Friday, August 14, 2009

How to fight fair--and make the other side fight fair as well

Watching politics is like watching a no-rules cage fight. Even if you want to fight fair, the other side's tactics are likely to rile you--to want to fight fire with fire.

But. You have to decide whether you want to win debates or change people's minds. I can win debates--I'm verbally agile, and I'm not easily daunted. But so what? What good is it to win a debate if the other side goes away seething? If they do, they'll only rationalize away what just happened, and tomorrow they'll vote the way you don't want them to, and they'll help persuade others to vote that way as well.

On the other hand, if you get in the ring with bare hands against someone with a baseball bat, you won't be happy with that outcome either.

The Way is to keep the other side from getting away with playing dirty--without playing dirty yourself. Then you have a chance to change minds, to at least get them to recognize your side as having some kind of validity.

As it stands, much of what is said between Left and Right comes across as an attempt to invalidate the worth and meaning of the other side. Each side constantly uses language and makes accusations that the other side finds deeply offensive, one-sided, and unfair.

You have to validate the other side's world up front. Otherwise you might as well just talk to yourself and those who already agree with you. That doesn't mean you have to agree with their world. But if you can satisfy the other side that you understand where they're coming from; understand the fears and desires that generate their politics--then there's a chance that they'll listen to you.

It's not easy to validate someone you disagree with deeply. Frankly, most people just can't do it. They feel like they're being a traitor to their own side if they do so. But I put it to you that you're being a traitor to your own side if you don't. After all, we are just one nation. All those blue state-red state maps are misleading--you'll find that each side has substantial minorities, even in each other's bastion. I live in one of the bluest parts of one of the bluest states in America--yet I'm acquainted with hundreds of Republicans living here.

You may have noticed that I haven't talked about this from a "lets whup those Republicans" or "let's whup those Democrats."

That's because I want both sides to fight fair. I believe the Republicans play dirtier than the Democrats, but my Republican spouse is equally convinced that the Democrats play dirtier than the Republicans. What any rational observer should agree with, though, is that both sides fight dirty, which the heinousness of it is subject to disagreement.

Here I'm going to list words and phrases used by one side to defeat the other side. This should be equally useful to Democrats and Republicans. You may learn how the other side reacts when you use certain loaded terms you're fond of--and should give up in "interfaith" discussions at least. And you may learn how to defend yourself and your side against the loaded terms they're fond of.

Trick term What it really means, and how to combat it

anti-immigrant --What the Left calls anyone who opposes illegal immigration or
chain migration, or who wants the anchor baby loophole eliminated,
or who favors any limits on legal immigration, such as favoring those
with skills we need and those fluent in English.
This is conflation. You discredit your opponent's position by lumping it in
with something that's less popular.

But there's an even subtler piece of trickery here. They never say you're
"anti-immigration," since that invokes principle. Instead they personalize
it by stating that you're "anti-immigrant." The implication: you hate these
people. Probably because they aren't "white." Whereas if you're "anti-
immigration" that could lead to discussing how CEOs exploit illegal
immigrants to drive down wages and bust unions. It's hard for a leftist to
argue with that, whereas it's easy to focus on those poor, needy Mexicans
who are just trying to feed their families, yada yada.

So when you're discussing/arguing immigration, don't let them pull this
trick. Challenge them on it before letting them go on. You could do so by
saying "I never said I was anti-immigrant. So why are you putting words
in my mouth?" Make them explain how they jumped to this conclusion
instead of trying to defend yourself. They are fighting dirty, and deserve
to called on that.

racist --What the Left calls anyone who opposes unlimited immigration,
illegal immigration, too much immigration by those with neither training,
education, English language skills, or money, use of languages other than
English for official government business (including on ballots), elimination
of race-based quotas and preferences, affection for traditional American
culture, any and all resistance to replacing American culture by others
within America, and any discussion of overpopulation.

This is usually effective, so it's usually used. People get so unhinged by
being accused of racism that they immediately forget the actual topic of
the argument and allow the Leftist to switch the topic to whether you're
racist. You must resist this and say "'Why are you trying to change the
subject? Can't you defend your position?"

You can legitimately raise the issue of someone's character if their
argument is some version of "trust me." If it's not--if it's based on reason
and externally verifiable facts--then it's irrelevant. Say you are a racist.
And you claim "Most illegal immigrants are Mexicans." Does that prove
that most illegal immigrants aren't Mexican? It does mean that I can't
take your word for it. But if you follow up by citing various polls and
surveys that enjoy widespread legitimacy among knowledgeable
observers, then the test of your argument isn't who you are but whether
your sources are solid.

So if you want to be nicer, you can say "You have a right to question my
character if my argument depends on my character. You don't if my
argument depends on sources and logic that anyone can verify. And I
haven't asked you to trust me. So you don't have a right to attack my
character as a way to discredit my argument. Have you conceded that my
side is right about [whatever you were discussing], and now want to
change the subject to my character? Or to your assumption that you are
morally superior to me?

The Left abandoned overpopulation as an issue when most overpopulation
started coming from non-Anglo/European groups. So now when you bring
it up as a desperately important issue, you're likely to be called a racist for
doing so. You can use the approaches I just described, but in addition you
can point out that the most suffering caused by overpopulation is
experienced by non-Anglo/European groups. So avoiding the topic can
be attacked at racist--of Volvo Liberals, enjoying their advanced nation
comforts, inadvertently making things worse.

nativist --the Left uses this term to describe anyone who dares to like Anglo-
American culture, and who objects to its wholesale replacement across
swathes of the Southwest by Mexican culture.

Back in the 19th century, the original nativists objected to the new waves
of non-Anglo Protestant immigration coming from southern Europe,
Ireland, and, in the West, from China. The objections included physical
attacks on members of these groups.

Today's traditional American culture includes elements adopted from all
these waves of immigration. Is pizza really foreign food any more? Is St.
Patrick's Day a foreign festival? America may well be the world's most
genuinely multicultural country today.

So what's wrong with adding a few honest, hardworking Mexicans to the
mix, the Left says. Some go on to exult in whites probably becoming a
minority in a few decades, and how wonderful that will be, and how evil
whites are (whites who aren't them at least), and thus deserve to die out.
I've seen this first-hand.

People who oppose anything not of their own traditional culture are
nativists, & you can find people like that everywhere, though more in
ethnically pure provincial enclaves than in urban areas. I suppose the
ultimate nativists are the Taliban and Al Queda.

It's one thing to call the Taliban nativists--it's another to call those who
object to ethnic cleansing nativists. And what's going on in areas of the
Southwest are just that, with the main victims being lower-class blacks
and whites.

So if someone calls you a nativist as a way to refute your arguments,
the main argument is not to let them change the subject. Your motives
are a different topic. If they want to change the topic to both side's
motives, well, that could be an interesting conversation. I've long
wondered whether the most dedicated leftists had tyrannical parents,
and it would be interesting to explore that. And also why people who are
so quick to call the other side names like racist, nativist etc., practically
worship an organization whose name translated into English means "The

Socialist --what the Right call any involvement of government in business.
Actually it means ownership of business by government. What I want to
know is what do you call ownership of government by business? Because
that seems to be what the far Right stands for.

more later

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