Pile on

The other day I talked about this weak and hollow man rich column by Charles Krauthammer.  But there was way more about that column that an attentive undergraduate could have criticized.  Here's another tidbit.  He wrote:

And now the mosque near Ground Zero. The intelligentsia is near unanimous that the only possible grounds for opposition is bigotry toward Muslims. This smug attribution of bigotry to two-thirds of the population hinges on the insistence on a complete lack of connection between Islam and radical Islam, a proposition that dovetails perfectly with the Obama administration's pretense that we are at war with nothing more than "violent extremists" of inscrutable motive and indiscernible belief. Those who reject this as both ridiculous and politically correct (an admitted redundancy) are declared Islamophobes, the ad hominem du jour.

So fine two thirds of the population are against the Ground Zero community center.  What else have two thirds of the people been against?  I wonder.  Let's go back in time:

The reponse?

The "smug attribution of bigotry" to 82 percent of the people.

9 thoughts on “Pile on”

  1. I've got to say, I don't really see how this follows.  I think you actually do quite a bit of harm with this argument as it's clearly a non sequitur conflating judgment based on ideology with racism.  You only shoot yourself in the foot with such a statement as it plays right into the, "They'll just call us racist!" narrative.  And well, you are and, well, you're wrong.

  2. I think you miss the point there, Andrew.  Krauthammer is using the tried-and-true "but two thirds of the population can't be racist" argument, which is just another example of an argumentum ad populum.  We're supposed to shy away from the negative assessment and solely because so many people can't be bigots.
    What Krauthammer should have done is just show, with data, the prevailing reasons that people give for opposing the mosque's construction.  Then he could show how those reasons are eminently rational.  Of course, since they're not, that might be a losing tactic.

  3. No, you're reading it as if Krauthammerwere the one to bold that statement.  One could (and I think should) read it more like this:
    This smug attribution of bigotry to two-thirds of the population hinges on the insistence on a complete lack of connection between Islam and radical Islam

    The 2 / 3rds comment was an aside and this statement does not imply that it is impossible for 2 /3rds of people to be bigots.  To falsely claim that as his argument is a straw man.

  4. When Bush made that "pretense," I don't recall any outrage generated over it. 
    The simple problem of the column is Krauthammer's utter lack of any counter-argument except for the ad populam.  Maybe those arguments can be generated, but Krauthammer doesn't do it.  For example you could ask, what evidence links the moderate muslims with the extremists?  Krauthammer's answer – 66% of americans.  That's not straw- or weak-manning, that's literally all he says.

  5. You're all wet here Andrew.  He's alleging that so many people hold this view so opposing as racist or islamophobic must be smug.  Whether those people hold it as a result of their considered and informed judgment about the (f—ing specious) relation between Islam and radical islam is another story.

    More generally, you're right about the rhetorical move people will make–no one however racist can sustain the charge in our political discourse.  But that's a separate point.  And it doesn't mean they're not racists.

  6. I'm not defending his argument regarding a link between Islam and Radical Islam.  He does a very poor job in that regard and (as has already been pointed out on this site) he presents no substantive evidence to support such a claim.  However, this post specifically attempted a criticism that implied some allegorical connection between opposition to the Ground Zero Mosque and opposition to interracial marriage.  it also did so under the banner of refuting an argument that Krauthammer did not make.  I am not defending Krauthammer.  I am saying that the retort made in this particular post is not a valid one.

  7. Sheesh.  The post said nothing about "opposition to interracial marriage."  The post rather pointed out that appeals to popular opinion (just like CK's) when it comes to attitudes to equality have sorry history in the United States.  And as DSM points out, CK didn't give any reason to think that the 66 percent or whatever oppose the Park51 project do so because of allegedly well-grounded fears about radical Islam.  His point is that you can't call that many people bigots.  To do so is "smug."  Well, no.

  8. Okay, maybe I'm just not being clear.
    Krauthammer said that 'liberals' were using charges of bigotry as means to dismiss (supposedly) valid views held by the majority of Americans.
    He made a list of topics where he thought this applied to and listed (for some) statements that alluded to the (supposedly) valid reasoning behind the majority position.

    Responding with, "Just because the majority believes something doesn't make it true," and then going into detail regarding one of the (supposedly) valid reasons he suggests is fine.  However, responding with, "Well maybe they ARE bigots!"  Plays completely into his hand.  You alienate everyone who doesn't already agree with you, you validate his narrative AND you attempted to use an analogy with something as charged (and unrelated) as interracial marriage statistics from 50 years ago (instead of making the case for why one of the issues that the article actually relates to DO imply bigotry).
    Do you just not get it?  You're stooping to his level and refusing to see that you're covering yourself with mud in the process.

  9. Andrew–

    1.  See comment on at 9:58.  I concede the rhetorical point–but note that it's a different point from the one I'm making.  Please read comments carefully

    2.  For the second time, no one is talking about interracial marriage.  So I don't know what on earth you're referring to.

    3.  Let me try to make this very simple for you.  Krauthammer says people who allege bigotry of 66 percent of the peope are "smug."  I respond by saying 66 percent can be bigots.  Here's an example of 80 percent being bigots.

    4.  Just to be clear, I haven't alleged that they're bigots (so I don't validate his evidence-free narrative).  I have alleged (by way of historical analogy to a previous case of bigotry) that there being a large number of them doesn't absolve them of being bigots (if they are).   

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