Protective Stupidity, or Right Wing Blogs Today

November 3, 2007 at 10:40 am | Posted in 1984, conservatives, corruption, secret combinations | 15 Comments

Jonathan Schwartz quotes George Orwell, whose main points, especially in 1984 are glaringly relevant today:

A Party member…is supposed to live in a continuous frenzy of hatred of foreign enemies and internal traitors, triumph over victories, and self-abasement before the power and wisdom of the Party. The discontents produced by his bare, unsatisfying life are deliberately turned outwards and dissipated by such devices as the Two Minutes Hate, and the speculations which might possibly induce a sceptical or rebellious attitude are killed in advance by his early acquired inner discipline…called, in Newspeak, crimestop. Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.

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  1. But the smart stuff is being drowned out by a fierce, bullying, often witless tone of intolerance that has overtaken the left-wing sector of the blogosphere. Anyone who doesn’t move in lockstep with the most extreme voices is savaged and ridiculed—especially people like me who often agree with the liberal position but sometimes disagree and are therefore considered traitorously unreliable. Some of this is understandable: the left-liberals in the blogosphere are merely aping the odious, disdainful—and politically successful—tone that right-wing radio talk-show hosts like Rush Limbaugh pioneered. They are also justifiably furious at a Bush White House that has specialized in big lies and smear tactics. And that is precisely the danger here. Fury begets fury. Poison from the right-wing talk shows seeped into the Republican Party’s bloodstream and sent that party off the deep end. Limbaugh’s show—where Dick Cheney frequently expatiates—has become the voice of the Republican establishment. The same could happen to the Democrats. The spitballs aimed at me don’t matter much. The spitballs aimed at Harman, Clinton and Obama are another story. Despite their votes, each of those politicians believes the war must be funded. (Obama even said so in his statement explaining his vote.) Each knows, as Senator Jim Webb has said repeatedly, that we must be more careful getting out of Iraq than we were getting in. But they allowed themselves to be bullied into a more simplistic, more extreme position. Why? Partly because they fear the power of the bloggers to set the debate and raise money against them. They may be right—in the short (primary election) term; Harman faced a challenge from the left in 2006. In the long term, however, kowtowing to extremists is exactly the opposite of what this country is looking for after the lethal radicalism of the Bush Administration.

    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1630004,00.html

    Its both sides that are using this vitrol trash way of conveying politics. Not just the right wing. Both sides are equally to blame because both use it.

  2. You quote Joe Klein, Sherpa? A Beltway insider to tell me about divisive politics? I’m sorry but he does not have the credibility to say something like this. He’s an insider who himself has participated in the action.

    For example:

    In a May 2 washingtonpost.com online chat, Time magazine senior writer and columnist Joe Klein denied he had ever said that “the left hates America,” in response to a chat participant who denounced what the participant described as Klein’s ” ‘the Left hates America’ rhetoric.” But — contrary to Klein’s denial — as Media Matters for America noted, in an April 14 entry on the Huffington Post weblog, Klein stated that the “left wing” of the Democratic Party has a “hate America tendency.”

    During the May 2 chat, Klein responded to a reader who stated that “[a]nybody that engages in this ‘the Left hates America’ rhetoric are [sic] among the greatest threats to civil discourse.” Klein claimed that he “never said that the left hates America,” but rather that “the Left sometimes indulges in ‘hate America’ rhetoric, especially when it comes to foreign policy.” He added that “some on the left have the knee-jerk assumption that America is always wrong when it uses force,” while “others on the left seem to assume that America is a malignant force in the world.” He concluded: “I have no time for those who assume our country is somehow evil.”

    But beyond accusing the left of “hate America rhetoric,” Klein stated — in his April 14 Huffington Post entry, in which he defended remarks he reportedly made at an April 11 breakfast attended by him and media critic Eric Alterman:

    What I actually said was “the hate America tendency of the [Democratic Party’s] left wing” had made it harder for Democrats to challenge Republicans on foreign policy.

    Based on his May 2 chat comments, Klein appears to be drawing a distinction between saying that the left hates America — which he denies having said — and saying that the Democratic “left wing” has a “hate America tendency,” which he wrote on April 14. His argument seems to be the following: He didn’t say that the left hates America; he said that the left tends to hate America. If there is a distinction between the two statements, Klein has yet to explain it. Nor has Klein explained the difference between claiming that “the left hates America” — which, again, he denies having said — and the statement Alterman reported that Klein made on April 11, that “for the past twenty years,” the message of the left wing of the Democratic Party has been “that they hate America.” And Klein has yet to explain the difference between saying the left “hates America” and his May 2 online comment that the left views America as “malignant” and “evil.”

    How can someone on the “left” ever consider what Joe Klein says as credible?

    Furthermore, to compare the left with right-wing lunatics like Rush Limbaugh is not realistic. We’re criticizing actual things. Sure there are leftists that go off the deep end, but nowhere near the same quantity of right-wingers. That’s because right-wingers follow a flawed ideology, and are stuck in this rut with no way out. So the best they can do is “protective stupidity.”

  3. Dan, you’re using the ad-hominem argument to disprove Joe Klein. Actually, calling Joe Klein an insider to disprove him is a republican tactic. An old, old one.

    Daniel, you don’t get it. You don’t at all. The right and the left are using the same tactics.

    Joe Klein is a liberal. Yet, you yourself don’t listen to him because you know he’s wrong.

    Yes, you both use the same exact tactics. I’m sorry, but you don’t have to tell me how the right and left are. I read politics just as much as you do…and the two, the right wings and the left wings use the same tactics.

  4. Let me re-write this:

    Dan, you’re using the ad-hominem argument to disprove Joe Klein. Actually, calling Joe Klein an insider to disprove him is a republican tactic. An old, old one. That’s been around at least since the 80’s at least with the Reagan Revolution.

    Daniel, you don’t get it. You don’t at all. The right and the left are using the same tactics. They are shoddy, they make it tough to debate. You know how hard it is to debate someone who is using those tactics. Personally, when I see them being used, half the time I don’t say anything because I know they won’t listen to reason. Reason isn’t being used when either side uses the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.

    Joe Klein is a liberal. Yet, you yourself don’t listen to him because you know he’s right. That should read right. That’s kind of funny what I said. Why did you yourself use an ad-hominem tactic to disprove my quote and try to disprove Joe Klein, one of the most respected journalists today? This is what he has to say again.

    But the smart stuff is being drowned out by a fierce, bullying, often witless tone of intolerance that has overtaken the left-wing sector of the blogosphere. Anyone who doesn’t move in lockstep with the most extreme voices is savaged and ridiculed—especially people like me who often agree with the liberal position but sometimes disagree and are therefore considered traitorously unreliable.

    Daniel, Klein is telling the left that they are better than the right ultimately. That’s a warning flag that the left should cut it out. He’s saying that because he agrees with the lefts message, by and large. When either side uses these tactics, then that shows to others that their message is a flawed idealogy, whether or not it is.

    And that is precisely the danger here. Fury begets fury. Poison from the right-wing talk shows seeped into the Republican Party’s bloodstream and sent that party off the deep end.

    I completely agree with that. I’d guess you do too.

    Limbaugh’s show—where Dick Cheney frequently expatiates—has become the voice of the Republican establishment. The same could happen to the Democrats. The spitballs aimed at me don’t matter much. The spitballs aimed at Harman, Clinton and Obama are another story. Despite their votes, each of those politicians believes the war must be funded. (Obama even said so in his statement explaining his vote.) Each knows, as Senator Jim Webb has said repeatedly, that we must be more careful getting out of Iraq than we were getting in. But they allowed themselves to be bullied into a more simplistic, more extreme position. Why? Partly because they fear the power of the bloggers to set the debate and raise money against them. They may be right—in the short (primary election) term; Harman faced a challenge from the left in 2006. In the long term, however, kowtowing to extremists is exactly the opposite of what this country is looking for after the lethal radicalism of the Bush Administration.

    There’s some keys point to put here. Both sides are becoming simplistic, partly because of this 1984 type of debate that’s being used by both sides. We need candidates on both sides (or just the left) who give nuanced debates. Not simplistic policy statements. We need a civil, rational debate, not bullying each other so anyone who may or may not agree won’t comment.

    Daniel, I probably read just as much politics oriented literature that you probably do. I hate this kind of tactics, and I with my own eyes have seen that Joe Klein is correct. The Right has gone off the deep end, and I personally value the message of the left that seeing them do the same thing makes me seriously concerned because I care about what they say as a left leaning moderate.

  5. Sherpa,

    Yes, you both use the same exact tactics. I’m sorry, but you don’t have to tell me how the right and left are. I read politics just as much as you do…and the two, the right wings and the left wings use the same tactics.

    No they don’t, Sherpa. They don’t go around smearing candidates. They don’t go around talking about candidates’ hair color of the day, or how they smell these days, or how that chin looks mighty nice. They don’t go around spreading false rumors about a candidate’s time in Indonesia or anywhere else, Sherpa. This is not what leftist bloggers do. They really do a pretty decent job at sticking to the facts. I’m sorry you don’t see this. There is no middle ground when you deal with extremists like the right wing today, Sherpa. There is no middle ground. They’ve gone so far to the right, so far extreme that to be in between us and them is to be on the right. They have become so unhinged from reality, Sherpa. There is NO comparison to leftist bloggers.

    Now of course, I speak in generalizations here. I’m sure if you dug around you’d find some obscure blogger on the left who went around slandering, but I highly doubt you’d find that in the prominent blogs.

    Look at what you find on the right, however. Kevin Drum is doing a Top Worst Wingnut Blogposts ever. Do you remember this one from Glen Reynolds?

    Yeah, there has been a lot of pro-war gloating. And I guess that Dawn Olsen’s cautionary advice about gloating is appropriate. So maybe we shouldn’t rub in just how wrong, and morally corrupt the antiwar case was. Maybe we should rise above the temptation to point out that claims of a “quagmire” were wrong — again! — how efforts at moral equivalence were obscenely wrong — again! — how the antiwar folks are still, far too often, trying to move the goalposts rather than admit their error — again — and how an awful lot of the very same people who spoke lugubriously about “civilian casualties” now seem almost disappointed that there weren’t more — again — and how many people who spoke darkly about the Arab Street and citizens rising up against American “liberators” were proven wrong — again — as the liberators were seen as just that by the people they were liberating. And I suppose we shouldn’t stress so much that the antiwar folks were really just defending the interests of French oil companies and Russian arms-deal creditors. It’s probably a bad idea to keep rubbing that point in over and over again.

    This is not something you find on the left. I’m sorry, Sherpa, but Joe Klein is wrong and has no credibility. Please pick a better example to chide me with. 🙂

  6. No they don’t, Sherpa. They don’t go around smearing candidates. They don’t go around talking about candidates’ hair color of the day, or how they smell these days, or how that chin looks mighty nice. They don’t go around spreading false rumors about a candidate’s time in Indonesia or anywhere else, Sherpa.

    Dan, they do use these tactics to find fault with right candidates. Give me a couple of days (I’m super busy at work right now, and I can find similar tactics used on right blogs. What you are doing here is setting up the right as the strawman, and that’s okay. Just because I said the left is using the same tactics doesn’t automatically think I’m for the right or don’t see what the right is doing. What you are saying in this paragraph to me is that what the right is doing is completely horrible. And I see what they are doing. You don’t have to spell it out to me.

    This is not what leftist bloggers do. They really do a pretty decent job at sticking to the facts. I’m sorry you don’t see this.

    Daniel, they do a fair sticking with the facts, but they still use “republican guerilla warfare.” Give me a few days and I’ll find examples. Hell, I can find many examples on blogs you link to daily.

    I do see what the right is doing, but I do see the republican guerilla warfare creeping into “leftist” blogs daily and that makes me as sick as reading right wing blogs that are full of crap.

    There is no middle ground when you deal with extremists like the right wing today, Sherpa.

    Sure there is. There is a middle ground. They may pigeonhole someone who is a moderate into a category, they may call a moderate a fence sitter and tell you that you have no morals and principles, but there is a middle ground when dealing with extremists. That middle ground is still where the majority of the country lies, and I have no problem using fact and reason to debate with extremists.

    There is no middle ground. They’ve gone so far to the right, so far extreme that to be in between us and them is to be on the right.

    Yup, they’ve gone so far on the right, to between you and them is to be on the right (side.) Nice pun there Dan. 😉

    I think you’re saying in other words, you’re either with us or against us, but you really wouldn’t use one of the most vile, simplistic conservative slogans out there would you?

    There is a middle ground and I’m on it, and I continue to be on it. I’m sorry, but perception isn’t always reality.

    They have become so unhinged from reality, Sherpa. There is NO comparison to leftist bloggers.

    Sure there is. If left bloggers are using the same tactics as the right is, then there is a comparison no matter the message.

    Now of course, I speak in generalizations here. I’m sure if you dug around you’d find some obscure blogger on the left who went around slandering, but I highly doubt you’d find that in the prominent blogs.

    Dan, on the prominent blogs, I’ll still find some usage of republican tactics. That I know because I’ve seen it.


    Look at what you find on the right, however. Kevin Drum is doing a Top Worst Wingnut Blogposts ever. Do you remember this one from Glen Reynolds?

    Dan, you are using the strawman argument to prove your point.


    This is not something you find on the left. I’m sorry, Sherpa, but Joe Klein is wrong and has no credibility. Please pick a better example to chide me with.

    Daniel, so because you say John Klein is wrong and has no credibility, that means he has no credibility and he’s wrong? I’m sorry, but that doesn’t cut it.

  7. Well Sherpa, we’re going to have to agree to disagree, because you have not convinced me. However, if you desire to show examples from prominent bloggers on the left, that’s cool.

  8. That’s it. That’s all you have to say to my whole post? That I have to give you the burden of proof? That I’m the one that has to make the burden of proof so you disagree? That you’ve changed it so I have to find it from prominent bloggers? That’s all? That in itself means to me that you may think I’m on to something. Thanks Dan!

    Daniel, the point I made is not that one side is worse than the other–which is the point I think you’re trying to make. We both agree to that.

    My point was all along that both sides use the same tactics. The degree doesn’t matter. The tactics being used are wrong, cheap, and don’t make for a civil debate. I’m not attacking the ideas of the left, I’m saying the methods used by political bloggers on both sides are simply wrong. I’m saying that Joe Klein, who you immediately dissmiss as having no credibility experienced something that happens a lot. I myself have experienced it. I get called a conservative by the political left, I get called a liberal by the political right. I’m totally okay with that. I have had people in real life (not online) tell me I have no morals because I’m a moderate. I could care less if you say I’m being pushed to the right because I’m a moderate. I know where I stand, and I know what’s going on with my own eyes. The right isn’t so far to the right that the moderates are being pushed there. Some are, some aren’t. However, when the political left uses the same tactics and a moderate disagrees and we get attacked, that’s just like being attacked by the right.

    I don’t care if I get told I’m on the right by the “political left” What I do care is that the tactics used by the right, and you see used more by the left cause hate, anger and contention. You yourself knows that the tactics used by republicans doesn’t exactly create a civil debate. It doesn’t matter who starts it. What matters who continues it—and both sides do.

    Anyway, yeah, if you want to agree to disagree, that’s totally fine by me.

    When you say prominent bloggers, is it a list of your own making? May I use my own judgement? Oh, and don’t expect it for a while.

  9. Sherpa,

    That you’ve changed it so I have to find it from prominent bloggers? That’s all? That in itself means to me that you may think I’m on to something. Thanks Dan!

    Hardly. I just don’t care for pursuing this further.

    My point was all along that both sides use the same tactics. The degree doesn’t matter.

    And I’m telling you that that is incorrect. The left does NOT use the same tactics at different degrees. They do not use the same tactics.

    I’m saying that Joe Klein, who you immediately dissmiss as having no credibility experienced something that happens a lot.

    Um, and he dishes it out too, as my earlier comment highlighted. Sorry, but he is a hack.

    When you say prominent bloggers, is it a list of your own making? May I use my own judgement? Oh, and don’t expect it for a while.

    I trust your judgment…on some things. 😉

  10. Hardly. I just don’t care for pursuing this further.

    Uh huh. I was pushing your buttons by the way.

    And I’m telling you that that is incorrect. The left does NOT use the same tactics at different degrees. They do not use the same tactics.

    Yes, they do use the same tactics. The same tactics to varying degrees. As someone who reads as much as you do, I see it. But that’s alright. May you wallow in darkness the rest of your days. Or at least today.

    I trust your judgment…on some things.

    Ah, a joke. Complete with its own laugh track. I feel special. Now, I think you should blog about something we agree about. Like, you know, how Ron Paul is the spawn of Satan or something lighthearted like that.

  11. Oh, and Joe Klein is not a hack. I know he dishes it out to both sides. That’s obvious to anyone who reads him. He states his opinion with facts and that doesn’t make him a hack. .

  12. He does NOT state his opinions with facts. If he did he would not claim that the left has a “hate America” tendency, now would he?

  13. Dan, you know better than to ask a leading question like that. Seriously, that’s quite the loaded question there. Now, don’t get emotional. If you’d like to continue this debate, ask me another question.

  14. It’s not a loaded question, Sherpa. Why would he say leftists had a “hate America” tendency? That certainly is not based on factual points.

    In any case, like I said, we must agree to disagree. I’m going to close the comments for this post now. There’s no need to go any further.

  15. […] David Gross wrote an engrossing place today onHere’s a hurried excerptProtective Stupidity, or Right Wing Blogs Today Jonathan Schwartz quotes martyr Orwell, whose important points, especially in 1984 are glaringly germane today: A Party member…is questionable to springy in a constant frenzy of emotion of external enemies and interior traitors, boast over victories, and self-abasement before the noesis and good of th… Read the flooded place from The Good Democrat Tags: Conservatives, Corruption, 1984, info combinations via Blogdigger journal see for abase. […]


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