Rhetoric 101: Trump’s Wall
There are many good faith criticisms of the idea that we should build some kind of wall to prevent people from illegally coming to the United States from Mexico, but I’m not impressed with those good faith criticisms, because they miss the point entirely.
Why are we responding in good faith to a bad faith idea? It is not useful to argue against “the wall” as if it were an actual policy dispute. It’s mostly bullshit. What’s left after you take the bullshit away is that it’s a Culture War issue.
I read Twitter (broadly) and Facebook (mostly friends) a lot; my social media feeds are full of “lol there are tunnels” and “lol most of the drugs come by water routes.” That’s missing the point and it’s feeding their narrative—which is that good Americans are mad at immigrants, and if you’re not down with that there’s something wrong with you. It’s one of many litmus tests that people use to decide which side of the Culture Wars you are on.
I’m suggesting we stop responding to a bad faith fake issue with good faith counter arguments. Trump and his people, along with the actual fascists (to the degree that those aren’t the same people), are hyping fear and anxiety to gain power and control. That’s what this is about.
So I think the right answer when you’re talking about “the wall” is less along the lines of “holy crap that won’t work!” or “wow what a waste of money!” and more along the lines of “You know they like it when you’re scared? And you kind of like it too, right?”
Stop engaging issues on their merits when there are no merits. Keep talking about the underlying emotional tactics: People like being scared, and they like the feeling that they did something dramatic to resolve their fears.
January 11, 2019 @ 1:46 pm
more along the lines of “You know they like it when you’re scared? And you kind of like it too, right?”
Who are you imagining saying this to?
The reason I ask: There are MANY conversations going on:
* Backroom conversations between the White House and the Congress. I have no idea what these actually look like, but I have a hard time believing that any of them isn’t acutely aware that the wall is bullshit. Building it isn’t going to achieve anything with regard to immigration. It’s like a big monument to Trump. That’s why Trump really wants it. That’s one of the reasons why Democratic leadership is adamant he won’t get it.
* Conversations happening in the media. This is mostly where I see the good faith rebuttal to bad faith argument is going on the most. Pundits and Journalists and so forth engaging in what appears to be debate, but is only tangentially debate, and is really more entertainment. It’s perhaps influential on how people feel, which influences how the vote and how they poll. It might also influence how they message their elected representatives. So it’s fairly important, even if it’s kinda fake and kinda bullshit.
* Conversations between regular people IRL and on social media. This is nearly irrelevant, although the social media chatter is whipped up and amplified by traditional mainstream media. You and I winning a debate against some magafucker isn’t going to actually change what happens in the Senate. You and I *not* wasting our time arguing with dickwad trolls isn’t either. Even on the bigger community pages, the consistent message is “don’t read the comments”. It’s truly a waste of time.
I like the idea of calling out their fear, but why even talk to them at all? We can do better than that. Invite foreigners to sit at your table at a restaurant. Host a foreign exchange student. Go to minority culture enclaves in your community and engage with them. Dance in public with people of different colors. Marry a Mexican. Breed with a diverse variety of people of different ethnic backgrounds. Beat the snot out of any Nazi you see demonstrating in public. These are just a few ideas I have. What else can you think of?