by Quin Hillyer
The old professor mused aloud, half to himself: “Why don’t they teach logic at these schools?”
That line came from the great children’s classic and Christian allegory, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
The fictional professor’s lament (about two siblings’ confusion about which of two stories to believe), written some 60 years ago, still applies today. Along with logic, basic arithmetic and linguistic skills sometimes seem horribly lacking among the American electorate, especially among young adults.
Let’s start with an issue addressed in last week’s column
, namely that of traditional marriage. I noted then that in List-Serve discussions in the wake of last week’s elections, younger “conservatives” seemed to be blaming cultural traditionalists, especially on marriage, for disappointing election results. I noted that for many young conservatives, the entire language and outlook of traditionalists seemed so alien that they “don’t even understand the traditionalists’ arguments or concerns.”
Little did I know. shortly after writing that column, one young contributor literally wrote that a goal of marriage traditionalists is to have government “prohibit” churches from performing homosexual “marriages,” and that traditionalists think “ the function of public policy is to prohibit churches from performing marriages for gay couples.”
This, if course, is exactly the converse of the reality: The traditionalist goals are two-fold: first, to have government policy, for government
purposes, continue to recognize only traditional unions as marriages; and second, to keep government from forcing churches to perform marriage services for homosexuals. The goal in both cases is to protect
churches from government interference against the dictates of their faith – not to use government to prohibit misguided churches from exercising their own, newfangled choices. Never once have traditionalists suggested using government compulsion to dictate to churches in any direction on marriages, pro or con.
The young commenter failed to understand the basic point of language and logic – not of policy, but of basic, syllogistic logic – that the absence of state approval (for homosexual marriage) is not at all the same thing as the presence of state interference.
This is a sort of mirror image of the faulty logic that mars the arguments of those who support the HHS mandate forcing religiously affiliated institutions to provide insurance paying for free, abortion-inducing drugs. They have the gall to accuse the mandate’s opponents of wanting to deny
a woman’s right to contraception. But that is akin to saying that the absence of state compulsion is the same thing as the denial of free choice.
The truth is that not a single church, school, hospital or charitable institution is suggesting that women be denied access to contraception, but only that the institution should be able to avoid paying for it.
In both examples above – which, when put into the form shown in Italics, are manifestly absurd – government compulsion is presumed to be the normal state of affairs, so that all stances of churches are viewed through that lens. In both cases, the churches wanting to be left alone are re-described (and mis-described) as churches somehow wanting to force their views on others. This anti-church narrative represents the sort of twisted, inverted non-logic prevalent in Alice’s Wonderland, where Humpty Dumpty asserted that words mean anything he said they meant, regardless of dictionary definitions or common usage.
On an issue not obviously related to such social concerns, young adults overwhelmingly voted for the presidential candidate who deliberately chose to add trillions of dollars of debt to government ledgers – debt that will fall directly and most heavily on those same young adults. It was that same candidate who, bizarrely, accused his opponent of multiple failures of “arithmetic.” Yet exit polls showed (quoting a Huffington Post summary) that “young voters identified the economy as their number one concern in the 2012 election, followed by student debt.” So if debt (on student loans) is such a big concern, pray tell, how does it make sense to support the candidate pushing monumentally greater debt that will fall overwhelmingly on those same students – and via the utter compulsion of taxes confiscated by the state under force of law?
This is not to say that there was definitively a “right” way or a “wrong” way for the so-called “millennial generation” to vote. It is most assuredly to say, however, that a severe lack of logic is apparent at least within that very large subset of millennials who listed their top concern as debt and then voted for the candidate delivering explosively larger debt right to their own doorstep.
Part of the answer may lie in the oft-remarked truism that most people don’t see the government’s
debt as their
debt – even though they themselves are the ones who fund the government via compulsory, confiscatory taxes. Then again, it takes an application of syllogistic logic – if I finance the government, and if the government owes debt, then I owe the debt
– and, of course, logic just doesn’t seem to be an asset in large supply.
As the professor in Narnia repeated a few paragraphs after the passage that opened this essay, “I wonder what they do
teach them at these schools.”