Following up on what Scott said the other day, we ought to call “No Reasonable Opposition” the “everyone is stupid except me” move. I’m sure there’s a gif of this video somewhere.
Ron Ross’s piece over at The American Spectator is really a mess. AmSpec usually does a pretty good job of keeping the tinfoil hat brigade off the page and only in the comments. Not so this time. The core view is that liberalism is a lie propped up by lies and executed by liars. Why would these folks lie so much and be such liars? Well, because they want power. Most of Ross’s examples aren’t examples of lies per se, but more cases of either confusion, just being wrong, or are matters of reasonable disagreement. For example, Ross holds that President Obama lied when he said he’d uphold the Constitution. But because Obama’s interpretation of the Constitution conflicts with his, Ross takes this as a lie.
Barack Obama took a sacred oath to uphold the Constitution. He never had the slightest intention of adhering to the Constitution, as we now well know.
Oy. That’s not a lie. That’s a disagreement about what the Constitution allows for the executive branch (between an opinion journalist and a man who taught Constitutional Law), and using ad populum (“that we all know”) to cover that over is more in lie territory than what he’s accusing Obama of. Regardless, Ross’s view of liberals culminates in the following assessment:
Liberals cannot tell the truth, and in this context the word has two meanings. They cannot tell the truth because what they want to accomplish isn’t what most people want. And they cannot tell the truth because it’s become habitual not to. It is so much a part and parcel of their being that it’s become second nature. They do it without thinking. They actually enjoy lying. It’s their favorite pastime.
What’s particularly irritating about the piece is Ross’s regular complaint that liberals can’t even see any conservatives as reasonable.
They cannot imagine any legitimate reason anyone would disagree with them. If you disagree there must be something wrong with you.
First off, the lying view and this No Reasonable Opposition view are inconsistent. If you must lie to get your view out, you must think that reasonable people will reject it. That’s why you must lie. So the lying thesis requires reasonable opposition. But that’s not the real problem here. Look at how Ross has painted the liberal, as someone who has no interest in truth or rational exchange, but rather as someone looking for raw power, someone who has something wrong inside. I just wonder if Ron Ross’s house has any mirrors.
The problem with No Reasonable Opposition views is that they actually have a very heavy burden of showing how the opposition actually fails to even be in the hunt for truth. It’s taken to be an all-to-easy burden, but it’s actually a very demanding burden to handle. No wonder those who make use of it (perhaps because it’s rhetorically very powerful) never properly deploy it.