18. August 2004 · Comments Off on Sloppy Ad Hominem · Categories: History, Stupidity

I didn’t intend to get involved with the point-counterpoint between Michelle Malkin and her critics (Eric Muller et al). She can obviously handle that herself. I do find most objections to her book sounding more rhetorical than substantive, blatantly ignoring what she, you know, actually wrote in her book. But a bit more on that later, as I really want to address our long-lost favorite cheap-shot artist, Dave Niewert.

To recap, Michelle responded to a journalist’s question to President Bush at the at the UNITY conference in Washington DC. She felt the question was a cheap shot at her book. This is what Michelle quoted (the reporter) on her blog:

I wanted to ask you about protecting all Americans, as well. There are many Arab Americans and Muslims in this country who find themselves unfairly scrutinized by law enforcement and by society at large. Just yesterday we had arrests in Albany, New York. Immediately afterwards, some neighbors in the community said they feared that the law would come for them unfairly next. We have a new book out today that suggests perhaps we should reconsider internment camps. How do we balance the need to pursue and detain some individuals from not well-known communities, while at the same time keeping innocent people from being painted by the broad brush of suspicion?

Michelle sent an email to the reporter identified in the transcript as CBS News Anchor Julie Chen:

It is obvious from your ignorant question to President Bush at UNITY that you did not bother to read my book. In fact, you didn’t even bother to read the back cover of my book, which says, “Make no mistake: I am not advocating rounding up all Arabs or Muslims and tossing them into camps. But when we are under attack, ‘racial profiling’-or more precisely, threat profiling-is wholly justified.” [Emphasis added – S]

Now anyone who has really read the book (and I don’t mean those who’ve read it the way the Grand Inquisitor would a protestant tract) will understand why Michelle took offense at the mischaracterization of her work in front of the President of the United States, but it’s not befitting according to Mr. Dave (When I do it it’s Okay, but when you do it that’s bad) Niewert, who writes:

Just a reminder: The book’s title is In Defense of Internment. It clearly calls for a reassessment of the meaning of the World War II internment, evacuation and “relocation” process.

Does anyone else see a “cheap shot” there? Hm. Me neither.

This is a sloppy mischaracterization first of all, but right now I have something else to point out. Dave continues:

In any event, as you can see, Michelle promptly fired off a letter to Julie Chen — who among other slots at CBS, is the host of the game show “Big Brother” — outlining her thinking. Evidently, Michelle believes that writing a defense of the Japanese American internment and linking it to post-9/11 racial profiling should not lead anyone to conclude that she was suggesting that internment is an appropriate response in the current “war on terror”. Heavens no. She’s only laying down the dots. God forbid anyone would connect them.

Typical postmodernistic red herring. Dave is telling his readers “don’t believe what Michelle writes; I’ll tell you what she really believes.”

Well, in any event, before firing off her nasty letter, Michelle forgot to perform one of those good ol’ Journalism 101 functions: Double-check your source.

Just the way you do all the time eh, Dave?

Does this sound familiar? It should. Because this is the kind of approach to basic standards of factuality we’ve come to expect from Malkin.

More familiar all the time, just not the way you think…

Malkin was clearly working from the White House transcript, which as it turns out, misidentified the questioner.

Oh, my goodness, she trusted a written source. She actually believed what she read on paper! Terrible, how careless of her…

Had Malkin taken the time to, say, review the tape or double-check by placing a quick phone call with UNITY officials, she’d have discovered that the questioner was none other than CBS’s Joie Chen.

How awful, she criticized the WRONG person?!?! Goodness, it is not as if you’ve never done that, eh Dave? Like back in early 2003, when you didn’t notice that each post on this web site had an author’s handle, and they might be different? Remember how it took me three emails to get it through your head that it was I, Sparkey, not Stryker who wrote the posts you were so lamely critiquing. It so frustrated Stryker that he wrote this post:

To all those who link to various posts to disagree with whatever’s been written, I have a small reminder. We Have Several Authors Christ, do you know how stupid you look when you’re talking trash and flinging sarcastic remarks disparaging the intelligence of the piece when you can’t even get the name of the author right? Oh yeah, Mr. Smartypants, you’re a mental giant, all right. Each post is clearly delineated and contained within its own box with the name of the author at the very top! You’re like the guy trying to give a serious presentation, unaware that his fly’s unzipped and wondering why everyone’s snickering at him. Yeah, but why am I trying to correct you? Seeing a bunch of ill-equipped and uncoordinated numnuts trying to play the game is entertaining, to say the least. By all means, continue.

Of course you could have exercised good Journalism 101 and double-checked your source by emailing the author, or maybe just maybe, actually reading the post. Oh, but wait, you eventually apologized on the basis that you’re “a bit new at this blogging game…” That makes it all better, because you couldn’t read my handle off the stinking web page because you were an arrogant newbie. Now you’re just an arrogant blowhard taking Michelle to task for making a mistake in more forgivable circumstances, just so you can score worthless debating points and inflate your own self-importance. Leave it to a postmodernist like Dave to specialize in the sloppy ad hominem attack.

Now let’s return to Dave’s earlier sloppy mischaracterization, the book title. Seeing how he has difficulty reading what other people actually put down on paper, I reiterate, the title of the book is not “In Defense of Internment” it’s In Defense of Internment: The Case for “Racial Profiling” in World War II and the War on Terror. That is a very important difference, one that Dave is desperate to cover up.

The collective group think on 1942 has so distorted history that our nation is now going to great lengths to avoid any profiling whatsoever. This leads to absurd situations where two obviously Middle Eastern men can board a flight without so much as a second glance whereas my blonde, blue eyed, 8 year-old son is searched not once, but twice for the same flight. Had 911 been perpetrated by the Baader-Meinhof Gang that might make some sense, but it wasn’t. Instead of prudent filtering to the threat, we have a colossal waste of both public and private resources that takes away penknives and 7/16th open ended wrenches without making us one iota safer. Despite protests to the contrary, the rehabilitation of the histography behind the 1942 evacuation order is not a call for a round-up, but rather for a logical policy of allocation of resources in a time of some very direct threats.

The proposition that the 1942 Evacuation was all about racism forces one to ignore certain factoids from history, the first of which is that the people of warring nations tend to not like one another. However, the purveyors of victimology would have us believe that just because people from a belligerent nation living in the United States who have documented divided loyalties like dual citizenships, that are educated in nationalistic schools centered on and financed by the “mother” country, and hold to a faith that teaches of their ethnicity’s divine and holy destiny (Shinto) are de facto and a priori benign. You have to trivialize, marginalize, and suspend thousands of years of human history to conclude that a people coming from such a background would automatically have allegiance to the United States and not the land of their parents’ birth.

Though he be a gentleman, remember, Eric Muller is also lawyer. His critiques of Michelle’s book reflect his “legal brief” training: spray a bunch of stuff out there, hope no one looks too hard at the substance (nits, tons of nits), and pray something sticks (above all convince people to not read it to begin with). Scholarship is like detective work–outliers do not by themselves disprove a thesis, because one must look at the totality of the record; however, to a lawyer pointing to outliers can bring reasonable doubt – the truth isn’t his concern, winning his case is.

Historically, the evidence is there: Imperial Japan weaponized its expatriate populations, and when the opportunity presented itself, large segments (i.e. the majority) of those populations assisted the Empire. The failure to acknowledge or address this on a logical or historical basis is the failure to consider the real world ramifications of such a stance, that one’s theoretical “fears” may prevent one from addressing a very real danger. One that wants to display our severed heads on TV.

Now excuse me, I have a real job to do, I have a weapon sensor to finish. It’s not as if there isn’t a war on ya’know? (Just in case you’ve forgotten – and some seem to have – and if you do happen to take offense at that then maybe, before objecting to me, you should ask yourself why you feel that way.)

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