Monday marks 5 years since the 9/11 attacks.
This not a particularly political site. I'll let others hash out the differences between liberals and conservatives. But I will say that the current administration apparently thinks I, and the rest of America, are idiots. President Bush thinks we are stupid, and afraid, and they think they can sway us with ridiculous, illogical arguments.
At a press briefing on September 8th, Press Secretary Tony Snow said the following:
"But, more importantly -- if we have people who want to re-litigate that, that's fine, but the President's stated concern this week, as you've seen, is to think, okay, we'll let people quibble over three years ago; the important thing to do is to figure out what you're doing tomorrow, and the day after, and the month after, and the year after to make sure that this war on terror is won."
This is not the first time the administration has used this argument
. In fact, I'm surprised Snow didn't accuse anyone of trying to "rewrite history," since that has been such a popular phrase. But with the coming anniversary, I felt particularly disgusted and patronized by Snow's statement on Friday.
As far as I can figure, this is the argument:
A lot of people, Republicans and Democrats, keep coming up with more evidence that Iraq and Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11 or any terrorism. Also, we never did find any weapons of mass destruction, and now there is no evidence that Saddam was a threat to the United States in any way.
America is threatened by terrorism in the present.
The invasion occurred in the past. At that time, the President convinced a lot of Republicans and Democrats that Iraq was a threat.
It is now the present â€“ and the present is not the past
Therefore, no evidence will ever be needed to justify the war in Iraq. Also, any discussion of it is quibbling by lawyerly nebbishes who distract from the real threat in the present.
Apparently, if I decide to do something, and I can get enough people to agree with me, I am untouchable from that point on. It doesn't matter if my reasons turn out to be wrong or right. It doesn't matter how horrible the consequences of my actions are. Since the decision was made in the past, it cannot be questioned in the present or future.
Often it's useful to make a few substitutions to point out the problem with a logical fallacy. Imagine if you were a judge, overseeing the trial of a person accused of murdering their neighbor three years ago.
Judge: what do you say to all of this new evidence-DNA tests, phone and credit card records, bloody clothing found in your closet- that indicates that you are the murder?
Accused: The murder occurred three years ago. At the time, something was chewing on the wires in my garage â€“ everyone agrees it's very dangerous to have bare wires. Jesus spoke to me though my toaster and said that my neighbor was actually a rodent, like a rat or mouse. I told everyone I know that I had a pest problem, that I had proof it was a rat, and that I knew where the rat was hiding. Everyone on both sides agreed I should kill the rat.
But, more importantly -- if we have people who want to re-litigate that, that's fine, but my stated concern this week, as you've seen, is to think, okay, we'll let people quibble over three years ago; the important thing to do is to figure out what you're doing tomorrow, and the day after, and the month after, and the year after to make sure that I don't have a pest problem now.
Judge: [brain explodes]
I cannot believe people are allowed to make arguments like this on national TV and get away with it. I cannot believe that no one ever replies to this argument with something like this:
â€œ...what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.â€?
Finally, I'll let more capable people than myself have a say. It gets especially interesting about 4 minutes in.