Max's 7-Point Plan for a Failed Argument

When InstaPundit linked the other day to this post of mine attacking Max Sawicky (cross-posted on A Western Heart here), he also said this:

Jon Henke emails to suggest that it's odd to see Max Sawicky complaining about guilt-by-association, when Sawicky himself ran a contest to associate me with the most objectionable thing said by anyone on my blogroll.

Henke observes: "I guess he had a change of heart." I guess he did. Funny, though -- you shouldn't have to scroll past Alterman's name before figuring out that a place on my blogroll isn't necessarily an endorsement, anyway.

Sawicky replies to this with a "7-point response". Do any of these points manage to rebut the Reynolds/Henke point? Let's see.

1. My central charge was the unconscionable libel of perfectly wholesome liberals like Teddy Kennedy or radicals like Howard Zinn.
This one doesn't rebut it - it merely refers us back to a different claim of Sawicky's (which, I note, he never backed up with any argument at the time).
2. I'd concede Moore and Chomsky are not wholesome -- neither am I -- but there's nothing wrong with that.
Since when was "wholesomeness" the issue?
To suggest that any of them represent or are typical of a diverse left is intellectual slobbery.
Reynolds was not claiming that the left was a homogeneous mass. Neither would I. What was being claimed was that Moore and Chomsky have significant followings in sections of the left. Which Sawicky himself also seems to believe:
As it happens, these alleged pariahs enjoy quite a public following.
Point 2 continues:
Summaries of "the left" by GR and others simply reflect their bottomless ignorance, or else a deliberate interest in misleading -- or entertaining -- their readers. That's charge #2.
I don't think Reynolds was claiming that what he had provided was a "summary of the left" in the sense of a survey of the various viewpoints on the left. It was, rather, a survey of the sort of nonsense that often emanates from the left these days, and often from influential figures, which indicates - accurately enough, I think - that the American left is still seriously infested with moonbats.

But to be fair to Sawicky, Reynolds did say that Churchill was the image of the left, and that he disagreed with the claim made by one of his readers that Churchill is not the authentic face of the left, leaving us to assume that he thinks Churchill is the authentic face of the modern left. I agree this may be an unfair characterization. But then Sawicky's bluster about Reynolds' "bottomless ignorance" doesn't help. Does he really think that Reynolds doesn't know that there are sensible leftists around? Or is he just trying to "mislead or entertain his readers"?

3. Yes. I see lots of political incivility that I would just as soon be expunged from our political discourse, but I am not going to unilaterally disarm. If the perfessor shapes up, I will be happy to start telling the world what a swell guy he is. You get the respect you give. You nasty boyz can go try and dukakasize someone else. If you're not going to heed the teachings of Jesus, neither are we.
Well, there's no real point made here - except that Sawicky's not much good at comedy.
4. As far as 'guilt by association' in the contest goes, GR neglects to mention that the winner for most vicious entry was . . . the InstaPundit! So in the end he was found guilty by association with his own self.
Even if Max's contest hadn't been a crock of shit, this point would still constitute an evasion. Max attempted to use the old guilt-by-association on Reynolds. He published lots of things said by other bloggers on Reynolds' blogroll in an attempt to embarrass him. To then turn around and complain of guilt-by-association tactics on the right is blatant hypocrisy.

The fact that Max's readers contrived to vote Reynolds into first place in this contest in order to embarrass him further doesn't somehow magically remove the hypocrisy.

In fact, though, this contest was a complete joke, and if it exposed anyone, it was Sawicky. The Reynolds entry was this comment:

Civilized societies have found it harder, though, to beat the barbarians without killing all, or nearly all, of them. Were it really to become all-out war of the sort that Osama and his ilk want, the likely result would be genocide -- unavoidable, and provoked, perhaps, but genocide nonetheless, akin to what Rome did to Carthage, or to what Americans did to American Indians. That's what happens when two societies can't live together, and the weaker one won't stop fighting -- especially when the weaker one targets the civilians and children of the stronger.
Max's interpretation:
The quote submitted in the contest typifies this logic: genocide is a misfortune, not a crime. A crime has perpetrators, but for the enemies of America to be victims of genocide, the criminals would be the West, or the U.S. But that cannot be. By definition, the U.S. is good and cannot commit crimes. All references to crimes committed by the U.S. Government bespeak hatred of America and alignment with the Enemy.
This bears absolutely no resemblance to anything Reynolds said. It's not analysis. It's wilful misrepresentation. (But then, Max fails to reproduce Reynolds' comments in that post, so most readers aren't going to compare them side-by-side, to see what distortion is involved.) If the best Max can do to show what terrible views Reynolds has is to make them up, then he's the loser.
5. While we're on the subject, I agree with GR that reading his blog does evoke the vision of the southern end of a monkey headed north. And not just any monkey -- a giant purple-assed babboon.
No actual rebuttal here, either.

A word of advice on humour, Max. The first sentence was nice. (Readers will need to follow the link to get the context). You should have left it at that. Adding "a giant purple-assed baboon" just makes it sound like you weren't sure that the first sentence was funny enough. The fact that it was funny enough just makes your judgement seem all the worse.

6. I never said one should only link to what one endorses. I do think that as a matter of courtesy, such as on a blogroll, one ought not to link to positively hateful, bigoted speech unless you are trying to provide some kind of guide to fascism on the Internet. The contest turned up plenty of such speech.
No it didn't. As we saw, Max invented Reynolds' view. And the second-place award provides as much embarrassment for Sawicky and his voters as it does for Reynolds. Some blogger fantasizes about a paramilitary force killing some Supreme Court Justices and some Democrat Senators. It was an idiotic, nasty post that the author should have been ashamed of.

However, the blogger concerned made it clear throughout the post that these actions are ones he doesn't approve of - it's just a fantasy, America isn't Nazi Germany, and in reality there is no justification for such things (and he apologizes for the post in an update).

While still a nasty, stupid post, it's clearly a fantasy - a dubious one, that should certainly make us suspicious of this guy, but a fantasy nonetheless. So the worst Max and his minions can find is a made-up view, and a fantasy - hardly bears comparison with the sickening support on the left for the insurgents in Iraq, does it?

And can we expect Reynolds to constantly monitor everyone on his blogroll anyway for signs of incipient fascism? Seems a bit much - but then Reynolds did castigate this blogger for this very post, a fact Max neglects to mention!

I should add that none of the other entries were at all fascist. They were often nasty examples of black humour, unfair, unhelpful and arrogant, and often not even funny, but they weren't actually fascist. Not a single skinhead among them, and none of them were as disturbing as the real, actual support for real, actual fascists in Iraq that we're seeing from some on the left today. (Notice I said "some on the left", not "all" - I applaud those numerous leftists who are taking these idiots to task).

7. There are some leftists unrepresentative of "the left" that I deeply dislike, but I am not going to indulge anyone by naming them right now. That's a game I don't play, as explained here.
The post Max links to here is just one of the posts I criticized the other day. So there's nothing new here in point 7. The hypocrisy of Sawicky trying to smear Reynolds by associating him with people Sawicky thinks are fascists, while insisting that there is no obligation on him to disassociate himself from any leftist, no matter how mad, remains.

I can agree that the guilt-by-association thing is overdone in the blogosphere. I'm not going to suppose that Sawicky agrees with Ward Churchill, nor am I going to demand that he disassociate himself from the likes of Churchill - although it would be nice if he did, because it's unclear what views Max, a man who regards Chomsky and Michael Moore as heroes, really holds. (His main objection to the Churchills of the world, after all, seems to be that they don't make an effort to convince the rest of the population, not that they're wrong).

But until he withdraws his guilt-by-association accusations against Reynolds, he remains a hypocrite. Not a single one of his seven points managed to rebut this charge.

(Cross-posted at Blithering Bunny.)

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