FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Chasing Hares, Ignoring Game

by NIRANJAN RAMAKRISHNAN

Back in graduate school at an American university many years ago, I had an Indian friend, a pilot. Our group at that time was mostly made up of other Indian grad students, getting their MS or PhD. Unlike the rest of us, our pilot friend was the only one with a well-paying job, while we were scraping through on meager stipends. Having come to the US while still in his teens, he had little or no accent, making him, at least in his own legend, much better placed on the dating scene. He would frequently tout his American street-smarts as being superior to the fancy pants education we were pretending to get. For all the lofty disdain which he expressed for formal education, however, one could still discern some rankling of academic inferiority. A school dropout, he was somewhat sensitive about his education level.

Then one day, referring to some incident involving his department, one of the grad students remarked that merely having a PhD did not mean a person was smart. Our pilot friend immediately interpreted this to mean that ‘if you had a PhD, you were not smart’. He felt his long-held view vindicated by a so-called academic himself. He saw no gap in this reasoning. We all had a quiet chuckle at this leap of ratiocination, and there it remained.

Until the fuss over the CBS memos brought it back to mind.

I had not realized there was such a large number of people whose thinking resembled our friend’s. He was only lampooning us for our stereotypical ethnic quirks to contrast his own acclimitization to everyday America in dress, mannerisms, etc. Now it would seem he had acquired not only a Texan accent but grasped the logical skills of the populace as well, why, even a president’s way of thinking.

President Bush’s supporters have advanced arguments whose logic has an impressive name. The Dictionary of Philosophy defines it as argumentum ad ignorantiam (argument to ignorance).

Arguing that something is true because no one has proved it to be false, or
Arguing that something is false because no one has proved it to be true.

When Dan Rather says, quite correctly, that the authenticity or otherwise of the documents does not obviate the question of where George W. Bush was when he was supposed to be in Alabama, or whether he got preferential treatment getting in or out of the National Guard, he is ridiculed by his colleagues in the media, gleeful that the man has got it in the chin at the twilight of his career.

No one has seen Bush in Alabama; he skipped his physical exam, something quite unusual in the military; he did not report for sessions in Boston as promised, and yet never got penalized for anything. And now, instead of answering these questions, Bush is tut-tutting the CBS report, saying that the documents issue ‘raises questions which need to be answered’. Whew! None dare call him timid. And why not, when he faces such a demanding band of reporters?

You would be hard-put to find in the media a strong call to pursue this simple but important point. The holier-than-thou snickering which has dominated the coverage, from Don Imus to the deranged talk-show maniacs all along the AM dial, is pathetic. Dan Rather may be whistling in the wind today, but at least he had the heart to chase down an obvious story. I personally think a lot more that remains to be told about Bush’s National Guard career, and it will all come out one day, only, like the Iraq deception, too late to do very much about it. And even then, where is the guarantee that a country not upset by all that has happened already will be troubled by it?

It was George Santayana who said that those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Comedian Jay Leno’s Jaywalking gives us an idea of how familiar Americans are with history. And it was Walt Kelly who said ‘We have met the enemy, and he is us.’

NIRANJAN RAMAKRISHNAN is a writer living on the West Coast. His writings can be found at http://www.indogram.com/gramsabha/articles. He can be reached at njn_04@yahoo.com

 

 

More articles by:

/>Niranjan Ramakrishnan is a writer living on the West Coast.  His book, “Reading Gandhi In the Twenty-First Century” was published last year by Palgrave.  He may be reached at njn_2003@yahoo.com.

Weekend Edition
November 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jonathan Cook
From an Open Internet, Back to the Dark Ages
Linda Pentz Gunter
A Radioactive Plume That’s Clouded in Secrecy
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Fires This Time
Nick Alexandrov
Birth of a Nation
Vijay Prashad
Puerto Rico: Ruined Infrastructure and a Refugee Crisis
Peter Montague
Men in Power Abusing Women – What a Surprise!
Kristine Mattis
Slaves and Bulldozers, Plutocrats and Widgets
Pete Dolack
Climate Summit’s Solution to Global Warming: More Talking
Mike Whitney
ISIS Last Stand; End Times for the Caliphate
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima Darkness, Part Two
James Munson
Does Censoring Undemocratic Voices Make For Better Democracy?
Brian Cloughley
The Influence of Israel on Britain
Jason Hickel
Averting the Apocalypse: Lessons From Costa Rica
Pepe Escobar
How Turkey, Iran, Russia and India are playing the New Silk Roads
Jan Oberg
Why is Google’s Eric Schmidt So Afraid?
Ezra Rosser
Pushing Back Against the Criminalization of Poverty
Kathy Kelly
The Quality of Mercy
Myles Hoenig
A Ray Moore Win Could be a Hidden Gift to Progressives
Gerry Brown
Myanmar Conflict: Geopolitical Food Chain
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: Robert Redford’s Big Game in Nairobi
Katrina Kozarek
Venezuela’s Communes: a Great Social Achievement
Zoltan Grossman
Olympia Train Blockade Again Hits the Achilles Heel of the Fracking Industry
Binoy Kampmark
History, Law and Ratko Mladić
Tommy Raskin
Why Must We Sanction Russia?
Bob Lord
Trump’s Tax Plan Will Cost a Lot More Than Advertised
Ralph Nader
National Democratic Party – Pole Vaulting Back into Place
Julian Vigo
If Sexual Harassment and Assault Were Treated Like Terrorism
Russell Mokhiber
Still Blowing Smoke for Big Tobacco: John Boehner and College Ethics
Louis Proyect
The Witchfinders
Ted Rall
Sexual Harassment and the End of Team Politics
Anna Meyer
Your Tax Dollars are Funding GMO Propaganda
Barbara Nimri Aziz
An Alleged Communist and Prostitute in Nepal’s Grade Ten Schoolbooks!
Myles Hoenig
A Ray Moore Win Could be a Hidden Gift to Progressives
Graham Peebles
What Price Humanity? Systemic Injustice, Human Suffering
Kim C. Domenico
To Not Walk Away: the Challenge of Compassion in the Neoliberal World
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Giving Thanks for Our Occupation of America?
Christy Rodgers
The First Thanksgiving
Charles R. Larson
Review: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “We Were Eight Years in Power”
David Yearsley
On the Road to Rochester, By Bike
November 23, 2017
Kenneth Surin
Discussing Trump Abroad
Jay Moore
The Failure of Reconstruction and Its Consequences
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Trout and Ethnic Cleansing
John W. Whitehead
Don’t Just Give Thanks, Pay It Forward One Act of Kindness at a Time
Chris Zinda
Zinke’s Reorganization of the BLM Will Continue Killing Babies
David Krieger
Progress Toward Nuclear Weapons Abolition
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail