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Reason Can’t Prevail Against an Irrational Opposition

“Mandalorian” star Gina Carano made headlines this week when she was fired from Disney. Her crime? Authoring a social media post comparing the censorship of conservatives to Nazi persecution.

Disney’s decision set off a salvo of justified attacks on the company. But while the self-righteous anger is gratifying to fans both of Carano’s acting and words, this latest incident in cancel culture points to a bigger, more ominous truth:

We are losing.

To illustrate this, let’s examine Carano’s offending post. She declared:

Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different from hating someone for their political views?

A spokesman for LucasFilms responded to this statement by declaring that Carano’s “social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”

Can’t find the “denigration” in Carano’s post? Progressives find it because Carano is on the wrong side politically speaking, and while words are slippery things of myriad meanings, being on the wrong side and saying something in defense of that side is wrong. Therefore, Carano’s comments must be denigrating or racist or some other nasty thing. You may not think it’s that simple, but for millions of thoughtless Americans on the left, it is.

It doesn’t matter that Disney is a hypocrite for allowing Carano’s liberal co-star to post photos comparing American-Mexico border detentions to Nazi concentration camps. Nor does it matter that Disney turned a blind eye when another of their employees posted a cartoon of abloody woodchipper with the words: “MAGAkids go screaming, hats first, into the woodchipper.” Disney will get away with the Carano firing, and in a week the incident will be forgotten, yet another sign of the fact that we are losing.

We are losing because our side assumes that reason can prevail when it comes to the confrontation of ideas. It can—but only when both sides are committed to reason. It’s useless to attempt to reason when the opposition is doggedly irrational. You will always lose an argument with someone who insists that two plus two equals five just as easily as it equals four, and meanwhile you will have wasted both time and energy.

Aristotle, arguably the touchstone of Western reason, had as his most famous student Alexander the Great, the era’s most renowned conqueror. Alexander spent a year studying one-on-one with the founder of logic, metaphysics, and virtue ethics. He learned what it meant to reason and to think his way out of problems, a skill he used in a series of battles that subdued the known world in just a few years. At one juncture in his conquests, Alexander encountered mystical priests of a foreign culture who presented him with the Gordian Knot, an intricately tied pile of rope that was considered impossible to untie. The priests expected Alexander to attempt untying it, but this student of logic’s founder was not easily fooled: He took out his sword and cut the knot in two. Reason cannot untie the tangle of irrationality; it can only destroy it.

Before I am accused of inciting violence, let me be clear that the sword we need to wield is a figurative one of boycotts, strikes, and protests. Why should any reasonable person patronize Disney? Going further, we must establish cultural alternatives to the left-loving pop hegemony that rules our lives, as Carano seems to now be doing. Reason will not work against the likes of people who somehow manage to see the “denigration” of minority cultures in sensible comments such as Carano’s.

The current atmosphere of political hatred posing as political unity portends the growth of state power, as anyone who has read Hannah Arendt closely will recognize. In order to make headway against what is clearly a rising tide of totalitarianism, we need action, not talk.

Kenneth LaFave

Kenneth LaFave

Kenneth LaFave, PhD, is the author of Experiencing Leonard Bernstein (Rowman & Littlefield).

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InnerCynic
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Money is the only language these clowns understand. When they no longer get it then they suddenly "get it". That's true wokesterism in a nutshell. Stop spending time and money on their products or advertisers who sponsor them and watch how quickly the debate changes.
 
 

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Focksbot
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Actually, you're losing because you're not using reason. A reasonable approach would be to infer that Carano's post was not judged in isolation, but in the context of other remarks – that it was the proverbial straw. A reasonable approach would also admit that a comparison between the Nazis and a country keeping immigrant children in cages is far more proportionate than one that compares them to being socially censured by people who find your opinions beyond the pale. Finally, a reasonable approach would start from the understanding that there is no such thing as total freedom of speech, never has been and never will be, in any culture – because a society is defined by what kinds of attitudes it endorses and what kinds it rejects. So all debates about permissible opinion essentially come down to: "What is the range we will accept, and what is a proportionate response to those we don't accept?" That is true of conservatives, liberals and everyone else involved in the debate. And unless you can defend the views you choose to defend by arguing convincingly that they are in themselves useful, reasonable, fair contributions to a debate, then you will lose the ability to express those views. That's just the way things work and have always worked. I'm talking about a practical reality. People fight for space for the views you think ought to be spoken aloud, and push back against views that they don't believe have a place. Nothing about that has changed in recent years or decades, except a different side is winning using slightly novel methods. If you fall back on the weak fallacy (or fantast) that you are an anti-totalitarian facing against totalitarians, you will lose. Every time.
 
 

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pwdennis2
Please explain how her post could have been "the straw." Was her expression of her view an example of egregiously bad behavior? That's what "the last straw" implies. If so, how exactly did she behave badly? No reasonable person should think she was wrong to express her view, even if he disagrees with it. Someone might use reason to contest her description of German society or dispute her analogy. But not even you did that. As for last straws, for me and my family, this was Disney's.
dcahillnj
What a ridiculous big fat load of justification for the intolerant bigoted left. I looked at ALL of her posts and in the context of the sewer of social media she wasn't even remotely controversial. If you want to be an apologist for the leftists, just say so, don't try and insult people's intelligence.
Torpedo1
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How can you lose an argument with an irrational person? If your objective is reason then that's what you came and left with. A "reasonable" person shouldn't be concerned with persuasion or even being agreeable much less "impactful" you're then being accused of attempting to manipulate. Argh!! It's a FRUSTRATING situation not a LOSSS.
 
 

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Giorgia
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Amen. You cannot reason with the irrational. To expect the irrational to be rational is itself irrational. "The essence of wisdom lies in being reasonable with those who will be reasonable, and formidable with those will not." - author unknown "Never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig." - Robert Heinlein
 
 

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