Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Prager Claims People of the Faith Not Afraid of Monkey-Bars

And this is what made America Great.

See, if you love God, you're not afraid to let your kid play on the monkeybars. Or eat peanuts when he's allergic to them. Or play in traffic, or ride without his seatbelt, or juggle knives, or go off and fight a stupid war for no reason except because the President wants to do a photo-Op in a flightsuit so that everyone can see how manly his bulge is. Because you are a Person of the Faith, and you Know This is Not the Only World.

I kind of already read this essay this week, in the NRO, when Gurdon was explaining to us that we never would have conquered the Great Plains if we had been wearing helmets when we went sledding in those days, so I was a little bored, but Dennis did have a few new points.

For instance:

Panic has been induced by trivial health threats. Most Americans really believe they will die if they breathe in the vicinity of someone smoking. A people afraid of secondhand smoke, a health threat so trivial that "lie" is not too strong a word to describe the dangers ascribed to it, is less likely to bravely confront terror. A country that raises its children to fear dodgeball, see-saws and monkey bars, and which bans peanut butter from schools where five children are highly allergic to peanuts, is not raising a generation prepared to confront terror.


Prager’s bringing out all his favorite fallacies here. First off, who are these “most Americans” who believe they will die if they breathe second-hand smoke? This is one of Prager’s favorite strawmen(I'm guessing he smokes), and one of the Right’s favorite new claims in general* – either that secondhand smoke isn’t harmful at all, or that the Left thinks it’s some sort of toxic gas that kills on contact, like mustard gas, ha ha those Looney Leftists, aren’t they silly?

No, Prager, that is not, in fact, why smoking has been banned in office buildings and in most public spaces. The scientific community does, actually, know that folks don’t drop dead when they breathe in a bit of secondhand smoke.

But what does happen? You might do some research, Dennis, into that. Your blood pressure goes up. Your blood cells get stickier. Your immune system responds to the threat. If (like me) you are one of the many Americans who has become allergic to cigarette smoke through repeated exposure, you may have an allergic reaction, that may range from mild to extreme. If (like many of my students) you are one of the many Americans who now suffer from asthma, you may suffer a mild to severe asthma attack, which may require anything from a hit of your inhaler to hospitalization.

But hey. No biggie. Dennis wants to smoke, and who am I to interfere with his rights?

Second: notice how he conflates something that’s pretty much not true -- A country that raises its children to fear dodgeball, see-saws and monkey bars – and essentially trivial – with something that is true, and a serious goddamn big deal -- which bans peanut butter from schools where five children are highly allergic to peanuts, is not raising a generation prepared to confront terror – and acts like these are the same thing?

What school is this where children are being taught to fear dodgeball and monkeybars? Does Dennis have evidence? My kid’s school still has monkey bars and plays dodgeball. So does every school I’ve seen, which, mind you, is not every school in the country, but does include schools in Idaho, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Louisiana -- so it's at least a broad sample.

And yes, schools that have kids attending them who are allergic to peanuts have banned peanut butter.

Guess why, Dennis? Because if those kids get near a peanut, or even a tiny bit of a peanut, those kids can die, Dennis.

What is it with you Wngers that makes you okay with that? You can't deal with the idea of aborting a ten day old embryo, you're (some of you) appalled by birth control, euthanasia of a brain-dead woman makes you wiggy, but it’s okay to risk a child’s life just so we don’t have to ban peanut butter? Just because banning peanut butter offends your conservative soul? (We always ate peanut butter for school lunches, therefore we always should eat peanut butter for school lunches!)

Do you think the kids are faking these allergies? Is that it? Do some research, if so. Look something up, once.

Or is it that these kids don’t count because you think they’re the kids of liberals? Only the kids of liberals would ever be allergic to peanut butter? Probably not the case, Dennis. I don’t think allergies discriminate like that.

And what, by the way, Dennis, does having an allergic reaction to peanuts have to do with confronting terror?

He goes on to say this:

On the positive side, when Americans are attacked, they tend to get angry -- as we saw after Pearl Harbor and after 9-11 -- and concentrate their attention on destroying the enemy. As we did in Afghanistan and Iraq, we will muster the courage to fight terrorists here. At the same time, just as with the war in Iraq, there will be considerable opposition to that fight. The dominant news media, the universities and other elites would declare this war "racial profiling" (as if religious conviction constituted race). But Americans (including individual Muslims, though not much of their leadership) would largely unite to uncover and destroy Islamic terrorist cells here.

Ri-i-ight. Because, of course, the terrorists that Dennis envisions attacking us will, of course, be Arab terrorists. How does he know that? Because he’s been reading Ann Coulter, I’m guessing. She’s got that nifty stat about the majority of terrorists attacks in the last 25 years having come from Arab males. Of course, it’s wrong, but hey, Dennis doesn’t care about little details like being correct.

In fact, of course, most terrorist attacks against Americans on American soil have been perpetrated by white males. Like, oh, Dennis.

Not to do any racial profiling or anything.

Anyway, enough of Dennis. He’s a blowhard. I do like how he claims at the end to still have faith in America because we were brave enough to elect Bush, though. That’s pretty funny, considering Bush got people to vote for him by convincing them that if they didn’t, terrorists would GET THEM ALL.

Yeah, that was brave all right, Dennis.

Pretty much as brave as you, fighting for your right to force six year olds with peanut allergies to endure anaphylactic shock, just so you can indulge yourself in fuzzy nostalgia about peanut butter and jelly sammitches, back in the good old days.

*It’s because of Crichton’s goofy book, I think, which has as many footnotes as any of Coulter’s. Crichton claims all the research on secondhand smoke is silly, that secondhand smoke never killed anyone.


Anonymous said...

Hey, delagar... I like your blog. Of course, I must also admit, I like pizza burns on the roof of my mouth, so...

I started reading it because of some of the comments you made on dedspot (Diane's a good friend and a better writer).

I like your activism, too. It's about time someone started keeping these right wing turds in their place.

Anonymous said...

Duh... did I mention that I have an IQ of about 84? Of course, I meant DED SPACE not dedspot. Sorry, Diane... I think I need some more delicious second-hand smoke. While I'm there I might as well kill all my remaining brain cells-- that should take about 30 minutes.

zelda1 said...

Because I attend a University somewhere in redneckville, I know how pissed conservative and liberal smokers get over haing their puffs restricted. See, my University has banned smoking on the grounds. It was a great day for me because I have asthma and all that second hand smoke was killing me. Yep, it was doing that. Every day, sometimes three or four times a day, I walked through a cloud of smoke to get to my classes. My chest rattled and it wheezed and my very frail bronchial tubes began to spasm and by the time I got to where I could get a little clean air and get to my inhaler, I was either in an attack or on the verge. And the peanut butter thing, I went to school in one of the poorest districts in the USA and I don't remember ever getting peanut butter sandwiches for lunch. We got crappy things like meat loaf and other unidentifiable cooked meat products. But, I have seen the reaction peanuts have on an individual who was allergic and ate it, not knowing that the food he was eating had been cooked in peanut oil, he went into anaphyalactic shock within a few mintues and by the time he arrived at the hospital where I worked, he was dead. DEAD! He wasn't very old and had a couple of babies. Smoking and peanut butter, is it too much to ask? I, for one, say cast the peanuts to the side and ban those smokers. And the monkey bars, wonder if they have a nice set in the white house for the man with big ears?

Diane said...

Well said!

This is the same crowd who talks about "frivolous" lawsuits and who would be the first to go to court if something happened to one of their own family members (recall GWB's needless lawsuit against Enterprise Rent-A-Car).

These people do not like rules and laws. They want justice when they are harmed, but they don't give a damn about justice for anyone else. Especially since "anyone else" includes people of color, gays, women, and everyone else they hate.

It is a paradox that the "law and order" crowd is out of control, and many of us who are considered "soft on crime" are frustrated at little things like Kenneth Lay not being in prison.

delagar said...

Thanks, broncobob. I like pizza (and Diane's blog) too.