Reductio ad americanum

I’ve always been a fan of the logical fallacy. When countering an argument from a political or ideological opponent, things are often made easier when one’s debating foe makes a point that has a blatant logical fallacy. Among the easiest to point out are ad hominem, non sequitur and the straw man.

Reductio ad hominem logical fallacies are so easy to pick out that even without an appreciation for logic in debate, one can easily determine that a point made with a loaded personal attack is obviously an argument that is weak. These logical fallacies attack “the man” instead of the point being made.

“Stephen Harper is a bad Prime Minister because he looks like he eats babies” is an obvious ad hominem attack and one that wouldn’t receive any positive consideration in any intelletual debate.

Unfortunately, many amateur debaters, and some that have mastered the practice, use a form of ad hominem that I call reductio ad americanum. In the ‘national debate’ that we have in the Tim Horton’s, the hockey rinks and even the Houses of Parliament across the land, ad americanum can be heard whenever one asserts that Canadians surely cannot implement a certain policy because it’s “American-style” be it “american-style healthcare”, “american-style tax cuts” or “american-style immigration”. In fact, one does not need to debate the finer points of any public policy so long as the Americans have done something similar because according to those who rely upon ad americanum attacks, those roughnecks south of the border have never done anything worthy of consideration in their 230 year history.

Here are a few recent examples of ad americanum:

“The controller-in-chief has affected Ottawa’s personal style as well. Sober is the new black. Navy blue suits are in, especially worn American style, waist-high with cuffs slightly short above glistening shoes (Mr. Harper’s most notable sartorial habit). The mantra you hear most often in Harperville these days is “get it done.”” (link)

“Policy planners are looking at American-style Senate elections, where voters would cast ballots for certain senators on one six-year cycle, and other senators on a second six-year cycle.” (link)

Canada should stay far away from American-style drug policies at all costs, according to an outspoken U.S. district attorney. (link)

But the optics of Stephen Harper’s first 100 days in office have left me with the distinct impression that Canada under the Tories has swiftly adopted an American-style stance toward armed conflicts and the so-called war on terrorism. (link)

“That’s what we do,” he said, adding the restaurants, which would be located at highway and high traffic locations, would provide healthy, authentic Atlantic Canadian fare as an alternative to unhealthy, American-style fast food road stops. (link)

Like right now, when American style militarism has become a Canadian political objective, under the guise of national security. (link)

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton warned Canada last night not to go down an American-style, privatized health-care road. (link)

“We know where the Reform Party stands. Reform would rip up the Canada Health Act, turn its back on public health care and opt for an American style model. We believe that health care is part of the fabric of this country.”
Alan Rock

“I part company with Reform, a party that wants to take us in the direction of American style politics.”Judy Wasylycia-Leis

The other thing about the Reform Party of Canada is that it supports Ralph Klein in a two tier American style health care vision for our country.Lorne Nystrom

We have heard all this constitutional revolution talk from across the way. We have heard the desire of at least two members opposite who talked about their version and imposing on our Parliament a 22nd amendment of fixed terms, limited terms. It is a remarkable admission of their republican tendencies that they wish to take this place and turn it into an American style government. It confirms in my mind what many people are saying, that this is not the party of Sir John A. Macdonald. This is the Reform Party under a different name.Roger Gallaway

Why is it that the reformed Alliance people always, and this member in particular, want to somehow connect American style guns with our justice system? It does not make sense. — Lynn Myers

” Mr. Speaker, it is one of those times that I am delighted to agree with virtually everything the member for Wild Rose has said. I have consistently said we do not want American style legislation because it does not work. That is why we have made this legislation rural friendly. That is why we have avoided the stick and talked about the carrot instead.”David Anderson