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Evidence!

| 6 Comments
Third in what's become an inadvertent series, I really can't do better than this though. Though I recommend reading the whole thing, I'm mainly posting it here because of this line:
"...is evidence that he's a poor President, but not that he's..."
Whatever comes before the "is" may be accurate, and thus people may make normative judgements on their basis, but bogus, strained conclusions (in this case: "the antecedent confirms he's a Muslim! Lets everyone go around saying Obama is a Muslim!") say a lot more about the critic than their target. It ends up being an act of self-nullification of any substantive critique they might have offered.

Here at Winds, one of the original purposes of this blog, and a reason I liked it, is to note and condemn things that poison the debate regardless of whether it's done by "our side" or against it. The knowledge by the fine and wise people who founded this blog, and gave me the opportunity to post here too, that meretricious arguments such as those not only inflame the debate but are self-defeating. Improper arguments may warm the hearts of some of the readers (in the "red meat" sense), but they also discredit those who make them in the eyes of fair observers. Or should. One of the reasons why I dislike the modern Left is that they are allowed to get away with this sort of behavior, since they still have the preponderant control of the "opinion-leading" institutions. Of course, one of the reasons that control may ebb is precisely because, in allowing many to get away with such things and even make careers out of it, they're undermining their own credibility, though at a more glacial pace than many think.

But that's no reason for the other side to become just the flip side of the same coin, because the same fair observers will see them as no different rather than a real alternative.

As for me, and connecting this to the other posts in the series: I don't know what Obama's heart is. I don't know what his real faith is (I highly, *highly* *HIGHLY* doubt it's Islam, however). Perhaps he's a sincerely devout Christian. He says he's a Christian. As Dave Kopel points out, no one doubts Carter is a sincere Christian. People who oppose President Obama's policies and behavior, I highly doubt they do so because they think he's a Muslim but would support those same policies and behavior if they became convinced he was a devout Christian ("Well, if he was, then his policies and behavior would be different!" is a non-argument, as there are many devout Christians who have the same political beliefs and behavior as he. You may think they're politically and even theologically misguided, and I might agree - after all, everyone's a heretic). No, as with the Blogchair Psychoanalysis, they first oppose his policies, and then latch on to something ("he's a bad President by reason of crazy!" or "he's a bad President by reason of Islam!") that claims to explain it, but really doesn't.

To me, the Alinskyist Argument makes more sense, because it's definitely connected to everything Obama has said and done. But even there, so what: A lot of people on the Right these days, while simoultaneously condemning Alinskyism, in the next breath proudly proclaim they are using Alinskyist tactics against Progressives, turning the tables on them. Huzzah!

Well, I'm all for the turning of tables, and holding people (especially the governing class) to the same standards they hold others to. But it's rather ironic for people to say "OMG, this Administration is full of Alinskyists, and Alinskyism is bad! Have you read Rules? You should!" (you really should) "I have! It's evil! And here's what I've learned from it, and this is the Alinskyist tactic I'm using today!"

That's the common thread in this series of posts: that the tactics the Right despises in the Left, some elements of the Right are gleefully adopting themselves, even while still deploring the tactics. Now, this can be done to some degree and in certain ways, but done in the way these have, it's as I said: poisonous and self-destructive.

6 Comments

I largely agree, by and large.

In addition, I always thought that part of the reasons that Obama was being linked to Alinsky was to imprint the treason/commie/anti-military card. But your point is well taken.

After/before the election I trolled a few conservative pages just to look at the debate from another angle. I would see Alinsky-tactic thing all the time. I would always counter-argue: "didn't ROVE use this as a tactic when...". But they could only see the implicit connection to Obama, not how it reinforced the state of politics in general. (They also largely agreed with Rove's use of similar tactics, or at least deemed it as a necessary tool)

This vice-versa as well. The left is also adopting tactics used by the right, but that had previously considered verboden.

In my mind, both sides are headed towards MAD.

"Guns don't kill people, people kill people!"
-old folk saying

"The NRA says guns don't kill people, people do. But I think guns help."
-Izzy Izzard

The same can be said for community organizing tactics. The fact that Saul Alinsky happened to be an organizer on the left is hardly relevant to his writings on effective organizing. Those same tactics will, of course, be adopted by everyone who wants to effectivley mobilize a movement. There's nothing wrong with this. The problem is when people lose the ability to recognize when they're doing it, when they lose the ability to shift from organizing rabble rousing mode to open minded discussion mode, when they mistake organizing tactics and slogans for substance, or truth, and when they misuse these tactics to slander and defraud, or to stifle open minded discussion.

The fact that bad causes as well as good attract effective organizers is why we must stay on our toes.

I don't think the Alinksy thing was treason related at all (there are plenty of over non-arguments that do try to play that card from some of the same people). I think the Alinsky issue has to do with essentially being a political cipher. That isn't treason certainly- essentially its tactics (dirty ones) but its also a great strategy of saying one thing today so you can do something else tomorrow. Obviously all politicians do this, but Alinsky had the nuts to put it down on paper and teach the politically motivated how to think several steps down the road and win at any cost. It makes Rove look like a piker.

I don't find this as objectionable as some- politics should be rough and tumble, and hence I don't worry when 'my' side starts doing it as well. If the public really hates it, it will backfire and we will have a halcyon republic. But they won't and we'll have more political bloodletting. Unilaterally disarming is just silly.

It's not the tactics I find objectionable, its the goals. Like I said, Alinksy taught the hard left had to disguise themselves as moderates and martyrs in order to achieve their far leftist goal incrementally. The beauty of this is that when opponents point this out, they can be labeled as nuts and haters... even if they have the Handbook right in their palm. Logic doesn't count, so the other side can't win. Which is important when your goals are untenable and illogical based on the history of the species.

"The fact that Saul Alinsky happened to be an organizer on the left is hardly relevant to his writings on effective organizing."

Have you read all of Rules? Some of the tactics recommended include dissembling and an overall ends-justify-the-means philosophy that I don't think is good regardless of which side is using it.

Are all the tactics Alinsky recommends odious? No, but the ones that aren't are hardly original to him. (The ones that are odious are hardly original to him, either...but they are the flavor of Alinsky).

Alinskyism includes a general recommendation to insincere and bogus arguments as a means of rallying people, especially "the middle class" behind radical causes that they wouldn't actually support if the "organizer" was forthright as to their real reasons.

That may not be what's consciously at work in the bogus arguments that have been the subject of my mini-series of posts, but the effect is the same. For all I know, the guy who wrote the AmThinker post has sincerely convinced himself that Obama is a Muslim. Indeed, lets grant him sincerity (therefore, he's not a Alinskyist in this sense). Still, the charge remains bogus, and putting it out there with such flimsy evidence and weak arguments, which aren't the real reason why the author opposes Obama anyhow (just as not even the Blogchair Psychoanalist's real reason for opposing Obama is because he's the Adult Child of an Alcoholic), is something that should be condemned, not supported in a publication that aspires to seriousness (as AmThinker definitely does).

Anyhow, for me an embrace of Alinskyism is worth condemning on its face no matter which side one uses it on, precisely because it's distinguishing feature is its commitment to "Maskirovka" (to use a Russian word that pithily describes it).

Sure, one can cherry-pick Rules for stuff that doesn't suck, but why bother? Why associate oneself with it at all? There's plenty of sources for the tactics that aren't derived from Lucifer.

The term maskirova brings to mind very strongly what it is about Alinskyism that annoys me so much-- Alinsky, and similar thinkers, regard domestic politics even in a well-functioning Democracy, as warfare in the truest sense.

In that context, if liberals are really at war with conservatives, then of course you'll adopt deceptive tactics. We think nothing of deceiving an enemy in warfare. To the contrary, we applaud it, because when done well it's more cost-effective than a straight-up fight.

But. I refuse to consider myself "at war" with Democrats or Republicans, with liberals or conservatives.

I find the very notion revolting and corrosive. I likewise find Alinski's work in general to be revolting and corrosive. Not every tactic endorsed and sentence written is reprehensible, but as a body of work it is not to be admired.

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