As one of these “infiltrators,” I also notice how the article uses a number of flawed rhetorical devices. Unfortunately, in the internet age, many of these conventions have become more commonplace and contribute to the degraded nature of our political debate.
Here are the article’s top five logical missteps:
#1: The article turns impartial, widely accepted concepts into heresy. Andre Macias is running for SJUSD school board because he is disappointed with the district’s academic performance. Zoila Rollins wants some level of parental control over textbooks, especially when materials don’t align with personal values. These are concepts and concerns shared by parents across the political spectrum, and certainly not the exclusive concern of the “far right” or conservatives.
#2: The article takes statements out of context to create inaccurate claims. For example, the article turns a candidate’s comment supporting the prerogative of parents to review the school curriculum into a false claim that the candidate is anti-LGBTQ. Furthermore, it turns concern about the extravagances of Critical Race Theory into a sign of ingrained racism.
#3: The article mixes ideas that are not the same to create a false atmosphere of terror. Check out Orwellian tricks: “recruiting” candidates becomes “grooming”. Extremist critical race theory ideas simply become harmless ethnic studies.
#4: The article repeats uncorroborated claims by a bipartisan group — the Santa Clara County Democrats — at face value. Claims are not fact-checked and are based on unverified, undated and clearly manipulated online images. Much of the article is simply the outlandish claims found on the SCC Dems website and Twitter account.
#5: The article merges an individual’s retweets and shares with endorsement of every position ever held by the creator of the shared post. This is an overstatement of monumental proportions and the kind of clumsy logic that would disguise just about anyone who has ever shared a link to anything on Facebook or Twitter. This elevates Kevin Bacon’s seven degrees to a forensic tool.
Look, I know politics isn’t a beanbag, and Spotlight has every right to be as partisan as it wants. I’m not complaining. I just want to remind everyone that we should all be aware of these tricks and techniques as we move into a post-persuasion era that media critics are calling it.
Keep your antennae alert, because before long we’ll all be infiltrators.
Robert Varich is a trustee of Campbell Union High School District and is running for re-election.
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