Samuel Johnson famously said that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. This means that when backed against a wall of logic and reason, statists and warmongers will wrap themselves in the flag in a desperate attempt to combat the cognitive dissonance and smear his opponent. What are you, un-American?
Johnson made that observation over 250 years ago, but the principles of the fallacy stay the same. Only now, it has branched off into multiple areas of public debate. Terms racist, homophobe, sexist, Islamophobe, etc. saturate the media and are overused to such a point that they lose their meaning. They also are a great distraction from the issue at hand, as one is left to disprove a negative.
One of the more recent of these fallacies to be used is one of the most vicious: "anti-Semite." Not only does the term Semitic describe practically the entire Middle East, but it is usually hurled by those who have little in the argument or substance department to appeal to emotion.
Jeffrey Lord is a contributor to the American Spectator magazine, and he has taken it upon himself to go after Ron Paul (and more specifically, his non-interventionist foreign policy), which is fine on its own. Nothing wrong with disagreements and debate.
But now Lord has found refuge in blind, uninformed name-calling. In a recent column, Lord calls out Ron Paul and his supporters for (surprise, surprise) being anti-semites.
How dare Paul not worship at Benjamin Netanyahu's feet? The US should be neutral and engage in free trade and free markets with the Middle East, says Paul, cut off all foreign "aid" looted from the American taxpayer, and let Israel, with over 300 nukes, handle her security.
Sounds reasonable to me.
But notice that Jeffrey Lord, and his buddy Mark Levin, doesn't actually critique or address Ron Paul's foreign policy positions. Lord has called Paul "liberal," "naive," "dangerous," and now anti-Semitic, yet fails to provide a coherent alternative to a non-interventionist (i.e., small-government) foreign policy and cheers on big government as it marches across the globe.
Without an argument, the coward will either put his fingers in his ear, scream, and stomp his feet, or lash out the only way he knows how: by appealing to emotion, demagoguery, and the last refuge of a scoundrel, whether it's patriotism or name-calling.