Knowing History

[via Mike Davidson]

This clip is great in that it shows the difference between a blowhard and a pundit. You don’t have to agree with Chris Matthews to see that Kevin James has no idea what he is talking about. He’s spouting off about appeasement and Neville Chamberlain with no idea what Chamberlain did, right or wrong, before World War II. James makes Mark Green look like a genius by virtue of his ignorance and refusal to shut up when called out on his ignorance.

As a society I think we can do better in our political discourse than this kind of shouting over each other to cover up ignorance. If you don’t know about something, just stop and ask or look it up before pressing your side. Hell, you might even change your views based on actually possessing a knowledge of history. I often enjoy talks with my Dad about these sorts of topics precisely because of his knowledge of history and ability to point out subtleties I might have missed. We had a great talk over the weekend about the differences between Communists in China, Cuba, Russia, and other nations and why those differences can lead to being trading partners with one country while having an embargo against another (though I still say this Cuba embargo has failed for far too long). We don’t always agree, I place more weight on civil liberties as a protective measure against tyranny, while he favors security through a strong military and intelligence presence and will sacrifice some civil liberties to fight terrorism (perhaps our ages and his experience in the Air Force help explain those differences). We share a healthy skepticism of governments in general.

Going into any argument armed only with buzzwords is a great way to look the fool. James is a great example of this, sometimes you can learn something and come out looking better if you just shut up and listen for minute, even to your opponent… wait, I think that’s what James was arguing against, perhaps he defeated himself in this one. Oops.

Kevin Hall

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Kevin Hall