A young man who I respect very much for his intelligence and for his kind heart told me I was wrong to have pointed out an illogical sign being carried by a woman in the Women's March. His reason was that the cause was just, so I shouldn't have done that. "There is a time and a place for this kind of criticism." My response was that the time and the place to pointing out bad argument is always.
The motive for his point of view is not evil. In a way, it is a soft version of the ends justifying the means philosophy.
Trump and Spicer, for instance, with the statements about Frederick Douglass... Confirmation bias makes it easy for a guy like me -- who really, really, dislikes and holds no respect for Trump -- to take these statements and add them up to the fact that both of these guys (Trump and Spicer) think Frederick Douglass is a living, working statesman or activist or something... I would love to have that ammunition against him... Really. But the truth is the most important thing. In a time of misleading information; with an Internet that is crawling with both intentional misdirections and lots of mistakes in reporting and analysis, we need to fight for clarity and truth.
The Atlantic (a pretty reputable rag) quotes Trump thusly:
“I am very proud now that we have a museum on the National Mall where people can learn about Reverend King, so many other things, Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice. Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and millions more black Americans who made America what it is today. Big impact.”
I have said it before: Trump's biggest problem is that he is moronic in his expression. He sounds even more idiotic than he really is. He buys himself thinking-time with canned phrases, like "done an amazing job" and "big impact." But there is nothing conclusive about his phraseology here. "who's done an amazing job" is weird, for sure. When talking about a historical figure, I would say, at the very least, "did an amazing job." But he's Donald Trump. He tries to riff with words when he doesn't have the ability. He's like a middle school sax player trying to sit in and improvise with Miles Davis's band. (Like Ferris Beueller: "Never had one lesson...") And the Atlantic rightly points out that Douglass's recognition actually is growing... Saying it is doesn't necessarily mean Trump thinks Dougass is out there kissing babies. (But, hang in there -- this is not an article written in vindication the Donster...)
Spicer, next. When asked about it, he said...
"I think he wants to highlight the contributions that he has made," Spicer responded. "And I think through a lot of the actions and statements that he's going to make, I think the contributions of Frederick Douglass will become more and more."
Again, a bumbling, awkward, inarticulate response from our administration. The unbelievably awkward last sentence makes it sound like Douglass will do more...but I still think it is only idiocy in the speaker. The "he" in the previous sentence could easily be Trump. I think what Spicer would have said, if he had three or four brains cells exchanging any kind of electrical charge, would have been, "I think the contributions...will become more and more apparent" -- because of the statements Trump will make.
Is this defense of the administration? Is this helping them out -- saving them from the stigma of not knowing who Frederick Douglass was? (Note the past tense.) No. It's worse than that.
If I look as a job posting, it probably includes the stipulation that applicants have "good communication skills." So...shouldn't the presidency have the same requirement...as, like, a baseline skill?
We are being led by an administration who speak like sixth graders who get D's in Language Arts. They are the guys who get put into remedial English when they get to college. They have leaned to finagle and push and evade their way into success by either not talking and just acting or by fast-talking enough to make listeners thing, in common conversation, that they just missed the point...
This crass lumpen of oafish mouth-breathing mumblers leads our country. That's the horror of it. Knowing or not knowing who Frederick Douglass is is the least of their (or our) problems. They cannot communicate their ideas with any semblance of clarity.
This is what should keep you up at night: Donald Trump is going to hold phone conversations with world leaders who have their own armies. That's the horror of it.
And this is why I pursue clarity and why I attack bad reasoning and communication. Thinking otherwise keeps us on the surface level and can keep us from uncovering the deeper issues...