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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
7:56 PM Tue, Sept. 18th

Column: Don’t debate liars, or the uninformed

An actual comment to our newsroom:

“Compare President Trump’s quick response to Harvey with the dismal response of Obama to Katrina! Yet, no word of praise for our President! Anyone else sick of liberals yet?”

First, a word of praise for President Trump: He learned the lessons of Katrina and didn’t put a horse show supervisor who donated a lot of money to his campaign in charge of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Brock Long, the man in charge, has experience managing a crisis. Considering the enormous challenges Harvey presented, he’s done a terrific job. So President Trump does deserve credit.

But as for the rest of the statement … never let the facts get in the way of blaming Obama.

It was an anonymous submission, and I don’t blame them for that. I wouldn’t want to put my name on such ignorance either. I’ll correct them, but the point is moot because I suspect this person doesn’t read anything beyond Facebook memes, dismissing everything else as “fake news.”

Hurricane Katrina happened from Aug. 23 to Aug. 31 in 2005. Barack Obama was serving his first year in the U.S. Senate at the time. George W. Bush was the president then. These are facts, anyone can verify them.

But that won’t matter, I’ve seen conservatives blame the worldwide financial crash in the fall of 2008 on Obama, even though he didn’t become president until Jan. 20, 2009.

In college, a mentor once told me never to get into a debate with a liar. Of course, I debated this point. Surely, if I could show that they were lying, then it would be an easy win.

No, my mentor said. You cannot win a debate with someone who makes things up and denies reality, it’s an uneven playing ground. You must stick to what’s real, and reality is rarely pretty and almost never straightforward. It is filled with nuance. They can just make stuff up, and when you point out they made it up, they’ll just make more stuff up to prove they didn’t make stuff up.

Lies don’t waste time with nuance. They are straightforward and easy to understand, and usually intended for an audience that is desperate to believe they are true.

The success of Bill O’Reilly (child hunger is a total lie, there are no homeless veterans) and Sean Hannity (Hillary Clinton’s goons are running around murdering people) proved he was right.

They may have zero credibility with most of the public, but the part that wants red meat to feed their insatiable appetite to hate their political opponents eats it up.

Let’s add the uninformed to my mentor’s wise words. If the person that sent that comment did debate me, I’m sure they will still be able to manufacture a reason Obama’s to blame for, well, everything.

It’s like trying to debate climate change with a denier. The storms keep getting worse, the permafrost in Alaska keeps melting, the climate scientists keep saying it’s settled science, no serious person not being paid by the oil and gas industry denies it, and they keep calling it a hoax.

Scientists say that man-made climate change made Hurricane Harvey much worse. How? The sea level is 6 inches higher than before, meaning there was a lot more water; Houston is sinking because of the removal of resources (gas, oil) under it; and warmer than usual temperatures because of the burning of fossil fuels put more moisture into the air.

Voilà, record rainfalls. They say it’s going to get worse, even if we started doing something about climate change today.

One Republican congressman said that if climate change is real, there is no need for us to do anything. God will take care of it.

“Well, as a Christian, I believe that there is a creator in God who is much bigger than us,” Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) said. “And I’m confident that, if there’s a real problem, he can take care of it.”

Congressman, it’s time to start praying.