Semantics

Ron Paul Drops the H-Bomb

December 22, 2011

Multiple Pages
Ron Paul Drops the H-Bomb

My dream of a Bachmann-Paul Republican ticket in 2012 is fading fast. Vain are the hopes of man! My notion was that Ron would educate Michele in foreign aid’s futility and the virtues of minding our own national business, while Michele would enlighten Ron about how a country without well-defended borders and rational criteria for immigration is not a country but merely a place, and not a place in which libertarian ideals are likely to flourish.

Alas, it is not to be. Ron’s dislike of foreign entanglements seems rather easily to slop over into animosity toward Israel per se, and correspondingly into fond feelings toward Arabs, and then by extension toward Muslims. Michele’s evangelicalism, meanwhile, has infused her with such zeal for the Zionist cause that, as Jon Stewart pointed out the other day, this doughty conservative lady boasts of having enjoyed her spell working in a socialist collective.

“Alleging an emotion as strong as hatred in someone with whom you merely disagree is cheap. Worse, it is cheapness with a leftist coloration, with a sneer of moral one-upmanship on its face.”

Politics proverbially makes for strange bedfellows, but there is no bed wide enough to accommodate these two. Ron’s difference of opinion with Michele over matters in the Mediterranean’s bottom-right-hand corner has affected him so deeply it has driven him into left-liberal speech mode. Asked by Jay Leno on The Tonight Show what he thought of Michele, Ron replied:

She doesn’t like Muslims. She hates Muslims. She hates them. She wants to go get ’em.

As sad as the lost hope of a Bachmann-Paul ticket is, it is sadder yet to hear Ron lapse into leftist duckspeak. The cant against “hate” is a low and dishonest kind of moralistic bullying based, as such things always are, on a deliberate perversion of words’ meaning. It allows the speaker to allege that opinions contrary to his own (or ones that are unorthodox or unpopular) are inspired by base emotions and are therefore false.

Any kind of opinion might be inspired by base emotions. It might also be inspired by lofty emotions; or by emotions considered base by some but lofty by others (nationalism, for instance); or it might be the end result of a reasoning chain in which emotion played little part; or it might be the dumb repetition of something heard from an authority figure, without either emotion or reason having much to do with it.

In the case of a passion as hot as the one being alleged, evidence shouldn’t be hard to find. However, “I disagree with what he said” or “What he said is unpopular” are not statements with any evidentiary content. (And even an opinion inspired by base emotions might accidentally be true, so the dishonesty here is twofold.)

For the proper scope of the word “hate,” see any decent dictionary. The one Becky Sharp threw from her carriage window will do. Modern lexicographers have added essentially nothing to Johnson’s definition: “Malignity; detestation; the contrary to love.”

The capacity to hate is a normal component of human nature. It served our ancestors well:

In Book 20 of The Iliad, when mighty Achilles re-enters the battle in his dazzling new armor, the Trojans are at first “taken every man in the knees with trembling and terror” at the sight of him. At this point, however, the gods come down from Olympus, some to help one side in the battle, some to help the other, according to their inclinations. Says Homer: “After the Olympians merged in the men’s company, strong Hatred, defender of peoples, burst out.…”

Hate continues to flourish on the private level. See Chapter 8 of Steven Pinker’s new book:

Between 70 and 90 percent of the men [in separate studies dated 1994, 2005] and between 50 and 80 percent of the women, admitted to having at least one homicidal fantasy in the preceding year.

And these were university students!

The sort of generalized group hatred that inspired Homer’s heroes and which is usually what’s being alleged in remarks like Ron Paul’s has been largely tamed and corralled into a small number of socially acceptable areas. The definition of “socially acceptable” varies—an Occupy demonstrator hates bankers, a social conservative hates abortionists, etc.—but generalized mass hatred is not a significant feature of modern Western society.

Accusing people of it sure is, though, as Ron Paul’s remarks illustrate. The accusation’s power derives from lexicographical distortion—using a word to mean things it never formerly meant, thereby diminishing the net amount of correspondence between language and reality.

Here are my honest opinions about Muslims in the generality:

Islam is an ancient and respectable religion which has provided consolation to innumerable persons and has served as an ordering principle for several notable civilizations. Its tenets are no more or less preposterous than those of any other thought system embracing the supernatural. It has inspired much fine art, architecture, and literature. I am happy to share the planet with Muslims. I wish them well, or at least no harm, and I would not try to dissuade them from their faith.

However, many past and present examples show that large cohorts of Muslims living among non-Muslims generate problems for the host society, problems that governments would be wise to avoid. Mass immigration of Muslims into non-Muslim nations is a bad idea. There is no reason for it. Muslims have 57 nations of their own. May they wander among them in liberty and peace!

Large-scale Muslim settlement in Western nations should not be allowed. Where foolish policies have allowed it, those policies should be discontinued. Muslim immigrants and native converts willing to leave our countries and settle in Muslim homelands should be encouraged to do so—for example, with bribes from the public fisc.

A great many people (including these, I am sure) would say my opinions are “hateful” and that a person who harbors them “hates” Muslims.

I don’t see this, and I think that someone who deploys the H-bomb here is abusing words. I’m not aware of feeling any hatred toward Muslims. I don’t actually know any, unless you count Razib Khan, which you surely shouldn’t.

I’m a low-hate guy, as I should be, having lived an easy and comfortable life bereft of the kind of episodes that ignite Homeric-level hatred. No tribe of Others ever sacked my hometown, raped my wife, enslaved my kids, killed my best friend, seized my property, abducted my queen, or stepped on my blue suede shoes. There are a couple of individual people I hate and about whom I have occasionally indulged homicidal revenge fantasies because they wronged me in some way not accessible to legal remedy—but that’s quite normal. (See the Pinker quote above.)

There are also things I hate, mainly different kinds of dishonesty, willful ignorance, bullying, cowardice, snobbery, arrogance, and cruelty—again, pretty normal. Toward individuals who perpetrate such things I nurse a dislike that sometimes borders on hatred, though at well below the Homeric level. I can’t recall ever having worked up a homicidal revenge fantasy about any such person.

Alleging an emotion as strong as hatred in someone with whom you merely disagree is cheap. Worse, it is cheapness with a leftist coloration, with a sneer of moral one-upmanship on its face. Worse yet, we’re hearing it from a guy who has himself been accused of “hate” numberless times by political enemies.

Ron Paul should be able to defend his arguments and principles without borrowing rhetorical devices from PC cant-mongers such as Eric Holder and John McCain. For shame, Ron.

 

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