07 December 2015
The dumbest analogy I've ever heard?
Everyone has to have an opinion, it seems, because Donald Trump proposed stopping all Muslims from entering the U.S. "until we figure this out." Apparently Dick Cheney now belongs to the ranks of the "politically correct" because he reportedly criticized Trump's proposal for going against American values, and at least some of the front-runner's Republican rivals have said similar things. Trump is enough of a thing now that CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 show has a designated Trump spokesman, Jeffrey Lord, available to talk whenever the man makes news. Inevitably he was on tonight, sparring with Van Jones, who took the liberal line that Trump's proposal, if implemented, would only further enrage Muslims, since it would prove, or so Jones claimed, that the U.S. was as hostile to Islam as groups like al-Qaeda and the self-styled Islamic State claimed. To this Jeffrey Lord responded with the dumbest analogy I've heard in at least a very long time. What he said to Jones was, in effect: by that standard you should have opposed the Civil Rights movement (Jones is a black man) because it only angered white supremacists. I'm sure a lot of liberal bloggers will have the exact quote up shortly, but I feel confident that I didn't misrepresent Lord. I think we can all see what he means, which is that the possibility that bad people will get angry shouldn't stop us from doing the right thing. But to make that point, Jeffrey Lord equated banning Muslims from entering the United States with the Civil Rights Movement. Think what you like of Trump's proposal, but you have to agree that these are two profoundly different concepts, while Lord's focus on one of Jones's arguments misses that Jones had other arguments to make against the Trump idea -- it may be one of the few things on which he and Cheney are in agreement -- that are not refuted by Lord's silly syllogism. We're definitely in a silly season now. If Lord hadn't claimed this stupidity prize preemptively, it probably would have gone to a retired general of an opposite point of view, who in a later segment of the same 360 show said that Trump's proposal, if implemented, would be "Abu Ghraib on steroids." That is, this guy compared the mere denial of entry into the U.S. with the physical torture of Muslims. Not many people are thinking straight right now, which means, I suppose, that the terrorists are winning something. To be fair, let me offer a possibly dubious analogy of my own. It may be sometimes that public safety, if not your own survival, depends on taking decisive actions on limited information that you may regret later for harm done to the innocent or undeserving. You may want to take your chances with that argument, but isn't it the same one police use when they've killed unarmed people?