Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fail Quote: Political tribalism on display (Cato/Libertarian Derangement Syndrome edition)

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Cato Institute logo
Commence hating!

Everything I’ve come to loathe about modern political discourse, perfectly encapsulated in this single quote:

The Cato Institute is a collection of Koch family lickspittles – who cares if they occasionally say something that’s accurate?

Oh, for fuck’s sake. “Sure, they might right about stuff, but they’re associated with these people I don’t like, so screw ’em and all they do!” Such blindly partisan, childishly ideological, benightedly mindless tribalism. This is the sort of stupidly simplistic horseshit that gets my goat like little else and makes me yearn for the day when anyone caught espousing it can be thrown into a dark hole (perhaps à la 300) where they can never again taint grown-ups’ conversations with their reactionary prejudice.

This whole comments thread over at Ed Brayton’s Dispatches from the Culture Wars post on how the crucial National Police Misconduct Reporting Project will now be supported by the Libertarian think-tank Cato Institute is both hilarious and depressing, if not at times enraging. I’m not exactly a fan of Cato or Libertarians in general, as they lean a little too far Right on numerous key issues to be considered general allies, but the constant hatred being poured their way by people too smugly self-satisfied to know any better is an ideal representation of why it’s so mind-numbingly painful to talk about policy issues these days. And the fact that all these Libertarian-haters claim to defend rationality whilst being utterly blind to their own blatant overuse of the genetic fallacy is just the jizzy icing on top of the shit sundae.

Yes, the Cato Institute is funded and partially directed by the odious Koch Brothers (who’ve been made into as big a boogeyman among the Left as George Soros is with the Right), which perhaps calls their alliances into question. And yes, numerous Cato scholars are wrong about many issues, notably their anthropogenic global warming “skepticism”, their fantasies about a magically all-healing “free market”, and various other issues I have varying levels of (dis)interest about. But they also do tremendous amounts of critically important work when it comes to issues that liberals and progressive ought to rally around, such as the trampling of civil liberties, the expansion of government and executive powers, the broken criminal justice system, rampant police abuses and protectionism, and far too many others to list. In fact, I daresay that in the grand scheme of things, Cato (if not Libertarianism as a whole) is a force for good, regardless of the number of regressive ideals and policies it promotes. And it’s simply lazy and sloppy thinking to dismiss all of that on the grounds that, “but they’re wrong about some stuff!”.

Everyone’s wrong about some stuff, some more than others. But everyone is capable of doing good and important work, and to that end, Cato is a stellar ally to have when it comes to many, if not even most, of the issues that are near and dear to liberalism’s heart. Those who prefer twerpish sniping over any attempt at reasoned debate only demonstrate their own lack of intellectual integrity.

(via @radleybalko)