Saturday, November 11, 2017

We've reached full generality

A perplexing tweet has been making the rounds:

An old cliche in Washington is to pretend that one's pet issue is a matter of national security, or of public health, or of some other important and neutral-sounding goal that disguises the underlying politics. I've written about or linked to several cases before:
Same-sex marriage is a matter of public health
Gun control is a matter of public health
The gender wage gap is bad for the economy
Ethnic diversity is essential for learning
The Electoral College is a national security risk
Common Core is a national security imperative.
But that tweet takes things to a whole new level. It's not just that X is a matter of some unobjectionable goal such as national security or public health. Now X is a matter of Y, where X and Y are anything at all. The cliche argument has reached full generality!

I suppose that "X is a matter of Y" is a crude attempt at coalition building, suggesting that seemingly different causes actually fall under the same Social Justice umbrella. To me, however, the open illogic and blurred distinctions in that tweet are really just invitations to stop thinking.

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