March 08, 2004
Is guilt by association a right wing specialty?

I realize my track record is less than perfect - I like conspiracy theories only a little less than the next guy - but isn't guilt by association a particularly right wing tactic these days. Obviously in the 70s everybody was throwing guilt around like it was in infinite supply but these days all the major guilt trips are orchestrated by conservative forces. Let's (partially) list some popular guilt by association tactics:

Iraq ~ Islam ~ Terrorism ~ 911
Howard Stern ~ Breasts ~ Nipples ~ Janet Jackson ~ "Is the entire family sexually depraved?"
Gay married couple - Homosexual couple - Sexually depraved - Unamerican
Open Source ~ Noncommercial ~ Socialist ~ Unamerican ~ Unconstitutional
File Sharing ~ Noncommercial ~ Unamerican
VOIP ~ Noncommercial ~ Unamerican
Europe ~ Unamerican
- the list goes on and includes some cloudy argument why basic human rights do not apply to Taliba soldies imprisoned at Guantanamo by the american military.

All of the above are examples of something linked to pure evil by association. In the topmost case there is actual evil also - but that does not make the guilt by association strategy politcally defensible.
Maybe its just the American bias of the internet but I find that all of these issues - many of which are really American interior politics - are increasingly important for Europeans as well because they are so clearly attempts at turning all politics into values, and because the goverment of the world's only superpower is willing to act on and support any of these cases with complete disregard for whether these shallow arguments will prove viable in the long term. In all of the above cases the value based attack on the opposition are simply performed to get something done today with complete disregard for how that may be written up in future history books. One has to assume the republican administration is betting that the victor will get to write those history books.

What are the European equivalents? For IP rights we have the exact same issues, but for most of the other issues we have nothing on the same scale going on. I think it is safe to say that pan-europaeism is the reason for that: Through the EU systems the various European governments are under the scrutiny of the the other governments and the EU itself is under the scrutiny by all the governments. That makes for indecisive government with unclear democratic autority at its worst but it also makes for very public disagreements and therefore a very strong indirect public control.

Posted by Claus at March 08, 2004 01:34 AM | TrackBack (0)
Comments (post your own)

May I add:
Thinking ~ Democratic ~ Anti-Bush ~ Unpatriotic

Posted by: Bjorn on March 14, 2004 10:15 PM

Uhhm no.
What you're doing is a left wing version of exactly the kind of thinking I'm criticizing.
You may add Anti-war ~ Unpatriotic obviously but the remainder I think is just left wing "holier than thou" thinking

Posted by: Dee on March 15, 2004 10:25 AM
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