How do you argue with a conspiracy theorist? *UPDATED*

A friend of mine is horrified that I’m affiliated in any way with the Tea Party movement.  They are, he tells me, Nazis.  They are, he says, the direct descendants of George Wallace’s racist, antisemitic, separatist movement.  They are, he assures me, far right wing paramilitary nutcases who want to take over the country for evil purposes.  I am a naive dupe, being used by people who are the reincarnation of the John Birch society.

I keep asking for evidence.  What has anyone said or done that has made you reach these conclusions?  What he’s been able to come up with is the fact that Glenn Beck, a demagogue, held a rally on the anniversary of MLK’s speech and there were almost no blacks there; and that Christine O’Donnell is a creationist (which, it is true, is something I do not support).  Everything else, he assures me, is there, but you have to understand that it’s in code.

The Tea Party leaders, he says, are not friends and neighbors.  They are a cabal who have figured out that they can control naive people by using code about small government and strong national security.  Everything they say is a lie, meant to confuse us into supporting them so that they can bring about their racist, Nazi, antisemitic, xenophobic, paramilitary dream.  They’re just not saying it directly.  You have to understand the subtext.

When I point him to the Mt. Vernon Statement as a fairly comprehensive statement of a commitment to a true constitutional government, I’m told that’s just smoke and mirrors to confuse the credulous, even as their secretive, unknown leaders advance their nefarious plans.

My questions for you:  How can you argue with this?  Because all facts are not really facts at all, but just illusions that hide an incredible ugliness that can’t actually be seen, and as to which there is no proof, what is left to debate?

UPDATE:  What upsets me so much in my discussions with this friend — and it’s a friend who is an integral part of my life, so the discussions are here to stay — is the fact that it’s never about substance.

I’ll happily debate with someone the virtues of big government versus small, whether the Founders meant what they said in the Second Amendment, or just how far Jefferson’s “separation of church and state” should be used in understanding the First Amendment.  But it’s never about the merits.  It’s about name-calling.

It’s also about the bizarre conclusion that the absence of any evidence whatsoever of overt, or covert, racism or antisemitism or theocratic thinker, is itself proof that the Tea Party movement is racist, antisemitic and intent upon a fundamentalist Christian takeover of America.

Every conversation is an Alice in Wonderland world, where I’m trying to have a civil discussion with someone who alternates between Humpty Dumpty’s creative language use, the Queen of Heart’s anger, and the Mad Hatter’s logical insanity.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments

  1. Leah says

    I have no idea, all I know is that it appears that many Jews are veering sharply to the left these days. Rosh Hashanna turned into a nightmare with the most awful political sermon ever.
    I’m wondering, is the the reaction of a group that is scared by the rise of the Right? Are they lashing out in fear – because common sense has completely flown out the window. There is no room for discussion. If anyone else has an answer, I’ll be thrilled to know.

  2. says

    Leah..”many Jews are veering sharply to the left these days”…really? I had gotten the impression that the *opposite* was happening.
    Cultural memes do tend to last a long time…the perception that historically most anti-Semitism was on the right is not entirely true, but had enough truth in it to be widely believed. (I read a memoir by a Jewish girl who emigrated from Russia to Boston circa 1890. She said that priests have often led pogroms back in the old country, and it took her a long time to be able to walk by a Christian church without a shudder, and eventually to even realize that priests could be decent and helpful people. How many similar experiences have been transmitted, in one way or another, to great-grandchildren who are living now?)
    Somewhere else, I read about a remote village in Russia where the local Jews, in 1941, eagerly awaited the arrival of the Wehrmacht. That’s not a typo. They remembered the polite and “correct” Germans of the first war, who were greatly preferable to the local drunken anti-Semitic admninistrators, and did not realize that “German” in 1914 and “German” in 1941 meant two different things. Even though some of the individuals were probably the same.
    It is very, very dangerous to assume that today’s friends and enemies are the same as yesteryear’s.

  3. Gringo says

    Scattershooting…… stream oc consciousness
     
    Ask him for documentation of his claim. Who what where, how why when, and the source. But you have tried it, to no avail. Oh well.
    Maybe one thing you could to is to bring up various conspiracy theories and theorists of the past, such as the Illuminati, the John Birch Society, Lyndon LaRouche, what have you.  Ask him what he thought of such theories, and the reasons why he considered them to be hooey.  It is a hoot that as a conspiracy theorist, he considers the John Birch Society, one of the poster children for constructing conspiracy theories, to be behind the Tea Party. So maybe you had best not lead off with the JBS when presenting looney conspiracy theories. Perhaps ask him: why be believes that the JBS is going great guns today,  when the JBS has been silent for nearly 50 years after William F. Buckley and National Review  did a number on them? Again, ask him for documentation of his claim. But you have already said that. Or Maybe ask him: is George Soros behind the Tea Party?
    [Jimmah's Trilateral Commission was one of the JBS memes.]
     
    Re Glenn Beck’s rally: point out to him that a niece of Martin Luther King spoke at the rally. [Or ask him how many blacks reside in HIS neighborhood :)] Point out the Gallup Poll that talks about black support for Tea Party. Get him to give an estimate on the # of blacks at the Glenn Beck rallly. Maybe say that blacks constituted 1% of the McCain vote. Would you estimate then that blacks constituted 1% of the Beck rally? There were only about 2,000 at the Reverend Sharpton’s counter rally: that was probably fewer than the blacks at the Tea Party rally.
     
    Maybe bring up the origin of Tea Party: the broker/trader in Chicago.
    Perhaps to point out that Tea Party people are fairly mainstream in demographics, but he would most likely dismiss them as dupes.
     
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/127181/tea-partiers-fairly-mainstream-demographics.aspx
    The numbers say that blacks constituted about 1% of the vote for John McCain.Yet the Gallup Poll says that blacks consist 6% of Tea Party supporters. [ blacks= 13% of vote, Black vote split 96/4 Obama/McCain, McCain got 46% of vote]
     

    the direct descendants of George Wallace’s racist, antisemitic, separatist movement.
    Point out to him that 1) George Wallace renounced his segregationist past, 2) that the US has changed greatly in 50 years. Fifty years ago 94% of whites disapproved of interracial marriages. Today, that figure is 17%. Therefore, to bring up “racist, antisemetic..movement” is to be stuck in the past.
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/28417/Most-Americans-Approve-Interracial-Marriages.aspx
     
    Regarding being able to convince him, Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream had something to say.
    I asked the captain what his name was
    And how come he didn’t drive a truck
    He said his name was Columbus
    I just said, “Good luck”.
    Good. Luck.
     
     
     

  4. says

    Books, back in 2009 I wrote a PJM essay on trance states in politics that you might find informative.
    What you are seeing, I believe, is evidence of a trance state — that is, a state in which attention is focused and perception is filtered accordingly.  So, the question you’re asking is “how to break through a trance state”, and the answer is that something must happen that makes the trance unacceptable — just as no one can be hypnotized without some degree of consent, no one breaks out of a trance without some degree of consent.
    Simply offering evidence won’t do it; the evidence is filtered by the trance.  You have to first build up a degree of trust with the subject, then challenge the trance by subtly altering it.
     
    Of course, you could always try “when I count to three and snap my fingers, you will wake up.”

  5. SADIE says

    Ask your friend if he is a certified in cryptology or encryption – if not, he has magically learned how to convert messages from a comprehensible form into an incomprehensible one.
     
    You could chide him and tell him that Zerobama is a Christian with strong ‘Christian’ values, who seeks guidance from a variety of pastors, who read the bible. Be sure to point out the lead in Genesis …. In the beginning…
     
    Leah … Is your Rabbi a member of JStreet?  It may be time to look for a new temple. Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur is a time to be introspective and there is never a time for a Rabbi to use the pulpit to belittle the congregants nor discuss opinion and politics. There has been a 17% increase in antisemitism the past year [as opposed to the 7% increase towards islam]. Your rabbi has failed not just you, but failed to guide the community.

  6. says

    <B>A friend of mine is horrified that Ifm affiliated in any way with the Tea Party movement.  </b>

    Oh My God, Book. You never told me you were in a cult. You need an Intervention, to save you from yourself! Come on, I’m here to help.

    <B>They are, he tells me, Nazis.</b>

    The Nazis were jokers compared to this cult.

    <B>They are, he assures me, far right wing paramilitary nutcases</b>

    What’s a paramilitary nutcase? Is that someone who trains how to kill people with their bare hands or something? I don’t get it… Help me out here, Book. So I can help you.

    <B>I am a naive dupe, being used by people who are the reincarnation of the John Birch society.</b>

    But you are Our naive dupe!

    <B>Everything they say is a lie, meant to confuse us into supporting them so that they can bring about their racist, Nazi, antisemitic, xenophobic, paramilitary dream. </b>

    So what’s so bad about the Leftist Utopia though. Plenty of Democrats support such a policy. Fascism for them, but not for others? Kind of prejudicial and bigoted.


    <B>what is left to debate?</b>

    To take a person out of a cult, Book, we’re going to have to do some Intervention and de-brainwash the individual. So just take my hand, we’re going to a camp for a few days. There, we will have trainers specializing in such great fun areas as anti-con schemes, anti-crime training, self-defense, and H2H education.

    You will learn with the body and the mind will follow. When you open your eyes next, you will be free of the cult’s shackles.

  7. says

    I tried at first, with some of the other bloggers on Open Salon, where I have a blog – mostly to promote my writing – I don’t post there to get into political fisticuffs, and it was just hopeless. They were absolutely convinced that the Tea Party was a massive, well-funded astro-turf operation, and a front for the GOP.  I was involved with a very large local tea party, in a leadership level, where I handled media for them, attended endless board meetings, so I knew absolutely that we were not being funded by anyone but ourselves, that we didn’t take outside guidance, we had established our own website, it doesn’t cost all that much to put one up … all to no avail. I was told by one blogger I was either clueless or a liar. They had become so convinced by this caricature Tea Party created by the media that they couldn’t accept anything I said to the contrary. It was sad, and horrifying, actually – because I am certain those particular Open Saloners pride themselves very much on being open-minded, intellectually curious and unprejudiced people. And yet, every comment and entry where they bashed the Tea Party and Tea Party participants demonstrated that they were closed-minded, incurious bigots.
    Now, of course, the meme has moved on to the Tea Party as violent-racist-militia. I just walk away now. I’m tired and heart-sick, as some of these people I rather liked, and they did me the honor of liking my writing.

  8. Leah says

    David, I am very familiar with fellow Jews who have moved right. In reaction it appears the the ‘official Jews’ Rabbis and such are pushing back harder to the left.
    I have been going to the same Temple for 20 years, politics didn’t enter the sermons on the high Holidays. Sure, for the last five years we have a new Rabbi who has been much more open with his political views- on your average Saturday. This is the first year he hit hard and nasty and it was all political.
    So two things are happening, average American Jews are waking up and the pushback from “Jew Inc’ is hard left

  9. says

    “I was told by one blogger I was either clueless or a liar.”
     
    “They had become so convinced by this caricature Tea Party created by the media that they couldn’t accept anything I said to the contrary.”
     
    That isn’t unexpected or surprising. Just like the Nazi party, they believe whatever their Democrat masters tell them to believe. It’s just how the plantation works. Those that step out, receive the pain. They don’t like pain. And they don’t want to emulate all those people the “Left made examples out of” to prove a point. And by example, I also include the night time executions of thousands of American allies in Vietnam villages during the Tet Offensive.
     
    It is just how they are. And it is how they will remain, until we are victorious.
    “because I am certain those particular Open Saloners pride themselves very much on being open-minded, intellectually curious and unprejudiced people.”
     
    Yes. But open minded, intellectually curious, and “unprejudiced” are only modifies that apply to individuals with free will. They aren’t such people. They are tools. There’s a definite difference. Tools aren’t open minded. Tools aren’t intellectually curious. Tools are not “unprejudiced people”. They’re just unprejudiced because they have no prejudice at all. They are prejudicial when the tool master is prejudicial.
     
    ” I just walk away now.”
     
    We’re still here for you and support you. Just remember all those that you fight for and all those that fight for you. From them, you will gain strength enough to defeat many enemies.
     
    “I’m tired and heart-sick, as some of these people I rather liked, and they did me the honor of liking my writing.”
     
    They will be recovered at campaign’s end, once their masters have been destroyed. Their lives are not a total waste, after all. The same is true for Islam and those in Iraq who fought Americans because they wanted to kick out the foreign occupation. Redemption is never impossible. Just difficult. And it requires a lot of killing, often times.
     

  10. Leah says

    Sgt. Mom, could it be projection? So much of the left is heavily funded by the likes of George Soros that it is inconceivable to them that true grass roots really exists.’
    An idea has been formulating in my mind. In the Talmud there is a saying: if you are kind to the evil you will end up being evil to the kind. It references King Saul and the Amalakites. But it is something I’ve seen over and over again in my life.
    I think we as humans have a need to fight evil, when we are denied the right to fight true evil – we turn that impulse onto others. Usually it’s someone that we don’t like, or disagree with. In our minds we turn them into the evil and pour our venom on them.
    For those of us on the right, we acknowledge that Islam is evil, but that many Muslims haven’t bought into that aspect of it. They do live honorable good lives. When we meet them in person – we openmindedly accept them as the good people they are. Sure we have the frustration that there is no large organized counterpart to radical Islam. But we judge each individual on their own merits.
    Most lefties don’t realize that they know a conservative and all that pent up need to fight evil comes pouring out on all of us, either collectively or even as individuals.

  11. says

    Hi, Leah – yes, some of it could very well be projection, knowing and seeing how much of the direct anti-Tea Party stuff is deliberate astroturf. Perhaps in the long run, a lot of the Tea Party bashing is having very little effect. There are so many ordinary people who have gotten involved in one way or another, that outside some very refined circles, everyone probably knows a handful of Tea Partiers – and knows on some level that the accusations of racism and ignorance are totally fraudulent.
    Eh – we can hope, can’t we? And we can see November from our house, too. ;-)

  12. suek says

    >>I was told by one blogger I was either clueless or a liar. They had become so convinced by this caricature Tea Party created by the media that they couldn’t accept anything I said to the contrary.>>
     
    And yet they also believe that there are moderate muslims who remain within islam and are still good patriotic Americans, and none of the muslims in America could ever practice taqiyya.
     
    By the way…has anybody seen or heard of any numbers on how many caucasians/hispanics there were at Sharpton’s rally???

  13. says

    Leah..”I think we as humans have a need to fight evil, when we are denied the right to fight true evil – we turn that impulse onto others”
    The blogger known as the Assistant Village Idiot has astutely noted that Republican candidates tend to say “I’ll work for you” whereas Democratic candidates say “I’ll *fight* for you.” The kind of fighting they have in mind, clearly, is against fellow Americans.
    Another great blogger, Neptunus Lex, observed that:
    The innate character flaw of the political right, with its thrumming appeals to the logic of blood and soil, is its lamentable tendency to go in search of enemies abroad. The left, on the other hand, with its own appeals to the politics of envy and class warfare, is content to find mortal enemies closer to hand.

  14. says

    I was thinking about the fact that we’re all frustrated by the resolute refusal on the Left to look at actual evidence.  Mean conclusions are so much nicer, after all.  The focus on evidence led me to that old saying that “Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence.”  It occurred to me that, on the conspiracy Left, that saying as been mutated as follows:  “Absence of evidence is PROOF.”  Because I think something is so (that the “leaders” of the Tea Party movement are racist, antisemitic, paramilitary, creationist Nazis), the very fact that there is absolutely no evidence to support any of those conclusions is proof that my conclusions are true.

    This, of course, is exactly the same thinking that powers the Truthers, although my friend, to give him some small credit, is not a Truther.  Of course, he also thinks it was totally aberrant and coincidental that it was Muslims who flew those planes, since Islam is a religion of peace.  It’s those Christians you have to really worry about.

  15. colorless.blue.ideas says

    The comments on projection are good:  I do think that is a factor.  But knowledge of that usually doesn’t help much.
    Let me share something that worked for me.  I was a a science fiction convention recently, and sat at a table with an older lady of a rather left-wing persuasion.  She started to play the race card.  I responded in the manner of, “Naah, no one  believes that.”  “No, people are making that accusation up.”  “No, racism isn’t a motivation.”  “Bzzzz — your race card is over extended!”
    Key points include:  (1) Direct denial of the argument.  *Not* an explanation of why it isn’t so, but forcing the accuser to try to establish proof.  Begin every response with something “No, that’s not true” or “[exasperated and incredulous] *That’s* not proof!” or “Where are you getting that nonsense from?”, etc.
    (2) Labeling the racist/guilt-by-association argument stupid.  It doesn’t have to be in-your-face — in fact, politeness is helpful — but the idea is to convey the idea that whomever is in a make-believe world and that it should be *embarassing* to say such stupid things.
    Once and if the person starts dealing with facts, then one can start to include factual arguments — but don’t drop the direct denial.

  16. TREGONSEE says

    At age 60 plus, and having balanced conservative and liberal friends since the Vietnam era, I have finally given up trying to understand the Left.  Religion is derided as “believing so that you may understand,” and yet at the most basic 2+2=4 factual level, the Left insists that 2+2=5 and sees no contradiction.  My last random idea is that it is a result of the Narcissism of my generation.  Basically, I have given up, and just plow ahead trying to minimize the damage.

  17. Danny Lemieux says

    Book, if your “friend” is Jewish, you might want to consider asking them….
    1. How many Tea Partiers have you met?
    2. How many Tea Parties do you know?
    3. How many Tea Party events have you attended?
    4. Have you read any of the communiques of the Tea Party?
     
    When they inevitably reply “none, none, none and no”, you might want to use that as an opportunity to discuss the dangers of blindly accepting information from others and of caricaturing entire groups of people with whom you have never even had contact, whereby others are diminished, demonized and eventually destroyed. It was attitudes like that that made it so easy for monsters like the Communists, Nazis and the PLO to whip up hatred of the “other”.
     
    As a Jew, your friend should be especially sensitive to these arguments, especially given this Holy Week of repentance and forgiveness and given the awful moments in the history of the Jewish people.

  18. TommyC says

    I hate to say this, but in general you cannot argue with a conspiracy theorist.  For a conspiracy theorist, everything validates the conspiracy.
     
    Perhaps a better question is simply, how do you argue with a liberal.  Sad to say, in many cases you can’t.  Many liberals simply have a worldview which is totally at odds with a conservative worldview.  With many such people, what you think is far more important than why you think it.
     
    I am currently debating a liberal on a Glenn Beck rally thread over on PJTV.  He seemed to have a fixation over the fact that the rally was, in his estimate, 98-99% white.  I have kept asking: what was said at the rally that he finds objectionable.  I still don’t know, though he has said that because of the racial composition, the rally was ‘less credible’ because it doesn’t ‘reflect America’.  I still have no clue other than that why he is criticizing the rally.  Having been a liberal (back in the 60’s and 70’s – I converted upon reading Free to Choose in 1980) I know we avoided like the plague any actual debates with conservative.  Heck, we avoided conservatives altogether.  We didn’t debate them, we dismissed them as ‘fascists’.  I’ve changed since those days, but I guess the typical liberal has not.
     
    The good news is that there are still quite a few liberals who can be persuaded.  Many have just never thought too much about things.  If you try to bring them over gradually and avoid insulting their intelligence, you can make progress.  Trying to establish some common ground is always good.  Often liberals and conservative have similar objectives – reducing poverty and improving education for example.  Simply persuading a liberal that a conservative (yourself) is not an evil, greedy person or a dupe, but rather simply someone who sees a different and more effective approach to dealing with various objectives.
     
    The thing to remember is that many liberals consider themselves to be superior human beings.  What this means is they will strongly resist any arguments that, shall we say, throw ice-water on the notion that we would all be better off if we were just ruled by an enlightened elite (to which many liberals consider themselves as members).
     
    Weaning a committed liberal from their views is a major challenge.  In might be more effective to convert them to evangelical Christianity first (I’m only half joking here).  Getting a liberal to become a little more humble about themselves as a human being is a good first step.
     
    But as I say, many liberals are not die-hard.  Just realize that some are possibly not worth the effort to convert, though you might want to keep them in your prayers.

  19. says

    I know that there are liberals and quasi-liberals who slant more libertarian in their convictions, TommyC, and I have succeeded in warily establishing some common ground with them, WRT to wanting a smaller and less invasive government – even, oddly enough – some otherwise flaming liberals who are extremely upset with the role of mega-corporations using their clout to squash potential smaller, emerging rivals. There is common ground, but one has to choose ones’ battles and one’s opponents very, very carefully.
    I consider myself very lucky, that in the real world, my immediate family, significant other and immediate neighbors are all tending towards the conservative/libertarian side of things. I do not have to fight this fight in the real world … although I have seen my next door neighbor wearing an Obama tee-shirt. I think this is most probably a solidarity thing, as she is black, and a retired civil servant, active in a big AME church; otherwise her values are sterling-conservative. I don’t really want to get into it about the Tea Party, as we have a good relationship which I would rather not risk. She may know about me already, though – I did a lot of media for the local Tea Party (interviewed by local TV news and radio). Lots of neighbors have said something to me  – and having a van with the local affiliate logo on the side parked in front of the house does rather blow one’s suburban cover…
    I guess that the best we can do in the real world is to carry on, being our normal, decent middle-of-the-road responsible selves. By our actions and our lives shall they know us.

  20. suek says

    Tommy –
     
    Ask your “opponent” how many whites and or hispanics were at the Sharpton rally.  Did the participants at _that_ rally reflect America’s make up?  To be honest, I’ll be he doesn’t even know – I sure haven’t seen any numbers.  Of course, that’s another question – _why_ haven’t we seen the numbers from Sharpton’s rally?
     
    I’m sure you can push on to new limits never before explored by a liberal…!!!

  21. TommyC says

    suek,
     
    I did ask about the Sharpton rally.  His answer was that DC is mostly black, so naturally so was the Sharpton rally.  Very glib, no substance.
     
    Sgt. Mom,
    Converting a liberal is a lot like evangelism.  Not the door to door kind, but the over the long haul kind.  First and foremost, you want people to know who you are – a conservative.  You don’t want to rub it in their face, but you don’t want to hide it either.  Hey, your neighbor wears an Obama tee-shirt, why not wear a ‘Free Markets, Free Minds’ one?  Never be hostile, never insult, never engage in name-calling (this can be a challenge, sometimes).  Liberals tend to be very proud of their smarts and naturally think that liberals are, by definition, smart and conservatives not so smart.  So you have to be able to show that you are not stupid, but you can never do that successfully by making them look stupid.  But when a liberal realizes that there are actual conservatives out there that are not monsters, but genuinely nice people who have given a lot of thought to the issues, they may ultimately be willing to listen.  Unless a liberal realizes that many people they know are actually conservatives, they can feel comfortable in their assumption that conservatives are bad people – greedy, racist, homophobic, sexist, stupid, whatever.  Anyway, the convertible liberals will start asking you questions with an open mind if you lay the necessary groundwork.
     
     

  22. Bill Smith says

    Well, part of it is that an absolutely core belief of libs is that they are smarter than we are. It’s a tenet of their religion. And you can’t reason someone out of their religion.
     
    They have an overwhelming NEED to believe that they are superior, and the less true it is in individual cases, the more powerful the belief. How do you think totalitarian regimes get concentration camp guards to do what they do? Convince them of their superiority, and their victims’ inferiority.
     
    The feeling of superiority is as powerful as the most addictive drug, and the addict will do almost anything to maintain their high. Facts and logic haven’t got a chance.
     
    You can never convince a drunk that he’s drunk. But you CAN convince him that other people think he’s drunk. This may be the only viable starting point if your relationship with this person is as important as it sounds.

  23. Mike Devx says

    Book said,
    > Every conversation is an Alice in Wonderland world, where I’m trying to have a civil discussion with someone who alternates between Humpty Dumpty’s creative language use, the Queen of Heart’s anger, and the Mad Hatter’s logical insanity.

    Well, Book, you’re clearly not friends due to the rigor of the intellectual debate.  So I have to ask… why ARE you such permanent friends?  I hope this kind of arrogant dismissal of worth of Tea Party arguments does not extend to an arrogant dismissal of your own positions.  As Bill O’Reilly would have said a few years back, “Who’s looking out for YOU?  Not THAT friend.”

    Don’t waste your time with impassioned argument.  State your case with confidence and then let it be.  Especially before the election.  After the election – after the national repudiation of your friend’s ideology, he or she may be more amenable to reason, more willing to listen…

    Who am I kidding?  They won’t be more amenable to reason.  They’ll be insanely angry, enraged, and outraged.  The latest headlines have the far-lefters practically screaming, begging for the Big Far-Left Comeback between now and November 2nd.  They’re convinced it’s going to happen.  All their pundits have doubled-down, thrown all their money and the table, and they’re going for broke.  They understand that if they are repudiated now, they may never see another chance like this in their lifetimes.

    May God help us if they’re right about the big Far-Left Democrat Resurgence.  But I’m confident they’re not right.

  24. Gringo says

    Bokworm:
    Of course, he also thinks it was totally aberrant and coincidental that it was Muslims who flew those planes, since Islam is a religion of peace.  It’s those Christians you have to really worry about.
    Really?
     

  25. Indigo Red says

    The only method I have found to be anywhere near successful is to allow the claims to be made, choose one, and only one, claim and ask for proof. When no proof is forthcoming, but just another tyrade of a different point, ask for the proof of the ‘one and only again’. Allow your freind to go anywhere he wishes with his argument, but continue redirecting to the ‘one and only’ each time pointing out that the attempt to dissemble did not answer your challenge question. Usually, I find my opponent eventually either stops or questions his own beliefs to realize he may be in error. One error is the crack in the door. This method is hard because it causes pain to both parties when friendship is involved. One must be firm, but gentle; tenacious, but not dogged.

  26. Danny Lemieux says

    I agree, Indigo Red. I’ve been working on a very nice neighbor couple who are very Liberal/Left. I think I’ve got the guy in my camp after 10+ years, finally, but he daren’t admit it to his wife, the retired school teacher.
     

  27. says

    My liberal friends are surrounded by liberal friends, neighbors, and family members who constantly belittle and demonize anything or anyone who doesn’t toe the liberal line. It is like a cabal or a cult they’ve grown up with that they can’t imagine bucking too far. Even tho my liberal friends express the interest in wanting to know what and how I think about politics, and consider themselves open-minded and well-informed (they speak kindly with me, don’t they?), they don’t really have the desire or interest to follow arguments to logical conclusions or seek out info that contradicts or ranges beyond what NPR, the BBC, or the NY Times gives them. I was heartbroken when my best friend responded (when I urged her to read some Thomas Sowell) that she wouldn’t be convinced by reading anything from conservative sources, as they were partisan! That’s the moment when I realized that’s what she thought of me, too–dismissed out of hand because I am “partisan.” I.e. there is no such thing as “the truth” to reach through logical examination–just equally specious and venal partisanship on all sides. She now (in the Age of Obama Fail) is turned off from politics totally, she says, thinks all politicians are dirty, and is tuned into Buddhist meditation, so we don’t discuss politics anymore (she wants to, but I’ve seen the writing on the wall). I’ll be glad if she meditates now instead of votes.
     
    The only glimmer of hope I see is to let my friends know that I am a conservative–on some level they know I am not violent, a racist, a hater, stupid, etc. I give glowing reports of my attendance at tea parties, and how I hope we can take back the country we love from the insane pits it’s being driven into. I also now speak up in public if some self-righteous, self-indulgent loudmouthed liberal thinking he’s speaking for everyone says something too stupid to bear (I will no longer lend my polite silence to the smooth sailing of socialism). I hope it gives such people cognitive dissonance and elevated blood pressure, at least, but I’m not wasting much of my breath or blogging time on people who don’t even think logically anymore.
     
    To me, the crucial work that needs to be done is to get an appreciation and teaching of logical arguments and the recognition of fallacies, objective truth, history, and the scientific method back into the schools. Starting with my own kids and their friends, who then teach and challenge others.
     
     
     

  28. says

    Old American saying: “Tell me where a man gets his corn pone, and I’ll tell you where he gets his opinions”
    A high % of “progressives” are in certain industries–academia, journalism, media, art—where the expression of opinions dissenting from the expected line can be hazardous to one’s career. I have huge respect for people like Roger Simon and Robert Avrech who work in Hollywood and still are independent thinkers. But most people don’t have that much courage.

  29. Danny Lemieux says

    Zabrina writes “The only glimmer of hope I see is to let my friends know that I am a conservative–on some level they know I am not violent, a racist, a hater, stupid, etc. I give glowing reports of my attendance at tea parties, and how I hope we can take back the country we love from the insane pits it’s being driven into.”

    Amen – I like to suggest to my Liberal friends and acquaintances that they let me bring them as a guest to a tea party rally because “you might find that you actually like these people and can respect what they believe even if you don’t agree with it”. I see the sweat starting to collect on their brows when I suggest this.

    I do believe that I have scored some points when my very Liberal/Progressive priest refers to me as “my favorite conservative”. I’ve noticed that he is now terrified of debating me on politics and social issues, though. He lives by two bibles, the Holy Bible and the New York Times…one is the “old” Testament, the other is the “New Testament”.
     
     
     

  30. says

    “I see the sweat starting to collect on their brows when I suggest this.”
     
    They fear going into gang land territory and getting shot as an outsider I guess. Because they know that in lalaland, they would mercilessly destroy anybody that was the “Outsider”. They feel safe enough lambasting conservatives, but not when they are on enemy territory. Then they imagine that what they have done to others, will be done to them, except it will be the guns and shooting.

  31. says

    “And we argue because he likes to attack, and I’m dumb enough still to respond.”
     
    Have him argue with Charles Martel at a social gathering or something. You know, stealth indoctrination. Then audio tape it and cast it here!

  32. colorless.blue.ideas says

    To me, the crucial work that needs to be done is to get an appreciation and teaching of logical arguments and the recognition of fallacies, objective truth, history, and the scientific method back into the schools. Starting with my own kids and their friends, who then teach and challenge others.

    I teach a high school level Sunday School class.  As part of the class I spend ~10 minutes in a “Learn to Discern” section on logic, rhetoric, and fallacious argumentation.  Kids are fine with that — many recognizing something that is lacking in their education.  It is heartwarming when I receive reports back from some of their interactions at school where they are able to use their knowledge in spotting fallacies.  (Don’t get the wrong impression:  some of their teachers at school also teach about such things as straw men, etc.)
    Bottom line:  a starting point is to help people develop tools for thinking.

  33. SADIE says

    I was heartbroken when my best friend responded (when I urged her to read some Thomas Sowell)
     
    A perfect example of being the very antithesis of  the definition of a ‘liberal’. Heaven forbid, being open to new ideas. Instead she ‘retreats’ into Buddhist meditation – employing the  mantra of the 60’s – Tune in Turn on Drop out.
     
     
    “Learn to Discern”
    I am delighted to hear that. About 30 years ago, I thought that a course entitled, ‘Think’ should be mandatory. When my children were little and the holiday advertisements would flood the airwaves with promises of toys performing miraculous tricks and stunts ‘if only you spend $$$’ I took it as an opportunity to start asking questions. Do you think this such and such item will work like we see it on TV? Why is there a grown man demonstrating this or that and not a kid your age? Yes, it worked.
     
    Trying to persuade the ill informed, is no less a challenge than convincing them that the world is not flat. They react in pretty much the same way too. If they go too far off their known ideas, they fear they’ll fall off.

     

  34. Texan99 says

    What can you do but behave well and let them know you are a conservative?  At some point, if enough of their acquaintances do this, some of them will realize that the evil Tea Party Nazi KKK enthusiasts are a fiction whom they never meet in real life, while all the real Tea Partiers they meet are normal, thoughtful citizens and neighbors.  It’s the same thing with being a Christian.  I have a friends of several decades who still drops little gems into the conversation about what “all right-wing Christians are like.”  I usually laugh and point out that she’s describing me, and does she think I’m that way?  It always confuses her.  At the very least, it causes her to back up for a moment and try to distinguish between me and the person under discussion, which gives me an opportunity to suggest that what she has against him is not that he’s a right-winger or a Christian, but that he’s mean-spirited, or ignorant, or controlling.
    Another conversational gambit I always laugh at is the idea that the members of some group I’m affiliated with are taking our orders from someone.  “Really?” I say.  “Knowing me, you think I’m taking orders from someone?”  And I laugh some more.
    As for the code, I’d welcome an explanation of how each statement should be de-coded, so I’ll know next time I hear it.  I’d take notes.

  35. says

    “It’s also about the bizarre conclusion that the absence of any evidence whatsoever of overt, or covert, racism or antisemitism or theocratic thinker, is itself proof that the Tea Party movement is racist, antisemitic and intent upon a fundamentalist Christian takeover of America.”
     
    These people don’t even know what covert means, let alone how such things are done. So they can spot illusion and deception operations because…. they’re so good at doing them? As if.
     
    It takes a thief to catch a thief, a con artist to catch a con artist. That’s a statement and truism for a reason.
     
    To a certain extent, this is a rationalization. They want something to fear, like Christians, but they don’t want to feel out of control and afraid of a real threat. So they create a figment of their imagination, their imaginary friend, and say that this person is real. But, of course, this “person” has all the benefits of not being real. That’s why it’s exciting. If Bush or the Christians were really as dangerous the Left says they are, they would have taken up arms long ago and started killing the “threat”. But they’re not serious. They’re playing around. They’re using the issue as propaganda to force people to give them more power.
     
    Case in point, when you have a real theocracy, like Iran, killing people, you won’t hear a Damn thing from these freaks. Because they sure as hell know that they don’t want any “trouble” with the real religious fanatics. These are un-serious people, disconnected from reality and problem solving.
     

  36. Mike Devx says

    Book said (31)
    > Mike (#29):  We’re friends because life throws us together.  And we argue because he likes to attack, and I’m dumb enough still to respond.

    I’m sure “dumb enough to respond” isn’t the truth.  It might be mean of me to say this, but possibly “dumb enough to think that my thought-out and reasoned responses are actually being *listened* to” might be close to the mark.  But even if this were true, you’re still on the side of the angels.  And you nevr know when or if all of this effort at persuasion might be slowly wearing down that brick wall, undermining the deep foundations of liberalism.  The collapse of a mighty edifice, when it collapses, occurs without much forewarning and with  shocking swiftness.

  37. pyotr says

    After a while when dealing with such persons, I either accuse them of being a cover for the conspiracy (that their raving is because they are part of the cover up) or just go one step further and out conspiracy them.  “I’m sorry, but you don’t have the clearance to know that information.”
    Ignoring them is an alternative, as is walking away.
     
    pyotr
     

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply