Tag Archives: false equivalency

False Equivalence

Let’s postpone discussion of yesterday’s election for now. We’ll have two years to see just how bad things in Washington can get.

One of the regular readers of this blog has taken me to task more than once for “false equivalence”–for suggesting that the sins of the Left and the sins of the Right are somehow equally troubling.

I would respectfully respond that I’ve done no such thing. (Just ask my right-wing critics, who regularly complain that I’ve become a pinko-socialist-commie.)

Let’s leave aside the fact that the labels have become meaningless. The U.S. hasn’t ever had a significant Left, and the Right is no longer conservative. To the extent that the GOP/Tea Party folks can be said to have a philosophy these days, it is radically reactionary. As for me, I have pretty much the same political philosophy that got me labeled “too conservative” back in 1980.

But let’s address the complaint, which seems to be that pointing to stupidities emanating from liberals amounts to promoting “false equivalencies.” I would make the opposite argument:  criticizing people who are generally on one’s “side” of the political wars is one of the things that distinguishes progressives from their knee-jerk counterparts on the right. Reasonable people refuse to defend the indefensible, and most progressives are reasonable people.

I do agree with my commenter that efforts to actively seek out “equivalencies” are misguided. We see that sort of phony “balance” a lot in discussions of Fox and MSNBC, for example. MSNBC has a point of view, to be sure, but unlike Fox, its on-air personnel don’t manufacture “facts” out of whole cloth, or routinely indulge in the idiocies that make informed people cringe–not to mention giving Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert so much raw material.

Straining to be even-handed when the errors are anything but equivalent is not only unfair, it’s misleading. That said, refusing to acknowledge that someone on your own “team” got it wrong makes us no better than the closed-minded defenders of the Right.