Last week, Al Gore explained to Climate Reality Project advocate Alex Bogusky that anthropogenic climate change believers must “win the conversation” against its opponents. By winning the conversation, Gore apparently means verbally bludgeoning its opponents into submission by shouting “racist” at them.
“I remember, again, going back to my early years in the South, when the Civil Rights revolution was unfolding, there were two things that really made an impression on me,” Gore said. “My generation watched Bull Connor turning the hose on civil rights demonstrators and we went, ‘Whoa! How gross and evil is that?’ My generation asked old people, ‘Explain to me again why it is okay to discriminate against people because their skin color is different?’ And when they couldn’t really answer that question with integrity, the change really started.”
What does race have to do with anthropogenic climate change, you ask? Let Mr. Gore answer: “There came a time when friends or people you work with or people you were in clubs with — you’re much younger than me so you didn’t have to go through this personally — but there came a time when racist comments would come up in the course of the conversation and in years past they were just natural. Then there came a time when people would say, ‘Hey, man why do you talk that way, I mean that is wrong. I don’t go for that so don’t talk that way around me. I just don’t believe that.’ That happened in millions of conversations and slowly the conversation was won.”
So racists are of the same moral character as climate change deniers? “I think it’s the same where the moral component is concerned and where the facts are concerned I think it is important to get that out there, absolutely,” Gore explained.
This is how liberals now argue. They are afraid to argue the facts, so they call people who disagree with them, not only about race but about anything, racist. They don’t want to discuss actual scientific evidence, so they slander their opponents as Bull Connors reincarnated. It’s the only way that Al Gore can win an argument: by shutting the argument down.
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.