Sunday, June 20, 2010

False Equivalence

From here
If you believe the conservatives, we have a president engaged in a war on the United States. We have a secular-socialist administration destroying the nation we love. And we have a call for rebellion in the red states.

If you believe the liberals, we have Republicans going insane after their White House defeat. We have the right wing deploying Taliban jihadist tactics to blast America back to the stone age when manly men ruled, women were submissive and religion silenced the voices of science.

The problem with these two paragraphs is quite simple. The first pretty accurately describes the attitude of rank and file conservatives. Steve Livingston, the author of this article, need only read various articles from the past year and a half concerning Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, the Tea Party Movement, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and others to understand that there are many folks who believe this passionately.

The second paragraph also accurately describes the loss of political sanity on the right. While I personally have little fear of some kind of quasi-fascist takeover in the unlikelihood that Republicans win back Congress in the fall, the cumulative effect of right-wing rhetoric and tactics, not including the rise in right-wing violence, shows just how ready some few on the right are to go as far as possible to make public their belief that our nation is under direct threat from the alleged foreign-born usurper in the White House.

In other words, Livingston does not believe that the words he uses in these two paragraphs have any connection with political reality. The fact is, they pretty accurately describe (a) the mindset of a certain class of conservative, secular and sectarian; and (b) the view of this opposition from supporters of the President and a more liberal agenda for the country.

This is a false equivalence because Livingston does not believe either paragraph accurately captures our current political culture, when in fact they do so pretty well.

Virtual Tin Cup

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