Sunday, October 31, 2004

On Ann Coulter and Her Lack of Critical Thinking


Following the debate between Ann Coulter and Peter Beinart at Amherst College two weeks ago, a member of the audience asks 'the reigning diva of the hysterical right' - referring to her column few days after 9/11 saying of moslems that "we should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity" - to explain "why Christianity is better for [those] people than Islam."

To which she replies, "It apparently leads to a lot less planes being flown into skyscrappers and thousands of Americans killed; it leads to fewer beheading, disemboweling, bombing..."

When asked to respond to such a virulent and meritless statement, the much wiser and intellectually superior Beinart retorts cooly, "There are certain arguments that are not worth dignifying with a response."

Morally, ethically, epistemically, and syllogistically challenged, Coulter then wonders aloud - rather innocently it seems - why her argument is "not worth dignifying with a response," and after which she continues with the following attempt to employ irony, "I miss that last year when Jerry Falwell and his army swooped planes into skyscrappers... when the Scientologists starting beheading people on TV... the Mormons... having bombs, carbombs in pizza parlors... I miss the newsdays."

Not yet done, she concludes with quite possibly the most ridiculously fallacious assumption on historical facts I have heard from an ignorant bigot - a public figure nonetheless - that she knows that "we haven't got much trouble from [Japan and Korea] in the last fifty years" because "the [US] military went in" after World War II and Korean War and "opened the door for missionary" to be "flown into" those countries.

That it is rather impossible (even when acknowledging theoritical possibility) to prove a connection between the two facts (hence her fallacy of false cause presumption of the post hoc, ergo propter hoc variety) is one consideration; but to attribute such an enormous influential capacity to a small group of faith workers over nations in whose culture Christianity has never been a dominant force is just downright preposterous.

This also assuming that "open[ing] the door for missionary" was some new ground-breaking event, as if the Jesuits who first came to East Asia around 16th century and the Protestants around 19th century had not done anything meaningful whatsoever. And if this were indeed the pressumption - that some four hundred years of intermittent (interrupted by persecutions, wars, etc) proselytizing produced no meaningful Christian values among the people of those countries - what made her think that a mere fifty years of converting attempts would yield better results? Last time I checked Christians only comprises of less than 1% of Japanese population and a quarter that of South Korean; and more importantly neither Japan nor South Korea is a Christian country or a country with Christian-oriented policies.

Looking at her short bio, I am at lost on how someone who graduated from a reputable law school and clerked for a federal court of appeals judge could make so worthless an argument. Already the quality of student-edited law reviews been questioned recently; one could only imagine the suffering of Michigan Law Review's quality under her editorialship. Perhaps, and most likely, hers is a sample case of reason supplanted by zealotry. And to think that her books continue to be on bestseller lists... Fxs

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