Politicans and their Dedicated Army of Strawmen

I have had a number of my friends post this video and videos like this where one politician or the other seemingly destroys another’s talking points. I would like to come at this from another angle, try something different. Let’s challenge this on an intellectual level, a logic level, wherein we can objectively judge what President Obama is saying. Not by the lines of political divides but by the content of his grammar, syntax, and reasoning. Let’s judge them by laws of logic and measure them for fallacies. This way, no man or woman is above the fray. Having said that, here are my thoughts on the President’s remarks from a video that was spread around Social Media last week.

“Let me make a final point, for a while now the main contribution of some of my friends on the other side of the aisle have made in the fight against ISIL is to criticize the administration and me for not using the phrase ‘radical Islam,’ the President said. That’s the key they tell us. We cannot beat ISIL unless we call them ‘radical Islam.’ What exactly using this label would accomplish and what will it change? Will it make ISIL less committed to try to kill Americans? Would it bring more allies for military strategy than it is served by this? The answer is none of the above. Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away.” -President Obama

Anyone would agree that changing the name would do nothing at all…if that is all that occurred, a name change. However, I would say the President is creating a straw man argument and a reductio ad absurdum argument.

We cannot beat ISIL unless we call them ‘radical Islam.’

He seems to be intentionally misrepresenting the other side of the argument to show how silly he thinks it is. He states that this “main contribution” of Republicans is to criticism him and his word choice. In doing so he creates an argument that no one is making, making his rebuttal of it meaningless. However, it does have a goal in mind. It appeals to the emotions of those in America who don’t like the people questioning the President’s seeming reluctance to use these phrases consistently. People who think Conservatives and Republicans are out to get the President (and Muslims) over every minute and seemingly meaningless thing, this is food for the soul. It is like saying, “look how deluded these idiots are, their ideas are so weak and elementary. Simpletons are what they are.” Remember we are all susceptible to agree with ideas we already like. It is easy and dangerous because we don’t have to think about those things with as much discernment as we expect others to do with their own beliefs.

I have heard no one arguing that if the President merely changes his verbiage that that in and of itself will ultimately defeat ISIS and terrorism. What they have said is that by not defining certain events as terrorism or by acknowledging these events were carried out by radical Islamic terrorist it changes how we, the government/military/public address, interact, and desire justice to be carried out.

Senator Ted Cruz has been one Republican who has criticized the President for not using those words, “You cannot win the battle against radical Islamic terrorism if you’re unwilling to utter the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism,‘”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) However, he did not stop there or conclude his thoughts. That would be a terrible plan. This is not charismatic Televangelist stuff where you “name it and claim it.”

The Senator goes on to talk about the Benghazi attack with CNN’s Erin Burnett back in 2014. He noted that the Obama administration, in explaining the attack to the American people, “edited out every reference to al Qaeda and radical Islamic terrorism.” (CNSNEWS.com)

He was noting a pattern he observed with the behavior of President Obama’s administration and the mislabeling of events dealing with Islamic Terrorist and Terror. It is not only that the President seems to avoid talking about it, but those words have been redacted, omitted, and edited from any reports or documents wherein they were mention by military leaders or political liaisons.

In the President’s recent video he fails to mention the rest of the criticism, thereby making the Senator’s remarks (and any who agree with the Senator) look feeble and silly. He created a caricature of the argument, then shamed it for being so stupid. Therefore the President’s remarks are not true, they are false. Not because Ted Cruz’s remarks are true, but because the President’s remarks violate the laws of logic and are fallacious. They cannot be true, as they were so stated. Had he addressed all the criticism and justified the reasoning for not using the words “radical Islamic terrorism” in a more consistent and appropriate manner, then we would have had to look at both arguments and determined if they were both logically sound, and if so, which is more true than not. In the end, they could both be wrong…but at least we’d be closer to the Truth than we are now.

Another such example is the Fort Hood shooting. An American soldier stood up, declared allegiance to Allah and shot his fellow soldiers. This was filed from the Pentagon and presented to the public as workplace violence. This means different protocols are enacted. A terrorist attack on a military installation could be considered an act of war…a national security issue. Workplace violence is an internal military issue with MPs and military court, wherein the public has no recourse in justice.

So changing the verbiage would indeed change and continue to have changed the outcome by nature of protocols required. It is possible by changing the language our strategy and our goals would have changed, therefore changing the current situation and status. The mis-naming made it very hard for those killed (their families) and those wounded to get the proper medical treatments, proper benefits, and proper honor by labeling it workplace violence. Proving words have meanings and consequences attached to them. In conclusion, the President is wrong both in his argument and his conclusion. His argument is false on two counts: 1. It is fallacious and logically invalid 2. Changing the language would change our protocols and actions toward ISIS, therefore changing our strategy. Even if the name change were the only contribution, it might be the best contribution for our fight against ISIS and radical Islamic Terrorism.

Every statement we offer stands on its own merits. When a politician gives a speech, it should be measured and weighed on its own content, not on the listeners political leanings. Whether Republican or Democrat, our servant leaders should be held to honest talk. When they fail they should not be re-elected. When they deceive us they should receive a public excommunication. There should also be a measure of Grace for those truly penitent, but time away from government need be a necessary consequence.

Most political speeches are replete with fallacies or fallacious talking points. Also, 99% of all internet meme are fallacious. We need to be better than this and expect better than this. Until we hold our politicians (on all sides) to a higher standard of moral and intellectual honesty we will continue to be divided by deceptive rhetoric that appeals to our emotions instead of Logic and Truth.

I leave you with this thought of unification for Americans and humans of the world, “Come let us reason together…” Isaiah 1:18 (KJV)



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