I apologize in advance for two posts in a row that combine politics and religion, but it seems that for some reason they make such fine bedfellows.
Rudy Giuliani (yes, he of Republican ilk) recently made some comments that can only be seen as a piss poor attempt to rehabilitate the reputation of the man who arguably is the worst President in the history of the United States of America. In a truly open mouth, insert foot moment, Giuliani claimed that there were “no domestic attacks” here during the Bush administration, somehow forgetting the little one on September 11, 2001. Of course, he was on the Stephanopoulos program to continue the slimy Republican hypocrisy I noted in my last post. Apparently, Republican’s can’t help themselves, and, like sharks in a feeding frenzy, when one of them smells blood in the water, they all go crazy.
Of course, when asked about his comment later, he did concede that he misspoke.
“I usually say we had no domestic attacks, no major domestic attack under President Bush since Sept. 11,” he said. He said after all the warnings of more attacks that came immediately after Sept. 11, many were surprised that this country avoided another major terrorist attack.
I’ll concede that to him. It’s human nature. It’s perfectly natural to find yourself, when you continually say the same thing over and over again, speaking as if on autopilot, assuming all the right words are coming out, not really listening to yourself. Republicans have been saying this about Bush since Sept 12, 2001, ad nauseum, so when Giuliani fails to use the phrase “since 9/11”, I understand that’s what he means.
So, my problem with what he says is not so much a “gotcha’ when he misspoke, (like people of all political persuasions seem to think is the way to effectuate proper political discourse, including Democrats). No. My problem is the underlying assumption that we should somehow thank Bush for protecting us so well. This is where religion comes in.
It’s a fallacy of logical, reasonable thinking to claim that an absence of terrorism is proof of the effectiveness of the Bush policy on terrorism. It could be, but it very well could not be. The fact that we have had no more 9/11s in this country does not mean that Bush put a stranglehold on terrorism. At best it means no terrorist attacks have happened in the United States since 9/11. That’s all.
Of course, it ignores the ones that occurred in London, Spain, Indonesia and elsewhere throughout the world since then. Those attacks actually support the conclusion that terrorists believe that terrorism is a global activity, with the US being only one of many targets.
So, there may be some correlation, but there is no proof of causation. “Because Bush was our President we have had no terrorism in the US” is not a logical statement. Just because Bush was in office during the 7 years following 9/11 with no terrorist attacks on the US doesn’t mean that we had no terrorism in the US because Bush was in office.
Religious thinking is often marked by these causation/correlation fallacies. For instance, there has been a loosening of restrictions on various religious hot buttons such as abortion, school prayer, acceptance of gays, etc. over the last fifty years or so. At the same time, Christians believe that morality has diminished across the board.
Ignoring the obvious subjective nature of morality, Christians correlate the acceptance of abortion and gays in society, along with the lack of school prayer, with the decline in morality. Even assuming a correlation, there is nothing to prove causation. Abortion doesn’t cause lower personal morals. Neither does homosexuality, with or without societal acceptance. Children can pray in schools, with our without official school prompting. So all of these things could easily be caused by lower morals (as the Christians subjectively conclude) or by enlightened thinking (as “enlightened” people subjectively conclude), all of which puts the cart before the horse. It could be a change in societal perception of personal morality that causes our attitudes towards these hot buttons to change.
Similarly, we may not have had any more terrorist attacks in the US since 9/11 because terrorists simply chose to attack someplace else. They did, didn’t they?
One thing we can say with pretty good certainty, however:
Bush would not have been elected in 2004 but for 9/11.
(That was a self-deprecating example of fallacious thinking, folks.)