The Spectacle Blog

Uninsured Deniers Redux

By on 5.2.07 | 5:44PM

Ezra Klein posted a comment on my "Uninsured Denier" post. To read the whole thing, go here and scroll down. Among the charges that he levels at me is that I'm intellectually dishonest and misrepresenting him. He writes,

In any case, I'm disappointed. I'd been sending you my sources under the impression your were an intellectually honest interlocutor who wasn't out to misrepresent my points. Not only was i wrong on that, but to see you suggesting I've somehow compared folks denying the uninsured numbers to those denying the holocaust is, well, breathtakingly insane.

With regard to those charges, take a look at Klein's last paragraph in his post on the uninsured again:

The insurance industry isn't prone to overhyping the millions of Americans without insurance, and if they thought themselves capable of calling it 15 million rather than 45 million, they would. They don't. And so, if you're a denier, ask yourself: Are you really comfortable with a world in which the insurance industry is more intellectually honest than you are?

To understand my thinking, consider the parallels between the term "holocaust denier" and Klein's use of the term "denier." First, Klein treats the 45 million statistic as an unassailable fact. The term holocaust denier implies that the denier is trying to deny an unassailable fact, namely the holocaust. Second, Klein is suggesting that those who deny the 45 million statistic are intellectually dishonest (unless he believes that insurance companies are paragons of intellectual honesty, but I think it's safe to assume he doesn't). Intellectual dishonesty is also implicit in the term holocaust denier; such deniers usually claim either the holocaust is Jewish propaganda or that "bad things" happened under Hitler but it wasn't his fault.

Finally, in recent months a number of leftists have been bashing global warming skeptics with the term "global warming deniers," explicitly linking the term to "holocaust deniers." Thus, I saw Klein's use of the term in the context that he used it, and I concluded that the trope had moved from global warming to health care.

Intellectually dishonest? Hardly. Misrepresenting him? Not intentionally.

Misinterpreting him? Well, that's fair. I'll plead guilty to that.

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