introduction contain? Fret not: A look at a few of the ongoing dippy assertions made about liberals is now at the plate.
One of my favorite Monty Python bits involved the "Ministry of Silly Walks." I have begun to think perhaps there should also be an "Agency of Silly Arguments"--a building appropriately equipped with an obsolete, dangerously unstable right wing--considering how many (stereo)typically daft contentions I regularly hear from those who disagree with me politically. It's not that folks on the right don't have valid points, because obviously (at times) they do, but some of the things emanating from that direction sound like they come straight from some book entitled "Really, Really Dumb Ways to Try to Make My Point--Whatever It Is." Are there just as equally dimwitted things said from the left? Yes, but this is my column, not yours--so nyeah, nyeah, nyeah, nyeah, nyeah. (That was just for example's sake.)

OK, first, some housekeeping: Name-calling is NOT debating. I know this might be a difficult concept for some at first, especially for those who have done it since just after (or before, or maybe even during) birth, but there's pretty much nothing I haven't heard, and most of these didn't quite attain knee-slapping level even on their maiden passes. Some of my, uh, "creatively challenged" critics think it's original and witty to employ variations of my last name. Believe it or not, this has already been done. Granted, I didn't hear the first one until I was well into my twos, but nonetheless, you're just a tad late. As timelessly hilarious as are "Droolette," "Do Little," and, of course, the classic "Droopy Drawers," you really don't want to be trying to steal someone else's prime material, now do you? If you are an inveterate name caller and still aren't quite sure whether it's time to move on, here's a sure-fire test for you: Take out your driver's license (provided your home state allows you on its roads), and look at the birthdate. If the year's prefix is "19," the last two numbers don't matter: You are too old to call people names--period. Stop it now.

All right, time to move on and address silly argument #1: Voicing political dissent endangers American troops in Iraq and aids the enemy.
First, let's view the weird dichotomy contained in this claim: Rationalizations for invading Iraq have changed more often than a check forger's signature, but the latest (false) one is that America attacked Iraq to actually help it, by benevolently bestowing our God-given gift of democracy (including, one might assume, freedom of speech) to the Iraqi people, even though they didn't really ask us for it. Strangely, though, according to this argument’s champions, it's just not OK to try this annoying First Amendment crap at home.

But that contradiction is obvious, so here's what I see as really bizarre about the first part of this knotheaded assertion: Just offhand--and this may be a little hard to follow so, please, stay with me here, but--and again, this is only my best guess--it would seem that the troops were most likely endangered by.……………...THE MAN WHO SENT THEM THERE!!!!! (Color-coded, diagrammatical chart showing how this conclusion was reached available upon request; instructional video included.)

As for dissent voiced in America "aiding the enemy": Just how, exactly, does this work? After at least a minute of deep thought, I imagined the following scenario taking place somewhere deep inside Iraq:

"Captain Abdullah, sir, our Iraqi Insurgency Division of American Dissent Monitoring has just picked up some anti-war chatter from a couple of college students in Boise, Idaho."
"Hmm...How would you describe it, soldier: mild cynicism, angry disillusionment, or stupefying outrage?"
"The last one, sir."
"All right, then, by Allah, that's the threshold we’ve been waiting for. Immediately send out a message across Iraq, from the largest cities to the smallest villages, via our Super Secret Communications System--you know, the one with the tin cans and the very long string--and tell everyone that we have received the critical message to attack."
"Should I break out the smoke signals, too, sir?"
"Yes, by all means. We sure don't want to miss an opportunity like this."
"Yes, sir. Will do, sir."

Well, I must say that, at first, this claim seemed to be fairly ridiculous. However, after closer inspection, it now appears monumentally inane.

Silly argument #2: Lefties hate America.
You know, I see how uber-conservatives could hysterically say this about me personally since I have the DeGaulle to often praise the land that, in their world view, is a giant breeding ground for America’s arch-enemies: France. The argument might even have some traction if liberals as a group were, say, leading a NASCAR boycott, because it's hard to get more American than stock car racing. But we're not, and I've always thought the focus of this assertion has been slightly off anyway: I don't think it's as much about hating/loving America per se, but rather much more about what one thinks of American VALUES. You've heard of 'em: things like liberty, justice, equality, human rights, representative and participatory democracy, just to name a few. And if you look real closely at that last one, that's exactly what lefties (and righties, and middies; or is it middlings?) are doing when they speak up about what they see as wrong or right (maybe I should say: “correct?) with America. The following should be obvious (though apparently not to everyone), so I'll state it for the record: People become active and vocal because they LOVE America’s ideals and want to promote their more consistent application, not because they hate anything.

As for me, here's ironclad proof I care deeply about my country and that for which it stands: I force myself to read entire George Will columns. I do not do this for pleasure (this is called an "understatement"); I do it from a sense of duty as an American, to be as informed as possible. And, boy, let me tell you: Some days, I have to give it two or three shots (Jim Beam preferred; at least, it would be if I still drank) before I can make it to Will's closing line. If that ain't love for my country, it don't exist. (I do not, however, make myself listen to Rush Limbaugh. This would be crossing the line from love for America straight into depraved masochism.)

Silly argument #3: Liberals dine on infant flesh. (Whoops, wait a sec...I'm sorry, my assistant tells me though this one’s been conceived, complications have arisen during development. There's no chance conservatives won’t insist on its eventual delivery, however, whether it’s wanted or not.)

Silly argument #3: (corrected): All liberals love Bill Clinton.
Oh, please!! For one thing, I don't, so that disproves the theory right there. But beyond that, plenty of people of the non-conservative persuasion can't stand him, if for no other reason than that Clinton's mere existence has sent dittoheads and their kind into banshee-like apoplexy for years, and shocking though this may be, there are a handful of us who are actually just a wee bit weary of the shrieking. Shameless self-promotion time (in keeping with the Clinton theme): I wrote a piece (link at bottom) showing why Bush is SO much worse than Clinton could ever dream to be, even in Bill's most conniving, sex-obsessed, money-grubbing, lying, sleazy pardoning, liberties-squelching, sick fantasies. (Hey, did I get the right rant right? For a much more comprehensive and realistic, albeit over-the-top, recitation of Clinton's transgressions, replay any Limbaugh show from the last twelve years; the pre-rehab ones are the best.)

Silly argument #4: Liberals are against the war because they're pacifists.
I realize saying, "That's about as dumb as a sack full of hammers," is not considered a mature counter-argument. But seeing as how I have recently been diagnosed with MDD (Maturity Deficit Disorder), I feel medically excused to say: "That's about as dumb as a sack full of hammers," though this may be slighting the hand tools' collective IQ a bit--and quite possibly the sack's. (I assume I'll now hear from the HADL [Hammer Anti-Defamation League].) This silly argument is so tempting to use, I believe, because it lets the speaker off the hook from doing any menial-type work, like thinking. If one just categorically states all anti-war sentiment stems from pacifism, then no pondering is needed regarding other reasons that may exist for protesting the war, like perhaps it was in reality a needless, senseless, unjustified, illegal, immoral, brutal, long-desired American imperialistic assault. Yes, these are finely-nuanced, hard-to-see details which, admittedly, could very well take all of up to a few seconds' worth of contemplation to discover, but the precious time spent should well be worth it.

A snide corollary often accompanies the all-pacifism, all-the-time charge: "If liberals had had their way in World War II, we'd all be speaking German." Ignoring completely that it was one of the American left's all-time heroes, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who—for years--pushed for U.S. entry into the war in opposition to entrenched domestic isolationism, this is also an absurd and defaming attempt to somehow conflate the world-saving Allies' defeat of Germany and Japan in World War II with the diametrically differing circumstances surrounding Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Besides, why is it always "German"? What, there’s something wrong with Japanese? Sure, it may harder to learn, but German is just so, well, "Old Europe."

Silly argument #5: Liberals are Marxists.
This one's true, at least for me, and frankly, I've never seen what the big deal is. The Marx Brothers, at their comedic peak were not only hilarious, but brilliant social commentators, too. As for the non-actor brother who became an author--Kyle, I think his name was--I've never read him. I assume he must have also been something of an important figure in the textile industry, as I've heard a lot over the years about Marx and linen.

Silly argument #6: Liberals disdain personal responsibility.
Apparently, we left-wingers should immediately chastise ourselves for our unrelenting fecklessness, and begin following the administration's sterling lead of accepting responsibility in all matters like: its lackadaisical treatment of pre-9/11 warnings; the phony Iraq war justifications; insufficient protection for American troops; no post-war exit strategy; detainees' torture; the blowing of Valerie Plame's CIA cover; withholding from Congress accurate cost information about the Medicare prescription drug bill; the EPA's lies about New York's air quality after 9/11; the "average" $1083 tax cut hornswoggle; swearing to uphold the Constitution and then proposing to amend it to enact unequal rights; the trashing of decades-old international alliances; the lack of an intelligent energy policy to help wean America from the poisonous oil teat, the…oh, wait a moment, please. (It's my assistant again.) What's that you say, Emily? The president hasn’t taken responsibility for ANY of these things? No kidding?? OK, then, readers...never mind.

Additionally, the right has done its level best these past few years to make patriotism a hot topic, so let's see how this applies regarding "personal responsibility." The most basic responsibility any patriot has is to defend the Constitution, being duty-bound to take action whenever he or she sees our basic American law threatened. Now, I certainly understand that attaching little American flags to car antennas, singing along with Toby Keith and applauding his big ass-kickin' boot, making cracks about the French, and listening to Limbaugh making cracks about us, all run a very close second on the old patriotism scale to actively raising loud, long alarms about the Bush administration and its ongoing shredding of, and utter contempt for, the Constitution. But, hey, since they're so doggoned close, let's call it a draw, OK?

Silly argument #7: Liberals hug trees.
I've never, ever hugged a tree--ever. I have, however, certainly embraced my share of bushes--floristically-speaking, of course. I had to give it up, though, when our current president was appointed: The psychological implications were just too icky.

All righty, that's it for today: I have to hurry to my “How to Engage in Class Warfare and Elitism and Not Show It? course over at the Kumbaya Center. But if I have convinced just one person who employs any of the above ditzy claims to stop--well, it's not nearly enough, but I guess it's a start. For those of you who just can't help yourselves and insist on carrying on the baleful tradition of using right silly arguments, might I suggest you gently grab your dog (if you don't have one, any dog will do; just put it back when you're done), sit that puppy down, and yammer on. Be forewarned, though: Don't be surprised, if at some point, the animal yawns, gets up, and walks away, for even a canine's love for mankind has its limits.

To read why Bush has out-Clintoned Clinton, go to:

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Re: Right Silly Arguments

This is a very funny piece. When I was in high school, I was on the varsity debate team. One of the rules of formal debate is that name-calling does not earn any points. I wish some of my leftist, liberal friends would cut out the name-calling. It embarrasses us all.

I am a leftist who doesn't hate my country, has some sympathy for our troops in harms way, and don't disdain personal responsibility. Since what is being done by the United States government is being done in my name, so to speak, I feel an obligation to weigh in when I think US policy is headed in the wrong direction.

Saying criticism equals hating one's country makes as much sense as saying a parent who puts their child on time-out hates that child.

In both cases, the opposite is true.

The "personal responsibility" argument is often used to explain away homelessness. The right-wing think tanks have pitched the idea that homeless people are homeless because of some bad decision they made: quitting a job or school, drinking or doing drugs, or getting in trouble with the law. This argument means that the government and wealthy people are not responsible for the plight of homeless people. Nevermind that homelessness springs from the gap between how little a job can pay and the high cost of housing.
If that homeless person had just gone to Harvard, they could have been a corporation lawyer by now!

Or a president (by appointment only).

Hi, Becky,

Thank you!

I guess calling your vocal lefty friends a few choice names when they start in on that stuff probably wouldn't help, huh? I know what you mean: As soon as that garbage starts up on either side, it lowers the whole tone about thirteen octaves and does nothing to generate what this country sorely needs these days, honest debate.

Re the right and homelessness (or any issue, really): Deep, dark secret time. I was a Republican at one time, and I was amazed at how simple it made everything--instantly. I listened to Rush and agreed with all of the black-and-white problems and "answers" to those problems and went "Yeah, that's right!" Then I got a maturity transplant (mean, yes, I know, but not exactly name-calling, so I think I'm still safe), and realized, of course, that so few, if any, real problems can be laid out that way. What's critically needed to address pressing issues are intelligence, wisdom, compassion, and a REAL sense of responsibility. For instance, why SHOULDN'T wealthy people in this country have higher tax rates, for cryin' out loud? I believe it is their social and patriotic duty to put money in the kitty to try to make their country, the land in which they made their money and make their homes, a better place. I mean, come on, who wouldn't want to try to better one's society if one can help? I just don't get it, hence, I have not been a GOP member for some time. And don't get me wrong, it's not that traditional conservatism doesn't make sense in at least some ways, but therein lies the problem: Those in power of the GOP today are not even in the same universe as traditional Republicans. They are fundamentalist loonies who are incredibly dangerous. The good news? I think they'll see a lot of backlash at the polls come November; I'm certainly predicting a flat-out rejection of Bush.


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