Monday, June 26, 2006

"The liberals"

In a post arguing that the New York Times is "at war with America" and its journalists should be prosecuted and placed in prison for this weekend's story about a classified anti-terror program to sift through bank records, "slammed [the Bush administration] for daring to attempt to catch terrorists using our NSA data mining program," linked to the post I wrote at Unclaimed Territory calling for having a reasoned discussion before we toss the freedom of the press under the bus of the "war on terror" as an example that "the liberals" are not concerned with catching terrorists.

Yet, one can find at Reason's Hit and Run blog a post today which makes the same points I did. Does that mean that Reason is also speaking for "the liberals"?

At about the same time that I noticed Maltzan's post, I saw that over at Dispatches from the Culture Wars, it was curiously suggested that Ed Brayton was part of "the Left" which does not denounce astrology because Ed failed to speak critically of Jerome Armstrong, a Democratic advisor who has expressed a belief in astrology. I commented


Haven't you learned by now? If you take a political stance on an issue, that automatically means someone who disagrees with you gets to label and categorize you into an opposition camp.

You've criticized the President, so that makes you "the left." And since you're now "the left" you're responsible for everything, everywhere, that "the left" has said.

Myself, I just read a post where I was linked to while being identified as "the liberals" despite the content of my post being substantially no different than a post that was put up on Reason's Hit & Run blog.

The label doesn't really mean anything about political views, it's just a way of seperating "us" from "them".
I can understand the attempt to try to categorize a person's political beliefs (after all, categorization is how humans make sense of the world), but it often gets in the way of honest discussion. If we restrict our language to the issue at hand, it forces us to discuss the content of ideas rather than to paint people into broad either/or categories while concomitantly dismissing (and/or misrepresenting) an individual's views by merely citing his inclusion in a group.

People's views are too nuanced to be placed into black and white categories. I understand that there is some utility in using identifiers like "left", "right", "libertarian", "liberals", "conservative", etc. to characterize political positions, but the tendency to overcategorize/label a person at every point of discussion plays into the hands of demagogues who would use such a dichotomy to create some sort of Manichean divide in society, which is not in the interest of anyone other than ideologues. Ultimately, you agree or disagree with a person based on how persuasive their reasoning is or how sound their argument is; anything else should be superfluous.


magx01 said...
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magx01 said...

I agree 100%. The two party system presents a false dichotomy, and it allows for people to immediately write someone else off, as people who don't fit into your "camp" must automatically be part of the other camp.

It's sad, it's divisive, and it stunts progress.

As for astrology, I have a post I did, refuting, mocking, and ranting about astrology. I will link it here, but I promise I won't link you to anything else, unless there's a rare occassion where something is really relevant, and I can add to the discussion that way.

Here it is:

I feel that I write some good stuff, but my blog is pretty quiet.....perhaps you might appreciate at least this one article?