Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hyman's ACLU Smears 2

It’s nice when Mark Hyman deconstructs his own commentaries for us.

Such is the case with
the second part of Hyman’s attack on the ACLU. Once again, Hyman commits the elementary fallacy of suggesting that selected parts of the ACLU’s earliest history are in some way indicative of its present policies. Specifically, Hyman singles out comments from the ACLU’s first annual report, written 85 years ago, that he interprets as being pro-communist.

Hyman goes on to suggest that this suggests the ACLU’s “naked support of dictatorial governments.”

The logic here is non-existent, but let’s grant Hyman’s premise for the sake of argument: the ACLU’s defense of American communists is equivalent to supporting totalitarian communist regimes abroad, and that even though this happened nearly a century ago, it is still a black mark against the organization that suggests it is subversive and un-American.

Granting this, let’s look at the other significant chunk of Hyman’s commentary. In addition suggesting the ACLU was a communist organization at its inception, Hyman also cites the group’s animosity toward the American Legion:

It was only 141 words into the annual report before the ACLU
singled out by name the group it believed posed the biggest threat: the American
Legion. Yes, that American Legion. This anti-veteran attitude was manifested in
the ACLU's efforts at freeing World War One draft resistors serving time in

So, Hyman is using the opposition of the ACLU to the American Legion 85 years ago to suggest how beyond the pale their politics were and are. After all, what kind of troops-hating, anti-American, Red-loving group could possibly have anything against a group of gray-haired vets playing pinochle down at the local veteran’s hall and organizing baseball leagues for kids?

But here’s the most damning flaw in Hyman’s argument. Today’s American Legion isn’t your great grandfather’s American Legion. In the years following its founding in 1919,
the American Legion was a highly political and highly conservative group that engaged in, among other things, violent strike breaking and other anti-labor activities. Founded by an industrialist, the group was very much in the pocket of big business during the tumultuous 20’s and 30’s, and was actively hostile against not only suspected communists, but any group that it felt worked to protect the rights of communists, socialists, labor union members, etc.

Moreover, the American Legion’s leadership expressed open admiration for fascism, particularly that of Benito Mussolini (who was apparently invited to speak at American Legion conventions on a yearly basis in the 20s, although he never took them up on their offer).

At its 1923 convention, the Legion’s Commander in Chief, Alvin Owsley said:

If ever needed the American Legion stands ready to protect our country's
institutions and ideals as the Fascisti dealt with the destructionists who
menaced Italy . . . The American Legion is fighting every element that threatens
our democratic government-Soviets, anarchists, I.W.W., revolutionary socialists
and every other Red ... Do not forget that the Fascisti are to Italy what the
American Legion is to the United States."

And Hyman accuses the ACLU of “naked support of dictatorial governments”?

Of course, much has changed since the 20’s and 30s, a period in which the extreme ends of the political spectrum enjoyed more mainstream popularity than they do today. The American Legion, while conservative, is not a fascistic group. The ACLU, while liberal, is not a communist group.

But what Hyman does is insult the intelligence of his audience by openly misleading them with reasoning he knows to be slovenly. He counts on the ignorance of his audience by insinuating that the ACLU’s policies of nearly a century ago accurately characterize the group today. And he also counts on his audience assuming that the American Legion today is the same group that it was 85 years ago. Despite openly using the appeal of historical research to add to its credibility, Hyman’s editorial collapses the past and the present in a way that is meant to intentionally deceive his audience by ignoring historical facts.

I know I’m a broken record when it comes to this, but Hyman again proves that his primary fault isn’t the political stance he takes. Reasonable arguments can be made against the ACLU in general, and its specific positions in particular cases. Rather, it’s the way Hyman makes his case—using obvious fallacy, distortion of facts, and his reliance on his audience’s ignorance about the specifics of the issue to support his point.

To those who disagree with Hyman politically, he’s simply Exhibit A in the case against conservatism. But for those who do agree with him, he’s actually far worse: he demeans and debases legitimate conservative thought and argument by being so sloppy and manipulative in his arguments that he lives up to the very worst stereotypes of conservatives as dogmatic, ignorant, and untruthful.

But it is to all of us collectively—left, right, or center—that Hyman is at his most destructive. His unethical and deceptive way of arguing impoverishes the public sphere, contaminating the lifeblood of any democratic society—rational discourse—with the contagion of his manipulative and insulting rhetoric.

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 5.95


At 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another Great CounterPoint Ted.
Hyman and the other Neo-Fascist talking heads in the employ of the extreme right, are doing a "snake-oil" selling job on the American people, and have been for quite some time now.
The sale of this toxic elixir started a cancer on the body of an informed electorate, beginning with Paul Harvey and welcomed Rush Windbag and all the rest, cloned itself and moved to television, cloned itself yet again, and began to consume the brains of all the people.
The evil genius of their marketing plan is surpassed only by the absolute ignorance of their sheeple supporters.
Mike B. in SC

At 7:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike B,

You said it all. Fascists groups (such as the New Right) can only thrive based on jingoism and general ignorance.

We are burning up our social capitol. How can any decent citizen think that a good society can long prosper on the mantra of Me First and Greed and Profit at All Costs.

Kennedy: "Ask not what your country can do for you..."

Reagan: "Are you any better off than you were four years ago"

I pine for the good old days of that Rascal Richard Nixon, the last decent Republican we've had!

I cannot believe I just said that, but it is true, sadly. Nixon wanted to use government to further social aims. Reagan, Bush, and BushLite just want to dismantle everything and let the Rich fuck up our country.


At 10:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arghghgh - I feel your pain!

Actually, Dwight D. Eisenhower was the only decent Republican president that America has had in the last century. Every American, and especially these Neo-Con/Neo-Fascist Republicans that have siezed control of our government, should read his farewell address to the nation. His speech was both insightful and prophetic in predicting the rise of the recent corrupt, secretive, criminal Republican administrations (Nixon, Reagan, Bush I and Bush II). George W. Bush is merely the empty head that sits on top of the heartless, soulless body, that is the Republican Party of today. Eisenhower's vision of the Military-Industrial Complex has now morphed into the Government-Media-Military-Industrial Compex with corporate control of thought and speech in America.

Here is the link to the entire speech, it's really not very long, and I recommend reading it in its entirety.

And below are a few choice quotes from the speech.

Thanks, and keep bustin' Hyman.
Mike B. in SC

Dwight D. Eisenhower - 1961 Farewell Address Quotes:

"Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."


"The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded."


"Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow."


"Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.

Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.

Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war -- as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years -- I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight."


"You and I -- my fellow citizens -- need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nation's great goals.

To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America's prayerful and continuing aspiration:

We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love."

At 11:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there a problem with the blog?

At 11:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ACLU is a poison. They are anti-Boy Scout, anti-Religion, anti-free speech, and in their latest effort, they are promoting Abu Grahib pictures again for the sole purpose of shock value.

At 10:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, brother, either Mark Hyman or Sick of Spin is blogging here again.

those awful ACLUer's... they will destroy our country. Therefore,
THEY must be destroyed!

After all, the ACLU is - gasp -using our LEGAL SYSTEM to cause problems. Oh my! Who the hell do they think they are! (Stop to think about White House Lawyers twisting torture to mean only "major organ failure".

Fricking Hypocrites.

Oh, and, who needs a LEGAL SYSTEM anyway, when we have Gitmo, secret prisons in Eastern Europe, Renditions, TortureSigningStatements(TM), FISA run-arounds, etc. etc..

God these Repugnicans are awful.







2000 ADDITIONAL dead
2000 ADDITIONAL dead

(repeat ad nauseum until stupid people are convinced)

At 7:41 PM, Blogger Bob said...

I want to thank you for taking the time and effort to research and refute the Great Douchebag's daily gaseous eruptions. He's only my semi-local station and I can't escape him if I want to hear the local news. I just wish we could somehow air the Counterpoint (remember the Fairness Doctrine?) to offset the damage this stooge is doing to brains everywhere.

At 6:01 PM, Anonymous Herbert Birdsfoot said...

"The ACLU is a poison. They are anti-Boy Scout, anti-Religion, anti-free speech . . . "

I think this is actually a joke statement. “Anonymous” is probably poking fun at the Hyman parrots. The danger in doing this is that no matter how absurd you try to sound, you end up sounding just like a regular freeper, or Michael Savage. I actually saw a letter to the editor in a newspaper blaming the Abu Graib scandal on Bill Clinton. It seems his affair was so damaging to the moral fabric of this country that our soldiers gave up on doing the right thing and started torturing prisoners.

Parody or not, the statement is revealing about the mind set of the right wing followers. I don’t even see why Hyman bothers trying to rationalize his hatred of the ACLU with a misleading argument. All he needs to say is
“The ACLU is a poison. They are anti-Boy Scout, anti-Religion, anti-free speech . . .”
and his drones will eat it up.


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