Sunday, August 22, 2010

Learn from the Master

I was at the gym Friday afternoon to exercise my anxieties away, and I noticed that Glenn Beck's show was on the television attached to the treadmill I wanted to use. So I thought I would watch his show for a while. Besides, I am mildly intrigued by the plastic frames Beck has been wearing lately, which appear to have time-traveled from 1984 to the present to rest on his nose.

Beck was presenting a version of an argument that appears to be getting traction in the right-wing responsibility-free media. These arguments purport to show that those on the left actually stand for the very opposite things they are ordinarily thought to stand for. So, for example, that moron Lori Ziganto has been insisting that feminists are actually against women. Her arguments are all garbage, and her readers only want to be reassured by her words, which travel effortlessly through the echo chamber, unchallenged by those who only want their ignorant prejudices confirmed, while Ziganto cashes the checks they send her. (Great racket, if you can live with yourself while you participate in it.) She cowardly refuses to respond to any mature adults who challenge her, and instead only offers attaboy's to those who agree with absolutely everything she says.

Anyway, Beck appeared to be arguing that progressives are actually racists. (I can't seem to locate the video. You can watch a segment from the same broadcast here.) Why would he do this? You see, the Tea Party has been suspected of harboring racists, and the Tea Party is a more libertarian wing of the Republican Party, though not officially so. To blunt this criticism ahead of the November election, it appears that defenders of the Tea Party are trying to accuse progressives of being the very thing that the Tea Party is being accused of. It's a grown-up version of this old playground debate (where x is replaced by a noun or adjective, e.g., "racist," "homosexual," etc.):

You're an x.
Nuh-uhh. You're an x.

Now, I didn't watch the entire program. You see, I don't understand Beck's appeal. I find him difficult to watch. There's enough smug packed into an hour of his show to last a lifetime. And the only thing worse than a person who tries to be funny but isn't is a person who tries to be funny, isn't, but thinks that he's funny anyway. But the part of his argument I did catch was as follows, as I recall:
  1. The Supreme Court led by Earl Warren is known for making progress in civil rights. 
  2. Earl Warren was nominated to the Supreme Court by a Republican president. 
  3. Lyndon Johnson objected to an important section of some piece of civil rights legislation. 
  4. Johnson was a Democrat. 
  5. Therefore, progressives are racists. 
If you "attend" Beck U., I suppose you too will learn how to formulate arguments that will convince only those who already agree with everything you have to say. Learn from the master, I say.

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It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. ---W.K. Clifford

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear. ---Thomas Jefferson