The Leftist establishment, and particularly Leftist academics, have exalted the argument from authority, which logically is the weakest of all arguments, to the status of the only argument they deign to employ in support of their views. They don’t bother to offer evidence or substantiation for what they say. (The obverse of this is also true: if conservatives say something to which the Left objects, even if it is true, he must retreat in disgrace, no matter how high the mountain of evidence in his favor; see the recent case of Mark Green.) We are just expected to take it at face value, because of their exalted status. It is no longer considered within the realm of possibility that a professor could be a poor thinker, or that arguments should be presented with supporting evidence to show that they are true. Being a Leftist, especially a Leftist academic, means never having to offer any defense of the views you enunciate. They are what they are, and the lumpenproletariat just has to fall into line.
And so we come to Gettysburg College professor Dave Powell, who wrote this about my recent appearance on his campus in his article “Looking For a Cure For Educational Exhaustion,” Education Week, May 5, 2017:
I’ll say this though: what Spencer brought to campus was not enlightened discourse or thoughtful intellectual discussion. It was, in my view, third-rate argumentation masquerading as “courageous” free speech, a talk filled with cherry-picked information and weak logic that should have embarrassed the students who invited him. And I mean no disrespect to the students when I say that: my feeling is that they should invite who they want. But this was a weak argument, plain and simple, and not even a particularly provocative one.
The cherry on top was a declamation the speaker made calling for the president of the College to resign for inhibiting free speech (I heard that he called her a fascist, too, but I missed that on the livestream when I was trying to wrangle my daughter out of the bathtub). This denunciation was delivered from behind a podium in a quiet room while a check for $2,000 burned a hole in his pocket. His speech had, in fact, not been denied at all. It had been approved after careful deliberation and it went off without a hitch. He wove his web of circular logic, answered a few questions defiantly, tried unsuccessfully to provoke the crowd, and left. He even thanked the audience for its civility before scurrying off stage. Meanwhile, on the other side of campus, some 400 people gathered at a solidarity rally to protest the speech—not by causing a riot or inciting violence, but by dancing to music provided by a band and generally just enjoying each other’s company. Imagine that.
In reality, Gettysburg College President Janet Morgan Riggs characterized me, without presenting any evidence (of course), as “bigoted” and “hateful,” and called on students not to attend my event. She couldn’t cancel it: she would have been facing a lawsuit. But her actively discouraging students from attending was a quintessentially fascist act: stigmatizing and demonizing dissenting views without examination is one key weapon tyrants use to stay in power.
Powell then suggests, echoing a multitude of libelous pieces from Leftist and Islamic supremacist groups, that I am only in it for the money — as if I couldn’t find a way to make money that wouldn’t involve me getting death threats and being smeared and defamed on a daily basis. This from a man working at an institution that charges each student a cool $47,480 a year to be a recipient of its Leftist indoctrination, digging many students into a deep hole of debt as they begin their professional life. Hey, Professor, nice work if you can get it.
Anyway, the main element of Powell’s remarks that struck me was that he offered no evidence for his withering characterization of my presentation. Once again, the argument from authority from a Leftist academic. So I wrote to him:
Good evening, Professor.
I was quite interested to read this: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/K-12_Contrarian/2017/05/educational_exhaustion.html
“I’ll say this though: what Spencer brought to campus was not enlightened discourse or thoughtful intellectual discussion. It was, in my view, third-rate argumentation masquerading as “courageous” free speech, a talk filled with cherry-picked information and weak logic that should have embarrassed the students who invited him. And I mean no disrespect to the students when I say that: my feeling is that they should invite who they want. But this was a weak argument, plain and simple, and not even a particularly provocative one….He wove his web of circular logic, answered a few questions defiantly, tried unsuccessfully to provoke the crowd, and left. He even thanked the audience for its civility before scurrying off stage.”
How interesting that you didn’t provide even a single example of this weak argumentation.
A proposition for you: I will return to Gettysburg College at my own expense. We can debate on the debate thesis “Islam is a religion of peace.” You argue yes, and I argue no. You can expose to all the students what you didn’t explain in your piece: the cherry-picked circularity and weakness of my argumentation. We can make sure it is videoed and placed on YouTube, so that your discrediting of me will reach many of my followers worldwide and destroy my baneful influence forever.
Here is a further incentive: if you win the debate in the eyes of a mutually agreed-upon panel of neutral arbiters, or failing that, a panel made up of an equal number of supporters of each of us, I will donate $2,000 to Gettysburg College.
I look forward to hearing from you, and will wait to make this challenge public until I do, or until it becomes clear that you do not intend to answer.
Powell responded just as I thought he would: he wrote that he had no interest in debating me and admitted that he was “no expert on the topics you discussed and do not pretend to be.” How he knows that my logic and argumentation were weak when he admittedly doesn’t know the field remains unexplained. He then lectured me a bit on the nature of the freedom of speech, but still offered no examples of my alleged “cherry-picked information and weak logic” and “third-rate argumentation.” We’re just supposed to take his word for it, and we don’t even have to pay $47,480 for the privilege.
But you don’t have to take his word for it. Judge for yourself whether or not Powell is correct in his claims. Watch the lecture and the Q and A here. If you find any “weak argumentation,” “cherry-picked information,” “circular logic,” or anything else supporting Powell’s claims, send me the exact quote and your case, and I will publish it here at Jihad Watch. But don’t neglect to make the case for your claims. We don’t accept the argument from authority here.