I’ve used a fair number of Facebook posts to vent my frustrations about the methods that FoxNews uses (intentionally or otherwise), to paint pictures of the world that aren’t true. The logical fallacies they throw around. This morning, while doing my usual flipping between news stations, I came across this lovely example of awfulness from FoxNews’s guest, Mark Levin. I couldn’t help but do a little fisking of the segment in a Facebook vent, and I’m cross-posting here.
I tuned in around the 5-min mark, just in time to catch the repeated example of how good the network is at promoting strawman fallacies and false dichotomies. In fairness to FoxNews, this isn’t the host of the show spewing garbage, it’s a guest, and I don’t think it’s entirely fair for them to be held responsible for everything their guests have to say. But, the tactics of propaganda that I’ve highlighted before are so clear in this spot that it’s almost like the same people are pushing the message.
“We, I, believe in constitutionalism, they believe in collectivism”
Doesn’t the constitution say, “we the people”? Isn’t that a collective entity? Doesn’t it specifically say that the constitution is established to “promote the general Welfare”? Isn’t that collectivism?
There’s the false dichotomy: that you can’t care about collective good and support the constitution.
“We believe in individualism, they believe in conformity.”
Says the guy wearing a dark suit and light colored button-down. Is he really arguing that right-wing folk are more accepting of differences than left-wing folk? I’m not going to argue that there’s anything universal about this, but the policies put forth certainly promote conformity with so-called Christian values when it comes to things like gay marriage, freedom to worship a different god, etc.
“We believe in private property, they don’t.”
Can the straw man be any more obvious? I’m sure he’d consider me among the “they” here, and I certainly believe in private property. I honestly don’t know any liberals who don’t. Straw man warning.
“We believe in prosperity, they believe in redistribution.”
OK, I guess there’s a little more truth to this than the earlier ones, but there’s a false dichotomy here for sure. Why can’t we want people to prosper, and to share some of that prosperity with others?
“We believe in the separation of powers, they believe in this big administrative state.”
Well, that’s also not entirely false, but it’s a bit disingenuous. He believes in the big administrative state when it suits him. And, again (strawman), why can’t somebody like me want separation of powers and a strong government that serves its people well? Those things are not mutually exclusive.
“We believe in eternal truths, they believe in an ideological social engineering.”
Huh? I can’t comment because I don’t even know what he’s talking about.
“We believe in stability, they believe in constant transformation.”
If he means that he wants stability in things like slavery and misogyny and we want to change things that we see as being wrong, I’ll give him that one…but here I think he’s wrong about both sides. I do NOT believe that his side really wants stability in those things, and I also think that my side (ugh, I hate the my side, his side thing) likes stability in plenty of things. I applaud the steady, albeit slow, Obama economy. I prefer a slow steady increase over a boom and bust anyday.
“We believe in real science, they believe in social science.”
OK, that’s fucking outrageous. Mark Levin repeatedly lies about scientific findings, and to say that social science isn’t real science is just bullshit. That’s not just a false dichotomy, but it’s just asinine, and worthy of a strong “fuck you” from the social scientists I know.
“We believe in the rights of man, they believe in the power of government.”
Another false dichotomy. Doesn’t the Constitution clearly show how the power of government can be used to ensure the rights of man? Isn’t that what it was all about? Why aren’t these things compatible?
“We believe in a moral order, they believe in situational ethics.”
So now we’re not just in false dichotomy and straw man land, but we’re also in internal inconsistency-ville. Didn’t he say earlier that he was for individualism and we were for conformity? Isn’t the moral order a healthy dose of conformity? Isn’t situational ethics consistent with individualism? How can anybody take him seriously?
“We believe in liberty, they believe in growing authoritarianism.”
OK this one is so strange too. The Trump presidency is s clearly about authoritarianism, and he is a vocal supporter of Trump. Trump has praised the most authoritarian leaders in the world, and his assault on the media is a clear step toward authoritarianism.
“We believe in education, they believe in indoctrination.”
You say tomato, I say tomato…this is just a silly thing to say. When people teach facts that don’t support a worldview, it’s automatically indoctrination. Whatever.
Then there’s some banter, and finally the best part: He says that his principles are the principles that propelled humanity into enlightenment, and our principles are regressive and dark and bleak. Funny that we can be progressive and regressive all at the same time.
Again, it’s amazing to me that anybody takes him seriously, and that people are somehow totally immune to the logical fallacies in what he’s presenting.