Maybe it’s because I’ve been thumbing through the galleys of William Voegeli’s forthcoming Pity Party: A Mean Spirited Diatribe Against Liberal Compassion or maybe it’s because I just really like puppies, but this tweet from Sally Kohn last night struck me as a nice encapsulation of so much that is wrong about the way liberals “argue” (I put argue in scare quotes simply because sometimes it’s not really an argument so much as a position or pose masquerading as an argument). She wrote:
Consistently troubled by number of people who seem to feel more compassion toward puppies on Internet than undocumented humans #Documented
— Sally Kohn (@sallykohn) June 30, 2014
As I said last night, this is a category error. But it’s also more than that. The whole point of the tweet is to assume that a certain policy approach is warranted by compassion for illegal immigrants. The invocation of puppies is to make people feel guilty for not supporting that policy approach. The problem is that the correct policy approach for puppies is not in dispute. All reasonable people agree we should give puppies some of our ice cream cones. The whole reason people feel compassion (not the right word, truth be told — she confuses compassion for affection), is that puppies are apolitical. I would not be shocked if my position on puppies is identical to Van Jones’s or Saul Alinksy’s.
To assert that compassion should drive our policy toward the illegal immigrants, or “the undocumented” as she puts it, is to beg the question. I’m sure Kohn could see this if I were to tweet:
“Consistently troubled by number of people who seem to feel more compassion toward puppies on Internet than unborn humans #prolife.”
Or: “Consistently troubled by number of people who seem to feel more compassion toward puppies on Internet than prisoners of North Korean gulag #regimechange.”
Or: “Consistently troubled by number of people who seem to feel more compassion toward puppies on Internet than kids being ripped-off by teachers unions” #schoolchoice.”