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A debate requires two sides. The art of debate, as even Jesse Jackson says, is about stirring the soul of our democracy. It does not stir the soul to slam the other side as unworthy of debate in the first place.
This does not mean that labels are not to be used in debate. Very often, they are clarifying. In the past, I have labeled President Obama a corporatist; I have questioned whether his ideology reflects that of traditional republicanism; I have asked whether he sees himself as a global citizen rather than a patriotic American. Believe it or not, none of this was meant to suggest that Obama’s position is unworthy of debating – it was meant to illustrate the motives that animate Obama’s positions in the first place, crystallizing and clarifying what it is that is so wrong about those positions. Gore’s slander of anthropogenic climate change critics as racist accomplishes none of these purposes.
Arguing against Gore’s language also does not mean that analogies aren’t useful. Analogies, if proper, are highly useful. What is not useful is analogizing to an utterly irrelevant situation. Such analogies only demonstrate the bad faith in which those like Gore act.
Gore’s attempts to “win the debate” are unworthy of debate. They are not humorous; they are not illustrative; they are not even intelligent. But that is what we have become used to from those on the environmentalist left. Those liberals who supposedly stand for science but stand with Gore are hypocrites so long as they allow Gore to pretend that scientific questions can be solved by the insertion of a rhetorical bayonet.
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