A Lesson in Leftist Argumentation, Courtesy of Twitter

I’m not exactly sure where the word “meme” came from, or when it came, or through what door.  Composition instructors used to chatter a lot about “enthymemes” because the word appears so often in Aristotle’s Rhetoric… and even Aristotle, frankly, left me scratching my head.  I think the idea was that certain manipulative arguments go straight from major premise to conclusion without examining an essential supporting premise.  Would “shoddy or exploitative reasoning” be an adequate paraphrase?

At any rate, that’s not a bad description of activity on our unsociable “social media”, if not strictly a definition of “enthymeme” or “meme”.  Yet shoddiness and exploitation both perfectly suit what’s going on in the “meme” I scrolled across Thursday morning on Twitter (reproduced above).  Now, I ought to have passed on without comment.  I knew that the humming in the hive before me wasn’t seven musical munchkins, and that sticking my head in would therefore be ill-advised.  But I couldn’t resist: the shoddiness was so… shoddy!  Especially when I viewed the responses to the post, I felt compelled to exercise of my First Amendment rights.

Respondents were all high-fiving “Danielle” for “trolling” idiot Trumpers.  She and they were back-and-forthing about how the stupid Deplorables were loving on her meme rather than recognizing it as a slap in their droopy gob.  “Yes, all Trump supporters are morons.”  “They have no education.”  “The right is full of idiots.”  That kind of thing… like the U.S. Women’s [Persons’?] Soccer Team [Gang?] having a very private, no-Americans-allowed celebration after a goal.

Well… all in the world I wanted to point out was that the analogy was incoherent.  I understand that humor hath a kind of license in it (as Isabella says to Angelo of his lewd hypotheticals).  I wasn’t trying to kill the joke.  I didn’t bother to observe that Native Americans did not represent a unitary cultural front to the “invading” culture, and that many native groups were indeed engaged in trying to enslave or exterminate other native groups; I didn’t carp that in Virginia, at least, most early settlers gave no hint of seeking asylum in the wilderness and fully intended to return home ASAP.  Accept the jibe within its own parameters.  So… what does it say?

It says that already settled cultures have a right to protect their boundaries and send away invading cultures to clean up their own mangled garden.  I actually agree with that.  I believe that the Potato Famines, for instance, would have been managed much better if native Irish hadn’t massively accepted landlords’ bribes to sail for Quebec and New York (during which passages tens of thousands died in shipboard conditions that made slave ships look like luxury liners).  Public opinion in England would have had its collective nose forced into a malodorous reality, just as restless masses of abused poor in Mexico and Central America—if they remained in situ—would force change upon certain outrageously corrupt governments.  That has always been my position… and the Trumper’s, too (a political clan which isn’t strictly mine but in which I recognize a strong ally).  Individuals have a right to self-defense… and cultures have the same right.  They don’t have to commit suicide just because aliens want their stuff and their turf.

This argument was made a month or so ago on Peter Helmes’ conservo.wordpress.com German website (I haven’t yet retrieved the precise article).  It’s equally valid for us… isn’t it?  All I wished to say about the meme—in telegraphic Twitterspeak—was that it supported our position, not that of “Danielle” and her admiring minions.  In the analogy, the chieftain is Donald Trump.  If the Pilgrims should shuffle on back to Plymouth, then the MS-13 family unit should make its way back to Honduras.  Or if adventurers looking for a “better life” (free Medicaid, police protection, public schooling, etc.) have a right to go wherever pickings are most plentiful, then… then why didn’t the Pilgrims have the same right to come cash in on the New World’s wood, beavers, and tobacco?

In trying to find a Twitter-trimmed way of referring to leftist subversives, I passed on “Dems” as needlessly provocative and coined “open-borderers”, since it didn’t tar millions with one brush and also indicated the central issue.  “Danielle” (surprise!) did not like my tweet—but she took minute care to avoid the issue of her memed analogy’s ineptitude.  Instead, she riveted upon “open-borderers”.  No one seriously advocates for an open border, she generalized sweepingly of my generalizing term; if I wanted to have a “conversation” with her, I would have to abandon such “obtuse nonsense” (and embrace her prickly nonsense, I suppose).

To condense the conversation even beyond Twitter’s thimble-small capacity, I willingly dropped all mention of the faulty analogy and answered simply that “obtuse” doesn’t frame a very friendly invite—but that my current minister, for instance, was not no one (much as I might wish otherwise).  Her answer: my personal acquaintance aside, what elected policy-maker advocates open borders?  My answer: none, of course—just as none in 2009 openly advocated gay marriage.  And I added that my wife and I had left Texas partly because of the growing crime rate in our neighborhood thanks to political refusal to secure the border.  Her answer: by “secure”, did I mean “build the Wall”?  My answer: never a big fan of the Wall—the lunar stretch from El Paso to Yuma needs funded guards allowed to do their job… and, btw, withholding funds was de facto open-border advocacy.

But perhaps my reply ever exited through the thunderstorm that was passing over our hillbilly retreat; in any case, I received no further answer.  And, yes, I really didn’t condense the conversation to smaller-than-Twitter size.  That’s just not possible.

As I recover today from my wrestling match with prickly nonsense, I’m struck by how utterly, dismally typical of leftist thinking were the volleys aimed at me from the other side of the net.  We might start with the meme itself: very poorly evaluated, yet considered by its designers to be oh-so-clever-and-keen.  The original tweeter and scores of retweeters were so absorbed in chortling over stupid right-wingers who didn’t “get it” that they hadn’t left themselves time to study just what they were transmitting to be “gotten”.  The meme was an occasion to heap scorn on the other side.  Its logical validity was irrelevant.  In fact, I’ve no doubt that all the merry high-fivers would have regarded my objections as more evidence of stupidity.  If I were smart (like them), I wouldn’t have allowed myself to be snared in the joke’s inconsistencies.  Sneering epithets electronically spat at me this week from the left side of the aisle (though not in this exchange) included… let’s see… “self loathing” (without hyphen), “pathetic”, “afraid”, “girl” (hmm), and—naturally—“white”.  These are the descriptors chosen by elite minds to characterize their “stupid” adversaries.

Next, notice that the “debate” immediately shifted to an irrelevancy when my main point offered no obvious holes to leap through.  “Open borders… how obtuse!  What a careless, vulgarly undiscriminating remark!  No one is for an open border!”  In a single brief comment, we see a crime alleged in terms that actually commit the crime.  Cute.  Then when “no one” turns into “someone”, names are required.  (Remember the old joke? “Johnny, eat your spinach. Millions of children in China would love to have just a bite of it.” “Name one.”)

But the argument from personal experience always troubles the leftist—who, after all, is likely a leftist precisely because he or she has no personal experience.  And I didn’t even give “Danielle” the details about the stranger I found in my garage who, through his English-competent adolescent son (I’m so glad we kept that family together!), offered me a wad of bills for my truck.  My adversary was already nervous merely at the mention of our having to relocate thanks to the not-open border.  So…

Another shift.  Rivet on another word.  “Secure”… bet you mean “wall” by “secure”, right?  It’s like a dog whistle with you people.

Obviously, our “conversation” wasn’t going anywhere.  Does it ever these days?  Distant are the days when you could have a spirited, even heated discussion of capital punishment or eminent domain—a discussion which might actually budge one of the participants to a modified position.  Now it’s all thrust, retreat, regroup, ambush… anything but surrender.  Never surrender.  In an extreme case, torch the terrain from which you must withdraw so that no one can possibly survive on it.

Example.

X says, “Abortion is baby-killing.”  Y answers, “No, idiot.  They’re not babies, they’re fetuses.”  X: “Oh, so when the doctor/governor describes a ‘quiet conversation’ with the mother, that’s a fetus awaiting the verdict as it writhes on the table.”  Y: “You’re sensationalizing one careless remark.  Name a single legislator in the federal government who takes that view.”  X: “‘Careless’ is right!  A career politician would be subtler.  Name one time in 1939 that Hitler spoke publicly of exterminating the Jews.”  Y: “Ah, now you’re going to try the ‘Nazi’ move on the Pro-Choice movement!  Everybody knows that your side is the one that wants the nation lily-white!”

“Danielle”, by the way, describes herself (beside a smirky picture) as receiving five dollars from George Soros for every message she tweets.  I’m sure she’s just “trolling” those Soros-obsessed Deplorables (for George well knows that what makes useful idiots so useful is their work-for-no-pay ethic).  On the other hand, if you and I wrote that the Koch Brothers gave us a fiver for every post, the Danielles of the world wouldn’t hesitate to swallow it hook, line, and sinker.  This e-world of hit-and-run, meme, selfie, quote-without-context, hashtagging, signal-flashing, red-flagging and—to top it all off—quarantined-then-vaporized “hate speech” is a swampy miasma of factlets adrift in stinking illusion.  And there’s no shore to which we can “return home” to escape it all.  We’re quickly being reduced to passwords repeated in the mist… and anyone who mauls one in a bid for humor or questions its pronunciation will get a spear in the throat.

Ugly world.  About to get much uglier.

Our Idealistic Brethren of Superior Enlightenment

“What do you mean, I’m obsessed with violence?  I hate violence!  Don’t you know that I give generously to Americans Against Guns?  I guess you didn’t know that I was at the protest marches in St. Louis to protest the slaughter of innocent young black males by police.  And the saber-rattling in Kim Jong Un’s face that only spurs him on—I call my congressperson once a month, at least, about that.  The movies? Yeah, I have friends in the industry. I’ve done some work around its edges. Wish I could do more. But you don’t understand the business.  First, we do that because Middle America loves gunplay.  Unfortunately, movies are business, like I said.  And anyway, if you watched what was happening closely, you’d know that the protagonists in most of your so-called violent Hollywood movies are forced to violence by the depraved society they live in.  These films are really a critique of violence, only you people can’t see their message because you get off on blood and guts. And anyway, only guns kill people. Movies don’t kill people. If there were no guns, then movies wouldn’t have to represent that reality. And as for my tweeting that I’d like to shove a stick of dynamite up Sarah Huckabee Sanders… well, who wouldn’t? That’s freedom of speech! But she and the orange baboon she shills for are the advocates of violence.”

Okay, brother. I think I’ve got it.

“And as for sexual exploitation—again, it’s what the public wants, in movies. And it also… again, you just don’t understand. Maybe some things are overstated on TV and such—but we’re trying to shake up America’s stuffy bourgeois repressive attitude. To demystify sex, you have to have sex everywhere. You have to get people used to seeing what’s only natural, after all. And if you’re talking about my own life, I have women because they want me to have them. We have some fun together, we do what normal, healthy people naturally do, and then we move on to the next time, either with each other or someone else. That’s not exploitation, it’s freedom. Freedom of association. Exploiting is when you make someone feel like she has to do this and that—has to get married, has to have kids, has to stay at home and be a mom. Why don’t you guys on your side stop exploiting women and let them be free human beings? Okay, so… sometimes there are misunderstandings. Bound to be. Sometimes women need to stick up for themselves more. If middle-class America didn’t bring them up to be submissive, maybe they’d have the confidence to tell a guy when to stop so that he gets the message. Right now, it’s all kind of vague, because your side has programmed women to think they shouldn’t ever speak up.”

I think we’re covering old ground.

“And racism! How can you call me a racist? Me? I love hip-hop, and sometimes I date black girls. And, you know, I want to get them back in the game by seeing that some of the injustices are balanced out. Quotas in colleges and in businesses? Why not? If you don’t make white-racist America do the right thing, it won’t get done. And even reparations—yeah, I’m for that. They have it coming. They were put behind by slavery, and now they need a boost to get back in the game. How can you call that racist? It’s just the opposite of racist. You’re the racist! You say you don’t want to notice their skin color at all? That’s just your hypocritical way of leaving them to be destroyed. They won’t make it on their own, you know.”

Actually, I’m pretty sure that they could.

Do you know this person? Have you had this conversation? It has inspired a theory of mine: that a certain weak-willed, self-indulgent, intellectually lubricious kind of showboat will uneasily glimpse particular failings in himself and then, rather than repent of them, project them all upon another. This Other becomes the repository of all that’s bad. The more our infantilized firebrand of the limber tongue fears that some despicable motive or attitude is bleeding into his conduct, the more he thrusts it upon the Other, and the louder he denounces it. We seem to have here a nascent schizophrenic: a denier of self, with ears plugged and eyes closed as he screams, “La-la-la!”—a hater of “haters” whose hatred is so intense and manifold that he must create a monstrosity to carry it clear out of his mirror.

But I’m no psychologist. I only know what I see.

Thoughts on the Las Vegas Gundown

I had planned to post my second half of a Glenn Beck ideological autopsy today, but the occasion demands a change of plans. I don’t have much time to waste… so here goes.

Could the primed-and-scented boneheads of the broadcast media please stop referring to these incidents as tragedies? The word for which you grope, Talking Heads, is “atrocity”. A tragedy occurs when a basically good person is hoist on his own petard through some ill-advised act of excess. An atrocity occurs when some animal in a human hide savages his fellow beings like a tiger in a goat pen.

As I wrote eons ago after the 9/11 atrocity, these events are in part due to the high-tech lifestyle. Huge aircraft sometimes come down in the wrong way—with huge consequences. Speeding bullet-trains sometimes jump the track. If the electricity upon which we depend for food, water, transportation, communication, and even defense should suddenly cease to work (as after an electro-magnetic pulse), our society would number about one-tenth its present size within a year, and the survivors would be living in the Stone Age. The catastrophic “ignition events” to these nightmare scenarios could be either manmade, as by terrorist act, or they could occur naturally. We’re simply living at too fast a pace, and without seat-belts. As we climb higher and higher up the ladder, an innocent slip of the foot or a wicked push from a partner will send us plunging from heights that are ever more certain to prove fatal.

Staging an enormous gathering under a high-rise of any sort is a very bad idea. If the building itself doesn’t fall, then an inexpert psychopath could use its height to pump hundreds of lethal shells down upon the massed crowd. High-velocity bullets that enter the body from above and travel downward are likely to rip apart many more arteries than shots that enter laterally; and in a panicking horde, a severed artery is guaranteed to mean that you bleed out before help arrives. The location of the Country-Western concert, though a local tradition, had become a very bad idea.

Now, this atrocity is scarcely twenty-four hours old, and what I’m about to write is almost pure speculation at the moment… but the specific circumstances surrounding this shooter remind me very much of James Hodgkinson’s profile—you know: the psycho who gunned down Steve Scalise during a softball practice. Both men were white males of middle to late-middle age who were furious at the election of Donald Trump. Both had money to spend and time to kill. Neither was particularly proficient with or enamored of firearms, but both apparently fantasized about the utility of deadly weapons for cleaning society of its inhibitive “scum”. Their outlook on life—and here I’m speculating on the merest of hunches, but I smell the old rat—was jaundiced by a meaninglessness reinforced by atheism, a nexus of shallow personal relationships, and a growing sense of embittered victimhood. Children of my generation, they had been told since their youth that progress was real, would come at an accelerated pace, and would satisfy all their selfish wants. Now they were seeing only stall and delay—all because of right-wing “fascism”.

Hayley Geftman-Gold, described as “a VP and senior counsel in strategic transactions” for CBS, was fired yesterday for tweeting taunts at the shooting’s victims because they were Country-Western fans, and… well, we know that most of those voted for Trump. The side that loves to fling “hater” across the aisle and insists that all of us fascist bourgeois nullities need to be disarmed manifests—if you haven’t noticed—a very real affinity for murderous hatred and for gunning people down. Those Ché tee-shirts they so affect are no accident: they think the Orkin approach to political opposition is entirely acceptable, and even commendable.

Could it be that this is why we’re seeing so many more indiscriminate gundowns of innocent people assembling for innocent fun—is the ideology that finds no innocence in Middle America not the real percussion cap in the atrocity?