Friday, February 19, 2010

Smears and False Analogies

As I've noted before, the use of false analogies is extremely common on the left. So it was no surprise to see a common one deployed in the aftermath of the Texas incident where a deranged individual crashed his plane into an building containing an IRS office. Case in point, a Think Progress post by Matthew Yglesias. Before the false analogy, come the typical smears. He starts off by shamelessly and dishonestly trying to pretend that the would-be killer is somehow similar to right-wing tea party types -- who at last word haven't tried to kill anyone, or carried out any domestic terror incidents.

a white guy entranced by an extremely version of Tea Party-style right-populist paranoia
Since Yglesias has no doubt read the dead-man's manifesto, he is well-aware that he was no right-winger, but just a disturbed individual with a weird mix of political views, and a personal grudge against the IRS. Even some intellectually honest left-wingers have admitted as much. 

Yglesias then smears everyone actually concerned with radical Islamic terrorism as a racist. This is a standard tactic on the left, which routinely accuses anyone on the right of racism with no actual evidence. Read almost any leftist rant about our wars or Islamic terrorism and you will see constant references to "brown people," as if we were fighting enemies based on their race. This is extremely common among the anti-American left, which appears to think that as an evil racist nation we are callously slaughtering people because we don't value the lives of "brown people." 

In actuality, people on the right differ over the exact definition of terrorism, just like everyone else, or whether a particular incident qualifies. Yglesias then goes on to put forth his false analogy. He argues that since we aren't overreacting to this incident, we shouldn't overreact to Islamic terrorism either.

It’s smart, then, that as a country we’re responding to his terrorism by trying to avoid counterproductive overreactions. But of course this is also Osama bin Laden’s goal and it’s also appropriate to respond to Islamist political violence in a similar spirit.
Avoiding "counterproductive overreactions" is a certainly a good idea -- although obviously what is an overreaction, or what is counterproductive are highly debatable. But his analogy is not only false, it is idiotic. He is drawing an analogy between the actions of a lone individual angry at the IRS, with Islamic terrorism. The last time I checked, anti-IRS terrorists don't have a worldwide network killing people on a daily basis. They don't have an organization that struck a devastating blow at the U.S., killing thousands of people, and sending us to war. They don't have the support of millions of radical members of one of the world's largest religions, with adherents in numerous countries. They don't have a network of religious leaders and sympathizers who justify their actions and inspire and recruit new members. 

The reason people react differently to acts of radical Islamic terror, than to terrorist incidents by lone nutcases, is that the situations are far different. That should be obvious even to a shallow, dishonest, left-wing hack like Yglesias.

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