There is a tactic in political discourse (I use the term “discourse” loosely) of which we all should be aware: to drown out one’s opponents with a flurry of half-truths and false references to authority at a rate too rapid for the opponent to respond. This has the effect of discrediting the opponent, establishing one’s own credentials of knowledgeability, and re-casting the narrative to one’s own advantage.
This is a tactic ideologues use to destroy the opposition’s credibility. William Shirer described this tactic in detail, as practiced by both Nazis and Bolsheviks during Germany’s Weimar era in his “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich“. Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” picks up on these tactics and we witness them used repeatedly by the Left in modern discourse. Witness the Mass Media’s handling of issues of the day. I am tempted to think Biden’s error- and falsehoods-rich debate with Sarah Palin in 2008 was a perfect example of this tactic but, then…Joe Biden is Joe Biden. The continued wilding of Sarah Palin today, however, is a deliberate strategy.
The fact is, though, many people do buy another’s assertions at face value and, until the advent of the new media, such assertions were very difficult if not impossible to refute. Most people are simply too busy with their lives to take time to research and document each claim and, as Mark Twain put it, a lie will make its way around the world while truth is still getting its boots on. It plays well against well-meaning conservatives’ commitments to truth, accuracy and fairplay, which forestalls rebuttals until the facts have been checked and referenced.
But refute it we must. Because if we don’t, it becomes cant (“No WMB found in Iraq” or “Sarah Palin is stupid”, for example). Cutting off debate only adds to their credibility (Alinsky: force them to adhere to their own rules). Although I believe this blog was exceptionally good at countering this tactic, I am not sure that we have found the optimum methods to counter a strategy that I have no doubt will will need to revisit again. There must be better ways of exposing the tactic for what it is. Any suggestions?
As the recent poster on this blog, “Zach”, explained on their website, the objective is to manipulate the narrative…not for one’s rhetorical opponents, but for the other readers. Their stated mission (read the interchange of letters in the “political worldview” article to which Zach repeatedly linked at their website) is to sequence visits to conservative websites in order to demolish and remake their narratives. I, for one, don’t believe this poster was working alone: the referenced answers seemed to disjointed, as if someone was feeding them links, and I soon suspected that we were being manipulated. The links and references provided in counter-argument to Zach were never addressed and the evasions were too slick. Other posters on this blog caught on as well that there was something wrong with these exchanges. I also don’t think Zach anticipated the buzz saw treatment they got from so many highly learned members in Bookworm’s entourage (well done!). It would be interesting to know if there are other such teams operating in the blogosphere.
Zach recently indicated that it is time to move on. Now it will be another blog’s turn.