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The Concept Game

In 2004  I crashed the Internet forum of Robert Tracinski’s  The Intellectual Activist (TIA) and slummed there for a week or so. Towards the end I suggested we play  Concepts in a Hat.

“Concepts in a Hat” is an intellectual game that goes like this. Someone, called the moderator, gives us several different statements or situations and we try to discover what they have in common, that is, the concept they all exemplify – the concept which the moderator had cunningly used in choosing them.

Let’s play the game, and I’ll be the moderator.

... No, I want to be the moderator.

It’s my website, I’ll be the moderator. Jeez. Below are three statements, from the game I suggested on the TIA forum. The first is by Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi-Jordanian embezzler who later founded the Iraqi National Congress (a group of Iraqi exiles in America funded by Congress which lobbied for the war against Iraq) later outed as a spy for Iran. The second statement is by “KittyHawk,” a TIA Daily subscriber. KittyHawk wrote it during a TIA forum discussion about World War II. The third statement is by TIA writer Jack Wakeland, made during the same discussion. At no time did Mr. Wakeland contradict KittyHawk, who was defending his position.

Here is Chalabi (Feb. 18, 2004) after it had become clear that the I.N.C.’s claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were false:

“We are heroes in error. As far as we’re concerned, we’ve been entirely successful. Our objective has been achieved. That tyrant Saddam is gone, and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important.”

Here is KittyHawk (Oct. 4, 2004) in response to the claim that Roosevelt had goaded the Japanese into attacking the U.S., knew about the planned Pearl Harbor attack well in advance, and eagerly awaited it so he could get the U.S. into WW II:

“Ultimately, whether Roosevelt wanted to get into the war for the right reasons or not is irrelevant. What matters is whether there were, in fact, rational reasons of self-defense for us to get into the war.”

And here is TIA’s Jack Wakeland (Oct. 4, 2004), emphasis added:

“Given the evil of Nazism, Roosevelt was absolutely in the right to maneuver the mostly isolationist U.S. population into a war with Germany.”

What do these three statements have in common?

Well, I suddenly got booted off the TIA forum, ostensibly for not being a subscriber, and didn’t get to give my answer. I could still view the forum though, and strange to relate, neither KittyHawk nor Mr. Wakeland went on to play the game. Party poopers, don’t you think?

What Mr. Wakeland means by “maneuver” is clear enough. In the context he uses it the word connotes deceit, like “manipulate.” Roosevelt did in fact deceive the public. Roosevelt fooled many men into eagerly enlisting, and he deceived Congress into enacting conscription which rounded up those not so eager.

KittyHawk evades the real issue. The question is not “whether Roosevelt wanted to get into the war for the right reasons or not” but rather whether he lied and effectively murdered to do it or not. KittyHawk says, in effect, “He lied, I don’t care, just so he got the U.S. into the war.”

As for Chalabi, he was no “hero in error.” He was a “hero” in deceit.

So, what do our three statements have in common?

... Well, each in its own way advocates the pragmatic lie, the “noble” lie.

That isn’t the answer. That’s a contradiction, not a concept.

... They all advocate lying to the public.

True, but we can do better than that. When does a person lie? What must he feel towards those he lies to?

... Well, a person lies only to someone he despises.

That’s better. The three people above despise the American public. But what about Americans do they despise?

... Their minds.

And were their minds really despicable?

... No, generally the American mind is not despicable. The three people above must despise the mind as such.

Correct. In a word, they are anti-mind and anti-reason. And that’s the answer.