Saturday, February 19, 2005

Fun With Strawmen

I’m totally stumped by this post at LGF.

And I know, I know, I know. I should consider the source, what am I expecting, why did I even go over there, and so forth.

But good heavens.

Here’s the deal. They’ve all heard about a silly article in the New Republic Online (I think maybe three of them have actually read it) in which the author, Peretz, pretends he is going to ask some invented leftist on the Upper West Side (I assume because he can’t find an actual leftist on the Upper West Side —— God knows an actual leftist in NYC must be hard to find these days) which is worse —— Nazism or communism.

This mythic leftist is then going to say, claims Peretz, that Nazism is worse. Why? Because communism, Peretz says this Leftist he made up will say, at least meant well.

This isn’t something some actual person said, mind you. This is something some Peretz has decided some Leftie he has invented would say if he ever actually did ask him that question.

And off this invented answer, LGF has spun into a whole diatribe about how evil the left is to prefer communism to Nazism.

I kid you not. They froth at the mouth because the evil lefties dare to think that commies are better than Nazis.

Even though no Leftist has actually picked Column B on Peretz's invented quiz, they froth and froth. Those liberals! Liking Communism more than Nazism! How like them!

And why, you might wonder, incidentally, is communism so much worse than Nazism?

Why, because communists killed so many more people, of course! It’s all in the math, don’t you see! Pound for pound, see, if you weigh it out, communists are this much (several commentors actually, no kidding, do that: add up how many the Nazis killed and measure it against how many the Communists killed, and say therefore as anyone can see Communists are more evil than Nazis, QE Fucking D, can I please have some Xanax now? please? ) more evil than Nazis, and it has nothing at all to do with the Jews, so just shut up!

I’m reading the comments, salted as they are with misogyny and hatred, even for their fellow commenters, not to mention for mythical leftists —— and it just gets worse and worse.

These are some of the less toxic —— but nonetheless woefully ignorant —— comments:

Manofaiki: “Communism is worse because it’s still here. There are no serious attempts to revive Nazism. However, across the globe, at academies and universities, even in America Socialism is still taught, revered, and admired.”

SoCallJustice: (Defining the reason people become liberals) "But with the real reason being: "they're rich and smart and are more successful in our own society than we are. There are much more of us. Let's kill them and take their money.."

KJO: “Mr. Peretz's comments are mostly right on. The American Left is largely lost. They don't believe in anything beyond getting into power. They have no vision. No goal. Beyond hoping that America becomes another socialist Europe, they don't know what they want. They believe that the products of elite schools should govern here as they do in France, and that of course is them. They hate Americans, as you find them, they hate our Christianty, they hate our patriotism, they hate us. They hate us, then every four years they ask for our votes. They think we're stupid, and I guess some of us are, Kerry did get 48%. When we don't elect them they say it must have been a criminal conspiracy that cost them the election.

Bostonian: “Today’s liberal philosophy says that if your intentions are good (whatever that might mean) it’s okay no matter what you do."

Photios: "It would be nice if the malignant type of liberalism that we have in the US today would wake up and get back to a real sense of freedom and support of it for everyone. And it would be nice if they were willing, finally, to defend our country."

Because, you know, there’s not a single liberal fighting over there in Iraq. You ignorant poser. Tell that to my students, will you? I’ll send you their emails.

Here’s the link for the article in the New Republic Online, by Martin Peretz,

though it is not worth reading —— full of such fine clever statements as

“[V]irtually nothing has been done to make sure that children of color--and other children, too, since the crisis in our educational system cuts across race and class--are receiving a different and better type of schooling, in science and in literacy, than those now coming into our colleges. This is not about Head Start. This is about a wholesale revamping of teaching and learning. The conservatives have their ideas, and many of them are good, such as charter schools and even vouchers. But give me a single liberal idea with some currency, even a structural notion, for transforming the elucidation of knowledge and thinking to the young. You can't.”


"President Bush…seems not to be impeded by race difference (and gender difference) in his appointments and among his friends. Maybe it is just a generational thing, and, if it is that, it is also a good thing. But he may be the first president who apparently does not see individual people in racial categories or sex categories. White or black, woman or man, just as long as you're a conservative. That is also an expression of liberation from bias. "

Mr. Peretz has never heard, I guess, what Mr. Bush famously said about Yale —— how it went downhill after they started admitting the women (

But you’d think Mr. Peretz, being an editor—in—chief of a big old magazine and all, could do a little research. Would you? Or hire himself a fact checker? One or the other?

And Mr. Peretz has, I guess, not heard the bad news about charter schools —— how they’re not actually turning out to be any better than regular old public schools, how many of them are, in fact, turning out to be a sight worse, and how most of them end up costing a pile more (big duh there, since each charter school generally requires the reinvention of the wheel for each school —— that’s why we went to school systems to begin with, remember? To pool our resources?).

As for vouchers, sure, give money to parents to spend on private schools and you might (or might not) get a better result, depending on the school. Meanwhile, what happens to the kids you've left behind in the public school? The ones you're taking that money away from? That's A. And B is, many of these parents, by "private school" mean "Christian Winger School," and, you know, Mr. Peretz, there's this little thing called the First Amendment? Maybe you heard of it?

And I do, BTW, while we're on the subject, have a really good idea for fixing our public education system.

It's called End the Stupid War on Drugs. End the Stupid War on Iraq. Taking all the Money Your Dumping Down Those Ratholes and Dump Them Into the Public Schools. Yes, that's right. Put your money into the schools instead of into prisons and wars. I know, I know, it's a really bizarre idea, but give me a minute.

Pay teachers what you pay lawyers and doctors and professors of Economics. And -- hey! -- Congressmen.

Put books in libraries and decent food in the school cafeterias and actual physical education, music and art teachers in the classrooms. Music, art, and physical education every day.

Hold school from eight to five.

Hold it year round.

Start it at age three. Or maybe two. You can send the little ones half day if you like.

Teach Foreign Language from age three on. Teach math concretely first and abstractly second -- no memorizing until they understand the theory.

Try that for about nine years, and get back to me.

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