Evasion Tactics

Rod Dreher on evasion tactics:

The evasion goes something like this:

1. [Our side] is accused of doing/supporting/enabling this horrible thing.

2. We are not the kind of people who would do/support/enable that sort of thing.

3. Therefore we are not guilty.

Or it goes like this:

1. Our side is accused, etc.

2. But the people making the accusation are bad.

3. If they are right, bad people win.

4. Therefore, they are wrong.

Or like this:

1. Our side is accused, etc.

2. If the accusers are right, then we will have to stop doing what we’re doing.

3. The cost of that would be too high.

4. Therefore, the accusers are wrong.

He accuses himself of having engaged in these during the 2002 Catholic sex abuse crisis and during the lead up to the Iraq War, which he supported, and he points out several other circumstances where evasion and refusal to look at reality win the day: abortion, terrorism, and the inability of schools (both public and Catholic) in his area to teach black students.


  1. There are a ton of factors at play. From cognitive bias, to (reasonable) perspective bias, to maintaining one’s place in a socio-cultural group. Mathematical testing is always a good way to check propositions.
    Take the terrorism example we were discussing yesterday. It’s portrayed in the media as the greatest issue of our time. But if you go through homicide statistics, at the top you’ve got personal conflict (fight ends up in murder), then gang violence, then white collar crime… all that’s mostly male. Keep going down the list and you end up at domestic violence homicides, then accidental gunshot deaths (over 500 a year in the US), then finally terrorism, usually in the double digits. Mass shootings weren’t on the list (probably included in another category) but they obviously also figure way below the accidental gun deaths number.

    1. Mass shootings and terror attacks are statistically negligible, but they are also not risks that a person expects to have to run in a modern nation-state, and their effects on the public psyche are quite different from ordinary crimes, which is why people commit them.
      White people often complain that BLM is stupid because a black man is infinitely more likely to be killed by another black man than by a white police officer. But it isn’t so stupid if you consider that while there is not much that government can directly do to prevent murder, it is certainly well within the government’s power to not commit murder. If government officials are murdering people and the mayor shrugs and says “what are you gonna do, murders happen, you are more likely to be the victim of a drunk driver than a cop on a rampage” he is pissing on your shoes and telling you it is raining, i.e. harming you (by omission) and refusing to take responsibility.
      Regarding gun violence – why are gun law violations rarely prosecuted in cities with high murder rates? Why are the straw buyers who supply gangsters never charged? Regarding terrorism: what were the Tsarnaev family – unemployed low-life criminals all of them – doing in America? Why was the San Bernardino shooter in America after lying on his visa application. Go back to 9/11: all the bombers were here on expired visas, why does the government never follow up on those?
      Do the goddamned paperwork; train your police officers; prosecute the ditsy girlfriend who bought the gangbanger his gun; throw the good-for-nothing lowlife back to his home country after his first assault, not his last; revise your immigration laws and quotas; stop pissing on my shoes and telling me it is raining.

  2. You begin your answer with a false premise: “but they are also not risks that a person expects to have to run in a modern nation-state.” How not? Why not? You’re setting the standard for risk of violent crime with political undertones at zero when that’s never been the case. Ever. And it will never be the case. Even in highly controlling dictatorships, violent dissent arises. Add to that that we can’t dismiss the *crazy* factor. It’s impossible to eliminate or monitor all the crazies.
    The effects on the public psyche are the effect of the media, not of the significance of the crime itself. Creating hysteria is an effective tool of political and financial manipulation. Just look at the lead up to the Rwanda massacre.
    Your writing is an excellent example of how someone has been led to believe that something with an annual risk of 1 in 3.5 million, as opposed to dying in an accident involving a bathtub (one in 950,000), or a home appliance (one in 1.5 million) is the most important risk society faces. In fact, did you know when assessing public risk, 1st world governments worldwide use a general rule of risk acceptability of above one person per million per year. In practical terms that translates to it being acceptable for 1 in a million people exposed to X toxin to develop cancer.
    Governments already do an absolutely amazing job, because they know what they’re doing. Your examples mix up a whole range of things. People in charge of policing aren’t responsible for immigration. And people responsible for approving Visas (in foreign consulates) aren’t the same ones who monitor immigration in the host country. Not to mention that none of those errors are a causal factor in an attack. A terrorist can be an atheist or a Christian. The attacks in Orlando and Nice were by legal citizens, who weren’t particularly religious. So all these suggestions, at great expense to a huge number of people, don’t improve conditions by any significant margin. Zero point 001? Not even that.

    Look at it from a cold perspective. You’re arbitrarily choosing, let’s call it number 17, on the list of criminal homicides. Then asking society to single out not the people responsible for number 17, but a much larger group and subject them to exceptional scrutiny. It would be like asking for special laws and task forces to monitor Catholics to avoid paedophilia.

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