The nonsensical “War on XXXX” memes, and insight on values

This post is a two-fer.
One of the phenomena that drives me nuts in the modern world is that whenever groups of people get fired up about an issue, or a perceived deficiency in society, or something that they consider to be A Bad Thing, or something that they hold dear that they perceived as under attack, they immediately announce either that somebody else is conducting a “war on XXXX” or that they and all Smart like-minded people (shorthand: anybody who uncritically agrees with me) should conduct a “war on XXXX”.
This whole use of language creates all manner of logical and practical dangers and traps.
1. It leads to grammatically and logically nonsensical memes, Like “the war on Terrorism”. Waging war on an abstract noun? This, grammatically and practically, is nonsense. It truly is vacuous sloganeering.
2. It becomes a standard tactic for people who are paranoid or who feel threatened and persecuted (translation: my privileges are being threatened) to announce that there is a “war” being conducted against them and their ideas and values. Think “the war on Christmas” or the “war on Christianity”. The last time I looked, nobody was prvented from saying “Merry CHristmas” to anybody else, and churches are among the most privileged entities in the modern USA.
3. The use of the word “War” elevates the efforts by opponents of “XXXX” as something more malevolent than mere dislike. The implication is that either we fight the opponents or they will not only win, they will destroy us. This in turn conjures up an existential struggle, a “kill or be killed” dichotomy. As a result, believers in the idea of a “war” end up engaging in all manner of overreach, abuse of power, and in some cases, plain illegal and ultimately murderous conduct, justifying it on the grounds that “we were fighting a war”. Think The War On Drugs as a good example.
At the end of the day, “war on XXXX” is quite often a rallying cry, a slogan not only devoid of logically useful content, but unsupported by any viable evidence. It is vacuous, pompous, self-important rationalization for all manner of stupid utterances and even more stupid ideas.
Which brings us to President Trump’s address to the Value Voters Summmit, where he claimed that there is an “attack on Judeo-Christian values”.
Jim Wright wondered what “Judeo-Christian values” might be. Atfer all, if these values are so universal and pervasive, any Christian should be able to articulate them.
It turns out, there is a big deficit in the ability of responders to Jim’s question to actually define “Judeo-Christian values”. Incoherence, confusion and poor reasoning skills abound in the attempts at an answer.
Jim expanded his analysis of the response into a much more interesting posting that attempts to define “values” in a more universal way. It is worth reading, since it sweeps the inane sloganeering off the table in favour of a more substantive and much more interesting analysis.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Healthprose pharmacy reviews