Twitter commenter David Sirota, a zealous promoter of Bernie Sanders, has posted several graphics containing what he reports to be representative of Hillary Clinton’s views about concepts near and dear to the hearts of Progressives in the US.
Just to be clear, I’m Canadian, I don’t have a preference between Clinton or Sanders as the US president, my only concern is that the US will react against the Democratic Socialist ideas espoused by Sanders and vote in either Trump or Cruz. I do not want to see either of the Republicans get in because they will likely kill all of the progressive social advances made in the US since Obama’s election. If Sanders becomes the president, and I consider that as good a choice as Clinton, possibly even better, it will depend on how well he is able to implement his ideas. My question is whether he would be electable.
What bugs me about Sirota and the rest of the zealous ideologues supporting Sanders and posting hatred and bull shit on Twitter, are the dishonest tactics they use. Sirota is just a proxy for all the extremism Sander’s supporters are expressing.
One of those tactics is one that is common among Young Earth Creationists (YEC) called quote mining. As I’ll show later, Sirota also tried to use another YEC tactic known as the Gish Gallup.
Quote mining is an attempt to misrepresent the meaning of a speaker’s words by only quoting a part of the comment made by the speaker. The misrepresentation can be anything from implying the speaker meant the opposite of what they actually meant, and what is obvious if the full comment is considered, to simply leaving out a qualifying statement such as what usually comes after a ‘but’. Many comments are not simple statements, but an explanation of views. Quote mining removes part or all of that explanation. It really is a dishonest way of manipulating the emotions of people reading or listening to the quote.
One thing I’ve noticed from people using this tactic is to ask the question “Well, did s/he actually say those words?”, as if the words themselves are the only source of meaning. The words are only part of the message being conveyed, and in fact because words frequently have multiple meanings, context is absolutely necessary to derive meaning from any comment. I’m not going to go into the intricacies of how we understand meaning from spoken/written communication, but the fact remains that a sequence of words placed in a specific order do not give enough information about meaning, especially when they don’t encompass the entire meaning, to be taken as indicative of anything.
Here is one of the graphics used by Sirota.
Notice if you will that there are eight points. This is where the Gish Gallup as employed by Sirota comes in.
I’ve included screenshots of the Tweets just in case Sirota deletes them. I’m sure he won’t but just in case.
Of course he assumes his points can’t be refuted & complains that I wasn’t able to do so within a few minutes of his original tweet. Note the time on that tweet – 12:05 PM
Here’s his second response when I wasn’t able to dispute his quote mines immediately. Again, note the time stamp: 12:07 PM. Just two minutes later.
And one minute later:
By putting pressure on me to answer eight points that will take research time within three minutes, he’s using the time tested YEC tactic of claiming there exist no responses to his points because the answers weren’t simple and immediate.
Back to the quote mines.
The first quote is from here: Townterview with NDTV’s Barkha Dutt on “We The People” (http://www.state.gov/secretary/20092013clinton/rm/2012/05/189385.htm)
Here’s the money quote.
“And I think that there are advantages with it that have certainly benefited many parts of our country”
There is nothing here to tell the viewer that there was more to the quote. The part Sirota quoted was not even a full sentence, it was just a part. The implication of the quote given by Sirota is that Hillary viewed outsourcing as a good thing, however if you look at the whole quote you see that isn’t true.
“Outsourcing from the United States to India. Well, it’s been going on for many years now, and it’s part of our economic relationship with India. And I think that there are advantages with it that have certainly benefitted many parts of our country, and there are disadvantages that go to the need to improve the job skills of our own people and create a better economic environment. So it – like anything, it’s about pluses and minuses.”
This certainly isn’t Clinton claiming outsourcing is a good thing, it’s Clinton acknowledging the reality of outsourcing and the relationship that was built between India and the US. By saying it wasn’t purely a negative process, she’s reflecting the reality of global commerce, that there is a balance that has to be considered & all countries can benefit from economic relationships. Clinton was also very clear that it caused conditions in the US that have to be considered and improved.
Although Sirota wants you to think Clinton was making a positive value statement about outsources, she wasn’t. She was commenting on the reality of what happened and the impacts of it.
I’m not going to go through the entire list of eight points Sirota made, I think just addressing the first two will clearly expose Sirota’s intent and use of dishonest tactics.
The next quote given on Sirota’s graphic is taken from a video made at a New Hampshire Town Hall.
“I voted numerous times when I was a senator to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in, [and I do think that you have to control your borders.]”
Again, there is nothing in this Sirota quote that indicates this is from a larger question. It also ignores part of the original sentence, although including it doesn’t change the implied meaning of the comment. I added the missing part back in and surrounded it in square brackets.
The answer she gave was in response to a question about Trump’s plans for a wall and to deport 11 million people.
“But I think that it’s also true that we need to do more to try to number one, deal with the people who are already here, many of whom have been here for decades. It is just never going to happen that we’re going to round up and deport 11 or 12 million people.
“I don’t care how tall the wall is or how big the door is, that is never going to happen. And I think that’s an unnecessarily provocative thing to say.”
“We need to do more to try and put some resources into those countries to try to deal with some of the conditions particularly the violence, the drug dealers and the like.”
Sirota would like you to assume that Hillary is all about shutting down immigration, increasing deportation and ignoring the plight of those who cross the border illegally. That isn’t what this says. What is being said is that she does not agree with Trump, but that she thinks illegal immigration needs to be dealt with on several fronts, including helping the people in the countries they are fleeing.
Unless Sirota & Bernie support completely open borders, they too support a form of illegal immigration restriction.
I suggest you listen to the video. The video is set to start at the quote.
Even if the rest of the quotes weren’t missing context, the two that I addressed and have shown to be quote mines, are enough to see how Sirota, as a proxy for too many Sander’s supporters, is willing to employ dishonest tactics traditionally limited to YECs and the right wing.