Archive for Saturday, January 24, 2004

Conservative code

January 24, 2004


To the editor:

Here comes yet another triumphalist conservative manifesto (Eric Haar, Jan. 18 Journal-World). It follows standard format: topic sentence (Bush good, opponents bad, Bush will win) plus a string of mostly off-the-shelf, echo-chamber emotive words (common sense, proudly stand, conspiracy crowd, radical left-wing nut case, artificially manipulated living wage, liberal media, nitwit nine, stand up for what is right). This particular letter elects to include the optional extra credit slam at some mischaracterized ACLU positions. But, true to form, it contains neither concrete fact nor new argument that might conceivably persuade the unpersuaded.

I am genuinely puzzled at the popularity of this genre. It almost seems to wear mindlessness as a badge of honor. Can so many conservatives be completely unaware of the difference between cheerleading and rational argument? Or do they perhaps consider it rude and intrusive to ask readers to actually think? But if either explanation is true, then why do a lot of conservatives manage to tolerate the entirely literate George Will? The arcane folkways of a social group one doesn't belong to can be very hard to decode. Can anyone help me out here?

David Burress,


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