this pro american brit says it all in this editorial


Tony Parsons
Daily Mirror

Shame On You American-Hating Liberals

I really thought it was just another hoax letter, but says otherwise.

Moderator’s Note: HackDriver, please review our FAQ on Copyright Issues and don’t post entire articles on the SDMB. I have edited your post to replace the text of Mr. Parsons’ editorial with a link to the article on the web site where it originally appeared.

Tony Parsons is a respected free thinking columnist and TV personality in the UK who is willing to critise anyone or any institution, and here he has told it like it is, as you might say.

Can somebody interpret this for me?

1991: Saddam was the Big Bully cos he’d invaded Kuweit.

2002-03: Anti war protest makes it seem as if he’s a big cuddly bear that Dubya wants to destroy (likes quality street = being sweet, and the reference to the orange centre is just a reference to a particular choccie with an orange centre that yer man obviously fancies).

Small note, though: the Pro War group is making it seem as if the anti war group condones Saddam. They don’t. They’re not pro Saddam, they’re pro Peace, and anti Senseless Violence.

When UK MP George Galloway visited Saddam last year, he revealed that Saddam was supposedly a major anglophile with a penchant for Quality Street chocolates.

Tony Parsons started off as a rock critic and writer during the punk era in the late 70s. His ex-wife (IIRC) Julie Burchill did the same. Like many in the “punk” movement, they delighted in spitting in the faces of wishy-washy liberals. They both still do (check out Burchill’s column in the Guardian saying roughly the same as this column).

Free thinkers! It’s interesting that the Mirror and Guardian, both lame brain liberal-left in their respective ways, are giving them column space. I suspect these newspapers are hedging their bets for when the Iraqis are dancing in the streets and all the pro-Saddam “anti-war” marchers are left looking stupid.

You know, I’ve noticed that for some liberal or anti-war groups, the coming war is not about Saddam Hussein. Its about America. Perhaps, they are right.

But I don’t think so. I think they are focusing on one aspect so much they lose sight of the larger picture.

I think he’s missing something here.

Noting the column was written on 9/11/02,he seems to be writing his version of remember Pearl Harbor for Brits,but he’s taking on,IMO,the wrong issue.I detect no Yankee go home mentality from the Brits over this,merely Bush go home.

I’m sure the majority of Brits still hold that “cousin” feeling towards the Yanks,but that doesn’t mean they have to automatically toe every political line set forth by a particular administration.

I didn’t see a huge groundswell of cheering them on here in the states when the Brits had their skirmish in the Falklands.

.Another example of pandering to the emotion.If they were marching in the strets over Afghanistan,I could feel his anguish.What,again,does the WTC have to do with invading Iraq?Better he should take on the Saudi prince that cops the next derby at Newmarket.Find out what the stablehelp’s doing after racing hours,rather than honoring him at banquets.

Actually Lure, I don’t think the author is saying the British have to “automatically toe every political line set forth” by GWB. I think he’s saying he believes the U.S. is showing a great deal of restraint considering what happened, and for the anti-war folk who are protesting the U.S. action in Iraq to take that into consideration.

America’s showing restraint by planning to invade a country that had nothing to do with 9/11? What would they do if they weren’t restrained?

Conquered Iraq after the 1991 war and taken control of all their oil.

Which, you will recall, Bush One either refused or neglected to do in 1991.

The English editorial writer misses that, at least around here, the discontent with war in Iraq is not based on a claim that Saddam deserves to be left alone, but on the idea that there is still a fair chance that Saddam can be restrained and contained without the commitment of treasure and blood that war entails. The idea is not that Saddam should be protected but that war is not now necessary. It is, however, always easier to deal with the world as you wish it were, rather than as it is. In times like these the demand for straw men goes up and the supply of straw men always meets demand

Ooh, what a lovely article. Let’s look at some samples, shall we?

Character assassination and Ad hominem. Anyone who holds opinion X is a whiner. Implied: Anything these people have to say is not worth listening to.

I believe that’s a combination of Arguing a Straw Man and Unrepresentative Sample.

Hmm. OK, try this one on for size:
“After I got beat up, I could have gone out and shot up my entire fucking street with a shotgun. As it is, I only went and shot up the guy who beat me up and his family. Trust me, I have automatic weapons out the wazoo, I could have killed ten, twenty times as many people. That I didn’t is a sign of strength.”

Doesn’t work there, doesn’t work in the article. It’s a type of False Dilemma, or deliberate pessimism, I think, with the idea that because the absolute worst case scenario did not take place, what did take place must be viewed as being a Good Thing. “Better than the worst thing” =/= “the best choice”.

What’s the argument here? That dead civilians in one country are justified because of dead civilians in another? Where’s the link? One group attacked America, another group attacked Afghanistan. If it was wrong that Al-Que’ida attacked the WTC, why is it not wrong that the US Military attacked civilians? Because the US didn’t mean it? Dreadfully sorry, but if you shoot weapons and kill people, “I didn’t mean it” means dick to those actually getting shot. This wholds true if you’re a really big country or just Joe Sideshow who can barely hold his rifle straight. From the point of view of those at the wedding, the plight of any firemen or small girls in New York was (a) completely unrelated and (b) not going to make them feel any better about dying/being maimed/losing family.

It did. America went to war with Afghanistan. It was a real war.

Another Straw Man. This, plus oversimplification of the issues, hasty generalisations, Category Errors and a number of Causal fallacies.

And, my favourite, the Irellevant Conclusion. Or, in other words, the “So What?” conclusion. The “Is this the best you can do?” conclusion. The “And this justifies your stance/actions/opinions how?” conclusion.


You might say this. I might not.


Yet more fallacies?

Number one: “lame brain” - very nice ad hominem there, indicating that liberal thought is automatically less incisive and rigourous in its thought processes than “conservative” thought.

Number two: While not a Mirror reader, I am a Guardian reader, and, like most UK Broadsheets across the spectrum, column space is always given to views which do not fall in line with the editorial line. A number of regular Guardian columnists are Pro War, as are a number of regular Independent Columnists. Johann Hari and David Aaronovich spring to mind. The Independent on Sunday, the only Sunday broadsheet to be consistently against the war, also consistently prints commentaries and opinion pieces from pro-war sources. It is possible to view it as “hedging their bets,” it is also possible to assume that they believe in the principles of reporting to the extent that they wish to present, as much as they can while acknowledging their own editorial biases, the opposing arguments. People who understand the concepts of arguing also understand that your argument is strengthened if it can be placed in context and be shown to be stronger than its opposition.

Number Three: “Pro-Saddam peace marchers”. Are people still playing that tune? It’s another false dilemma. An extract from a recent entry in my blog, regarding the peace march I attended, addressing this very issue:

If you need any more details on that, I’ll be happy to provide them.

And one, final, yet very, very important point. There is, I will not deny, an amount of “uneducated bias” against Americans in the UK. There are stereotypes of Americans as being loud, boorish, uneducated, etc. I have had discussions with people whose opinions of the general American populace has been, to put it mildy, mind boggling. To some, it’s like another planet. In short, the UK does nothing to distinguish itself from the rest of the planet in being a place where dumb people occasionally say dumb things. I would be more suprised if it were, though.

To others, such as myself, who have spent time with Americans of many different flavours, some of it in the good ol’ US of A itself, we are able to distinguish between “the people in the WTC” and “the current administration.” We also have a degree of “outside knowledge,” which is worth more than you might think - the perspectives of those not personally incriminated in any conclusions drawn about a demographic group are useful, as long as they are (of course) not taken as the be all and end all of the situation.

“Anti-American” is a very nice “catch all” phrase, meaning “I don’t want to consider your arguments to have merit, therefore I can call you this and I won’t have to.” Great for lazy thinking, but ultimately unproductive.

Basically, the issues surrounding America’s foreign policy are the same, regardless of who preaches them. The assumption can be made that all who oppose GWBJnr’s plans, his tactics in the “War on Terror,” his diplomatic strategies, the “Full Spectrum Dominance” doctrine etc etc, are doing so out of “Anti-American” prejudices. In the same way, those of us arguing for a more open and integrated border system can assume that those who oppose anyone moving into their country are automatically racist, and many on my side on this issue do just that. Nothing upsets me more, because that’s people making my arguments badly. If there’s one thing worse than someone arguing against you with a straw man, it’s someone who’s supposed to be on your side setting one up and handing them a match.

Those arguing pro-war, pro-bush, pro-whatever, would do far better if there was none of this “You’re anti-American and therefore a Poopyhead and a Meanypie and all your arguments are bobbins,” because then the arguments would be about the issues, not the people making them.

McDuff, I’m the first to point out fallacy in others arguments but I don’t think they apply in this case. He makes no claim of defending a thesis in that article; it’s an editorial invective.

I, for one, don’t care. Sorry, but I don’t think it matters whether you intend to deliberately shoddy reasoning just to make a point or not. The rules of logic are basic strategies for thought and reasoning in general. I see no reason to let someone off the hook because they appear to be deliberately breaking them: in fact, quite the opposite. If you can’t make a point well with a properly reasoned argument, then it’s not worh making: it is a poor point.

I think it especially applies in editorials such as this. I can cope with someone writing a measured, thoughtful op ed which might be based on an opinion with which I disagree. That’s fine and dandy, and I shall no doubt do the same right back at them :). When I read something that someone has written, however, and all my brain says is “wrong, factually inaccurate, strawman, so what, category error, another category error, begging the question, strawman…” it’s annoying. It’s even more annoying when people come in and post it in message boards and say “yeah, this guy knows where it’s at.” He may well know where it’s at, but he has demonstrated no such thing in his writing. It’s a small service I do for the world if I let people know, quickly, that this isn’t a good source, so that they drop it and go and find someone who can write who’ll defend their arguments. There are plenty of them out there.

To be honest, it’s irritating for precisely the reason I stated above: we’ve heard it all before. People who criticise anything the US does are Anti-American - heard it, given reasons it’s not true. We’ve done this, we’ve been there, we have established that this is not the case. Now, change the God damned record and talk about the actual issue, rather than making everyone keep retreading the same old tired ground.

It maybe wouldn’t irritate me so much if these same people weren’t the ones who claim that any accusations of “racism” from the left “stifle debate” on issues of race and integration. I, for one, am perfectly willing to concede and take them to task about the issues, completely sidelining the question of whether someone has to be racist or anti-semetic or whatever to hold X viewpoint. All I ask is the same degree of intellectual courtesy that I grant them in return.

I guess that there just as many “special” people in the UK as there are in the Great Satan.

McDuff, don’t get the idea I was defending that tripe of an article. I guess my point was that you should save your brain for the good debates because that article wasn’t worthy of such astute criticism.


Well, I’m with you there. That’s why I only posted selected quotes, and didn’t bother to elaborate on the nature of the fallacies involved.

I could have written for days about Everything That Is Wrong With This, but I’d have only burst a blood vessel or something :slight_smile: