Friday, July 18, 2008
“In this struggle, scholarships will be far more important than smart bombs.”
“We must also engage, however, in the more difficult task of understanding the sources of such madness. The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others. Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity. It may find expression in a particular brand of violence, and may be channeled by particular demagogues or fanatics. Most often, though, it grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.”
An argument devoid of logic or coherence usually begins with an ad hominem attack. Neo-conservative commentator Michelle Malkin who has made a name for herself by appearing on Fox News, is adept at that type of attack, which is probably rewarded at media conglomerates like Fox, who pad every broadcast with a virulent array of every type of logical fallacy. The sad fact of the matter is that using logical fallacy does in fact work on voters. Appealing to history, appealing to popular opinion, the red herring, ad hominem attacks, and use of straw man tactics and overgeneralizations are the foundation of each and every Fox news broadcast. Malkin’s latest flimsy whinefest attacks Barack Obama (not his platform, or his arguments) as well as John McCain (somewhat indirectly).
Her mention of “Kumbaya Liberalism” further distorts the facts involved and also turns a blind eye to the gravity of our situation. It’s easy for me to remember that the promoters of the Iraq War reminded the American people that the effort would involve “shock and awe” but also the “winning of hearts and minds.” Any educated person realizes that the yoke of tyranny breaks most easily when the common citizenry have changed their minds about a situation involving repression and decide for themselves to take action against their oppressors. There is no more effective weapon, if this process can even be called a weapon. In its plainest terms it is a war of propaganda. It’s apparent that Malkin not only is incapable of remembering her American history, but that she’s also engaging in a war of propaganda against a large segment of the American population who does in fact now agree that the war in Iraq should be reaching its conclusion and that it wasn’t so much a war of winning hearts in minds, but a war to protect our economic interests in the region. Weapons of mass destruction were never found. Malkin doesn’t allow herself the foresight necessary to realize that the weapon that must be used against future enemies of the United States must be the “war” involving diplomacy. The United States doesn’t have the necessary resources to wage a worldwide battle on multiple fronts indefinitely, so Obama, and to a certain extent John McCain, understand that speaking softly and carrying a big stick only serves us up to a point. Both candidates have weighed in on this topic and stated that military muscle needs the support of a progressive diplomatic effort. The real tragedy is that understanding is not fashionable and many are mired in their selfish interests. Fox News has helped to quash the idea that understanding our enemies is worthwhile. The act of understanding or evaluating does not mean that the idea of the use of force has been taken off the table.
Malkin’s selfish interests probably involve working her way up the ladder at Fox News, but in the meantime she is spreading the kind of misinformation that worsens our situation. Both Obama and McCain are correct in their realization that we need to think of a way to stop the self-perpetuating cycle of hatred that is the cause of these horrific acts of violence. The jihadists who committed the terrible deeds she mentions are too far gone for rehabilitation but our only way out of the costly efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan is to use all methods at our disposal—military might as well as diplomacy. We have proven that we have the muscle but attempts to add some brains to the equation are routinely demonized by fanatics like Malkin. Her knee-jerk response is the type of absurdity that got us into a situation where we are spending trillions of dollars rebuilding another country at the expense of the economic health of our own.