Tag Archives: Andres Martinez

Quintessentially irrational

Someone wonders what would have happened had Al Gore been selected President in 2000 (and thus President on 9/11).  Someone else responds, saying:

So I will assume that you mean 9/11 wouldn't have happened if Gore were elected because a Gore administration would have made the federal government more competent and vigilant. This argument blends irrational partisanship with that quintessentially American belief that all tragedies — whether on the playground or elsewhere — are eminently preventable. Under this belief, stuff just doesn't "happen," and there is no horror that cannot be prevented by a manufacturer's foresight, a guardian's prudence or a government's alertness. Such anti-fatalism is the faith of our fathers (and of our plaintiffs' lawyers), and it animates our political discourse in mostly positive ways. Too much fatalism, after all, can lead to a kind of "que sera, sera" complacency.

Someone asked a specific question, and Andres Martinez (who writes some kind of column for the Post) answers two general ones about the psychology not of the questioner but of two groups of people: irrational partisans and "quintessentially American" anti-fatalists.  He has in effect turned a straight-forward counterfactual question into a complex one by giving an irrelevantly bifurcated response.  It's a reverse complex question straw man ad hominem circumstantial.  As if to say, "oh, I see what you're saying, but why are you so interested in irrational partisanship and fatalism denial?"