Friday, October 17, 2008

Is It Hyperbolic To Be Frightened By This?

The final quote:
"What I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or Anti-America? I think the American people would love to see an expose like that."


  1. Not surprisingly, this woman’s comments are awash with rhetoric. There is nothing wrong with rhetoric, but if the purpose of this blog is precise and thoughtful debate, her statement will take some unwinding.

    To get the ball rolling, I’m going to mix some premises with some Socratic questions. If my style is less than precise, it is because my interlocutor is less than precise (and she has long, dark hair and ya’ll know what that does to me).

    I begin with the college education issue. In American culture there exists a ubiquitous myth that college education is “liberal.” Recall Buckley’s famous quote.

    Is college education liberal? Does college education encourage redistribution of wealth? Does it lead to greater civil rights? Does it break down class distinctions? The answer is an unequivocal “no”. By its nature, education cannot accomplish these things.

    So why is college education thought of as “liberal”. My answer: because college education, and all education, is inherently antithetical to ego and ethno-centrism. There is nothing inherent in human nature/psychology which forces us to look beyond our own immediate sphere of existence. We must learn that we, and those near us, are not the sum total of humanity. Learn that there is history beyond our reach and forces beyond our control. Learn that ideas are often wrong and passions are often destructive. Every time we learn, our belief that we are unique and righteous is chopped down one notch.

    Dismantling our natural ego and ethno-centrism is a requisite for progressive thinking. One cannot think of a better word if one imagines their world to be the best. Thus there is a connection between education and progressive politics. However, when we use the terms “liberal” and “conservative” we refer to rough conglomerations of public policy preferences, either of which might be progressive.

    Now we can better define what is meant by “anti-American.” Maybe one is anti-American if they believe that something over 50% of choices made by Americans are wrong. This would be a reasonable definition and, using it, I would be anti-American.

    However I do not believe this Congresswoman or Ms. Palin has this definition in mind. For them, anti-American means not ego and ethno-centric. For them it means someone who believes that being American is not equivalent to being good. An anti-American is someone who understands that goodness is earned.

    By this definition Barack Obama is anti-American, and I would never support a candidate who was anything less.

    This comment was written while drinking Allagash Triple Reserve Belgian Style Ale. Thus please excuse an unusually high volume of typos, grammatical errors and tangential references to hair.

  2. Bachmann's comments have so disconcerted voters in her district that her Republican primary opponent has 're-entered' the race with an appeal as a write-in candidate.

  3. This woman Bachman is an idiot. I can only imagine the basis on which she votes on the various issues that come before her. She makes Sarah Palin look coherent by comparison.

    Chris Matthews did no one any favors by his awkward interview, for 2 reasons.

    First, he needs education on how not to talk over his interviewee, that is, on how to allow for the time lapse in satellite-relay conversations. He made a hash of most of his questions, and her answers, by ignoring this.

    Second, by not focusing on one single statement and forcing her to take it apart item by item he allowed her silliness to seem acceptable. You don't have to take sides to challenge your interlocutor's assertions. By failing to challenge them specifically, he seemed to be accepting each statement as he moved on to another question.


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