Monday, November 12, 2007

Reasonable Arguments With Unreasonable People

By Cernig

Earlier today, I looked at the emotional intensity of the wingnuts as they utterly miss the point about an op-ed by anti-nuclear weapons activist Tad Daley. Dave Schuler at the Glittering Eye noticed the same thing.

Dave's post, though - he believes Iran does have a weapons program but that carpet-bombing Iran is lunacy - has led to a discussion between us in his comments. Dave's a hawkish Dem, I believe, and a very reasonable one in both style and substance. There's some technical to-and-fro on assertions both for and against the claim that Iran has a nuclear weapons program - and there's a broad agreement that, as Dave puts it:
the U. S. shouldn’t go to war with Iran and folks in the U. S. (including the present administration) should do less hyperventilating about Iran.
However, we disagree on exactly what Iran's nuclear intentions are as well as how the pro-war lobby should be rebutted. The key exchange so far, for me is this:
Dave: I think you’d have a stronger case if you’d stop implicitly defending the Iranian regime. It’s enough to say “we don’t know for sure”.

Me: I’ve written on my own blog about how unhappy it makes me to be a reluctant apologist for an odious regime. It’s just that it isn’t enough to say “we dont know for sure” when so many in the Bush administration and their bleachers are yelling ‘we know for sure!” and using that false certainty to attempt to catapult a war.

You have to say ‘no-one knows for sure, the preponderance of available evidence says they don’t have a weapons program, saying the opposite is a lie, put the f***ing guns down!” Anything else is seen by the pro-war lobby as a weakness they can trample over, and they have the biggest bully pulpit.

I’m not prepared to see thousands die because arguments with sociopaths-in-power should be one-sidedly fair and decorous.
I'm actually quite saddened to have written that, even though I stand by it. Back in my youth, when I studied philosophy, I truly believed that reasonable and fair intellectual debate divorced from emotion was always the best way to put forward your position. Now that there are lives on the line, now that the folk I'm arguing against happen to include those in charge of the White House and don't exactly have a record of treating fair and reasoned intellectual debate as anything other than something to smother under political spin, fear and xenophobic hatred, I don't. Welcome to the real world, I suppose.

No comments: