Rod St. Aubyn: The "Divtactic"
I invented a new word, “divtactic”, which I now use to describe the diversionary tactic that I often see liberals use in political discussions and blogs.
A couple of months ago I wrote a story on this blog questioning “Is Civil Political Discourse Extinct”? Based on the numerous comments and especially the content of some of those comments, I think I answered my own question. In closely analyzing some of the recent verbal and written political discussions that I have seen on the news and on blogs, it became very apparent of a trend that I am observing. I must admit it happens to some degree by both conservatives and liberals, but lately has been more prevalent with the liberal population. With any policy proposal, differing views will emerge. I would argue that such differences are actually healthy in finalizing policy decisions. However, rather than pointing out the legitimate differences, “divtactic” is often employed. I suspect that the reason is that the author/commenter is aware that his/her arguments are weak and cannot satisfactorily challenge the other prevailing thought.
Let me point out some recent examples. I know the readers will be able to highlight many, many others but I wanted to describe a few to illustrate the “divtactic” strategy.
When the Obama administration established a rule to state that all contraceptives must be included as part of the Essential Health Benefits under the ACA , many people (mostly Republicans and the Catholic Church) objected to the new rule based on religious grounds, but also due to extra costs. Rather than addressing these concerns and debating the differing rationales, liberals elected to state that Republicans had waged a “War on Women”. Rather than trying to resolve the issue, the Obama administration was ultimately sued by a private business who ultimately won their battle in the Supreme Court about covering all contraceptives. To illustrate the “divtactic” strategy, MoveOn.org even developed a one page document advocating the Republican’s War on Women and encouraged their supporters to post their “talking points” on Facebook or to re-Tweet it.
The issue of same sex marriage has been a hot topic lately with the Supreme Court refusing to hear several appeals. Though public opinion has shifted significantly in the past few years, there are still many religious objections and other concerns voiced. Instead of listening and considering these other opinions, “divtactic” is implemented by declaring the opposition as homophobes.
Racism is now a common “divtactic”. When others question the actions by President Obama or Attorney General Holder rather than debating the actual actions or policy decisions, the questioners are accused by liberals of being racists. This has been recently used by NBC commentators who accused others as being racists for arguing that US flights to and from Liberia should be temporarily suspended due to the recent Ebola epidemic in parts of Africa and particularly Liberia. The commentators could not argue the scientific or other logistical reasons, but instead had to resort to another “divtactic” by calling them racists. More recently with the death of the man in Dallas, Geraldo Rivera made an insinuation that since the victim was poor, black, and had no insurance, could this possibly be racism?
Finally my last example deals with the escalating conflict with ISIS in Syria and Iraq. With the recent beheadings there, a recent one by an ISIS sympathizer who was chanting Arabic statements as he beheaded a co-worker, another threatened beheading in the US, the recent disruption of a group in England that had planned beheadings, and the threats and encouragement of radical Islamists to urge all Muslims to target US military members and their families has caused fear and concern among many. If anyone asks why US radical Muslims are not questioned, investigated, and possibly detained, instead of offering legitimate reasons why this should not happen, the “divtactic” is once again used by the liberals by calling the person a “xenophobe”.
The use of this “divtactic” has actually been somewhat effective. I suspect it puts the “accused” in a somewhat defensive posture. The “enlightened liberal” typically says that they feel that the public should be more tolerant. They say that the public should be more tolerant with same sex marriage, the ACA, abortion issues, and a myriad of other controversial issues. And if the public questions any of these issues, be prepared for the “divtactic” to be used and be prepared for the “intolerance” of the left. How do you combat it? I suggest that you point out the “divtactic” strategy and make your original argument. The general public is not stupid. They have or will soon see through these “divtactics”. Perhaps then we can get down to legitimate political debate based on the facts.