Archive for compare contrast

Whooee! what a rant. Maybe some are beginning to notice?

Daniel Greenfield calls it The Paranoid Madness of the Democratic Party. His conclusions:

“Political paranoids are totalitarians… and totalitarians are political paranoids. The Democratic Party has become both. Its paranoid totalitarianism runs on conspiracy theories that justify its abuses of power. It has accepted the left’s classic formula of the conservative political opposition as a reactionary force that is the source of all evils in society.”

“progressive suburbanite is not interested in a close look at his political movement. Instead of giving him something to believe in, his party’s media outlets give him someone to hate. His political identity is shaped not by what he stands for, unsustainable debt and an incoherent foreign policy of platitudes, but by his resistance to the Tea Party hordes who want to put black people back in chains, put women back in the kitchen and put homophobes back in the CEO’s office at the Mozilla Foundation.

“The politics of paranoid hatred is the crutch of mental cripples who protect the source of their dysfunction by projecting it onto phantom enemies.”

“The Democratic Party has been contaminated by the madness of the left through its alliance with the left and the entire country is paying the price.”

As is usually the case with this sort of rant from ‘other than the left’, the column is based on observations of behavior and specific incidences or cases that support his view. Greenfield calls out the common tactic of pulling selected items out of context to distort meaning and then illustrates how selection can be done with intellectual integrity. Confusing this use of example and illustration is important in propaganda where the audience doesn’t want to make the effort to see what is constructive and what is not. All too often, the interpretation is more about what confirms and comforts rather than creates dissonance.

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Picking your villains

The Senate Majority Leader got going on his favorite villains on the floor of the Senate despite propriety or reason. That was just another episode of attacks the left has been using to personalize the debate. Murdock thinks the Liberal critics of Koch brothers ignore their philanthropy.

The Kochs’ critics are free to disagree with the Kansas industrialists and their libertarian ideas. However, most who despise the Kochs would be shocked by what these “greedy capitalists” do with their profits, beyond campaign donations.

Medicine, arts, environment, education … The real story is one of the typical successful American Capitalist. It stands in contrast to the story of the wealthy individuals in most of the rest of the world, how they acquire their wealth, and what they do with it. Take Russia, for instance …

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Nature needs some distance. Technology provides it.

A book review by Harriet Hall: Nature vs. Technology.

“For those who dismiss advocates of the “natural” as ignorant of science and deluded by the logical fallacy that natural = best, Nathanael Johnson’s new book is an eye-opener: All Natural: A Skeptic’s Quest to Discover if the Natural Approach to Diet, Childbirth, Healing, and the Environment Really Keeps Us Healthier and Happier.”
 …
“He had been taught that good health resulted from forming connections with nature, but he found that nature “generally wanted to eat me.” Now an adult and a journalist, he understands science and how to do research. He tried to read the scientific literature with an unbiased mindset, asking questions about the subjects in his book’s title rather than looking for evidence to support any prior beliefs, and he arrived at pretty much the same conclusions we science-based medicine folks did. But he still appreciates that a natural approach has value, and he seeks to reconcile nature with technology. He calls his book a comfortable refuge from people who are driven to extremes.”
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“He counters the argument that we have insufficient proof that vaccines are safe by citing Wendell Berry’s advice that the trick is not to find certainty, but to act thoughtfully with partial knowledge.”
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“Conventional medicine is concerned with helping pragmatically, using the information available to accomplish what it can…you don’t have to know why a fire started to put it out.”

One of the children of the baby boomers struggles to find reality. This is an interesting contrast to Dennis Prager’s comments about Noah: One of the most moral stories ever told. That is about the role of man in nature compared and contrasted to the modern ethos. In Biblical terms, nature serves man. In the modern era it seems that many are trying to turn that upside down.

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Inductive fallacies

Interesting. In the blog he notes that logical fallacy claims are becoming more prominent. Then he (Stephen Downes) asserts that the observations of logical fallacies are wrong and that awareness of such fallacies should be for personal feedback and not a part of dialog or discussion. He then cites his web site on logical fallacies. One should examine the section he titles Inductive Fallacies and compare and contrast to his own assertions. The ‘missing the point’ section might also be of interest.

The fact is that an observation can be a misperception and that can lead to a spurious accusation. That is why care is needed in describing what one observes. It is also why one needs to consider one’s own behavior when observing others. It doesn’t mean finding fault and then illustrating the fault in one’s own behavior and that is what the author of this fallacy dictionary seems to have done.

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The optimists view on Ivanpah

You may have heard the stories about fried birds or remember from a while back about the desert tortoises and you may even be sufficiently mathematically literate to wonder about effectiveness but all of that is set aside as Katie Fehrenbacher says The Hoover Dam of solar is now live in the desert of California. Here’s why it’s so important.

“Less than a hundred miles from the rim of the Hoover Dam, just outside of Las Vegas at the edge of dusty San Bernardino County, sits a symbol of how the sun will some day provide copious amounts of electricity for entire cities. This is Ivanpah, the world’s largest operating solar farm, which uses 347,000 mirrors (173,500 heliostats) and three huge 450-foot towers to harness the sun’s heat to generate electricity.” … “enough solar power into the grid to power 140,000 (average American) homes”

… “the 5-mile by one-mile long colossal clean power project, Ivanpah is the Hoover Dam for this generation”

“Ivanpah took years longer to get built than expected. It was one of the first projects to be developed on controversial Bureau of Land Management land, and the location ended up having more desert tortoises than originally thought.”

“Average panels convert about 10 percent to 12 percent of the light, while more high efficiency panels like those from SunPower convert about 20 percent.” … “Ivanpah uses dry cooling instead of water cooling to manage its heat. That’s important because as we’ve seen with the California drought, the future will be increasingly water-constrained.”

“Connectivity and computing is playing a role in Ivanpah as well. Each heliostat is connected by not only a power cable but also a data cable that controls each one ensuring they track the sun, or change position according to the facilities’ needs. When there are high winds the mirrors go into a safety flat position. When it rains they also go into that position to get a free mother nature washing. Data commands all aspects of the Ivanpah facility.”

The optimists gloss over many things. If you don’t gloss over the column, you can see them. Time may also reveal these things.

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The evil demon. Really?

Thomas Lifson takes a look at the Stuff Bush didn’t do.

“In the face of five years of Obama failure, the American Left still invokes the specter of George W. Bush as the all-purpose explanation for everything that has gone wrong. Yet the 43rd president is steadily climbing in public esteem, as his sunny disposition and serious demeanor toward the duties of office sit well in the public memory. So, too, his dignified behavior as ex-president brings credit.

“One good way to force the Left to confront President Obama’s own responsibility for his conduct in office is to compare his abuses of office with the record of President Bush 43, who was reviled by by his opposition as a dictator-wannabe, Constitution-abusing, moronic ogre straddling the line between simian and human. Doug Ross of Director Blue has produced an amusing comic-book approach toward explaining the differences between the two men:

This particular phenomena exposes the ‘both sides do it’ fallacy. The extremes are to place complete blame on one side or the other with the ‘both equally culpable’ as a supposed moderate, in the middle position. Integrity demands a better placement of responsibility for behavior and evaluation of the consequences and implications.

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Fighting tooth and nail

Thomas Lifson says the Dems declare war on Inspector General uncovering IRS scandal. What he describes is a dedicated, unforgiving, no holds barred, effort of defense.

“The IRS scandal is so bad that Democrats are unleashing total war in an attempt to beat back a full airing of the abuse. The old adage, “The best defense is a good offense,” is all the more valid when the major media outlets are on their side. It is not necessary to have any actual facts to use as rebuttal for the indefensible; it is enough to simply throw a cloud of dust, so as to discredit any charges – in the eyes of supporters and media sycophants.”

“Inspectors General are the taxpayers’ best friends in Washington, DC, charged with investigating waste and corruption, and for that reason have been the targets of the Obama administration’s  Ongoing War on Inspectors General, documented by Ed Lasky over the past several years. It is Chicago-style politics to threaten anyone who can uncover inconvenient dirt. Obama is notorious for his “they bring a knife, you bring a gun” style of political hardball, and an inspector general who threatens to uncover scandal is an obvious target.”

That tends to stimulate positive feedback, the artificially created fallacy that there’s no smoke so there’s no fire and what has got these Republicans upset, anyhow? The scary thing is that the Democrats are working as a solid block despite clear indications of impropriety that need to be repaired. Mass hysteria?

Also see John Hinderaker Barack Obama: The George Wallace of Free Speech

“Bitterly hostile to free speech when exercised by their political opponents, Democrats have done whatever they can to undermine Citizens United, just as they did decades ago with Brown vs. Board of Education.

“The I.R.S. scandal can best be seen in this light. The Democrats are using the levers of the executive branch, particularly the I.R.S., to deter Americans from exercising the First Amendment rights that were guaranteed them by the Supreme Court.”

A fear of inspection of ideas is a danger of magnitude.

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Which is the lesser evil?

“This left-wing obsession with a non-evil exemplifies the left’s moral universe. That universe is preoccupied with lesser evils while nearly always ignoring the greatest evils.

“Preoccupation with real evil is the greatest difference between right and left. The right was preoccupied with fighting Communism while the left (not liberals such as JFK, but the left) was preoccupied with fighting anti-Communists.”

Dennis Prager makes a list to answer the question: What Preoccupies the Left? What Preoccupies the Right?

Consider: Compare and contrast the Washington Redskins to North Korea, Islamism to Islamophobia, Protecting to protesting Israel, … “Only a conservative leader would have the moral courage to say that. Because while the right fights evil, the left fights the Redskins.

Why? What can or should be done? How?

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Tactics of social denigration

“Anyone who votes for Democrats should ask themselves how they would feel if someone at their office constantly practiced the strategy of berating other workers just to get promoted. And once they had the job, blamed others for everything that went wrong. If this appears to be unseemly in the workplace, then Democratic supporters should wonder why they accept it from their Democratic political leaders.”

“In the final analysis, the strategy employed by Democrats is one of social domination derived from social derision. It is an unfortunate trait of human nature for people to denigrate others. Further proof of the moral bankruptcy of the Democratic Party lies in the fact that they have aggressively chosen to employ this tactic.”

Michael Bargo, Jr. says Busted! The Democratic Party’s Moral Superiority, explains why, and then show the optimist in thinking that “When American voters wake up to the true moral character of the Democratic Party.” Many others are more pessimistic in thinking that, if the American voters haven’t woken up by now, they aren’t likely to wake up anytime soon.

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Inequality: good or bad

Steve Cichon dug up a 1991 Radio Shack newspaper advertisement and found that 13 electronic products for $5k (and 500 hrs. work) can now be replaced with a $200 iPhone (10 hrs.).

“The comparison above is an example of the “invisible hand” at work, giving us more goods, better goods, and cheaper goods over time. And the poor and middle class benefit the most. While only the wealthy might have been able to afford the bundle of 13 electronic products costing $5,000 in 1991, almost anybody today can afford an iPhone with features that far exceed the 13 products in 1991.

“Instead of spending so much time obsessing about income inequality, the “top 1%,” the “decline of the middle class,” and generally criticizing and blaming the free market for every woe, maybe we should devote more time to celebrating how the “miracle of the marketplace” has brought about rising living standards for all income groups in America, especially low-income households. Falling prices of manufactured goods like food, cars, clothing, household appliances, computers and electronics have probably given low-income households in the US greater access to the “good life” than all of the government programs and safety nets that are part of the trillion dollars of spending on America’s “War on Poverty.””

Then there’s the story about people in San Francisco ‘outing’ a Google engineer in anti-technology protests. Being poor just ain’t what it used to be … but then, many facets stay the same – see Appalachia: The big white ghetto for an insight into the new ‘Pepsi’ generation.

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visceral hostility vs polite disagreement

“This asymmetry in responses to people with different opinions has been too persistent, for too many years, to be just a matter of individual personality differences.”

“The vision of the left is not just a vision of the world. For many, it is also a vision of themselves — a very flattering vision of people trying to save the planet, rescue the exploited, create “social justice” and otherwise be on the side of the angels. This is an exalting vision that few are ready to give up, or to risk on a roll of the dice, which is what submitting it to the test of factual evidence amounts to. Maybe that is why there are so many fact-free arguments on the left, whether on gun control, minimum wages or innumerable other issues — and why they react so viscerally to those who challenge their vision.”

SOWELL: Seeing villainy on the right. “Many on the left have visceral hostility toward those with different opinions”

History has a message. Some see it in the present day. Will it register? Will it make a difference?

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History has lessons but ideology often has priority

Professor Sowell notes a list of issues that illustrate Fact-Free Liberals, at least when it comes to lessons from history.

“President Obama seems completely unaware of how many of the policies he is trying to impose have been tried before, in many times and places around the world, and have failed time and again.”
 …

“But who reads history these days? Moreover, those parts of history that would undermine the vision of the left — which prevails in our education system from elementary school to postgraduate study — are not likely to get much attention.

 

“The net results are bright people, with impressive degrees, who have been told for years how brilliant they are, but who are often ignorant of facts that might cause them to question what they have been indoctrinated with in schools and colleges.”

It is generally much more productive to try to fit the narrative into reality than it is to try to distort reality to fit the narrative. That seems to be a very difficult lesson to learn.

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How the Democrats investigate Republican scandals

There is a comparison and contrast on the table right now regarding tactics in the investigation of scandals. At the federal level, the scandals include gun running in Mexico, IRS targeting of political enemies, use of federal agencies to punish the public in budget arguments, terrorist attacks an others. Reporting on these is tepid, congressional committee subpoenas have been ingored, the Democrats have excused the behavior en-masse, and the effort to find out what happened drags on as if trying to get upstream in a fast river.

In New Jersey, things are different. Democratic lawmakers subpoena EVERYTHING from Christie aides over Bridgegate on ‘Bloody Friday’

“Gov. Christie has forcefully denied having any knowledge of the bridge traffic scheme, or playing any role in directing it.

His unequivocal statements have set up a political scenario where a single email, text message or statement to the contrary could sink his chances of winning the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.”

The talk is about ‘blood in the water’ and the goals are to bring him down – not find out what really happened and implement justice. It is a laboratory to evaluate differences in goals, tactics, and weighing priorities to see just how divided the country is today on political and ideological grounds.

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There’s more free-speech defending to do

In Wisconsin, the politics got ugly. The WSJ has an update on judge who stopped one effort at trolling the opposition for something to label as criminal.

“John Doe probes operate much like grand juries, allowing prosecutors to issue subpoenas and conduct searches while gag orders require the targets to keep quiet. We wrote about the kitchen-sink subpoenas and morning raids by special prosecutor Francis Schmitz that targeted dozens of conservative groups that participated in the battle to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker (“Wisconsin Political Speech Raid,” Nov. 16, 2013).

“Now we learn that Judge Gregory A. Peterson ruled on Friday that at least some of those subpoenas were improper. They “do not show probable cause that the moving parties committed any violations of the campaign finance laws,” he wrote. His opinion remains under seal but we obtained a copy.”

“Democrats would love to intimidate and muzzle the local activists who rallied to Mr. Walker’s recall defense. And the subpoenas all but shut down these activists, forcing them to hire lawyers and defend themselves rather than contribute to the political debate in an election year.”

“The John Doe process has become a political weapon intended to serve partisan ends regardless of the law. Kudos to a judge who was brave enough to read the law and stop it, but there’s more free-speech defending to do.”

The Christie Traffic Jam is being compared to the NPS shutdown’s in October. Those activities are mild stuff when compared to political prosecutions and prosecutorial abuse. The use of the legal system to harass, intimidate, and distract seems to have no end. Even McD’s is being sued — again — for having coffee that is too hot. The long term implications for the legal system are not good.

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The balance isn’t even. There is a difference

Russ Vaughn provides an update on the status of the Knockout Game also known as Polar Bear Hunting as The Holder Effect. “Liberals who do acknowledge the existence of the Knockout Game and who its perpetrators are, trot out all the old chestnuts about racist white America being responsible for troubled black youth.” A key point here is that the only federal prosecution for a hate crime in these assaults is of a white guy in Houston – it took the DoJ quite a while to find an example to fit the proper definition of what they want to be.

Kyle Becker describes 24 Underreported Democrat Scandals That Make News Media’s ‘Bridgegate Mania’ Look Like a Joke as a perspective on the latest New Jersey Bridge brouhaha.

Perspective and reality don’t quite fit the ‘both sides do it’ fallacy. It is hard to say which is more tragic: holding the belief that both sides are exactly the same or the denial behavior in trying to maintain that fantasy.

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Civility in ideology: no both sides are not the same and, yes, there is a problem

BRUCE: Exposing liberal apologies, Palin and Romney shouldn’t forgive MSNBC hosts. Melissa Harris-Perry and Martin Bashir expose liberalism’s hatred, paranoia and cruelty:

“In the normal world, accepting an apology is the classy thing to do. We all do make mistakes, and the apology ritual is one that allows people to forgive and forget, and move on.

“This is all well and good if the issue at hand truly was a “mistake” delivered by someone of good will. When dealing with partisan liberals, however, neither of those apply.

“Arguing for harm to come to someone because you disagree with them is neither a mistake nor an accident. It’s a contemplated idea, cultivated into a message and delivered as an argument. Targeting a toddler for derision because it serves a political agenda isn’t something that mistakenly pops into someone’s head. It springs from an existing loathsome well.

“It would be valuable for today’s conservative leadership to recognize that comments like Mr. Bashir’s and Ms. Harris-Perry’s aren’t mistakes — they are public illustrations of what sits at the core of today’s liberalism — hatred, paranoia and cruelty.

“We all understand that people in the public arena will be the focus of debate and heated comments. They will be called names and accused of being everything from stupid to even dangerous. Politicians and public figures recognize and accept this is part of the public forum.

“What I’m speaking of here is something inherently different. It is a very specific illustration of what American liberalism has become, and it must be confronted.”

There is the denial, especially in the form of “both sides do it” (which is a logical fallacy) that attempts to minimize differences in behavior by ideological leaning. The latest scandal about bridge traffic illustrates just how strong the desire is to paint everyone with the same brush. That misses the point. Tammy Bruce is saying that apologies may not be enough in certain circumstances and cites two examples. Ugly “must be confronted” she says. It must be left on the perpetrator as a symbol to remind them not to go too far and to warn others about what they offer.

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Media delight

Finally, a scandal that gets the media excited. John explains: Christie Bridge Scandal Puts Reporters Back In Business.

“The most striking fact about the story so far is the obvious contrast between reporters’ attitudes toward the many Obama administration scandals–ho hum–and the repellent glee with which they are pursuing the Christie story. … It seems obvious that Obama’s IRS and Benghazi scandals are far more serious than the bridge lane closing, and Obama’s lockdown of national parks and monuments was a close parallel to the lane closure, only on a national scale. And, of course, one normally would expect the national media to pay far more attention to presidential than gubernatorial scandals. But the frenzy of the last 24 hours reminds us how excited reporters can get when they are going after a Republican.”

“This is what I don’t get: don’t reporters understand how obvious it is that they delight in Republican scandals, and do their best to cover up Democratic ones? Have they so internalized their prejudices that they really can’t see them, and assume no one else does, either? Or do they just not care?”

Perhaps a more significant question is why the voters and media audience do not see this or do not care.

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Inequality in honesty

A. Barton Hinkle posts on The Great Inequality Debate with some good insight but some rather glaring dishonesty.

“The abstract notion of equality is the lodestar of the American left, just as the abstract notion of liberty is the lodestar of the right. Or at least some liberty: Most conservatives care greatly about the economic kind, and the sight of an entrepreneur caught up in red tape enrages them. But certain conservatives care less about other kinds of liberty, such as the freedom of gays and lesbians to pursue their own happiness as they define it, or the freedom of a young black male in a hoodie to walk down the street with a bag of Skittles unaccosted.”

The distinction between left and right could be useful but the references maligning the right are dishonest. The “freedom of gays and lesbians” is a matter of the limits of libertarianism and the fundamental requirement that rights (freedoms) have responsibilities. The comment about “unaccosted” probably refers to the Zimmerman case and misrepresents the facts of that case as determined by trial.

“Focusing only on inequalities of result also ignores another important dimension to the question. Again, Wilkinson: “It’s not enough to identify a mechanism of rising inequality. An additional argument is required to show that there is some kind of injustice or wrongdoing involved.”

This gets to the matter that the left is presuming a guilt without evidence of a crime much less a proper connection between cause and effect. The whole ‘income inequality’ idea has very little to do with its purported aim – to reduce poverty or provide credibility to questionable behavior – and much more to do with such things as envy.

Efforts to force equality where it does not exist can lead to an unintended suffering. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. took the effort for equality to its limit in his 1961 “satirical and dystopian short story Harrison Bergeron. Governance efforts based on the ‘forced equality by government idea’ have failed and often expressed significant human suffering in the process of doing so.

Yet here we go again. The quote attributed to Albert Einstein on insanity comes to mind.

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When the gain is up too far, the message gets distorted

Being rather over sensitive tends to stimulate misperceptions much the way turning the volume up too far distorts the sound. The latest example is from the LGBT community and their apologists. Thomas Lifson says Christianity on trial in Duck Dynasty controversy but the issue is a bit broader than that and one that Sarah Palin noted as well.

“Robertson spoke of homosexual behavior – i.e., acts. He took care not to characterize homosexuality per se as sinful. This is quite consistent with Christian doctrine of loving the sinner while hating the sin. That crucial point obviously eludes The Hollywood Reporter. But there is a second serious distortion in the Hollywood Reporter summation:

The only comparison involved was that both are sins.”

This is the same phenomena as noted in an earlier post. Behavior is observable and can be criticised but it is not to be extrapolated to qualities and character of the person expressing that behavior. That is the essence of hating the sin while still loving the sinner that so many seem to miss these days.

This is related to another phenomena that Steve McCann calls The Decline and Fall of Political Discourse.

“As the easily predicable disaster that is ObamaCare continues to evolve, two things are certain: one, Barack Obama and his minions will never admit failure and reverse course; and two, the vitriol emanating from the Left aimed at obliterating their political opposition will intensify during the upcoming year far beyond what has been experienced during the Obama term to date.”

Much as Perino offered a single sheet to Beckel’s common insistance that the Republicans offer nothing (Fox, The Five, 18 Dec 2013)that changed to Republicans only come up with worthless ideas, there is distortion and denial and evasion and a fundamental dishonesty that can be observed.

“The overwhelming failure of those nations that chose to go down this road is conveniently ignored or mired in blissful ignorance. Mindlessly defending American Progressivism is all that matters.

This is most evident when the proponents of this errant philosophy appear on television or the radio to debate or discuss the issues of the day.”

It is human behavior at issue and there are many whose concerns are growing about behavior that used to be considered immoral, sinful, or deceitful that is now, apparently, taken as worthy of praise and defense.

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Inequality envy

There is a lot of hate talk about inequality. Right now it is about inequality of income but inequality of I’net access also comes up from time to time to show how broad, deep, and ignorant such hate speech really is. The Mandela encomia is used as an example of the dilemma of intellectual integrity evident is such talk that is so prevalent in modern discussion. Bruce Thornton describes the situation in Nelson Mandela, Western Saint.

“he indulged the uncritical, crude anti-Americanism that is the rosary of the international left,  …

There is, however, more significance to Mandela’s life than the achievements noted by his encomiasts, or even his flaws. Like Gandhi before him, Mandela was a creation of the West. He was trained in the Western-modeled universities … He also had available the uniquely Western liberal-democratic ideals such as equality, human rights, non-violence, anti-racism, and democracy, precious little of which can be found elsewhere in Africa. …

Indeed, Mandela could not have succeeded against any other than a liberal-democratic Western country. His efforts would in the end have been as futile as Gandhi’s silly 1939 letter to Adolph Hitler, which begged for peace from the dictator who counseled England’s Lord Halifax, “Kill Gandhi, if that isn’t enough then kill the other leaders too, if that isn’t enough then two hundred more activists, and so on until the Indian people will give up the hope of independence.” What Mandela’s career demonstrates is the power of Western ideals which, despite the universal evils of human nature that have tarnished Western history, could transcend those brutal constants of history and effect change on the basis of principle rather than violence. From this perspective, Mandela represents the intellectual incoherence of anti-Western multiculturalism, which uses Western ideals like anti-colonialism and anti-racism to demonize the West, and ignores the unique principles of the West without which a Mandela or a Gandhi would have ended up forgotten failures.” [emphasis added]

“Nelson Mandela’s achievements deserve recognition. We can even accept that the darker shadows of his portrait will be ignored. But we should acknowledge that his life is a testimony not just to his own character and deeds, but to the unique goods of Western civilization that made Mandela and his achievements possible.”

Much of the attack on Western Culture, especially its most visible success, is by people who have an education, a comfortable livlihood, and perhaps even a life that sprang from that culture. These people are trying to bite the hand that feeds them. They create untold misery as Mandela’s country is now witness. One should wonder why.

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