Media Mashup: December 9, 2015

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Is Donald Trump A Nazi?

Although I don’t agree with Trump’s proposal to prohibit Muslims from obtaining visas to the United States, I certainly don’t agree with the comparison of the presidential candidate to a Nazi.

I am reminded of “Godwin’s law,”  or Godwin’s rule of Nazi analogies. The law, named in the 1990s by an attorney, Mike Goodwin, is an Internet phrase asserting that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches.”  If an online discussion–regardless of topic or scope– goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Hitler or Nazism.

Godwin’s Law originally referred specifically to Usenet newsgroup discussions. It is applied to any online discussions, as well as to speeches, articles and other rhetorical comments. 

In the attack on Trump, the speakers clearly have created an ad hominem attack. Alternatively, you could argue that Trump has engaged in a similar logical fallacy. See http://www.logicalfallacies.info/relevance/ad-hominem/

Is President Obama A Pussy?

Stuart Varney asked Fox military analyst Ralph Peters what he thought of President Obama’s Oval Office remarks. Peters had a lot to say.

“He keeps speaking about, how we can’t give in to our fears,” he began, before unloading:

Look, Mr. President we’re not afraid we’re angry. We’re pissed off. We’re furious we want you to react. Do something. You’re afraid. This guy is such a total pussy it is stunning. We want — we the people, American people, we want action. We want action against Islamic state and then — then when the the president is telling us he’s going to destroy ISIS, this is a president who has done more harm to American police departments than he has done to Islamic State.

After a few more comments, Varney jumped in: “I can tell you’re super angry and I asked you what your reaction was, but you can’t use language like that on the program.”

“I’m sorry,” Peters said, before continuing his rant. “Ralph. I’m sorry I’ve got to interrupt again,” Varney said. “You used some very strong language about the President of the United States. And I’m the anchor of Varney & Company, and I have to ask you, either, to apologize for that or take it back.”

“I apologize,” Peters said again.

Peters was suspended for two weeks for his comments–as was Stacey Dash for similar statements on another show.

A Strong Message From the Voters

A Rasmussen poll found that one-in-three Likely U.S. Voters (34%) give the president good or excellent marks for his response to last week’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that more voters (43%) rate Obama’s response to the killings as poor.

However, the responses to the survey taken the night of the president’s speech and the night after are divided along the same partisan lines we routinely see on most questions related to Obama. Sixty-two percent (62%) of Democrats view the president’s response to the horrific events in San Bernardino as good or excellent while 69% of Republicans say he did a poor job. Among voters not affiliated with either major party, 27% feel the president’s response was good or excellent while 44% categorize it as poor.

Only 30% of all voters think the federal government is doing a good or excellent job monitoring potential terrorists inside the United States. Slightly more (33%) rate the government’s performance in this area as poor.

Obama continues to caution against blaming Islam for the terrorism here and abroad while the Republican candidates for president and others argue that as long as the government refuses to identify “radical Islamic terrorism” as the enemy, it can’t begin to win the War on Terror. Sixty percent (60%) of voters believe the United States is at war with radical Islamic terrorism. Just 24% share the president’s position and disagree.

Thirty-nine percent (39%) of voters think the terrorists are winning the War on Terror while only 28% believe the United States and its allies are winning. That’s consistent with surveying for months but reflects voter attitudes before the terrorist attacks in Paris and last week’s massacre in California.

Christopher Harper is a longtime journalist, who reported in Europe and the Middle East. He teaches media law and international journalism. Send suggestions and tips to charper@temple.edu.

 

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