Attacking the Messenger

Al Gore deserves a great deal of credit and praise for his efforts to raise awareness about the global climate crisis, as chronicled in the now-Academy-Award-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. But many conservatives see it otherwise, dismissing the threat of global warming as hysteria while simultaneously attacking the former Vice President’s character in an hysterical fashion. Because they don’t like the message, they are trying to defame and smear the messenger(s). The fine website, Think Progress, has documented many of the reactionary attacks, including these in the last month:

• Gore Responds To Drudge’s Latest Hysterics (2-26-07)

• ‘Proud’ Polluter Sean Hannity Launches Pathetic Smear Attack Against Al Gore (2-18-07)

• Right Wing Spreads Misinformation About Oregon’s Global Warming Denier (2-8-07)

• Right Wing Uses Erroneous CNN Report To Smear Gore (2-7-07)

• Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) goes ad hominem on Al Gore (1-31-07)

I am thoroughly disgusted with those on the right and in the wrong who—having nothing of substance to contribute to the discourse on issues of national and global importance—offer petty personal attacks. Those who would “Swift Boat” Mr. Gore because they don’t like his politics or are resistant to any sort of change that doesn’t inflate their wallets and egos expose only their cruel and small-minded nature. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

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11 responses

  1. there’s a great news item on The Raw Story about a Swift Boat financial supporter who had to answer questions from John Kerry in a senate hearing.

  2. Read the comments on this site that dissent from the opinion of the author. They are very long on personal attacks, name calling, and diversion, and very short on substance.

    Basically, the Right has an agenda that is detrimental to the majority of the populace. And they know it. So they have to use diversionary tactics so most people don’t notice–Hey look: those two gay men are going to get married! Unfortunately, it works, only too well.

    As for Gore, a site called Daily Howler has assembled an excellent repository of how the media basically got GW elected by trashing Gore. In 2000, the SCLM refused to discuss issues, and decided the election was about “character.” Then, they dwelt on all manner of trivialities–the color of his suits1– to avoid talking about the issues.

    Daily Howler’s thesis is that the media is essentially lazy; Gore made them feel stupid with his well-considered positions. Bush, and McCain, OTOH, were just ‘one of the gang.’

    Of all possible Dem candidates, the one I most want to vote for is Gore. He’s been right on so many things. I just re-read the speech he gave on Iraq in the fall of 2002; he pretty much predicted the entire course of events. Of course, at the time, it was trashed by the media as ranting, or vitriol, or something such.

    I’ve also heard someone say that the Right cannot accept Global Warming because it would mean admitting that Gore was right.

  3. I am thoroughly disgusted with those on the right and in the wrong who—having nothing of substance to contribute to the discourse on issues of national and global importance—offer petty personal attacks.

    David, you can’t be serious. Your endless personal attacks against our president and vice-president allow you no grounds for such disgust.

    Perhaps those who are skeptical of a human cause of global warning that will destroy the planet are so because they have survived the other end-of-the-world threats offered by the left. I remember watching, as a kid, documentaries on how a new ice age would freeze half of the US, movies like The Day After that demonstrated the results of an inevitable nuclear war with the Soviets, and China Syndrome that warned of complete destruction of the Earth by nuclear power. We were also expected to be poisoned by acid rain or to run out of drinking water within decades. Feel free to join the latest environmental crusade, but don’t attack those who refuse to be lemmings and follow Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio over the cliff.

  4. Dear Crowd Surfer, Your blog has been added to our Worthy Blogs page. By the way, you sound mysteriously similar to another poster we’ve had on this site by the name of Rightri. Any relation?

  5. Indeed Kiersten, one in the same. But don’t tell klaus! :)

  6. Crowd Surfer: the opinions offered here are not personal attacks against the pres & VP. These two “gentlemen” have been spectacularly wrong on so many different occasions. A short list includes: connection between Iraq & Al Qaida; bin Laden: Dead or Alive; N Korea, tax cuts helping the majority of Americans….ad nauseam.

    Oh, and now there’s the flip-flop on N Korea’s uranium enrichment program. Three years ago, it was grounds for breaking the Agreed Framework negotiated by Clinton. Now, after N Kor has created plutonium–from which it is much easier to build bombs–Bush & co. are claiming the uranium-enrichment program is no big deal.

    Uranium-enrichment is not even mentioned in the latest agreement Bush has negotiated. Bush waited until after N Kor detonated a bomb and made enough plutonium to build several bombs, he returned to a deal that’s not as good as the one that was in place when he took office, one that allows N Kor to enrich uranium. Why is this not a big deal anymore?

    Calling me a traitor, saying I hate America because I disagree with the Pres, saying I’m a moron–all of which have happened here–those are personal attacks. Pointing out that the Pres has lied; that his policies will hurt a lot of people and benefit a few; that a war with a non-threatening country is a bad idea that will cause more harm than good…those are disagreements about politics.

    Calling the President a scumbag is a personal attack. Oh wait, that’s what Ann Coulter called Clinton.

    As for global warming, do you disbelieve evolution, too? The vast, overwhelming majority of scientists believe global warming to be real. Against this very large body of evidence are a few people, many of whom are being subsidized by oil companies.

    The whole “Ice Age” thing of thirty years ago was never more than a fringe, or a minority opinion. It was a bit of a fad that lasted a few years, failed to attract the majority of scientists, and disappeared. Al Gore has been warning about global warming for 20 years; in that time the body of evidence supporting it has grown and the number of scientists accepting it has grown to become the majority. So your analogy isn’t quite valid.

    And, btw, that’s not a personal attack. That’s showing that your argument is invalid. Sort of why we all post here.

    “Lemmings” are people who follow a leader blindly, without question, regardless of the number of times the leader has been wrong, has lied to them, or has willfully misrepresented himself. People who believe in scientific evidence are called “intelligent.”

  7. Similar warming is occuring on Mars, and some scientists, as evidenced by a recent report from National Geographic, are now speculating that the sun may be responsible for the warming: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/02/070228-mars-warming.html

    Do you believe it klaus? You must because you are intelligent.

    Or perhaps you take such evidence into consideration before coming to your own conclusion. Now that would be intelligent.

    Fringe, huh? How about a 1975 article in Newsweek suggesting that “evidence in support of these predictions [of global cooling] has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it.” The article cited a drop in ground temps in the northern hemisphere. And from a 1970s Time magazine article on global cooling, “As they review the bizarre and unpredictable weather pattern of the past several years, a growing number of scientists are beginning to suspect that many seemingly contradictory meteorological fluctuations are actually part of a global climatic upheaval.” NYTimes headlines warned about the threat to the world food supply because of worldwide cooling.

    Was acid rain poisoning fringe? How about nuclear winter?

    I would think intelligent people, klaus, would take into consideration what information is available, but remain skeptical.

  8. OK, so the global cooling lasted 5 years. Now it’s gone. Which is why I said that the analogy didn’t fit. That was a blip that came and went; the evidence for global warming has continued to accumulate.

    And neither “Time” nor “National Geographic” are exactly cutting-edge science publications. If it were in “Science,” I might give it a bit more consideration. Otherwise, this is like the time you cited Thomas Sowell: a tad meaningless because the source carries little weight on the topic. Sort like a baseball player endorsing car tires.

    After all, “Time” and the “NY Times” have to sell, and a certain amount of headline-mongering isn’t the same thing as considered scientific opinion. But the overwhelming opinion in scientific journals comes down in favor of global warming.

    Look, I understand natural cyclical climate change. They used to grow grapes in England, and Greenland was much greener than it is. But the key is the level of acceleration of change, which correlates all too well with the increase in use of fossil fuels.

    And there are supposedly credible people who will still say that the earth is flat. Or that evolution is wrong. Or that cigarettes don’t cause cancer. The point is, you can always find someone who will express a contrary opinion, no matter how ridiculous.

    Nor does taking the side of the majority mean you’re right. A whole lotta people used to think the sun revolved around the earth (it doesn’t, by the way). Most revolutionary theories start as crackpot, lunatic-fringe sorts of things. However, as time passes, the evidence accumulates, more people are convinced, and only those with a personal stake–think cigarette companies denying that cigarettes cause lung cancer–or who are too hidebound or scared–think Catholic Church vs. Galileo– cling to the old belief.

    Now, if you’ll notice, the arc of acceptance in the last paragraph describes the–dare I say it?–evolution of the heliocentric solar system, the theory of evolution, that dinosaur extinctions were caused by an asteroid impact, or global warming. It does not describe the coming Ice Age theory.

    Actually, acid rain is a great analogy. It started as fringe, as the ravings of a bunch of tree huggers. Business denied that as long as they could, until the evidence got to be too overwhelming. But the coal-burners fought that tooth and nail until they were forced to put some filters on their exhaust, and the problem was reduced to insignificance. But they resisted, much like the oil companies are fighting global warming. So thanks for helping to prove my point.

    And, btw, calling people “lemmings” is a personal attack rather than a disagreement with their position. Not that anyone who posts here would resort to such attacks.

  9. From a column by George Will, April 2006:

    Science magazine (Dec. 10, 1976) warned of “extensive Northern Hemisphere glaciation.” Science Digest (February 1973) reported that “the world’s climatologists are agreed” that we must “prepare for the next ice age.” The Christian Science Monitor (“Warning: Earth’s Climate is Changing Faster Than Even Experts Expect,” Aug. 27, 1974) reported that glaciers “have begun to advance,” “growing seasons in England and Scandinavia are getting shorter” and “the North Atlantic is cooling down about as fast as an ocean can cool.” Newsweek agreed (“The Cooling World,” April 28, 1975) that meteorologists “are almost unanimous” that catastrophic famines might result from the global cooling that the New York Times (Sept. 14, 1975) said “may mark the return to another ice age.” The Times (May 21, 1975) also said “a major cooling of the climate is widely considered inevitable” now that it is “well established” that the Northern Hemisphere’s climate “has been getting cooler since about 1950.”

    In your two previous posts you’ve questioned my intelligence. Wouldn’t you consider that personal attacks, [expletive]? (sorry, but if you are going to keep whining about personal attacks, I might as well just go all out :) )

  10. Well, I guess you told me. And I guess you’ve beaten the pants of me in argumentation.

    I didn’t question your intelligence. I simply said that people who believe in scientific evidence are “intelligent.” If you choose to put yourself in the other camp, that’s your decision.

    Point to one specific instance where I called you a name, or attacked you personally. Not where I disagreed with what you said, or dismissed what you said as twaddle because there is no evidence to support your contention, but where I called you a name like you just called me.

    Actually, as my examples have attempted to show, it’s not always intelligence that’s the issue. It’s how rational someone is. Many, many otherwise intelligent people manage to filter everything they read through a lens of ideology or belief. Which means they come to their conclusions and then find evidence to support it, and ignore everything contradictory.

    Which is what the naysayers on evolution, or global warming are doing. They don’t want to believe it, so they don’t. And then, lacking any solid basis for argument, they call the people who accept overwhelming evidence “lemmings.” Or they call people who don’t believe that Iraq is related to the so-called war on terror “traitors” who “hate their country.”

    Look, you’re the one who said that no amount of evidence I could present would convince you that Saddam Hussein was NOT involved in 9/11. Which camp does that put you in? And that is not a personal attack. It is a demonstration of a lack of logic in your argumentation. OTOH, show me evidence, and I’ll reassess.

    Having convictions doesn’t mean being blind to new evidence, and reassessing positions based on new evidence isn’t the same as having no convictions.

    Finally, a bit of advice. When you’re in a hole, stop digging!! Dredging up more and more cites from the mid-70s only helps reinforce my point: the whole “cooling” thing was a fad that vanished for lack of evidence. I have to tell you: I lived through the mid-70s and I only very, very vaguely recall the whole thing. And newspapers and current events were big in my house growing up.

    Global warming, on the other hand, has gone in the opposite direction. It started as the ravings of the lunatic fringe, but, as the evidence accumulated, more and more scientists became convinced.

    The same thing happened with acid rain (thanks again for the analogy, which is pretty exactly what’s happened with global warming). Once steps were taken to prevent the sulphur emissions, acid rain has been eliminated as a problem in the US, but not in other parts of the world.

    OK, I’m done with this one. It’s obviously time for a breather. Respond if you will, but I’m finished.

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