Epidemics of False Knowledge

“…what a fool believes he sees
No wise man has the power to reason away”

—-Doobie Brothers, What a Fool Believes (1979)

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is a smart woman, no question about that. Even highly intelligent people can be wrong sometimes. Nikki Haley recently gave some advice to a high school audience that, if followed, will result in abject failure for any who seek to apply it.

She told a group of conservative high school students that the “own the libs” style is not the way to engage in political discourse. The phrase “own the libs” sometimes said as “trigger the libs” has been used to describe using ridicule to make a political point about the Left’s silly ideas such as banning straws to save the ocean or the belief that we are all going to die in a fire storm brought on by man-made climate change.

“I know that it’s fun and that it can feel good, but step back and think about what you’re accomplishing when you do this—are you persuading anyone? Who are you persuading?” Haley said. “We’ve all been guilty of it at some point or another, but this kind of speech isn’t leadership—it’s the exact opposite.”

She said:

“Real leadership is about persuasion, it’s about movement, it’s bringing people around to your point of view. Not by shouting them down, but by showing them how it is in their best interest to see things the way you do.”

Is she right? Will reasoned argument and logic persuade a leftist enmeshed in the political religion of liberalism and/or socialism? Or is the lyric in the Doobie Brothers song from 1979 more correct, that no wise man has the power to reason away what a fool believes?

Given what socialism has done everywhere it has been made official, anyone who believes it to be a good idea is most definitely a fool. Anyone who cannot see what socialism has done to Venezuela, Cuba, and any one of the other hell holes where it exists, is clearly blinded by his obsession to any semblance of reality. Logic and reason are not going to persuade a liberal to give it up.  It’s a secular religious attachment. It’s a mental state impervious to any attempt at reasonable and polite argument.

I don’t care for the phrase “own the libs” because it’s not well defined and sounds silly.  “Trigger the libs” is a bit easier to follow because it’s always fun to watch a liberal’s head explode when faced with cold reality. Making the libs own the consequences of their own ideas is at least more likely to have the effect conservatives wish for.

A recent example of reality mugging turning a liberal into a conservative is this article by Ryan Moore, I Used to Hate Gun and the NRA — Then I was Mugged.  I can’t say Mr. Moore is a full fledged conservative now but at least his mugging had made him open to one of conservatism’s main streams of thought. Notice, however, that this change in his attitude toward conservative’s support for gun rights didn’t change when a lot of other people got mugged. He had to get mugged himself before he reconsidered his strong belief in gun control laws.

It’s like the woman I once knew who said she was against the death penalty until her brother was murdered. I asked why she didn’t support the death penalty when a lot of other people’s brothers were murdered.

That’s the nature of a political religion like Nazism, Communism, Socialism or Liberalism. These things take hold of a person’s mind and hold it in an iron grip broken only by their own personal experience of hard reality.

There is another way to at least get people to make a small beginning, a small step back into the real world. It’s Alinsky’s:

  • RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.

Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals sets forth 13 rules for leftists use in their battle against conservatives. Conservatives can turn the tables and use the left’s own rules against them. I guarantee they will hate it every time it it’s done. That is what I think the phrase “own the Libs” should stand for. Make the Libs own their own rules and tactics. That, I believe, will go much farther in persuading them they are wrong, if anything will. Nikki Haley’s advice will more likely enable the libs to “own the conservatives.”

I’m really pleased that such a wicked brilliant thinker as Bruce Thornton agrees. See, Ridicule, Not Reasoned Debate, is the Best Medicine for Political Cults. Also check out Thornton’s terrific book from 2004, Plagues of the Mind: The New Epidemic of False Knowledge. It’s a great read for any conservative, and also for a liberal but they’ll never read it. They should, but they won’t. Thornton needs to do an update to that book because the epidemic of false knowledge has proceeded apace since 2004.

UPDATE: Tucker Carlson and Rush Limbaugh have built their empires by ridiculing liberals for their crazy beliefs. Scott Johnson has praised their tactics, and John Hinderaker also uses ridicule to great effect. The Ammo Grrrll’s posts on Powerline Blog are hilarious and fun to read. She’s a master of ridicule with original and pithy metaphors. These writers and commentators have converted lots of liberals to give it up and embrace conservatism. Those liberals who sputter in anger at these experts provide great fun for the rest of us.

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