One result: A frantic glut of emails hastily sent out by countless Internet users to everyone on their mailing lists. (Those who felt this item was worthy of my time and attention happened to be, somewhat to my surprise, well-educated adults.)
The much-forwarded email shows pictures of the kids and the flags. The text accompanying these photos is so full of fallacious reasoning that it would be humorous, if it weren’t so dangerous. Here’s a sample (fallacies added, in italics):
- ”I predict this stunt will be the nail in the coffin of [sic] any guest-worker/amnesty plan on the table in Washington.” (ad hominum and hasty generalization)
- ”Pass this along to every American citizen in your address book and to every representative in the state and federal government.” (bandwagon)
- ”If you choose to remain uninvolved [by not forwarding the email], do not be amazed when you no longer have a nation to call your own (slippery slope) nor anything you have worked for left since it will be ‘redistributed’ to the activists while you are so peacefully staying out of the ‘fray.’” (appeal to emotion, straw man, misrepresentation, exaggeration)
- Check history, it is full of nations/empires that disappeared when its citizens no longer held their core beliefs and values.” (non sequitur)
Speaking of core beliefs and values, how does instigating hatred against a few teens who have the guts to try to make a political and moral statement square with the values of a country that purports to value free speech?
Some months ago, many Muslims throughout the world became enraged because a series of cartoons depicting Muhammad appeared in Danish newspapers. Swarms of Internet messages circulated in the U.S., denouncing their attitudes as examples of extremism and hypersensitivity.
I suppose it’s safe to assume that those who denounced the Muslims are not the same people who forwarded the email about the California teens. After all, to criticize the Muslims for overreacting and then do so themselves would be—well, illogical. Right?