For the past couple of days, I’ve had a running dialogue with another medievalist on Twitter. Unfortunately, it wasn’t about anything actually interesting. Instead, I felt obliged to respond to a claim he made that people who are still digging into the President’s background are (yep) RAAAAA-CISSSSSST. I pointed out that the Right dug into John Kerry’s background and Jimmy Carter’s family, and that the press seems more than happy to dig into the pasts and heritage of folks like the Palins and Romneys. None of these folks seem particularly melanin-enhanced, so mightn’t it simply be that the would-be vetters are opposing him because of what he believes, rather than his genetic heritage?
Guess not. You see, apparently the investigation into POTUS’s past is an attempt to depict him as unAmerican, and therefore race-baiting. He then asserted that it is my job to somehow prove the negative, that conservatives aren’t blowing some sort of racist dog-whistle. I replied that he was arguing in bad faith, and that there were plenty of people on the right who opposed POTUS because of his positions, just as they opposed Kerry, Gore, etc.
He said I was ignoring his point (which is presumably unassailable, I guess). I said that accusing your opponents of racism isn’t a point — it’s an ad hominem. To this he crowed that I had made his point.
To this, I responded as follows (concatenated from the tweets):
You’re right — I can’t disprove a point that you haven’t made logically. I can (and have) offered an alternate theory — that it’s attacking a liberal b/c he’s a lib, not b/c he’s black. But you, with yr Lamont Cranston-esque sight into the hearts of men, say that’s insufficient, and require that others prove a negative. In short, you show exactly the bad faith of which you accuse your opponents. You have no point, merely invective and partisan self-certainty. Those who differ with you are perforce stupid or evil (or racist, which combines the two.) You don’t want to admit a theory that spoils that view. Clearly, this wastes each of our time and bandwidth. Enjoy your epistemic closure.
On the upside, I know of at least one university the Spawn can avoid in a couple of years.