Friday, March 19, 2004

John Jakala points to a livejournaler who allegedly has the goods on why the "Spanish Flee" wasn't appeasement. Said livejournaler claims that this Spanish cowardice argument is a "post hoc ergo propter hoc" fallacy.

My recent experience with lefties who wave the banner of rhetorical logic is that they rarely are capable of actual, y'know, logic. The old "post hoc ergo propter hoc" saw is the dear friend of those who would best like to pretend causality away, because causality has, for whatever reason, become the enemy of their argument.

In other words, A leads to B only when it suits your argument to acknowledge that it does so. Elsewise, the two elements float in perfect isolation from one another. But when it comes time to play that old time "root causes" religion - oh, lordy, will the hymns ring out!

This led to that
As a result of the other
All at the behest of the Lord!

Causality only holds sway when the cause is us, right?

The irony in all of this is, of course, that the appeasement policies of the new Spanish administration is itself an embodiment of "post hoc ergo propter hoc". We did this something over here, and this violence was done to us; therefore, let us cease to do that, and the violent people will cease to torment us. Anyone who is a pacifist on the basis of a belief in "cycles of violence" and "blowback" and "an eye for an eye until the whole world is blind" has built her entire political philosophy on "post hoc ergo propter hoc".

I'm reminded of this vile, racist September 12 game, predicated on the obscenely simplistic notion that killing terrorists transforms others into terrorists. The bodies of dead terrorists cause random swarthy passersby to kneel and wail, and transform into gun-swinging killers like something out of a sentai show. The game has no more complexity than that – it's a view of the third world in which people are not individuals, with motivations and likes and dislikes, but rather ants, reacting robotically to stimuli.

No, I don't think that the Madrid bombings caused right-thinking Spaniards to vote in cowardice, who otherwise would have voted for the party in power. I think that otherwise apathetic leftist jerks, whose political makeup included many other elements in addition to a certain, minor moral cowardice, were motivated to go and vote, possibly even in defiance, and naturally voted for the incidentally appeasement-minded Socialists instead of those damn fascist right-wingers in power.

As a further irony, the new appeasement policies probably won't work. The killers weren't angry Iraqis, determined to drive the Spanish out of Iraq. They seem to have been Moroccans. Perhaps they're upset about the centuries-long Spanish occupation of towns and islands along the Moroccan coast? Ah, but that isn't caused by an American sin. Clearly, it isn't a root cause; clearly, causality cannot exist in this case. Because it harms the argument.

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