Since new competitive media have forced liberals to confront opposing points of view, they seem to have abandoned emotionalism as their main argument. Their new posture is mock hardheaded realism. Liberals flex their spindly little muscles and announce that everything that used to make them cry – guns, racial profiling, torturing suspects – simply doesn't work: The fact is, it doesn't work, this is according to several studies, and no, you can't see them, why would you ask?
Thus, for example, after decades of womanly hysteria about guns, we started getting statements like this from Fox News Channel's Alan Colmes to Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America: "Let's talk about some hard and cold facts, Larry. The fact of the matter is, Larry, that the odds that a home will be the scene of a homicide are much greater if there's a gun in the home." Soccer moms across America shot up straight at that one and said: I did not know that!
As the inestimable economist John Lott has shown, the study behind this flagrantly dishonest "cold hard fact" assumed that anyone killed by a gun in or near a home where anyone owned a gun was, therefore, killed by "a gun in the home." The study merely attests to the fact that people who live in high-crime neighborhoods tend to own guns. This is like the joke about diets causing people to be fat because most people on diets are fat. Or, as Lott says, on that theory of causation, hospitals must cause people to die because lots of people who die have been hospitalized recently. (Lott exposes dozens of such phony "studies" and shibboleths about guns in his splendid new book, The Bias Against Guns [buy book].)
After 19 nearly identical-looking Muslim men hijacked four airplanes and murdered 3,000 Americans, people weren't in much of a mood for liberal preachiness about racial profiling. So instead of screaming and trying to make Americans feel guilty, liberals took a hardheaded realist approach. Asked if there was anything wrong with ethnic profiling at airports after 9-11, Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz said: "Yes, it doesn't work." Other, better ideas, he said, were face-recognition technology and national ID cards. These would work great – assuming we know who the terrorists are. But if we knew who the terrorists were, the only plane they'd be boarding would be on its way to Guantanamo.
Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin said that using appearance as a factor in screening airplane passengers "reflects not only poor judgment, but poor law enforcement." Good law enforcement apparently consists of goosing white paraplegics before they fly. On CNN, Juliette Kayyem, from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, assured viewers that "no one is disagreeing with" extra scrutiny for potential terrorists. But profiling "won't work." Al-Qaida, she said, "exists in places from Algeria to Zimbabwe." Since we're in America, wouldn't it be a big help if we could screen out the Americans? Liberals think "it doesn't work" has such a nice ring to it that the patent falsity of what they're saying should not detract from their argument.
After Sen. Teddy Kennedy tried to block federal funding for the government's program to fingerprint and photograph people entering the country from 25 Muslim nations, his sleazy back-door maneuver was defended on Fox News Channel's "O'Reilly Factor" by Sarah Eltantawi of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Eltantawi said it was a "huge mischaracterization" to think she was going to complain about racial profiling. "That's not the argument I'm here to make." To the contrary, her objection – and Kennedy's objection – was that fingerprinting and photographing immigrants from terrorist-producing countries is "completely inefficient." And we all know Teddy Kennedy cannot abide inefficiency!
The recent capture of al-Qaida leader Khalid Shaikh Mohammed has led to an epidemic of "it doesn't work" claims with regard to torture. Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, former legal counsel to the CIA, National Security Agency and State Department, has been quoted as saying, "We don't use torture because it doesn't work." Torture indisputably works when you know you've got the right guy. We know who Mohammed is; we know he has information we want. There may be good and sufficient moral reasons for not torturing people for information, but efficacy is not among them.
It's as if liberals held focus groups on how to best present their ridiculous ideas and were told: Passion you've got! But what respondents say you lack is: intellection, thinking things through, understanding elementary human nature, and a basic awareness of what people are like. If conservatives have not yet persuaded liberals to give up on socialism and treason, we have at least gotten them to fake linear thinking. The next hurdle is substance.