Posts Tagged ‘Noah Pollack’

Bad Faith Arguing

Monday, December 29th, 2008

I’m sure Noah Pollack mostly thinks he’s being cute here, but what he’s really doing is demonstrating how hard of a time neoconservatives, especially the Jewish neoconservatives disproportionately represented in the pundit class, have with making a good faith argument in defending Israeli actions like the rocket attacks in Gaza.

For background, Pollack is essentially belittling Matt Yglesias, Ezra Klein, and Spencer Ackerman. He takes a potshot at their age, and closes it by accussing them of trading on their Jewish surnames in order to gain some sort of advantage when it comes to criticizing Israel (I’m sensing some projection myself.) But when you break it down, this really doesn’t make any sense. Here’s how he responds to Ezra:

Ignore the fact that nobody in the history of the Jewish community has ever actually uttered the words, “Israel, right or wrong,” and ignore the disgraceful apologetic for Hamas’ rocket war (Klein should go to Sderot and tell the people living in bomb shelters to come out from hiding, because Hamas is only taking potshots).

This doesn’t really make any sense if you assume it’s a good faith argument. Obviously there’s a very real local concern with the rockets, but that doesn’t mean it’s of the nature that requires a massive disproportionate response on the larger level. Bad things happen on small scales everyday, and that’s unfortunate. But no one seriously argues that you should undertake massive retaliatory action in every circumstance, and indeed Pollack isn’t really making that argument either. Instead, he’s trying to use an emotional appeal to make the rocket attacks seem like a much larger issue than they are.

But his response to Yglesias is probably even more telling:

Matthew Yglesias writes something  so dumb that it needs no elaboration:

But already the number of Israelis killed by Hamas rockets has increased (from a baseline of zero) since the retaliatory attack that was supposed to prevent such killings.

Maybe it’s just me, but Matt seems to have a very good point. Before the retaliatory strikes, there were no Israeli deaths from the rocket attacks. Afterwards, the death toll rose. Now obviously that’s not necessarily a casual relationship, rocket attacks always have the possibility of killing people, but it does make the claim that the Israeli response is defensive pretty absurd on the face of it, and any idiot would have to concede that if your casualty toll rises after you took action designed to defend yourself, your strategy has, at the least, been a failure.  But Pollack doesn’t want to admit that, so he does a cheap little framing trick to avoid actually addressing it at all.