It has become quite common for people on all sides of the political spectrum (but especially on the far right) to defend their positions by referencing their opponents. In recent events, Trump’s travel ban has been explained away as the same thing Carter, Obama, Regan, and Bush have done. In simplest terms, this is exactly like a child who, when caught doing something they know is wrong, immediately list everyone else who is allowed to do it. The phrase, “if everyone was jumping off a bridge would you do that too?” has become a cultural cliché to embody the ignorance of this argument.
Formally known as Ad Populum, or “The Appeal To Common Practice,” this fallacy is especially damaging, as it can be used to explain away any crime, as long as they can find the slightest parallel on their opponents side. Take, for example, a hypothetical future time where a group of people, such as Muslims, are considered an immediate threat, and the government decides to put them all in internment camps. The conservative administration (or at least their common man allies) would remind us the FDR did the same thing to the Japanese in WWII, so we cannot possibly view this as wrong. Obviously, wrong is wrong, regardless of the political party. FDR was just as immoral in this instance as our hypothetical future tyrant. This is the problem with this flawed thinking; acts are no longer judged on their true value as long as you can rationalize anything as the norm.
Actions must be judged by their value, not by their sponsor. It is too easy to lazily follow whomever we believe to be the lesser of two evils and accept whatever they say. Now, more so than any time in recent history, we must remain vigilant.
Photo by Dedi Farahel
Hackers! One day you update your blog and find all your entries have been hacked and switched to a bad link. I am, as it turns out, a lazy person with a cheap password. With a new 33 digit password in place, I begin the long journey of trying to write my thoughts and options for anyone to enjoy..or infuriate…I really don’t care. So, kick back and enjoy all the madness and mayhem that lurks in my dark mind.
The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.
The United States is currently under siege with fear, and fear is a powerful tool. People are in fear of their lives, so they carry a gun. They fear terrorism, so they vote for war. They fear Islam, so they oppose every mosque. They fear blacks, so they empower a police state. They fear transgender people, so they pass bathroom laws. They fear their own marriages are at risk, so they oppose marriage equality. They fear their religion is being taken away, so they boycott Starbucks cups and businesses that say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” They fear Mexican immigrants, so they envision a wall. They fear the sound of other languages, so they strive for “English only” laws. They fear progress, so they regress.
Charismatic leaders have been able to use fear to rise in power. Hitler used a fear of Jews and socialists to conquer most of Europe. The U.S. has used the fear of communism to funnel trillions of dollars into the hands of defense contractors over decades. Fear fueled the Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism. FDR understood this during America’s dark days of the Great Depression. He knew that the bad things would pass soon enough, but fear can infect the country and remain. He understood that fear may cause a man to fight or flight, but fear can cause mankind to do much, much worse.
America has no need to fear. It has no need to drive to its most basic instincts. We can bravely rise above it all and move forward as a society, or regress back into our caves and fight anyone who disagrees with our views.
When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies – to be met not with cooperation but with conquest, to be subjugated and mastered. -Robert F Kennedy
<see this full speech here>