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Monday, January 30, 2012

Beldar on "code words" arguments

From time to time, I've had occasion to say something nice about leftie pundit Juan Williams, even though I rarely agree with him about matters of politics or national policy. I was, accordingly, disappointed to read an op-ed from Mr. Williams entitled "Racial code words obscure real issues" (hat-tip Patterico). Mr. Williams is off into paranoid fantasy land by the essay's third paragraph:

The language of GOP racial politics is heavy on euphemisms that allow the speaker to deny any responsibility for the racial content of his message. The code words in this game are "entitlement society" — as used by Mitt Romney — and "poor work ethic" and "food stamp president" — as used by Newt Gingrich. References to a lack of respect for the “Founding Fathers” and the “Constitution” also make certain ears perk up by demonizing anyone supposedly threatening core “old-fashioned American values."

My take (consistent with a comment I left at Patterico's):

Any argument by John which relies on the premise that Mary is using “code words” is intrinsically insulting to Mary, and instantly reveals John to be arguing in the worst of egotistical bad faith. If anything Mary says can be reinterpreted at will by John, then John might just as well be engaged in a monologue, and Mary is completely superfluous to John's self-stimulation.

Posted by Beldar at 11:51 PM in Politics (2012) | Permalink


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(1) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Jan 31, 2012 12:30:52 AM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: It was the part of your comment at Petterico's that revealed the truth: "How quickly he [Williams] forgets his treatment at NPR."

He hasn't forgotten it, but he'd like to go back to the warm bath of liberal bigotry. It's cold outside and his idiotic howlings aren't generating the echoes they did inside the chamber. But maybe if he howls idiotically enough, loudly enough, and long enough, they'll take him back. Note the use of unemployment stats: black unemployment has risen to horrendous heights, therefore racism caused it. Somehow being Prez, with a filibuster proof majority in 2009 and a substantial majority iin 2010 is powerless to do something about black unemployment. Gotta be raaaaaaacismmmmmm! So it was under Geo. W., so it is now under The Won. So it is today, tomorrow and forever, to rearrange George Wallace's famous quote. Williams was just rebelling against his nannies at NPR when he would speak something closer to sense in that echo chambers. Make them mad, that's the ticket! An adolescent reaction, perfectly in tune with the Left, as reading the comments on Williams's piece at THE HILL proves. Sense? Forget it. Taking responsibility for your own arguments? Never! How much more satisfying to be perpetually rebelling against The Man. Pays pretty good for the nimble too.

Williams isn't worth contempt. Just laugh at the old boy and his imbecility. He has nowhere to go, and that's his own fault. No one else's.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(2) stan made the following comment | Jan 31, 2012 8:47:26 AM | Permalink

Krauthammer is right -- liberals/Democrats believe that Republicans are evil. When one's starting point is to assume that the GOP candidate is a racist (and mean-spirited, hate-filled, sexist, homophobic starver of kids and killer of seniors bent on raping the environment and exploiting workers) it is merely circular reasoning to conclude that his words are racist.

Anyone determined to find racism will ALWAYS find it, whether it is there or not.

(3) LibertyAtStake made the following comment | Jan 31, 2012 12:28:11 PM | Permalink

My patience with this Williams guy is wearing thin. If he wants to see racism around every corner, he should apply for reinstatement to NPR.

“Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive”

(4) Milhouse made the following comment | Jan 31, 2012 12:54:33 PM | Permalink

This is part of the leftist philosophy that there is no objective truth, but only words, and we interact with the world around us only through words, therefore words define our "reality". Thus by manipulating words we can change reality. What we call things defines how we think about them, and therefore what they are. Hence if we call something racist then it is, and since racism is by definition a bad thing, therefore anything we call racism is by definition bad; it's just a matter of getting the new definition accepted.

They do the same thing with other words. Abuse is bad; this is abuse, therefore it's bad. At some point someone has to come along and pierce the mist.

The truth is that "racism" and "abuse" aren't bad. They're merely words, and thus morally neutral. In common usage they refer to bad things, i.e. to things that are objectively bad, bad because of what they are, not because of what they're called. So long as those labels refer only to those things, it is useful and convenient to say that racism and abuse are bad. As soon as the labels start to refer to other things, then it's no longer true that they are bad; therefore there is nothing to be gained by changing their usage in such a way.

If supporting tax cuts is racist, then fine, I'm a racist. I won't argue with your redefinition, you can do whatever you like with the language, but I deny your power to thereby change reality. If you call a tail a leg then a dog may indeed have five legs, but it's the same dog as it was when it had only four. If you put it in a circus nobody will pay to see it.

(5) Neo made the following comment | Jan 31, 2012 2:15:17 PM | Permalink

I have a couple of NYC Democrat transplants down the street. Talking to them is always an adventure. Just assume that they think like Hugo Chavez and you will be right on target i.e. Republicans are the "devil."

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