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While it’s true that arguing to convince others is pretty hit or miss in the real world, this doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Certainly we’re faced with numerous difficulties in getting agreement on the kinds of facts we can all accept, particularly when this involves reliance on information based on what others tell us or report. But there is at least one sure way to make progress in an argument and that’s to show that the other’s viewpoint is incoherent.
What’s that? It’s when we apply different rules to similar situations, or apply the same rules differently, although we have no basis for that . . . or when we’re just unclear about what we’re trying to say but say it anyway.
The Left tells us, for instance, that there was no reason to go to war to remove Saddam Hussein because he wasn’t really a danger to us . . . but not to worry because sanctions were containing him anyway (why bother if he wasn’t a danger?). Of course, they add, those same sanctions needed to be removed because they were harming the people of Iraq. Besides, Saddam didn’t have the WMD we thought we’d find, and which were a major reason advanced by the administration for acting quickly against him so the sanctions really weren’t necessary.
If Saddam didn’t have the WMD, why do those on the Left think that was so? The UN inspections, they tell us, and the sanctions (which needed to be removed) no doubt did their job!
But what if we had finally removed the sanctions as those on the Left were demanding? What would have happened then? Well, Saddam didn’t have any WMD at that point, says the Left, as we now know, so we should certainly have removed the sanctions, if only as a long overdue humanitarian gesture. But Saddam used to have WMD, didn’t he? Well, yes, they’ll admit (though grudgingly). But the inspections regime and the sanctions (which were a humanitarian horror and needed to be removed) had ended all that.
But if he could get them once, couldn’t he get them again, once the inspection regime and sanctions were removed? Sure, but then we could simply have re-instituted the sanctions (though they were a humanitarian travesty which needed to be lifted).
Now comes Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson writing the other day in The New York Times about President Bush’s inaugural speech. Bush, of course, made history by making that speech a call for advancing freedom around the world. But what did Professor Patterson have to say about it? After misrepresenting the administration’s argument for removing Saddam by wrongly characterizing it in the guise of a flawed syllogism, which did not reflect the real administration argument, he got right down to it: “In the twentieth century,” he writes, “two versions of freedom emerged in America . . . .The modern liberal version emphasizes civil liberties, political participation and social justice.” But “most ordinary Americans,” he adds, “view freedom in different terms.”
They do? Aside from the question of who these “ordinary Americans” might be and how they differ from more exalted types, like the professor, who hold his “modern liberal” idea of freedom, the obvious question is whether there really is such a difference. Are there really two notions of freedom at work here and is one somehow superior to the other as the professor alleges?
The modern notion, Professor Patterson assures us, is the view “formally extolled by the federal government, debated by philosophers and taught in schools . . . the version most treasured by foreigners who struggle for freedom in their own countries.” But this view is not the one George W. Bush has in mind. It isn’t?
About the Author: Stuart W. Mirsky is a Queens-based writer and columnist for several local papers. He is the author of the historical novel "The King of Vinland's Saga," about Vikings and Indians in eleventh-century North America, and "A Raft on the River," the true story of a 15-year-old girl's escape from the Nazis in Poland during World War II.
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Shepherding in the Shomron isn’t your usual kind of shepherding – despite his business-minded beginnings, Eli has discovered that a strong ideological impetus powers the job.
I said to myself, “This story has got to be told. We’re losing this generation of World War II and if we don’t listen to them now, we’ve lost it.”
His entire existence was about spreading simcha and glorifying G-d’s name on a daily basis.
At some point we need to stop simply defending and promoting Israel and start living in Israel
“We Jews are the only people who when we drop a book on the floor pick it up and kiss it.”
Though Zaide was the publisher of The Jewish Press, a big newspaper,I always remember him learning
Speaker Silver has been an extraordinary public servant since his election to the Assembly in 1975 and has been an exemplary leader of that body since 1994.
He spent the first leg of his daylong visit to the French capital at Hyper Cacher.
Drawing Congress into the Iran nuclear debate is the last thing the White House wants.
Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.
Obama’s foreign policy is viewed by both liberals and conservatives as deeply flawed
Many journalists are covertly blaming the Charlie Hebdo writers themselves through self-censorship.
The shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat, along with federal judge John Roll (a Republican appointee) and numerous others, including a nine year-old constituent of the Congresswoman, resulting in the deaths of six (including the judge and the little girl) and brain injury to the congresswoman, prompted the usual ruminations.
While it’s not too early for Republicans to start feeling optimistic, they need to realize this kind of resurgent mood isn’t unlike the ebullience of markets bouncing off a bottom. As market pundits like to say, even a dead cat will bounce when it’s tossed from a great height. After having fallen so low in public esteem during the last days of the Bush administration, it only makes sense Republicans’ spirits would surge at an impending reversal of fortune.
A friend of mine came to this country from China back in the eighties. China had little opportunity for people like him he tells me, especially after Chairman Mao had destroyed the country. To get anywhere you had to know people and pay them off. Everything, he adds, was corrupt and there was no freedom. America looked better and so he emigrated, married and raised a family here.
With the outgoing and endlessly embattled Bush administration showing signs of exhaustion in 2008 and the onslaught of an unforeseen financial crisis, Democrats won the U.S. presidency while gaining an overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives and 60 veto-proof seats in the U.S. Senate (thanks, in part, to a disputed Minnesota election putting TV comic Al Franken over the top in his state and the inclusion of Vermont Socialist Bernie Sanders and Connecticut Independent Joe Lieberman).
It’s no secret these days that the Obama administration leans left.
On every crucial issue, from dealing with al Qaeda and the threat of terrorism, to the environment, to health care, to the administration’s handling of our overseas adversaries, the president and his advisers have come down hard on the left side of the political divide.
Nearly thirty years ago, this country underwent a paradigm shift when Ronald Reagan swept into the presidency, defeating Jimmy Carter after a single term. Along with Carter, Reagan displaced an entire way of thinking that had informed our politics since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Reagan was a transformative president.
Well, it’s finally over – and about time, too. After two years of seemingly endless campaigning and eight of partisan bickering and recriminations, the country appears to have turned a historic corner.
Nothing is certain except death and taxes — but a few things come close. One is that, come November, either Democrat Barack Obama or Republican John McCain will emerge as the next president. When that happens we’ll be turning the page on eight years of rancorous political partisanship.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/fuzzy-on-freedom/2005/02/09/
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