A new strategy to combat the vocabulary of the left

Within living memory, the left slipped into the public discourse a form of argument that is (a) false and (b) much to its advantage: stating opinion as fact.

Suppose I say, "New York City is on the East Coast."  That is a fact.  That is something most of us would recognize as "truth," although the left is straining mightily to make truth subjective.  But it hasn't yet.

Suppose I say, "New York City is filled with hate."  Wow!  That really sounds bad!  Perhaps it would even be on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)'s map of hate centers in the United States.  That would really be upsetting!

That is what the left gets away with today.

What to do?

We conservatives have to adopt a new approach in public debate, in written pieces, in private conversation – all this will be difficult, as any conservative knows – of saying in your opinion.  For instance, suppose we change the SPLC characterization of New York as follows: "In the opinion of the SPLC, New York City is filled with hate.  We have not yet seen the reasons why the SPLC thinks that."  Do you see how dramatically that changes the statement?

The left – liberalism – is a historic movement that has been gaining momentum for the last hundred years.  Its adepts are not going to put the backs of their hands to their foreheads and fade away when they incur opposition.  But we are in a war for the future of freedom, for the future of America, for the future we the people governing ourselves.  We need and we want all the firepower we can get on our side in this war.

This polemical approach is a great unit of firepower.  It will only penetrate the public debate slowly.  But if we support it, if we promote it, it will penetrate.

The way to use it is jiu-jitsu.

  • Suppose we confront the new/old Democratic talking point that "Republicans have brought a culture of corruption to Washington."

Our response: "It's really terrible that in your opinion the Republicans have brought a culture of corruption. Why do you think that?"

  • Suppose Nancy Pelosi says, "Trump is morally unqualified to be president."
    Our response: (What we want, and I realize this is not going to happen anytime soon, but is still very useful to know where we want to go.)
    "Madam Speaker, you said that in your opinion Trump is morally unqualified to be president. Why is that?"

Jiu-jitsu. The way to deal with this form of argument – opinion as fact – is to take it literally or seriously and ask for reasons and follow-on.

  • Suppose Maxine Waters says, "Trump is the worst president in history.
    Our response: "Max, you said that in your opinion, 'Trump is the worst president in history.' Why do you think that?"

Like that.

Image: Thijs Pannakker via Flickr.

Within living memory, the left slipped into the public discourse a form of argument that is (a) false and (b) much to its advantage: stating opinion as fact.

Suppose I say, "New York City is on the East Coast."  That is a fact.  That is something most of us would recognize as "truth," although the left is straining mightily to make truth subjective.  But it hasn't yet.

Suppose I say, "New York City is filled with hate."  Wow!  That really sounds bad!  Perhaps it would even be on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)'s map of hate centers in the United States.  That would really be upsetting!

That is what the left gets away with today.

What to do?

We conservatives have to adopt a new approach in public debate, in written pieces, in private conversation – all this will be difficult, as any conservative knows – of saying in your opinion.  For instance, suppose we change the SPLC characterization of New York as follows: "In the opinion of the SPLC, New York City is filled with hate.  We have not yet seen the reasons why the SPLC thinks that."  Do you see how dramatically that changes the statement?

The left – liberalism – is a historic movement that has been gaining momentum for the last hundred years.  Its adepts are not going to put the backs of their hands to their foreheads and fade away when they incur opposition.  But we are in a war for the future of freedom, for the future of America, for the future we the people governing ourselves.  We need and we want all the firepower we can get on our side in this war.

This polemical approach is a great unit of firepower.  It will only penetrate the public debate slowly.  But if we support it, if we promote it, it will penetrate.

The way to use it is jiu-jitsu.

  • Suppose we confront the new/old Democratic talking point that "Republicans have brought a culture of corruption to Washington."

Our response: "It's really terrible that in your opinion the Republicans have brought a culture of corruption. Why do you think that?"

  • Suppose Nancy Pelosi says, "Trump is morally unqualified to be president."
    Our response: (What we want, and I realize this is not going to happen anytime soon, but is still very useful to know where we want to go.)
    "Madam Speaker, you said that in your opinion Trump is morally unqualified to be president. Why is that?"

Jiu-jitsu. The way to deal with this form of argument – opinion as fact – is to take it literally or seriously and ask for reasons and follow-on.

  • Suppose Maxine Waters says, "Trump is the worst president in history.
    Our response: "Max, you said that in your opinion, 'Trump is the worst president in history.' Why do you think that?"

Like that.

Image: Thijs Pannakker via Flickr.