NOTE: This is the first column in a series of columns related to National Marriage Week, Feb. 7-14, 2013.
Those who remember the old version of the SAT might recall the analogy section: “This is to that as that is to this.”
The SAT no longer requires students to demonstrate aptitude in reasoning through this vital cognitive exercise—unfortunate because so many Americans find it difficult to recognize false analogies. And no group has exploited this deficiency more than politicians.
Adam Cohen observed in a 2005 New York Times piece: “Intentionally misleading comparisons are becoming the dominant mode of public discourse. The ability to tell true analogies from false ones has never been more important.” But judging from the current political rhetoric used by advocates seeking to redefine marriage for the culture, misleading comparisons predominate the discourse.
A recent, flagrant example of a national figure putting forth false analogies to advance a political objective is President Obama’s second inaugural address.
The president said, “We the people declare today that the most evident of truths that all of us are created equal—is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall…. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal, as well.”
Peppering his rhetoric with the self-evident truth that all persons are created equal, the president mixed two false analogies into his recipe in an attempt to flavor same-sex marriage as a civil rights matter.
First, he compared African Americans who struggled for racial equality with the current activists running the political campaign to redefine marriage. That comparison reveals a photo-shopped picture of history to an America the president was elected to lead, not mislead.
Civil rights marchers were met with batons, fire hoses, tear gas, and nooses; so-called pride parades are met with Fortune 500 corporate sponsorship. African Americans were systematically dehumanized and isolated; homosexual activists, in contrast, are lionized by every powerful cultural institution and center of wealth in America. The civil rights battle was a move up from under, won with blood; the campaign to redefine marriage is a product of the elites in entertainment, government, and the Ivory Tower.
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