Here’s the setup for a meta-tu quoque. Stage 1: A makes crazy claim. Stage 2: B criticizes A for crazy claim. Stage 3: A defends A’s claim by noting B’s criticism is based on a double-standard. Stage 4: B notes that A, in charging a double-standard, employs a double standard. I’ve noted elsewhere here at the NS that some forms of double-standard arguments are relevant and argumentatively appropriate. (And John, Colin, and I also published a paper on it a year ago.)
OK, so here’s application. Stage 1: Brian Kilmeade of Fox News said he wouldn’t support the Syrian opposition groups, because they say “Allahu Akbar” when they score military successes. Stage 2: John McCain criticizes Kilmeade for Islamophobia. (Here’s the Huffpo review of the exchange.) Stage 3: George Neumayr at AmSpec defends Kilmeade noting that McCain’s criticism deploys a double standard:
When Fox News host Brian Kilmeade said on Tuesday that he didn’t want to back Syrian rebels who scream “Allahu Akbar!” after bombing buildings, McCain, revealing the Islamophilia behind America’s Arab-Spring foreign policy, replied that those chants don’t bother him. “They are moderates,” he said, dismissing the chants as no more “offensive” than a Christian who says “thank God.” Too bad Kilmeade didn’t ask McCain to give examples of Christians yelling “thank God” after slitting someone’s throat.
The first trouble is that Kilmeade is taking the speech act performed after a horrible deed to be identify the perpetrator as representative of the group that speech act indicates. So because a Muslim terrorist says “Allahu Akbar” after a terrorist incident, those who say “Allahu Akbar” are dangerous radicals. McCain’s reply is by way of counter-examples – Christians say “Thank God” all the time… that’s what the phrase is analogous to. Neumayr’s case is that McCain’s double standard is not to take extreme behavior as representative.
Here’s stage 4: Religious man murders his friend after his friend tells him he’s an atheist. We don’t take that as representative, do we?