Playing with matches around straw men

There is no such thing as an illegal human.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on MSNBC making an ‘argument’ against stopping migrants from entering the country.

Progressives love to shoot down ideas and destroy arguments no one is making. For example, we are aware of no one who has made the argument that there are certain people who are illegal. However, that does not stop people, even a US Senator, from proclaiming that illegal people do not exist.

Are we the only ones left dumbfounded by such words, left searching for what their meaning is, left wondering how this in any way advances the discussion? If this is a valid argument, can Harvey Weinstein’s attorneys use that argument in court as they defend him against sexual assault: “There is no such thing as an illegal person, Senator Gillibrand says so herself.”?

People are no more arguing that a person entering the US illegally is an illegal person than the NY District Attorney is suggesting that Weinstein is an illegal person. What people are saying, of course, is that both have committed crimes. And no, we are not suggesting that the severity of an illegal immigrant’s crime is equivalent to the severity of Weinsteins’ alleged crimes.

Using arguments like this to discuss a serious subject says far more about the person making the statement than it does about the subject at hand. And none of the things it says about the person making the statement is particularly flattering. Only one of three things can be true about the speaker:

  • he or she is too ignorant to understand that this is a fallacious argument that does not address any of the points the other side is making;
  • he or she knows this is a fallacious argument but is attempting to dishonestly pass it off as a legitimate point and is hoping it will fool people too ignorant to understand;
  • he or she has no legitimate argument to make to defend his or her position and rather than admit it, has decided to toss a fake talking point into the debate so as to not have to admit it.

We are not suggesting that only progressives are guilty of this. They are not, and increasingly we have noticed that Republicans/Conservatives are playing this game. For example, calling every Democrat a socialist or every form of income distribution socialism as if it were on par with the Venezuelan Bolivarian Revolution is just plain silly and does great violence to public discourse. But, it is our observation that progressives take the art of burn down straw man arguments to an art form. They are veritable pyromaniacs. Scarecrows run scared when progressives gather with their protest placards. And we are not even talking about the placards that express outrage like “F*** Trump”.

Let’s take this gem:

Stating the obvious but saying nothing

We are not referring to the aforementioned “No Human IS ILLEGAL” in the back ground. We refer here to the “Immigrant Rights are Human Rights” slogan being presented as an “argument” in the street protest. What exactly is being presented here? If we take the meaning of the statement as it is literally worded, it says that immigrants have rights and those rights fall under a broad set of rights we refer to as human rights. Okay, sure. We’ll go along with that. Immigrant are humans and so their rights are not animal rights. They are not properly classified as one of the laws of thermodynamics or quantum mechanics. So sure, immigrant rights fall into the broad category of human rights.

Perhaps they are awkwardly stating that immigrants are in possession of certain human rights. We are not sure there is any reasonable person in the the civilized world who would disagree with that statement. We are aware of no serious person who has argued that an immigrant can be arbitrarily dispossessed of their property. We have heard no one suggest that immigrants may be tortured, or innocent immigrants imprisoned. This slogan speaks to a debate no one is having. Of course immigrants have rights – though don’t be so sure all people in all countries agree, for example, the leaders of Cuba and North Korea likely do not.

The debate we are having and that this slogan is ostensibly addressing is, how should a country respond when a person crosses its borders illegally? A second part of this debate is, who should the United States allow to legally cross its borders?

These are important questions which honest and good people can disagree. The purpose of this post is not to litigate this topic here. The point of this post is that progressives have chosen to engage in the discussion in a dishonest way. Their arguments amount to the following:

  • Those with whom they disagree are racists;
  • America is a nation of immigrants;
  • Immigration benefits the country;
  • Stopping immigrants from entering the country is immoral;
  • Treating illegal immigrants as criminals is immoral;
  • The way we treat illegal immigrants is cruel;

These are incredibly superficial and, at times, deliberately dishonest arguments. And yes, both sides of the debate do it, but, again, progressives take it to an art form.

The honest progressives are the ones who say treating illegal immigrants as criminals is immoral because borders are immoral and should therefore be eliminated. We disagree with that statement, but we respect this honest approach to having a discussion on this important topic. Unfortunately, most, but not all, the people who make this argument, quickly follow it up by saying, if you disagree with me you are a racist. We believe if all progressives debating this subject were more honest, virtually all would come down in favor of full-on open borders. Fine, let’s have a debate on those terms.

Here’s the ultimate:

We believe this is worst example of virtue signaling ever

This yard sign, popular in my progressive neighborhood, is equivalent to napalming a nursery full of straw babies. Do these people actually believe there is a person living in the civilized world who doesn’t believe science is real, that black lives matter (in their own twisted way, even slave owners believed that), women’s rights are human rights, and that water is important to life?

We have never actually engaged any of these neighbors in conversation out of a mortal fear of how the conversation might go, even a simple good morning could be dangerous. This is the apostle’s creed of the religious left and they seem hell bent on converting infidels.

One major downside of modern society is we try to reduce every thought to a memorable catch phrase. We am inclined to blame commercial communication (i.e. advertising) but Nazis and Marxists both used slogans very effectively as propaganda. Our public discourse would be richer and more civil if we all stopped framing our opponents’ opinions as straw men and burning them to the ground, and instead started to engaged each other respectfully by not using cheap slogans as a substitute for thoughtful ideas.

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