Posted by Bruce Pilgrim
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Talking to My Cats: 9-25-07
Recently, some of the inestimable wit and wisdom of Baghdad Bob was highlighted in this space. This week, class, we'll get better acquainted with misdirection, which Bob called an art. "Disagree with scientists and other so-called 'experts,'" he said. "What the hell do they know? Say it was an accident, a weather balloon, an earthquake, or swamp gas."
Got a program designed to weaken controls on mercury and nitrogen oxide pollution? Call it the "Clear Skies Initiative."
Hope to justify warrantless wiretaps on American citizens? Call it the "Terrorist Surveillance Program."
Want to open up more Federal lands to logging? Call it the "Healthy Forests Initiative."
Somehow this reminds me of the sign at the entrance to Auschwitz: "Arbeit Macht Frei," which roughly translates as "Work Makes One Free."
A great example of this whole euphemism-as-policy gambit is what used to be known as "global warming," which has recently devolved into "climate change." (Sounds so much better, doesn't it? Change can be good, after all.) Despite a preponderance (one might even say a flood) of scientific evidence, right wingnuts such as Senator Jim Imhofe still insist this is a hoax perpetrated by those evil environmentalists.
Baghdad Bob would applaud such efforts, especially when they trot out the argument that global climate warming is "only a theory," as in, "I have a theory that drivers of Humvees are trying to make up for the fact that they have such tiny penises."
Misdirection was also a guiding principle for Bob Murray of Murray Energy Corporation, during the recent disaster at the Crandall Canyon mine in Utah. Another blustering critic of the global warming theory, Murray continued to insist that the mine collapse was caused by an earthquake long after seismologists weighed in to the contrary. Science, schmience, Murray argued. Then he promised to prove the seismologists wrong, and then he didn't, ranting instead about the media and helicopters.
If you don't like, but can't refute, Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, attack Al Gore. He drives a big car and sets out two (TWO!) garbage cans at the end of his driveway every week, the stinking hypocrite! This totally negates everything that environazi says.
My favorite example of applied misdirection is the deliciously insipid notion of the Bible-beating set that evolution is only a theory and that creationism, (excuse me, I meant to say Intelligent Design), is an equally valid theory, and that both theories should discussed side-by-side. These moronic designers try to cast doubt on evolution and instead focus the debate on whether we're descended from chimps – or Presbyterians.
Let's just gloss over the fact that scientific theories are supported by verifiable experimental evidence and are therefore predictive, logical, and testable. If the Very Reverend Rationalization says intelligent design is absolute fact, that's good enough for me. Call it "The Flintstones Hypothesis."
We're constantly being directed to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. This verbal sleight of hand is at once a very slimy and very effective technique, obfuscating the truth with a veneer of "rebuttal," and then either changing the subject or finely mincing words, such as what the actual meaning of the word "is" is. (Or even, as they say in sports, it is what it is.)
Misdirection is the favorite defensive stratagem of used car salesmen. When you point out to the guy in the checkered suit that the car in question has no tires or wheels, he smiles and says "You know, you're right. But just look at this interior."
And if your wrongheaded war continues to get worse year after bloody year and criticism is getting louder and more pointed, and you have no credible defense against these arguments, pretend instead to be outraged by these "disgusting attacks on our troops and the integrity of the general."
Support the troops means putting a magnet on your car and never questioning any presidential decision. Doesn't support the troops also mean providing the finest possible medical and psychological care for those wounded in battle? Not so much. We need those funds for bullets, not bandages. Do you disagree? Then, you must hate freedom.
The calculated "outrage" over Moveon.org's recent "Betray Us" ad is the height of misdirection. It's of a piece with the uproar over Dan Rather's piece on George W. Bush phoning in his National Guard service. By diverting attention to the dubious proof, they avoided discussion as to whether the charges were actually true. Besides, didn’t you see how heroic George looks in a flight suit?
Who was it that put up the “Mission Accomplished” banner? Somewhere Baghdad Bob is smiling.