The Oklahoman published an editorial Friday that’s so goofy and uses such tortuous, overwrought “logic” that it deserves comment if only to expose it as a terrible example of argumentation and rhetoric.
It’s sometimes truly difficult to believe that a metropolitan daily newspaper would publish such nonsense. It’s mind boggling, really, and actually sort of depressing if one thinks about it too much.
The editorial, titled “For administration, paramount fear today is … climate change,” (Oct. 31, 2014), tries to make the case that President Barack Obama and his administration are myopically focused on climate change to the detriment of, well, all of Western civilization, which faces serious threats from the Ebola outbreak, ISIS and North Korea. This is serious, folks.
The glaring problem with the commentary that even most English high school students could discern is that it never shows us through convincing evidence that Obama and his administration are overly concerned with climate change. It only mentions one speech by Secretary of State John Kerry last February in which he supposedly compared climate change to a “weapon of mass destruction.” Again, that’s last February, and the information is given to us at the end of a rambling piece of mush that includes scattered-brain references to Ebola, The Global Village, the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. No, I’m not making this up.
Anyone with a modicum of intelligence, no matter what their view on climate change, would obviously know that the editorial simply doesn’t support its claim that Obama and his administration engage in fear mongering when it comes to climate change. One sentence from one speech several months ago, and it’s not even from Obama, hardly makes the case. In fact, it’s laughably weak evidence. Someone might think this is the case with the Obama administration, but an editorial writer at a metropolitan newspaper should be required to actually provide evidence.
Undoubtedly, the reason for the lack of evidence is that there is no real evidence or pattern, but it’s conceivable that someone could cherry pick through some Obama speeches and piece together some semblance of evidence to back the claim that the administration is at least concerned about climate change on some level, as it should be. Yet the editorial doesn’t even provide one statement from Obama himself. It’s really remarkable that such unsupported drivel can get by an editor even at such a low-quality newspaper like The Oklahoman.
The editorial’s claim that Obama is personally measured and calm when it comes to an issue such as Ebola, but uses fear mongering when it comes to climate change is not only entirely unsupported in the editorial but really begs these questions: What difference does it make? Should Obama use fear mongering when it comes to Ebola, too? And doesn’t the editorial itself engage in fear mongering when it implies Obama’s response to the Ebola outbreak is somehow weak or ineffectual, which is utterly false?
Here’s a truthful universal statement: A person can be concerned about more than one issue.
Like global-warming denier U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, who The Oklahoman is supporting for reelection, the newspaper’s editorial board in its commentaries has consistently tried to discredit the science and evidence that show manmade carbon emissions are contributing to global warming or even that the planet is getting warmer. Here’s one editorial. Here’s another one.
The three editorials cited in this post, along with the newspaper’s support for Inhofe, show a pattern and provide evidence. The Oklahoman editorial board has taken a dissenting and extremist view of the science underpinning arguments that global warming poses a threat to our planet. I would speculate the newspaper editorials have to rely on fallacious red-herring arguments because they can’t directly refute the growing evidence of global warming, such as the recent pattern of planetary record high temperatures or the melting of the arctic ice cap. It could also be the case the editorial writers lack basic intelligence and/or pander to low-information readers as part of a business strategy because of the dearth of college educated people here.
It’s an insult to even halfway intelligent people here that Friday’s editorial is what passes for privileged editorial commentary in this place. It can make this a suffocating place to live for people who believe in evidence-based argumentation, people who want to engage and debate.