When Reason Fades — From Illegal Immigration to Jeffrey Sachs
The Concise Oxford dictionary of Spanish rightly defines raza as “race,” and if one were to translate extremist English phraseology into Spanish (e.g., “master race” [raza superior], “white race” [raza blanca]), raza would be the natural vocabulary. In short, La Raza surely understands the racial connotations of raza, and that they would be lost with more neutral words such as gente or pueblo that far better convey the idea of community or people. That it tries to preempt proper criticism of its usage by declaring raza does not mean race does not make it true
Ad hominem character assassination
This exchange was aired on Joe Scarborough’s show recently (Scarborough, remember, is an advocate of the No Labels movement that pledges not to engage in name calling):
JOE SCARBOROUGH: I'm trying to figure out though, and Dr. Sachs asked this of you Charles [Blow], who is Barack Obama at this point? What does he stand for? And Victor Davis Hanson, at the National Review, writes this about The Obamaites About-Face:
"For his political survival, Obama now accepts that his faith-based ideas about the environment, radical Islam, taxes, stimulus, the economy, national security, and foreign policy are not supported by any evidence in the real world . . . The wonder is not that politicians change as politics dictate, but that the most vehement leftism now accepts nonchalantly what it not long ago so ardently demonized."
And Hanson goes through all of the things: the Bush tax cuts, the estate tax cuts, the stimulative wonders of tax cuts in general, Gitmo, NSA, tripling the number of troops in Afghanistan. We talked about [Obama saying] "we celebrate wealth," Eric Holder quoted in ABC saying "some religions produce more terrorists than others." These people are sounding an awful lot like George W. Bush these days . . . [Obama] has shifted dramatically on issues of terror, on Gitmo, on taxes, on celebrating wealth: I think that's undeniable.
JEFFREY SACHS: Anything that Hanson says I'm likely to disagree with, cause no commentator has done more harm to the American people actually than that guy who led us into all these disastrous wars. But aside from that --
SCARBOROUGH: My God! That is serious.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: OK, then!
SACHS: No, that is real. Because this is an extremist. So quoting him doesn't really make the point
SCARBOROUGH: And I will put Victor Hanson --
SACHS: Sorry, that's a side point, but that man -- that guy's done a lot of damage.
SCARBOROUGH: I will put Victor Davis Hanson to the side, you obviously, you guys aren't on each other's mailing lists, Christmas card lists.
SACHS: That guy got us into more wars, and more militarism, than anybody.
Note some things about Sachs' classic demagoguery:
1) Sachs simply does not refute my quoted statement that after attacking those who supported the anti-terrorism protocols of the last decade, Obama has embraced all of them, from Guantanamo to tribunals and Predators, and the same about-face now holds true on a variety of issues from the Bush tax rates to the dangers of radical Islam.
Instead, Sachs’ answer to all that is reduced to an incoherently worded, “Anything that Hanson says I'm likely to disagree with, cause no commentator has done more harm to the American people actually than that guy who led us into all these disastrous wars.”
I suppose the qualifier “anything” excuses him from having to offer a rebuttal, which Sachs is apparently unwilling or unable to produce.
2. After calling me an “extremist” and claiming I do more harm than any other commentator, he lists as evidence of that charge that I have “led us into all these disastrous wars.” Not Bush, not Bill Clinton in the Balkans, not the Senate and House that voted for both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, but I have “led” us. That is as pathetic a charge as it is adolescent.
3. As far as “all these disastrous wars”: There have been three recent wars. A) I supported Bill Clinton’s removal of Milosevic; the world is better off without his bloodletting. B) I supported the removal of Saddam Hussein, the surge, and the fostering of the present government. The recent constitutional agreements in Baghdad and the relative calm, in the latest words of the Washington Post, seem to support the vision of Bush’ s original intent of a consensual government. The world is again better off without a mass murdering Saddam, and millions have had a chance of some sort of normalcy which was impossible under Saddam. History will sort out the final verdict on the terrible costs versus the clear benefits; the brilliant record of brave American soldiers, however, is already enshrined. I note as well that Obama, after running on the premise of wanting troops out by March 2008, for some reason has accepted the Bush-Petraeus plan of stabilization and withdrawal without exception. Joe Biden, remember, claimed that Iraq could be Obama’s “greatest achievement.”
4. I supported the 2001 removal of the Taliban. For all the recent setbacks in Afghanistan, I remain confident that we can stabilize the region and leave something better than the Taliban and its al-Qaeda guests.
I don’t think much of “anything” that Sachs has written about his theories of foreign assistance partnerships with the UN or the supposedly proper methodology of U.S. foreign aid in alleviating poverty is very convincing. And I think the record would support that bleak assessment of Sachs' ideas; in all his various and shifting incarnations — from the erstwhile shock therapy plans for the former communist bloc to the UN/big donor foreign aid ideas — a common theme has been chaos.
But I certainly don’t think being wrong or causing harm was his intent. And I wouldn’t suggest that he is an "extremist," and I would debate, not demonize, him — even if he has a bad habit of demagoguery, as his latest puerile outburst once again demonstrates.