The Truth Doesn't Hurt But The Evidence Does
I think that both were suffering from a malady common to our fine country, an inability to process evidence in search of truth. It is Spring in Ohio. You can have warm days and snowy days in Spring in Ohio. I have been in Ohio, off and on, for over fifty years. During all this time we have been having both snowy days and warm days in Spring in Ohio. Neither of my acquaintences seem to be able to process the evidence they encounter to reach a true conclusion: It is an Ohio sort of Spring and there is nothing objectively "unbelievable" about any of its manifestations.
In talk about the weather this is a mere harmless handicap, like an annoying outbreak of acne after eating too much chocolate. In politics it is more serious, rather like leprosy.
My good friend the Anchoress has sworn off directly addressing my "liberal rants" to cultvate A Personal Resolve To Be More Balanced. In the comment section of that very fine post, I had this to say, and it seemed to be so pertinent to why and how I blog that I copy it here:
I try to reason as carefully, closely, and validly as I can, but I would be perfectly content for anyone to ignore my opinions, discount my premises, or disagree with my conclusions, if they are willing to genuinely engage the source material that I quote as evidence.
I do sometimes wonder why so many people find evidence to be "unbelievable" in politics. The pollster George Gallup has summarized the evidence about the country's reaction to the Schiavo affair as follows:
Public opinion data on the Terri Schiavo case have consistently shown that the majority of Americans were in favor of the removal of her feeding tube, and that large majorities were opposed to government intervention in the case. Americans indicate that they would want feeding tubes to be removed for a child or spouse if they were in a situation similar to Schiavo's. One apparent consequence of the case: About 7 in 10 Americans who don't have living wills say they are now considering getting them.
Many people who were on the other side of that issue apparently find this to be "unbelievable". After all, if you go to the anti-abortion publication LifeNews of April 1, 2005, they report on the matter as follows:
However, a new Zogby poll with fairer questions shows the nation clearly supporting Terri and her parents and wanting to protect the lives of other disabled patients.
After dilligent search of the Zogby website, and everything that Google could come up with on zogby schiavo, I found absolutely no primary evidence of this supposed Zogby poll anywhere but on LifeNews. Perhaps I missed something, but I don't think so.
And, as the Anchoress said:
I haven't seen these Zogby poll results anywhere but at LifeNews and on the blogs. If anyone else has seen 'em on tv, let me know, ok? I'd like to give what my son Buster calls "mad props" to the MSM outlet that actually reports on this poll.
Other than a vague reference to Fox News, thirty comments later, no one has taken her up on the offer. A Google search of fox news zogby schiavo also turns up nothing and the only transcript I could find has no reference whatever to Zogby.
I think a reasonable man would come to the conclusion that LifeNews simply made the story up.
Why? It puzzles me, too. But I think unquestionably that those who oppose "the culture of death"--which apparently means abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, stem cell research, birth control, use of condoms for the control of HIV, and, occasionally, but not always, the death penalty for crimes--are not content to be merely morally right in their own eyes, but need to pretend that any evidence suggesting that their views are not in a majority is simply "unbelievable", even to the point of manufacturing contrary evidence, or reporting such evidence second-hand without the most elementary attempt to confirm it.
That the Anchoress did make such an attempt is the sort of thing that makes me one of her big fans.
It is amazing how uncontrovertable evidence can get folks dander up. Michelle Malkin and Wretchard over at The Belmont Club are up in arms about the Pulitzer awards to AP photographers covering the Iraq war. Thus Wretchard:
Since news by definition shows the truth one would expect the insurgency so lovingly depicted in these AP photos to have triumphed. But since that never happened and prospects grow dimmer by the day, the Pulitzer should be awarded instead for Poetry, since according to the Greeks history is reserved for things as they are but poetry may deal with things as they should be.
The award of the Pulitzer to this disgusting series of photographs should be welcomed by posterity. Fifty years hence people can look back at the work of people who called themselves journalists and judge.
To which I had the pleasure of replying:
As an ex-photographer myself, I would say that photography has one great advantage in war over all other media, which is this: it forces armchair generals and johnny-comes-marching-home cheerleaders to confront what war actually means. Unfortunately, as a culture, we actually look at photographs less and less. And when we do, we usually look only at things like the eye-candy close-up of the Marlboro smoking marine which decorated the New York Post.
Why not rest content with that, friends? It is the image of the war you think you're fighting, and the one which your media partisans have assured will penetrate the public consciousness deepest. Since most of the AP pictures will be seen by almost no one, the issue of giving them a prize is moot.
A gentleman with the handle of "truepeers" had this question for me:
JM, you're a real hoot; pray tell what does war actually mean?
And this was my reply:
It means lots of dead and maimed people. People with names, faces, and families. Which is what the photographs show, and which is what honest photographs of war have always shown since Timothy O'Sullivan turned his wet plates on the bloated and stinking bodies of Gettysburg, up to Eddie Adams close-up and personal Viet Cong street execution, and Nick Ut's screaming napalmed children running on a Southeast Asian road.
This clearly offends the taste of those who, in most cases, have never seen a dead human body outside of a lead and velvet platter, made up with cosmetics, under soft pink lights, surrounded by the cloying scent of flowers. Since the people who started this war have largely never been in a uniform, except to play at war in fighter airplanes over Texas ("I had other priorities," right?) I strongly suspect that most of them have never seen a dead human body in any other context either.
Have you? I doubt it.
It also means lots of people--with names, faces, and families--whose lives are shattered irrevocably by the sight of dead and stinking bodies, by months of chronic fear that they might become one, and by the knowledge that they, themselves, are responsible for making a few of them. This is the sort of thing that kept my own father the thrall of regular nightmares of combat on Saipan for fully thirty years after. And this was in "the good war".
That's what it means, Mister. Own it.
But I suppose all these people will continue to find the evidence "unbelievable". Spring Snow is one of the most exquisite things on earth, and a warm spring day means the cherry trees will be blossoming soon.
In old Japan, where they used to live with the prospect of violent death daily, it was said that you had to think of life as being as temporary as the cherry blossoms, and to go to your death with the abandon of cherry petals dropping in the wind.