News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Shaming the Liberals Into Patriotic Fervor

Friday, July 07, 2006

Shaming the Liberals Into Patriotic Fervor

The recent furor caused by Right-wing bloggers who posted names, numbers, and children's schools of NYTimes reporters, editors, and photographers shows the main tactic of the Right in winning the "war" on terror on the homefront. This tactic includes shame--by posting personal information about people that they see as being enemies of the state, the Right hopes to silence and ultimately undermine the credibility of those on the Left who oppose everything from Pres. Bush's campaign against terror to Hurricane Katrina reporting.

As I have posted here, shame as a tool of law fails--but as a political tool, perhaps, it does service a noble and legitimate goal. ...

The problem is, as Martha Nussbaum has shown, shame is not a rational emotion nor is it appropriate in a debate concerning principles. The root of shame is an attempt to ostracize and put outside the bounds of human discourse those you shame. The goal of democratic processes, however, is inclusion and an attempt to incorporate diverse and different viewpoints and voices.

But if a person is shamed and placed outside the bounds of humanity in the first place, appeals to reason and best argument fall by the wayside since that person is not even considered worthy of rational or reasonable concern.

The use of shame by the pundits/groups you defend is therefore not an attempt to engage in democratic debate but an attempt to stigmatize and destroy.

It is my guess that the attempt to stigmatize others with different views emanates from resentment and feelings of stigmatization on the part of the very pundits/groups you defend. They feel that their views have been scorned and ridiculed for a long time--mostly in the form of what they call "political correctness"--and therefore their own attempts at stigmatizing others is just a form of payback.

It would appear that the pre-requisite for any democratic polity is the notion that rational debate will elicit in the long run the most democratic solution. Through the process of rational debate all sides are heard and given equal weight. Rational analysis sorts out the wheat from the chaff, the fallacious from the authentic.

The use of shame appeals to some supposed ethical core that falls outside reason but is more true than reasoned debate. In many cases on the Right these days, this more authentically true argument is the jack boot and death threats. The Right would replace an appeal to reason with an appeal to authority.

The entire shame tactic is a dust storm raised to obscure the fact that the current political regime is trying to raise the fears and anxieties of a public that is increasingly growing sick and tired of its scare tactics.

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