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How would a reasonable person react if I said something to the effect of:

  • Woodrow Wilson, a favorite Progressive politician, was pretty clearly discriminatory in his Executive Branch hiring practices and very likely a racist. Therefore, all Progressives today are racists and should be dismissed and ignored.
  • The early proponents of the minimum wage, mostly Progressives, were very clearly motivated by the desire to price low-wage black migrants out of Northern Labor markets during and after the Great Migration. Former black sharecroppers, seeking a better life, managed to come North, particularly during WWI when lots of former factory workers were overseas fighting, and secured work in industry for low wages. Upon return, both existing whites and returning whites, mostly Progressive, enacted policies to make it harder for blacks to prosper and find work. Therefore all minimum wage advocates today are racists and should be dismissed and ignored.

By the way, the premise of each statement is true. We can go on and on and make up very long and exciting lists.

Of course, attacking people today because of some beliefs (and practices) of people in the past who may have shared the same label as today’s folks is pathetic, weak and anti-scientific nonsense. It is incumbent upon us to deal with the ideas as they exist today (not to say that the history is not informative, but history does not permit us to ignore the argument).

So, how come we get to hear crap like this all the time:

  • Some absolutely nutcase conservative politicians suggest that non only is climate change not happening, but that it is a hoax and even the basic GHG theory is wrong. Therefore, all people who may have ever thought that property rights, the price system, markets, advances in human freedom, etc. are attractive attributes of a society – they all should be dismissed and ignored because they, too, are climate deniers (whatever that means).

That this is the baseline for “debate” today is not just depressing. It’s anti-scientific, and plain wrong.

UPDATE: a reader sent me this (apocryphal?) from a beloved progressive figure.


3 Responses to “The Stupidity of Certain “Debating” Tactics”

  1. Tony Matteo says:

    One of the most challenging I hear today is, “We should ignore everything the founding fathers created because they had slaves. And if you support the founding fathers you support slavery”

    I think people say things like this because they have a narrative they want to believe, and then piecemeal history to support it. The unfortunate thing is that most people’s preferred narratives are created from conclusions molded by decades of inaccurate historical information.
    And, at least as much as my lifetime, we are not taught accurate history. We have to go out and learn it ourselves. But this is rarely done. Most of society would prefer to be entertained, rather than lifelong learning. (the cause, and solutions to this would make great future discussion).

    We just need to be aware of it and find ways to inform the masses.

    BTW, I’ve been told I’m a climate change denier, so you can ignore everything else I say.

  2. jb says:

    OK then. Jefferson owned slaves. Jefferson was a Democrat. So all Democrats support slavery. (I note that the Democratic Party actually fears this narrative because they now disown Jefferson).

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