Tuesday, October 20, 2009

In case any explanation was needed

Updated An item over at Media Matters for America from yesterday superbly illustrates why I no longer have any interest in engaging right wingers in rational debate: They simply do not know the meaning of the term.

The item concerned Glenn Blech misleadingly cropping a statement by White House communications director Anita Dunn that was part of a speech to a high school commencement last spring. Blech used the truncated quote for the purpose of branding her a far-left radical who quote "worships" unquote Mao Zedong.

This is what Blech had her saying:
Two of my favorite political philosophers, Mao Zedong and Mother Teresa - not often coupled with each together, but the two people that I turn to most.
This is what she actually said:
And then the third lesson and tip actually come from two of my favorite political philosophers, Mao Zedong and Mother Teresa - not often coupled with each together, but the two people that I turn to most to basically deliver a simple point, which is, you're going to make choices.
I assume the difference is obvious: She turns to them to make a point.

She went on to note how Mao, under criticism for wanting to overthrow Chiang Kai-shek in the face of long odds, responded "You fight your war, and I'll fight mine." She also told the story of "a fairly affluent young person" who wrote Mother Teresa, asking about going to Calcutta to help, and getting the reply "Go find your own Calcutta."

The point was simple and valid: Make your own choices, find your own way, fight your own wars, pursue your own causes, rather than simply following someone else's path. More importantly, the point was clear - and clearly different from the meaning Blech tried put in her mouth.

Okay, all of that is pretty run-of-the-mill for Blech but the point here is not so much his vacuous rantings but some of the commenters on the item at MMFA. Read them if you don't believe me - not that I think you don't - and notice how the right-wingers and trolls simply refuse to acknowledge facts. I note for the record that all the quotes here are copied and pasted from the original and have not been changed in any way and that except as noted, they are all from different people.

First, there were those who in one way or another essentially denied the quote had been cropped, even though it plainly had:

- Someone demanded to know where the "real, supposed un-cropped quote" was - other than, I guess, in the very item on which they were commenting.

- Another declared "Really, how often does she turn to them? She said it, so do not see any cropping."

- Yet another referred to "the 'cropped' tape." (Note the quotation marks around "cropped.")

- Then there was the one who insisted Blech "let her own words do the talking."

- "Smearing someone is to lie about them, I dont see the lie. She said what she said...."

This last person also employed the standard winger tactic of trying to change the subject, asking "At what point would you libs say 'you know what, this administration is far to radical'?" The question, of course, assumes Blech's characterization is accurate, which connects to the next group, the chorus united in the conviction that Blech's version was The Truth:

- "The REAL problem is why the WHITE HOUSE ??? has this kind of political thinking as an advisor in the WHITE HOUSE! There are so MANY Maoists, Communists, Socialists in the WHITE HOUSE giving el presidente advice!"

- "You folks should really be ashamed, attempting to present these Obama officials as not being radicals, as not being praisers of Mao and Che."

- "Ms. Dunn, White House Communications Director, indicates that Mao Zedong is one of her favorite political philosophers."

- "Since when did it become chic to idolize the likes of Mao,Che, Castro, Hilter,Chavez and Achmadinijad? Are all you people on crack? The woman admires the likes of a man who KILLED 50 MILLION PEOPLE."

And then there was perhaps the champ:

- "You and your fans are claiming that Glenn Beck's 'cropping' of Anita Dunn's quote 'changes' the ESSENCE of her intended meaning when compared with her original, un-edited quote. I submit that it does NOT change the essence."

That is, imply the quote was not cropped, then immediately admit it was cropped, then deny the cropping made any difference; insist, rather, that the edited quote and the real quote said the same thing. It's the bland, blank-eyed stare of the right-wing nutcase that enables them to look all evidence and all logic directly in the face and see ... nothing.

But of course, you dare not criticize any of this lamebrain nonsense, oh, no. If you do, you get this kind of response:

- "[F]rom my experience here, this is the way liberals 'fight'; they attempt to intimidate by questioning your intellect, education, calling you stupid, or an 'illegitimate news agency' for not simply rolling over or disagreeing with their point of view."

You get that kind of response because ultimately right-wingers are whining crybabies who for years have engaged in attack, smear, slander, and vituperation but get all weepy and "You're so mean!" when others are prepared to play by the same rules that they set down. And by "the same rules" I do not mean smear, slander, and vituperation, but I do mean attack and doing it without backing down or off.

I will be damned if in the face of those who say I’m not an American, that I'm a threat to freedom, who have called me "pro-terrorist" and claimed I'm "hoaxing all of Mankind [sic]" in pursuit of a dictatorship, who threaten me, who want to expel me, foster hate against me, eliminate me, that I am going to act like some cliche battered wife and spend my time and energy searching my soul to see how I brought this on myself and how I can best placate them.

Do I sound cruel, unforgiving, rigid, dismissive of some? Then so be it. This is a battle for justice, it has been for decades, not a battle of violence or arms, but a battle of rhetoric (I don’t say ideas because we’re the only ones who have any) and commitment - and I’m tired of being expected to play nice with the bullies and bigots.

And - in case any explanation was needed - I no longer have any interest in debating the flakes and fanatics of the right because they are not interested in honest debate. They do not know how to debate honestly and they do not care to know. They are immune to facts and impervious to logic. Their only concern is power. Is victory. Is control. Is dominance.

Their arguments are built on lies, deceit, fearmongering, racist and sexist stereotyping, misdirection, evasion, and deception, and the closest they ever get to truth is gross exaggeration. Indeed, they are not interested in truth (or Truth), they are not interested in justice, they are not interested in the greater good, they are not interested in community, they are not interested in anything that does not measurably and immediately benefit them and theirs.

And I am and have been for a while utterly uninterested in trying to engage them in reasonable discourse. It's like the old joke about mud-wrestling with a pig: You only get dirty and the pig likes it.

And it's a damn waste of my time.

Footnote: I said somewhere not long ago that I made a distinction between right-wingers and conservatives in that the latter could be reasonable, even if totally wrong. I have had serious exchanges with conservatives which were generally unproductive in the sense of anyone changing anyone else's mind in any substantial way but remained civil and productive in the sense of exploring ideas even in the absence of agreement. And which I could hope planted a few seeds that could take root.

Right-wingers, on the other hand, are beyond our reach. They are like the alcoholic or drug addict who is not yet ready to admit to their condition. All you can do is hope they really hit bottom so they can start recovery.

Updated with the links in the paragraph beginning "And - in case any explanation was needed."

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