l Yassir Arafat a “terrorist sympathizer” or Jesse Helms a “race-baiter”, these labels shut down the possibility of reasoned debate with Arafat, Helms, and their respective supporters.

But what do I do if I am talking about these public figures, and these labels are an accurate description of reality? Arafat was recently criticized by Human Rights Watch for not seriously policing the trainers and suppliers of suicide bombers, and Helms once ran a campaign ad criticizing his white opponent for dancing with a black woman at a party. Am I supposed to ignore or soften reality in order to continue with reasoned debate?

I am only expressing the problem here. I do not have a solution. Suggestions would be appreciated, but they cannot be one-sided. That is, any proposed suggestion that requires being sensitive to groups favored by leftists, but being realistic to groups favored by rightists, or vice-versa, will face an extremely high burden of proof.


Posted by: Timothy Roscoe Carter at November 5, 2002 10:03 AM

Kevin in L.A. -

Actually, I also oppose "teaching values" or "brainwashing" students at the expense of teaching basics and critical thinking. I will gladly forgo teaching tolerance when Republicans oppose school prayer, drug war propaganda, school uniforms, posting the ten commandments, and reciting the pledge of allegiance.

Do we have deal?


Posted by: Timothy Roscoe Carter at November 5, 2002 10:10 AM

Tim -- I guess the best way to deal with it is, to paraphrase Vaclav Havel, by calling things by their proper names. Four times out of five, conversation-closing descriptions are actually not the most accurate available. But, that one time out of five, when it is, is absolutely essential if we are to face the evil folks & whatnot.

Posted by: Matt Welch at November 5, 2002 11:14 AM

Matt -

Well said.


Posted by: Timothy Roscoe Carter at November 5, 2002 12:36 PM
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