Susan Greenwood: Squeaky Door-Mouse Fallacious Reasoning syndrome
April 16, 2017
Normally I read Terry McLaughlin's columns, shake my head, and go about my business. Not today.
My dad describes a kind of reasoning that, unfortunately, is all too prevalent during these turbulently fraught political times: "A door squeaks, a mouse squeaks: therefore, a door is a mouse."
For purposes of brevity, I'll dub this SDMFR, or Squeaky Door-Mouse Fallacious Reasoning. McLaughlin's column regarding the Indivisible movement is so replete with SDMFR, misrepresentations and half-truths that I feel compelled to respond.
With regard to the sponsors/partners of the Women's March: McLaughlin cherry-picks the names of organizations — could it possibly be that she selected those most likely to sound extremist? She conveniently neglects to mention organizations like The American Association of University Professors, Doctors For America, the Global Fund For Women, Human Rights Watch, the Japanese American Citizens League, the League of Women Voters, The National Bar Association … you get the picture.
McLaughlin states that the guidebook for Indivisible "inaccurately" accuses Tea Party activists of racism and burning people in effigy. A short internet search will turn up a video of a Tea Party protest in 2014 at the White House with demonstrators shouting, "Hang the lying Kenyan traitor." In 2012, a chapter of the Tea Party invited Pastor Terry Jones to speak as their write-in candidate — the same Pastor Terry Jones who hung and burned President Obama in effigy. While I know there are many Tea Party activists who civilly and appropriately express their opinions, for her to deny that there is a racist element within that movement is incredibly disingenuous.
McLaughlin states "billionaire activist George Storos has contributed approximately $246 million toward the groups supporting the 'Indivisible' movement." That is classic SDMFR: Soros has contributed money toward some groups; some of those groups support Indivisible; therefore, Soros financially supports Indivisible.
She goes on to state that wealthy donors "aligned with Soros" attended a meeting at which speakers "planning to undermine the current administration" included the co-founder of Indivisible, Leah Greenberg. Please follow the reasoning: donors are aligned with Soros (What donors? How are they "aligned?"); donors attended a meeting at which one of the speakers was a co-founder of Indivisible; therefore, George Soros is funding efforts to undermine the administration. That is SDMRF at its finest.
And if Soros is contributing to these people/causes, so what? Conservatives have the Koch brothers, after all.
But perhaps McLaughlin's most egregious misrepresentations and use of SDMRF are in her maligning of Leah Greenberg, Linda Sarsour and the essential nature of the Indivisible movement.
Greenberg is a former congressional staff member who is opposed to many of this administration's policies. She and her husband helped create the Indivisible guidebook to share methods used by the Tea Party which had proven effective politically. That guidebook advocates voicing opposition by, among other strategies, sticking to prepared remarks and by being "polite but persistent." It is patently untrue that they, the guidebook or the movement call for radical and violent tactics, as McLaughlin maintains.
Finally, Ms. McLaughlin calls Sarsour "a hard-left radical Islamist." Sarsour is an outspoken feminist, an unabashedly progressive activist, and a conservative Muslim woman who wears a hijab. What she is not is a radical Islamist. She was indeed one of the organizers for the Women's March. She also helped organize a campaign to repair a vandalized Jewish cemetery, saying, "There is no place for this type of hate, desecration and violence in America."
Shortly after the Women's March, Sarsour was targeted by an internet smear campaign that typically used false or partial quotations and altered photos. One of those photos showed her holding up her index finger; it was displayed next to photos of ISIS members holding up their index fingers. The headline accused Sarsour of holding up the ISIS unity finger sign. Again, SDMFR: Sarsour holds up her finger, ISIS members hold up their fingers, therefore Sarsour is a radical Islamist. The only problem is that she was holding up her finger to show support for students who had been attacked by an anti-Muslim blogger. That photo/headline, like most of the others, was a piece of provocative propaganda.
To call Sarsour a radical Islamist, given the incendiary connotations associated with that term, is to engage in rhetoric that is irresponsibly inflammatory, xenophobic and just plain wrong, Ms. McLaughlin. And to characterize the Indivisible movement as made up of "radical Islamist activists, convicted terrorists and communist sympathizers" is equally inflammatory, irresponsible and wrong.
I, and the thousands of responsible, reasoned, civically-engaged others involved with the Women's March and Indivisible, have every right to oppose the many policies of this administration that we find dangerous and damaging. I am proud to, as you put it, wear the moniker, be identified and be affiliated with the Indivisible movement.
Susan Greenwood lives in Lake of the Pines.
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