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Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That

March 5th, 2008 · 7 Comments

Glenn Reynolds:

HMM: Rep. Ellison: Clinton Trying To Reap Benefit Of Obama-Muslim Smear. “I think that Barack Obama’ s Democratic opponents will say and do anything to try and win.” Well, yes.

But why does Ellison think calling someone a Muslim is a “smear”? If somebody called me a Muslim, I wouldn’t feel smeared, any more than if someone called me Jewish.

Nobody is actually this obtuse, right? This is just a disingenuous way of implying that Democrats are anti-Muslim bigots, right? Well, just in case, let’s remind ourselves what the (relevant sense of the) word “smear” means:

To stain or attempt to destroy the reputation of; vilify: political enemies who smeared his name.

Glenn’s response would make sense if the word used had been “insult.” An insult is basically a binary relation: The defining factors are the intentions of the speaker and the reaction of the person to whom he refers. Two people alone in a room can insult each other. They can’t smear each other, because a smear is inherently public; it involves the (anticipated) reactions of third parties. So I can smear someone by insinuating that he is a Muslim, even if we both agree that there’s nothing wrong with being a Muslim, provided it’s understood that there are plenty of others out there who do think there’s something wrong with it. Is anyone actually going to dispute that this last condition obtains in the contemporary United States?

So congratulations, reader: You are now qualified to pass a third grade vocabulary test and overqualified to teach law at the University of Tennessee.

Tags: Horse Race Politics · Sociology · Stupid Shit



7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 jerry Seinfeld // Mar 5, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    Dumbest Sanchez post yet. And that’s saying something.

  • 2 Jeff G // Mar 5, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    Wow. Between all the rampant anti-Muslim feeling in the US — and all the Archie Bunker Democrats working hard to keep a black man down — it’s a wonder somebody hasn’t done a new cover of “Helter Skelter.”

    At this rate, it’ll be a million years before the US ever overcomes its demons and nominates a minority to run for prez!

  • 3 Julian Sanchez // Mar 6, 2008 at 3:30 am

    That’s adorable. Can I keep you on retainer to disagree with me regularly?

  • 4 M. Simon // Mar 6, 2008 at 5:58 am

    If you want to keep me on a retainer you will need to not only pay me well, but also, hire a very good orthodontist.

    Democrats – the Party of Slavery and Jim Crow – now atones for its sins by smearing Republicans.

    Way to go guys.

  • 5 JasonL // Mar 6, 2008 at 8:58 am

    To be fair, it is pretty common to conflate these words in this way. Julian is correct, of course, but maybe a bit harsh?

  • 6 Andrew // Mar 6, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Well, Julian, it appears that there are at least three people actually that obtuse.

  • 7 Eric the .5b // Mar 16, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Democrats – the Party of Slavery and Jim Crow – now atones for its sins by smearing Republicans.

    Since when is Obama a Republican?

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