Monday, March 23, 2015

Hearing the arguments from people who actually believe them

by oldschooltwentysix

When progressives speak about Republicans, it is frequently harsh, and often demeaning. Head over to places like Daily Kos or The Progressive Zionist for a myriad of examples. However, the descriptions put forth regularly seem at odds with the reality. Republicans are not monsters as depicted, but Americans that represent a large swath of public opinion and values.

Many progressives actually believe that merely citing a conservative source makes people "hard-line, right wing Republican partisans." Reading conservative sources is apostasy to these progressives. Thus, they avoid what conservatives actually say, like the plague, and do not really know what conservative policies are, yet characterize them anyway. We know where their information comes from, a noise machine that is less interested in finding common ground than fomenting division.

This brings me to a illustrative blurb concerning whether progressives using the above approach are to be trusted when they label their adversaries or communicate about the positions their adversaries take. It is from conservative educators in a 2012 report about the corrupting effect of political activism in the UC System.
[John Stuart] Mill said that “He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that.” In other words, you don’t really understand the case for the left until you also thoroughly grasp the case for the right, because the one answers the other, which means that each is a necessary part of the definition of the other. It follows that in an academic context an all-left department would not even be able to make a competent exposition of leftist thought: “They do not, in any proper sense of the word, know the doctrine which they themselves profess,” says Mill. If left professors think they can simply present the right’s case themselves, Mill has this devastating response: “Both teachers and learners go to sleep at their post as soon as there is no enemy in the field.” And for that reason, he went on to say, the student must “be able to hear [the arguments] from people who actually believe them, who defend them in earnest, and do their very utmost for them. He must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.” As for those who do not: “All that part of the truth which turns the scale, and decides the judgment of a completely informed mind, they are strangers to.”
The full report, which goes beyond this point and is worth reading in its entirety, can be found here.

Yes, some conservatives also do the same. It is not right either. Progressive ideology, however, likes to proclaim a higher standard for itself, one based on tolerance and respect toward others, but too often it ignores for itself what it demands from others.

Thus, the next time a progressive argues from an echo chamber of self-enforced censorship about positions of the "hard-line, right wing Republican partisans," ask yourself if he or she “knows little of that.”


  1. Indeed.

    I do not quite even understand what "left" or "right" means in the context of the ongoing war against the Jews in the Middle East, but whatever our politics, whatever the issue, we need to answer our adversaries strongest arguments, not their weakest.

    I would also remind people that criticism is not the equivalent of hating upon.

    I have sincere and reasonably well-spelled out criticisms of the Left and of progressive-left Jewry, in regards the conflict, but those criticisms are not the equivalent of dismissiveness.

    That is, I never simply dismiss the Left but point out my disagreements.

    Far too often, within the Jewish Left conversation around Israel, the Right is simply shrugged off and ignored.

    I do not come from the right, but increasing numbers of left-leaning Jews want to hear what they have to say without being screamed at that we are "racist" for doing so.

    1. Shrugged off and ignored is not a good tool of communication.

      However, to paint based on misinformation from noise machines is worse because it is affirmative in nature and intended to divert from the issue based on the opponent's character.

      The point is there is danger when people in an echo chamber define what they do not know.

  2. If I can put on my Isaac f'ing Newton hat (obligatory Dazed and Confused reference) and make an observation?

    Left, right, center, up, down, whatever. Our real enemies are the antisemites and those who excuse and enable them.

    1. People that conflate and define pro-Israel as hard line right wing practice a deception that deserves exposure, especially when the information proffered is based on Pavlov's kibble.

      Antisemitism and antisemites make another issue, no less important.

  3. Interesting that you say this:

    People that conflate and define pro-Israel as hard line right wing practice a deception that deserves exposure

    Because I have found this to be true, particularly amongst Rightists. I cannot tell you how many times I have been told I am not pro-Israel or not sufficiently pro-Israel because I do not subscribe to the Rightist P.O.V. on Israel. I cannot tell you how much campaign literature and vilification I saw during the election campaign toward Z.U. or Meretz (both Zionist Parties) saying that they were not Pro-Israel or were not sufficiently Pro-Israel. All of that coming from the Right and Hard Right.

    Look at Im Tirtzu's campaign against those that don't fit their definition of what a Zionist is. It's appaling.

    So yes you are absolutely correct when you point that out.

    Of course, that too happens on the Left where anyone who is Pro-Israel is "tarred" with the moniker of being a Right Winger or Republican. Just look in my GBCW diary at Daily Kos. I am called a Republican and a Likudnik even though I am thankfully not close to either. Of course this is easily dis-proven as I constantly state that I support President Obama and that I favored Labor and Livni in the 2013 elections and Kadima / Labor in 2009. And of course, it is only extremely rare or never do I use a Rightist site to make a point, preferring to ignore opnion articles for the most part and rather using simple hard news articles as supporting documentation.

    1. VB, I am looking forward to your response to my latest piece, but I recognize that as the blog owner I have you at something of a disadvantage.

      I can fp anything that I want, but you can only respond in the comments.

      I mention this only to say that, if you wish, I would be more than happy to front page your response as a sort-of "guest piece."

      Just a thought.

      No big deal, either way.

    2. No no Mike.. Thank you but I will respond in the comments. I don't feel "disadvantaged" Mike. I think we are just trading ideas, not having a competition.

      I do appreciate the offer though so thank you.

    3. As Matti Friedman, Richard Behar and others have shown quite well, hard news articles are not at all immune from being overly subjective and biased against Israel.

      The issue is lopsided. The people who shape the news and the people who manipulate the news are disproportionately progressives with a vested interest in maintaining support by the creation of false narratives using identity as a means of control.

      It's not just on Israel, it's Ferguson, the campus, Hollywood. It is Orwellian and Pavlovian. It is part and parcel of the ideology itself, to meddle and make things better. Conservatives, who just want to be left alone, are not in charge of this process, but the victims of it. Conservatives don't inject social justice into coffee.

      If a good point comes from a "Rightist" site, why not use it? The larger issue, however, is that few progressives go to these sites for any information. They are the ones missing out. As Mill said, unless you hear from people who actually believe what they say, you cannot know the arguments in their most plausible and persuasive form, or possess the judgment of a completely informed mind.

      Too many progressives act with a condescension that they possess the judgment of a completely informed mind, but when you hear the words they use, it's obvious they learned from those that do not believe what they say.

      In this overall process, opinion articles and analysis are more important than hard news. To more fully appreciate any issue, the wider the spectrum the better. Either should be cited when applicable to help understanding, but that is not possible because of the propensity to conflate an issue with a person's character.

  4. oldschool... While it may be true that hard news SOMETIMES has a bias, to dismiss it because it doesn't fit a narrative that one doesn't like is not a good reason. Certainly when it comes to Israel, fair reporting is far off. BUT, generally, hard news does a much better job of presenting facts than opinion pieces do even with regards to Israel. I lived there, and have friends and family there. I can tell you things are not always as they are reported, but, they are more accurately reported by hard news outlets as opposed to by opinion or entertainment (FOX NEWS) outlets.

    That said, I think your portrayal of Conservatives as just wanting to be "left alone" is not accurate. Almost all of the Conservatives I know are vocal and forthright about their opinions on "what's wrong with America and the world". They are just as bad as many of the "radical Leftists" that I know. In fact, my Facebook feed gets hammered with Conservative commentary from friends that claim just that, that they want to be left alone in a world that seems to be spinning out of control for them. Of course if they really wanted to be "left alone" they would not post their half truths and nonsensical blanket accusations against more than half of the American population on social media, and that is the point. The myth of the "nose to the grindstone Conservative" is just that... a myth. I know plenty of Liberals that are just that.

    Anyway, look if you or anyone else wants to read Conservative opinion pieces I say, "Go for it". I just think that if you read them and take them and post them as fact then you are doing yourself and your readers a disservice. Just as in my opinion, that anyone who uses Left Opinion sites and repeats them as fact does the same.

    BTW, claiming the mainstream media is Leftist... IS a Rightwing Talking point as it is simply not true and has been proven not true.

  5. Who said to dismiss hard news? I just said it is less important than opinion and analysis when it comes to developing understanding of issues and even hard news. Nor was there suggestion to posting opinion pieces as fact, which is always improper. However, either source should be cited when it applies and helps.

    You know that Fox news is more trusted than the others, by far. It does a better job of presenting opposing views, too. Your comment is a great example of what I have been talking about. Not to mention that in the tidal wave of progressive slant in the media, Fox stands virtually alone against the other giants and the WH spinners operating their own state media.

    From an ideological standpoint, conservatives do want to left alone. That is what liberty is. Don't talk about how you use facts, then cite social media to prove the excesses of conservative commentary. Conservatives cannot be absolved completely from wanting to meddle, but it is generally a reflexive urge, as compared to the progressive, for which it is a fundamental.

  6. Ok.. I honestly... cannot....

    Anyway, out of respect for Mike and his site - what you believe is what you believe. So cool and have a good evening.

    1. Even when there is vehement disagreement, one can always be honest and respectful. It comes down to choice.

      In that most pro-Israel analysis comes from conservative media, perhaps at some point you can say from which, if any, such media you use to obtain information and "hard news," and to form the conclusions you make about it.

  7. "Famed Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz said of J Street in April 2014, “How can you be a ‘pro-Israel’ organization and never express any pro-Israel views? It is absolutely shocking to me. Every press release seemed to have a negative about Israel.”

  8. The left tends to want to tell you they hate Israel in a good and compassionate and caring way. They want to nuke the village to save it.

    1. Those types only beat Israel because they love it so much.

      In a way, the antisemitic anti-Zionists are at least somewhat more respectable due to their honesty.

  9. In other leftist news today at J-Street there were calls for Marwan Baghouti to be released from prison to be installed as the head of the PLO.

    You really would be hard pressed to find left wing Jews objecting to a convicted mass murderer being appointed by Obama to lead a PLO army against the Jews. I see an official White House visit in celebration of victory.

  10. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough called the last half century of Israel's existence an illegal occupation.

    I think J-Street should change their name to J-Train. Like the lines of boxcars sent to the death camps.