Kathy Shaidle

Not EVERY Chilean rugby player is a cannibal! — In defense of generalizations

Posted on December 22 2010 2:00 pm
Kathy Shaidle blogs at FiveFeetOfFury, now entering its 11th year online. Her latest book is Acoustic Ladylandkathy shaidle, which Mark Steyn calls "a must-read."

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Having spent too long as the Media Matters “watcher” for NewsReal, I’ve learned that “good writing” — if you’re a modern day “progressive” — equals “reads like it was typed up at the last minute by a moonlighting Groupon intern with Tourettes.” (For a classic example, see the lefty blogger being roundly mocked here — but it should go without saying: extreme language warning.)

You can tell the writers at Mediaite are young lefties, too. Not because they swear a lot, but because (when they aren’t larding on the snarky snide) they dutifully parrot all the rhetorical tropes they learned in college. One of their lessons was: “When stuck for a response, accuse your debate opponent of ‘using generalizations.'”
You’ll notice that leftists have recently rediscovered the phrase “glittering generalities” and enjoy using it to, er, generalize about Republican “propaganda.” (They must be getting bored with “the paranoid style” already…)

And so we have Glenn David at Mediaite reporting on a recent exchange between Bill O’Reilly and Ann Coulter:

Coulter then came out and agreed with this point while making blanket statements like, “Liberals think sending a check to the IRS constitutes charity,” as opposed to Republicans – especially Christians – who are “actually giving to poor people.” The generalizing was bad enough that O’Reilly at one point tried to bring her in line by saying, “You’re generalizing now.”

…we could do without the “generalizing” rampant in this segment…

“Generalizations”?! On an unscripted television segment that’s only a few minutes long — aired for an audience with an ever-shrinking attention span?!? Imagine…

“Generalizations” and “blanket statements” have acquired an overblown toxic reputation (just below “hypocrisy”) in the progressive moral handbook.

It’s too bad Mediaite (and Bill O’Reilly) lean on that shaky crutch when pushed for something to say and some empty space that needs filling. O’Reilly is clearly just playing CYA and running down the clock; Mediaite’s excuse is even weaker.

It’s a funny thing, but I’m old enough to remember when “using generalizations” was called “the way normal people talk.”

As Dennis Prager has observed:

If we can’t talk in sweeping generalities, then we might as well shut down all discourse about the human experience… Where there are no generalizations, there’s no wisdom.

But generalization-phobia has trickled down (up?) from the academy, and we’re forced to endure exchanges like the following — also, interestingly, involving O’Reilly:

O’REILLY: Do you have a problem in history when you were taught about World War II that Japanese attacked us? Do you have a problem with that?

[Whoopi] GOLDBERG: I have a problem with that.

O’REILLY: Do you?


O’REILLY: But they attacked us?

GOLDBERG: The Japanese —

O’REILLY: Attacked us.

GOLDBERG: — army attacked us.

O’REILLY: The air force did.

GOLDBERG: Sorry, the air force did. You understand my point?

Of course, that painful “conversation” was prompted by one of those tedious “not ALL Muslims are terrorists” “arguments” we’re exposed to each day, like audible germs.

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