Shut Up, We're Trying to Smear Somebody
It's not often that the Left is this honest
about being dishonest:One of the reasons the left has such a difficult time moving public opinion is that, all too often, it reacts with cleverness to situations where outrage would be a more appropriate response. Bill Bennett yesterday offered left bloggers a golden opportunity to make political hay, and what do we have? The spectacle of them explaining his remarks away in order to prove ... what exactly? That they, too, studied Latin and philosophy?
This is not a terribly intelligent post. Taking the most obvious first, the only "Latin" required is the term reductio ad absurdum
, which of course you could learn in any logic or debating class.Brad DeLong, however, sees this as a great opportunity to defend Bennett for "attempting a reductio ad absurdum argument." I mean, what is the point of this other than to prove his own cleverness? Yglesias similarly takes Bennett's comments as an opportunity to assert that "the empirical claim here is unambiguously true."
Perhaps Brad DeLong sees this as a great opportunity not to hop on a lynch-mob bandwagon?Um, really? I rather thought that there was no empirical claim here. Does Yglesias really believe that he knows what a world in which there were no more black children would be like? One could equally well argue, since we are in the realm of science fiction, that such an occurence would wreak psychological, cultural, and economic devastation on America's cities, with God only knows what impact on crime. Every major city would start to look like Detroit, depopulated and run-down where it had formerly been vibrant. Elementary schools would be the first to close, then high schools, then colleges. Tax bases would be wiped out. Whole swathes of the workforce would disappear, simultaneously depriving people of needed jobs and cities of employees to run necessary services. Who knows what would happen in such an environment -- it is really both unknowable and unthinkable.
But of course Bennett was not talking about any of these other effects, and he certainly wasn't suggesting that aborting all black babies was a fine idea; quite the opposite, in fact.
But I do have to agree with this part:There has been a very weird backlash on the blogs against so-called civil-rights liberals in the past year, and, frankly, the more time I spend on the blogs, the less I know what liberalism still stands for, other than hating Bush and getting out of Iraq. There's a lot of talk of movement-building these days, but it's not at all clear to me what this new movement actually values.
Hat Tip: Jeff Goldstein, who has more
on this topic.