The Scourge of Ad Hominem

| Opinion | January 18, 2019

Stephen Smith

Author, documentarian and talk show host, Larry Elder “The Sage of South Central” has often said that “Facts are Kryptonite to Democrats.” (FYI- Kryptonite emits a radiation that takes away the powers of Superman.) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi always seems to have trouble with facts. She often says things like, “Experts tell us that…” without citing the expert or any studies to support the point. My favorite remains her assertion that giving the unemployed one dollar generates two dollars in the economy. I still cannot believe she said it with a straight face. Clearly, she believes in magic.

Recently, during a meeting at the White House, Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen provided a presentation citing the various problems we must deal with at the border. In this case, the Secretary for Homeland Security is the holder and collector of the relevant statistics. No one can know more. Nancy Pelosi aggressively interrupted her and stated, “I reject your facts.” Nielsen responded, “They are not my facts, they are the facts.”

Nielsen wrote: “They didn’t want to hear about criminal aliens, drug smugglers, smuggled & abused children or violent caravans trying to breach the border wall.” Later in a press conference Nancy Pelosi suggested that the administration is at war with reality. Senator Dick Durbin said that “It wasn’t a credible presentation … It was preposterous.” It seems that the best possible source of the facts, when not consistent with the Democrat world view, must become viewed as falsehoods.

Talk about being border-crisis deniers. The only way to explain this form of cognitive dissonance supports my belief that progressive thinking is a religion, which is based on faith, and not facts, science or history. Perhaps the discomfort created by the cognitive dissonance explains all the pseudo-righteous indignation. (Cognitive dissonance, the mental conflict that occurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information – Encyclopedia Britannica.)


On Tuesday, January 8, the president gave his message to the nation, live from the Oval Office, about the problems we have been experiencing on the southern border and the need for a secure barrier. He gave a litany of the arrests made on the border of people with criminal records, gang membership, human and drug trafficking, and murders committed by people in the United States without our permission. He demonstrated the need for people seeking entry into our country being properly screened at an official port of entry. He spoke in favor of building a steel slat wall as a major part of having effective border security.

The wall constructed in San Diego has already proven effective. Many of the long serving Democrat leadership, for example Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, in past years have called for a wall. Without explanation of their change of heart, they now demonize the same border security actions, now that they are being called for by President Trump. After the president’s address, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi came on the air to express their rebuttal.

What happened next, I hope will become a learning moment for all who follow political discourse. Mr. Schumer and Ms. Pelosi, looking very much like pallid lifeless zombies posing for Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” during their presentation, failed to offer any facts or supporting reasoned evidence against the United States securing our southern border with a combination of technology manpower and a proper barrier. (Note: I just used an ad hominem attack, and if you are a liberal Democrat, you were likely offended and found it non-productive.) Chuck Schumer tried for high ground when he said he wanted the U.S. to be remembered for the Statue of Liberty and not a border wall. Perhaps he forgot that the Statue of Liberty is on Ellis Island where over 12 million legal immigrants were screened and processed before being allowed entry into the United States.

Unlike the Berlin wall, our wall is there to keep bad people out, rather than keeping good people in. It too, would become a symbol of liberty. They did not consider that not having a wall allows our borders to become an attractive nuisance, making the U.S. legally liable for any harm that may befall the trespassing foreign nationals. It’s like having a swimming pool without a locked gate and high fence. If someone sneaks in and drowns, you would be found guilty of negligence.

What is significant, is that the speaker and the minority leader, as well as most Democrat spokespersons, began engaging in a form of argument known as:
“Ad Hominem” (Latin, to the man)
Definition of ad hominem: (Merriam-Webster)
1: appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect.
An ad hominem argument.
2: marked by or being an attack on an opponent’s character rather than by an answer to the contentions made.
Made an ad hominem personal attack on his rival.
Ad Hominem attacks were the only arguments they made. The president was accused of being immature, racist and a whole litany of other epithets. Not once were the president’s arguments challenged with reasoned evidence or provable facts.

On January 9, Chuck and Nancy once again met with the president. He asked her if he were to lift the government shutdown, would she authorize funding the wall. She said no. He stood up and said, then we have nothing more to talk about, and the president then left the room. Their well-reasoned response and solution was charging the president with being “cruel” and “callous and throwing a temper tantrum.” More ad hominem run rampant. There is no weaker or more immature method of argumentation than ad hominem. It’s reminiscent of school yard taunts of “Your mother wears army boots!” and “You’re ugly too!” It’s a device used when your position is unsupportable and indefensible. It appeals to our worst selves rather than our best aspirations. It denies working on real solutions. It demonstrates that the Democrats are interested in creating more division and suffering for political purposes than having the best interests of the American People. It supports the contention by “The Sage of South Central” that “Facts are Kryptonite to Democrats.” Yes, I know the president used ad hominem for political purpose when he campaigned. All men have flaws. Even President Trump.

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