Monday, December 06, 2010

Throwing Red Meat Bombs at Our Foes, to Impress Our Friends

In reply to the following comment at National Review Online:


So is Mr Kurtz throwing bombs, red meat, or maybe it’s a meat bomb?

Isn’t labeling him a rhetorical bomb thrower, well, labeling him?

Look, I see nothing wrong with using labels to describe people, canned goods, file folders, politicians etc., as long as the label is fact based and accurate. Mr. Kurt’s research supports his label and passes my sniff test. On the other hand, Mr. Frum seems to be someone in search of his lost relevance since leaving National Review, and failing miserably in his quest.

For a fact-based analysis of my labeling him "irrelevant", check the numbers on his latest book sales.
-- 12/06/10 13:34

Dollar Bill

To whatever extent Mr Kurtz is using his labels to stifle debate by dismissing his opponents, he is throwing red meat bombs, I'd say... Those who've read his book, however, suggest that he's actually making a case, rather than just tossing these labels around... Once I've read it, I can say more...

Yes, calling rhetorical bomb throwers rhetorical bomb throwers is in fact labeling them. As you say further in your comment, labels can be useful, as long as they actually apply. Some who've read his book seem to believe he does actually make his case. Once I read it, I'll be better able to form and then express an opinion on that. But with all respect due Mr Kurtz and those who agree with him, I don't see the authoritarian socialism of the USSR, or even the more benign socialism of much of Europe, being advocated by much of anyone in the Democratic party. Perhaps after reading his book, I'll feel differently.

Anyone whose actually trying to make a case for the labels they're trying to affix onto those with whom they disagree isn't simply labeling them, and to my mind anyway, isn't the target of the No Labels campaign. Rather it's those who don't make any case--either treating their chosen label as "common knowledge" that doesn't need substantiation, or using it to end debate "you're just a fascist, so why should I bother trying to discuss anything with you?!?"--who seem to be the real targets of the campaign. And sadly, there seem to be more of those sorts of labelers around than the ones--perhaps including Mr Kurtz--who actually try to make a case and thereby increase the dialog.

As for whether one's relevance to the debate can be determined by how many books one sells, I can't rightly say, though I tend to doubt it... As to whether those book sale numbers, or for that matter, "relevance" is any indication of intellectual value or sociopolitical or moral correctness, however, I really don't believe they are. -- 12/06/10 14:55

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