If I Burn Enough Straw Men Somone Will Take Me Serioulsy
Baltimore City Paper columnist Brian Morton has taken the burning the straw man method of argument to new heights.
After WYPR sacked Marc Steiner from his public radio show recently, I noticed something interesting on the Baltimore Sun’s comment board following the paper’s story about the whole sorry tale.
As Barbara Mikulski put it after soundly beating E.J. Pipkin in 2004, “We are a blue state, we are neon blue, we are cobalt blue, we are blue in the face.” And Baltimore is the blue hub in the middle of it all.
But if you read the comments board, you would think that it’s not legitimate to be a liberal in Maryland, especially on the radio. Amid the regrets posted there, every now and then there’s a comment by someone essentially saying, “good riddance to another liberal.”
Morton takes the Baltimore Sun message boards to be the bellwether of conservative thought and criticism. Flame on!
Sure, there are critical comments about Steiner and liberals, but it takes serious mental acrobatics to turn even harsh criticism of liberals into conservatives “think that it’s not legitimate to be a liberal in Maryland.” According to Morton’s logic, disagreement with liberals or progressives (which is what he is) is equal to believing they are not legitimate.
This is choice, coming from Morton who resides deep in the “Bush lied people died” fever swamp, and espouses all the other dopey anti-conservative mantras of leftwing moonbattery.
Morton then launches into a screed filled with every lefty trope in the book about a lack of liberals in the media.
It was only in 2006 when the powers-that-be at MSNBC started seeing the rise in popularity of host Keith Olbermann–not someone you could classically call a liberal, but someone who insisted on using his platform to hold the Bush administration to account for all of the excuses and shifting rationales behind the Iraq War, the fired U.S. attorney scandal, the deplorable conditions at Walter Reed and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, among others. But in 2003, when the Dixie Chicks were made persona non grata in the world of country music (and the larger world of pop radio) and questioning the administration was considered tantamount to treason, Olbermann said that his superiors at the network were angry with him when he featured two liberals on their air back-to-back.
It’s now 2008, and we have both a Democratic House and Senate–but unlike five years ago when Olbermann pissed off the network brass by having Janeane Garofalo and Al Franken on one after the other, you don’t see that kind of programming happening on the air.
I guess Morton does not watch Countdown where Keith Olbermann routinely names three conservatives a night in his “worst person in the world” segment. Talk about casting your opponent as illegitimate. MSNBC, CNN, and the three major networks are nothing but centers of liberal bias, so why is he complaining?
Morton absolves himself from the task of making a real argument by citing the extreme cases of Ann Coulter and Michael Savage as the embodiment of his opponents then walks away if he has actually done something significant.
Morton beclowns himself even further:
It wasn’t long before any argument made could be dismissed simply by saying, “she’s a liberal.” Ann Coulter has made a fortune selling books with increasingly escalating claims–“godless,” “slander,” “treason”–that launched a tidal wave of other authors writing tomes that speak of progressives as if anyone to the left of Joe Lieberman should be driven into the sea. The latest, almost a comic reduction ad absurdum of the decade’s worth of right-wing rhetoric, is Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, which attempts to tie almost anyone who has ever worn Birkenstocks, eaten a salad, or pulled a lever for the local Democratic candidate for dogcatcher to the political traditions of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. It would be nice to think that there is a place on the radio for a liberal like Marc Steiner and a seat at the table for the party whose authors don’t write books linking political parties to mass murdering war criminals.
Forget for a moment that Goldberg FIRED Ann Coulter from National Review Online back in 2001, it is clear that Morton has not read Liberal Fascism. Goldberg several times, in every chapter, says that he is not making the facile comparison Morton accuses him of. If Morton had bothered to read the book, he would know that. However, Morton would rather judge the book by its cover rather than engage the serious intellectual arguments contained within it. That says a great deal more about Morton than it does Goldberg or those who agree with his arguments.
Morton believes that if he burns enough straw men someone might fall for his tripe. He was right.
crossposted on The Main Adversary