The Bush Administration "believes" that Iran will have nuclear weapons in the next decade. Some Americans (some New Orleanians included) "believe" that hurricane Katrina was a punishment sent by God. I was supposed to "believe" that there was a reason girls couldn't serve at the altar and "believe" that whoever decided what was a mortal versus a venal sin knew what he was doing. I was supposed to "believe" all kinds of things about girls and black people and lesbians and poor people and welfare and the benevolence and righteousness of capitalism. "Belief" has been a problem for me since childhood. I am a pragmatist and a rationalist (most of the time, I hope) and cannot and will not ever be comfortable saying I am a believer in x despite all empirical evidence. I cannot "believe" in angels anymore than I can "believe" in Santa Claus or that Iraq was a danger to the world and the US in particular or that Iran is now attempting to go nuclear so it can take over the world. Just as I cannot believe that the University comes before me and any or all other humans and human concerns, that x sorority, group, neighborhood, religion, country, political leaning, philosophy, art style or list of books read has the moral edge over anyone or -thing else without support. There are differences, there are morals, there are groups, all real, but blind belief is not something I can do. I cannot agree with something because it falls under the same rubric as some other principles I agree with (today).
There are bloggers I want to like--really, really want to--but I find them somewhat hysterical in their word choice and thinking--quick to demonize, quick to say if it walks like a duck (even if it lacks feathers or, under further consideration, walks more like a water buffalo) it must be the Demon Duck from the Muck of Hell, quick to slide into the kinds of fallacies
and sloppy thinking I try to guide my students way from--red herrings
, non sequiturs
, straw (wo)men
, hasty generalizations
(especially in the guise of freedom, equality, civil rights, women's rights, sexual liberation, etc.), false analogies
, false dilemmas
and, the favorite of the blogosphere, the slippery slope
. Point A too often leads to Point F without any stops in between.
And to give examples would hurt those I do and/or want to respect, who are doing the right thing, fighting the good fight and I do not mean to poke or shout, I just...can't stop being a damn English teacher.
But I am not devoted even to that.