San Diego – Despite the last seven posts, yesterday a comment was added to the post that started it all, (“Straw Men, Red Herrings, and Big Lies) by reader “Ellen” ‘that the issue was entirely settled and no debate remained nor had one for a very long time. Do please go back and read that so you can satisfy yourself that I am not mischaracterizing it. It was Ellen’s initial comments that elicited those past five posts on this in the first place.
But… Wow! That new comment, coming after all this data was posted, is beyond mind-boggling in a really sad sort of way. In order to Give Ellen the benefit of the doubt, I have to assume she had not read the latest posts when she entered her last comment even though the timing would suggest the last comment was in response to these new posts. Nor, apparently, has she really grasped the whole point of my post(s) which was simply that there existed more than one legitimate side to the debate. So before I move on forever, let’s briefly review, shall we?
I never claimed that there did not exist those who passionately clung to the side of the debate she represents… in fact I provided some additional quotes from some supporting that side. In fact I said I thought she laid out that side of the argument quite thoroughly.
Nor did I ever claim that the other side, even though it is the side I believe, has ever been accepted as THE final conclusion. Even if I agreed with Ellen’s side it would never, in the light of reality and readily available data, lead me to assert that it was the ONLY side of the argument of any merit or that the issue was non-existent.
To claim one’s own view is the best and to attempt to support that with quotes from fellow like-thinking people is, in the end, what debates are all about and she has done an admirable job of doing just that. But to claim that there are no other points of view that base their conclusions on firm history and legal comments is simply to ignore reality as well as to ignore the 35 pages of material spread over 5 posts of quotes and decisions that clearly display thinking to the contrary.
I can only assume therefore that she truly believes I fabricated all of the quotes in the last five posts; but since it is all too easy to look up and verify these days that would have been self-destructive of me to do if I wished to retain any credibility. Nevertheless, once again, I invite any and all of you to do the research for yourselves. Do NOT rely on the points of view of any one person and that includes me. If the issue seems relevant to you then take the trouble to check it out for yourself.
But in her last comment Ellen does not stop at simply asserting it is her way or the highway. She goes further to give a couple of reasons why we should accept as the final words on the topic, the titles or affiliations of some of the specific people uttering or writing some of her supporting quotes. And with that we start to get off of the intellectual reservation. In fact, I think those rationales call into question more than simply the conclusions… For example:
To apparently claim credibility for political/philosophical conclusion by pointing out that the author of it is “conservative” (or a member of ANY political group for that matter) is a complete non sequitor for me at least. I have written numerous times that I do not believe that any one individual has a direct pipeline to ultimate, comprehensive “TRUTH” much less a collection of individuals adopting some label or other. Having an “R” or a “D” after one’s name or title does not confer a deific imprimatur of infallibility; such is not in the possession of us mere mortals. Not since the first Vatican council declared in July of 1870 the doctrine of papal infallibility has anyone had the gall to declare themselves or their positions free of the possibility of error in ANY circumstances. That is, until this exchange…
And claiming that having a “foreign” surname is an indicator/predictor of voting stances on the subject is patently inadequate and ignores the fact that unless you have a Native American derived name, virtually ALL American last names are actually names from afar — or anglicized versions of them. But directly to the point, speaking only for myself, I know a half dozen people and students whose surname is unchanged from their ancestors but who are 3rd and 4th generation Americans. So that is the ultimate in meaningless rationales.
It also implies that a newly minted American would likely think that to protect their fellow immigrants and move them up the chain of command in our government was more important than resolving or adhering to the law or the best interests of their newly adopted country.
And that same rationale also gave, magically, to electors and members of the electoral college a power they do not posses since their sole job is currently only to carry forward the will of their constituents.
It surely is clear to all readers that Ellen firmly and honestly believes her interpretation is the only one to be taken seriously. It is always sad, in any major debate, especially one over something as complex as legal and political issues, to run into the single issue for which ‘true believers’ believe, as an article of faith, that there can be no other legitimate view than their own.
It is hardly deniable that life is very much simpler for them to be sure. Decisions are easier, conclusions are clearer and faster to make. And it makes problem solving more efficient since there is no reason to address, much less fix, a problem one refuses to admit even exists.
I can tell you honestly, I often wish the world were that simple or perhaps, more accurately, that simplistic. But to me it is not. And to argue that there IS no other view than one’s own that has any merit is precisely the sort of partisan positioning that has brought our congress and country to a point of gridlock. Should one wish to see that in action I would submit this exchange; if ever that unwillingness to even consider the other side has been displayed clearly, it is in this exchange where we are not even arguing over which interpretation is correct but over whether or not there IS another interpretation possible.
We are watching a situation develop on this small scale and over something of practical irrelevance, that when that other interpretation is spelled out and shown to be held by a litany of people from the early days of the Republic until the present, that listing is not countered with the assertion that those people are just incorrect in their thinking, but rather that its existence is, de facto and by definition, well, non-existent since it does not match the one that debater holds.
My personal opinion is that following the same source as admitted by the founders as their reference, Vattel, the intent of the wording in the Constitution was that “Natural Born Citizen” was defined differently than just “Citizen.” But that is just my own personal opinion. The difference between Ellen and I in this is that I am willing to let her hold to her personal opinion and even admit there exists some supporting documentation to reinforce it while believing there is also support for a contrary view.
But she, on the other hand, is not willing to allow me or you to even accept the possibility that there is another point of view much less that it just might have some validity. That tells me clearly that further discussion is pointless. She will counter with more quotes from her side but I already accept that her side exists and assume that neither I nor you need further convincing of that.
But that was never the point; not of the post that started all of this and not of the 5 posts supporting my contention that a counter argument exists, and not of this comment. All I tried (and am trying) to do was point out and itemize that another view exists as well and has as much (and in my personal opinion, more) reason and history to support it. To keep on asserting that no other opinion is present, that the matter has been decided definitively once and for all and universally accepted, is simply to refuse to read or acknowledge the existence of all reality to the contrary. As the saying goes, there are none so blind as those who WILL NOT see. The difference is that those who CAN NOT see usually want to… those who WILL NOT see want nothing to do with whatever is out there to see.
All of us are familiar with people in our lives whose view of themselves and their opinions is one of personal rightness and infallibility. At work, at school, on the TV are countless people who see the world through their own belief windows upon which is engraved the guarantee of their own correctness. I make no such claim for myself, only that I am still in search of the answers. To wish to engage in a discussion as to why one interpretation of an issue is better than another makes perfect sense and may lead to a greater understanding. But to run into the position that no other interpretation than their own is even possible is a position allowing no debate, no discussion, no growth. To continue down this path is simply pointless and meaningless for me.
So if Ellen wishes to keep posting quotes supporting one side of the issue and claiming those remove any credibility for other sides, at least until it gets more boring than it already is I’ll allow those comments to be added. But I have already conceded her view exists. And I’ve just made my case that other opinions exist as well and perhaps ought to be considered… and that is all I set out to do in the first place. I have never argued that I want for all readers to agree with me, only that I want them to engage in the intellectual activity of actually thinking about these topics.
To me, claiming there existed not any answer but one’s own is nothing more than a means of avoiding that thinking process and quickly, to me, becomes stunningly boring. Facilitating ossification of narrow views by providing opportunity to continue it is even more boring and useless in my opinion. So now this is my last comment on it.
Ellen you are free to continue to beat this dead horse and insist that, in spite of a lot of material I’ve posted to the contrary, and a world of data available to anyone willing to do the research, that there are no other opinions on this in play. Knock yourself out with that effort. You have provided already lots of good references to support your conclusion as to a proper interpretations but none to indicate unequivocally that it is no longer open to any interpretation except in the opinion of political writers. I think, however, that together we have given readers a wealth of references and quotes and citations from which they can then make their own decisions. I am now bored to tears with it and am done.