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Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Ellis Washington Serves Up Another Right-Wing Rant Masquerading As Socratic Dialogue
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Ellis Washington's stacked "dialectics" -- in which he pretends to be Socrates -- typically violates the spirit of a real dialectic by putting words, in the form of Washington's personal views or caricatures, into the mouths of those he purports to be speaking for, thus creating straw men for Washington, as the self-proclaimed Socrates, to knock down.

Washington blows it even more egregiously than usual in his May 28 WorldNetDaily column, which presents itself as a "dialectic" over a Supreme Court decision upholding a California ruling to release thousands of prison inmates to relieve overcrowding. Washington makes it clear he will stack thedeck early on by presenting a gross caricature of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who he claims is saying in an "arrogant tone":

As the moderate, or "swing vote," on this court of last appeal, I am in essence a one-man dictatorship. If I choose to vote with the conservatives, then the Framers' original intent will be the law. If I choose to vote with the socialist wing of the court, then socialism, communism, anarchy and genocide will be the law of the land.

The law, the Constitution, is what I, Justice Anthony Kennedy, say it is!

Not only does Washington baselessly portray Kennedy as a raging egomaniac -- he presents no evidence that this caricature has any basis in reality -- he similarly baselessly frames the argument as "the Framers' original intent" versus "socialism, communism, anarchy and genocide." 

Washington goes on to misinterpret President Obama's 2001 statements about the Warren Court's failure to "break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution" as a "socialist judicial philosophy" rather than what it actually is: an explanation that the Warren Court wasn't as radical as right-wingers like Washington like to believe it is. Washington then throws in Cloward and Piven for no apparent reason other than claim (again, baselessly) that they support the prison release because, somehow, "Total annihilation of all wealth is the final phase of the Cloward Piven strategy."

Washington also largely ignores the root cause of the release -- overcrowding. As the Los Angeles Times article Washington links to points out, California's prison population is 32,000 people over its authorized capacity limit, with prisoners being bunked in gymnasiums. Washington's only reference to it is more non-realistic words he  puts into Kennedy's mouth: "History won't blame me for the mayhem and murder my opinion will surely unleash upon my own country, for I insisted that for the state to make 54 prisoners use one toilet amounts to an Eighth Amendment prohibition against 'cruel and unusual punishment.'"

Further, Washington needlessly inflames the argument by claiming the prisoners to be released are "hardcore" (in the purported words of Justice Antonin Scalia) and "thousands of murderous criminals" (in the purported words of Socrates). But as he himself noted, the Supreme Court granted more time to California officials to implement the release, so since nobody has actually been released yet, Washington has no way of knowing if they are "murderous criminals" or not.

Besides, does Washington really think that the state will release convicted killers over, say, someone in jail on a low-level drug offense? That defies the logic that Washington presents himself as an advocate of. (Of course, Washington's fellow WND columnist Jack Cashill has a convicted killer he'd like to see roaming the streets.)

In between all of this laughably illogical "dialectic," Washington feels the need to attack legendary Supreme Court Justice John Marshall as a "radical judge" who "tried to usurp powers not expressly enumerated to the judicial branch by the Constitution." Washington cited just two cases for this view, decisions in Cherokee Nations v. Georgia (1831) and Worcester v. Georgia (1832) in which "Marshall upheld the Cherokee Indians' rights to lands within Georgia." Washington's two excerpts explaining the rulings, by the way, appear to have been taken from a Yahoo Answers page.

Washington doesn't explain how Marshall's rulings in those cases -- which upheld, respectively, that Indian tribes had the right to the land they occupied until they voluntarily ceded it to the federal government and that Indian tribes are not subject to state governance of the use of their land -- were a usurpation of powers. Nor does he mention why it's a bad thing to let Indian control their own destiny and not be forcibly removed from their lands by the federal government without a treaty. 

This all culminates in a decidedly non-Socratic rant coming from the mouth of Washington -- er, Socrates:

Just as my people, the ancient Greeks allowed systemic moral, religious and political perversions to rot the city-states from the inside out, so likewise has America allowed a small, cloistered, treasonous oligarchy to pass insanely pathological laws like freeing thousands of murderous criminals upon society. To add injury to insult, the justices fear no retribution upon their heads by the people. This criminal judicial decree violates every natural law in that the intended effect is to collapse American society in socialism, anarchy, nihilism and national suicide.

We Greeks called the release of such gargantuan wickedness upon society opening Pandora's box.

During this decadent age of effeminate, cowardly and ignorant men whose principles shift with the winds, what man, what heroic figure will stand tall, strong and true and say without equivocation like Achilles, like Hercules, like Prometheus … like President Andrew Jackson, who said in 1832 what needs to be said this day regarding the naked judicial activism of Chief Justice John Marshall? – "[Justice Anthony Kennedy] has made his decision; now let him enforce it!"

Actually, historians believe Jackson never actually said that about Marshall. Presumably, the real Socrates would be more careful about his facts -- since they form the foundation of logic -- than Washington is.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:29 AM EDT

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