Friday, June 19, 2009

Conor Friedersdorf: Avoidance, Obfuscation, Prevarication

Unless I see some serious engagement on some of the points I've raised, this should be may last post in the current debate over Conor Friedersdorf. I will keep my eye open for some of the more egregious claims Mr. Friederdorf is wont to make in his future blogging; but there will be no further iterations in the current controversy in the absence of new information or responses. Mostly, it's simply not worth my time. Why engage if folks are too lazy or too self-absorbed to even attempt a rebuttal to the points I've raised? There's some current roiling on the right, and this is good, but some of those engaged in it are not acting in good faith, and that really defeats the purpose of it all.

Frankly, I'm not particularly invested in Mr. Friedersdorf. He's not a class intellect, and his writing is both arrogant and pedantic. I'm interested in ideas. As I've noted, Mr. Friedersdorf has made some generally off-the-wall arguments on some key public policy issues. He's also embarked on a personal jihad against Mark Levin, who is currently the #1 bestselling conservative author in the country. That kind of personalization of political difference is itself worthy of rebuttal. And as a number of my good friends have joined the exchange, I thought I might behoove myself to throw them some support.

I've responded to Mr. Friedersdorf with a number of detailed posts (here, here, here, and here). All of these essays are detailed and substantive. Mr. Friedersdorf's silence in engaging them goes beyond disrespect. Frankly, as is the case with Mark Thompson and E.D. Kain, it's most likely that Mr. Friedersdorf is simply overwhelmed by superior firepower; and rather than further expose the superficiality of his intellect, he adopts a variety of coping techniques: avoidance, obfuscation, and prevarication are the first tactics that come to mind.

Readers can check Mr. Friederdorf's comments to the links above. Let me first note the most recent for some flavor:

Look man, if you want me to address your arguments, just state one clearly enough for me to respond!

This response fits with any of the tactics I mentioned above, although I'd add the noun "dishonest" as well. Readers might check my search of "Conor Friedersdorf" posts. All the argument I've made are "clear" and compelling. That Mr. Friedersdorf chooses not to engage them simply confirms his penchant toward avoidance and more.

I actually wrote on Mr. Friedersdorf's essay attacking "
war on terror hawks." As I said at the time, Mr. Friederdorf "equates the actions of one lone wacko with those of an international terrorist network that's responsible for the 9/11 attacks, as well as a number of other terrorist atrocities around the world in recent decades."

Mr. Friederdorf has never responded to this substantive, AND APPARENTLY CLEAR, point
. He did retreat to denial, of course. But he has not systematically defended his argument that conservatives should treat suspected abortion killers just like captured Islamofascist jihadis - that is, he suggests conservatives should support waterboarding for both. It's not possible to pose a hypothetical like this a priori if the proponent of the scenario doesn't in fact see the two categories of antagonists ("combatants") in equivalent terms.

In fact, Mr. Friedersdorf claimed that he "did not equate" the actions of the abortion murder suspect to global terrorist barbarians. He then demanded that I explain what "
leads you to believe otherwise." And so I did, here:

At your original post I cited weeks ago, "A Question for War on Terror Hawks," you assert moral equivalencies between a lone U.S. murder suspect and the untold number of violent jihadists within the global terrorist network - including many, of course, who were captured on the battlefield and held as enemy combatants in a real war on terrorism. Your post, as it proposes partisan payback for the robust anti-terror policies of the Bush years, basically endorses an Obama administration policy of declaring domestic anti-abortion terrorists as identical enemy combatants; you also deploy taunting language in saying, "I wonder how 'War on Terror Hawks' would react" if President Obama had the "prerogative to order the waterboarding of the uncharged, untried detainees." The scenario is not simply a hypothetical. It's transparent advocacy in furtherance of ideological retribution. Most of all, your post is dishonest hackery, and your defense of it is peurile idiocy.

To this, Mr. Friederdorf DID NOT ALLEGE vagueness on my part. Indeed, he asserted that my argument - offered in good faith at his request - was "a paranoid theory."

I'm not prone to paranoia, actually, so there's little to make of Mr. Friedersdorf's comment other than a one-off bit of snark. It is a good example, however, of my point above, which is that Mr. Friedersdorf resorts to
avoidance, obfuscation, and prevarication when confronted with superior argumentation.

And that's actually kind of sad for him. The man clearly hopes to make an intellectual contribution of some sort. But as we see here, he's flummoxed with a case that deploys inferential logic as a matter of straightforward argumentation. It's simply not that complicated, much less unclear. So why no response from Mr. Friedersdorf? He rebuked me for not defending my original post, and then he turns and panics when I stand up to him. Readers can see why I question this man's capabilities.

But that's not all. I offered a detailed and highly reasoned argument in my essay, "
Neoclassicons." Mr. Friedersdorf appears to be among a number of bloggers seeking to claim the mantle of today's "genuine conservatives." As I noted at the post, "From Conor Friederdorf to David Frum, to Daniel Larison to Andrew Sullivan, and then E.D. Kain, there's a movement afoot that wants desperately to be "conservative," but one that is failing miserably."

Once again, Mr. Friedersdorf refused to respond. He did make some lame, and completely irrelevant, points about how he'd been "
defending Rod Dreher," as if dropping some names of people not even tangentially related to the discussion might possibly be considered a rebuttal. Mr. Friedersdorf apparently does that thing quite a bit, so we shouldn't be surprised.

My main thesis at "
Neoclassicons," in any case, is that these folks are not "conservative." I especially indicated that Andrew Sullivan - who is the ideological lodestar for these people - is not a conservative. Hardly anyone would situate Sullivan on the right of the ideological spectrum nowadays. Andrew's colleague at The Atlantic places him at "the center right." And even liberals now think of Sullivan as one of their own.

And this is the key thing in all of this:
Mr. Friedersdorf seems to think that the most important intellectual developments today are taking place on the left of the political spectrum. This fact helps explain Mr. Friedsdorf's jihad against Mark Levin. The latter, as I noted, is the hottest thinker in conservative politics today. Levin's Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto is essential reading for anyone who's seriously thinking about the future direction of the American right. And Mr. Friedersdorf is attacking him?

It takes no great leap of imagination to see that not only is Mark Levin threatening to Conor Friedersdorf, but also that Mr. Friedersdorf's attack on him are less about ideology and more about self-promotion. "Hey, if I attack Mark Levin I can score some points with the Andrew Sullivan and the left-libertarians."

That's really all there is to it. As I've shown in this post, which is now a lot longer and more detailed that I'd anticipaed, Conor Friedersdorf is an essentially dishonest man with an inflated sense of self-importance. I can hardly be more clear in saying this, but be that as it may, I'm not expecting a response to the arguments I've made in any case. Mr. Friedersdorf doesn't have it in him, and in all of his recent slurs, he's mostly out to gain attention for himself rather than debate those who really do care about the movement.

I've enabled comment moderation. I won't be publishing Mr. Friedersdorf's drive-by snarks here. If he responds with a post at either of his blogs, I'll reply in kind if they are substantive - and if in fact they move the debate forward.

Otherwise, I'm moving on ...


Anonymous said...

Well that was a beat down of epic proportions. Sometimes the evisceration is so severe that there can be no denial across the land about how loud the smack really was. Kudos to you, sir.

AmPowerBlog said...

Thank you Steve!

Mark Harvey said...

Ambinder is just one more effete futz.

All the other alleged intellectuals can KMA.

AmPowerBlog said...

The entire list at the Atlantic's pretty lame. Once in a while I can get along with Megan McArdle, but she's even pretty liberal on most social issues...

Thanks Mark!

Obi's Sister said...

"Mr. Friedersdorf is simply overwhelmed by superior firepower" and he's hiding under the porch like a whipped dog.

Well done, sir!

AmPowerBlog said...

Thanks Ginny Ray!

Law and Order Teacher said...

That hissing sound is the air going out of his baloon. That was a smackdown of epic proportions. Well done.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Sorry only one "L". Add another.

AmPowerBlog said...

It's okay, LOT. I'm not going to correct you, but the lefty trolls are tough on spelling, so it's okay to make the corrections in a follow up!

smitty1e said...

My review of this flogging posted as an Update. You are such a meany, I was nearly moved to pity, but then I laughed.
Has anyone ever been laughed off the webby-tubes? Are we about to find out?

AmPowerBlog said...

Thanks Smitty!

Anonymous said...

If only Friedersdork expended half as much energy attacking Democrats as he does fellow GOPers. Earth to newbie: Mark Levin is not a politician. He's not running for anything. He doesn't speak at national party conventions or have a hand in crafting party platforms. He has no desire to wield power over people's lives. So how in the world can he do damage to the party? Did Olbermann's nightly deranged rants damage the DNC? Or Chris Matthews's serial smears of Sarah Palin? Did spending 20 years in a vehemently racist, anti-American, anti-Semitic church hurt Obama? That would be "no." Keep telling yourself Mark is the problem, or that "fighting words" are an impediment to victory.

repsac3 said...

American Nihilist: American Power, and the Art of Avoidance, Obfuscation, Prevarication:The Attack on Conor Friedersdorf