Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

I've been a bit busy with tests and essays that seem to never end. However I needed to write something on a particular news item.

The headline I have presented is the logical consequence of arguments presented by Michelle Malkin and Little Green Footballs. Malkin stated the following:

The keffiyeh, for the clueless, is the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad. Popularized by Yasser Arafat and a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos, the apparel has been mainstreamed by both ignorant (and not so ignorant) fashion designers, celebrities and left-wing icons.
Malkin is making an argument from analogy in the following manner:

(p1) Object A has Properties P, Q, R and so on
(p2) Objects B also has properties P, Q, R, and so on
(p3) Objects B has property X
(c1) Therefore Object A probably also has Property X.


(p1) Persons in the west are wearing a headdress, which has a number of distinct properties like colour, distinct patterns, scarf-looking, wrapped around the head etc.
(p2) The Keffiyeh is an Arabic headdress that also contains those exact properties.
(p3) The Keffiyeh also has a property that symbolises murderous jihad and terrorism.
(c1) Therefore People in the west who wear Keffiyehs are also probably symbolising murderous jihad and terrorism.

The consequence of the argument is that anyone in the west who wears a Keffiyeh (or a shemagh as it is also known) is symbolising Jihad. Australian and British soldiers wear this shemagh as a practical tool (I'm sure American soldiers and others have as well). It keeps the dust out of your face when you are inserted by armoured vehicles or helicopter (combined with goggles and glasses too). It also acts as a form of camouflage when you have the right colour (see below). Not that I like shemaghs as a practical tool. From my personal experience I reckon they screw with your peripheral vision if you aren't wearing them tight and right. Which is bad if you had an opposition who make flanking tactical maneuvers, enfilade fire, and certain ambush set-ups.

Here are some pictures of diggers wearing green shemaghs, which Malkin would define as "ignorant Jihadist-Supporters" according to her argument (who also paradoxically support America at the same time):

Malkin could counter-argue that she was taking aim at a particular white coloured shemagh with the particular Palestinian pattern. However she also talks about red-scarves so she can't be talking about the property of colour. She has universalized the concept. I've seen white shemaghs worn by multiple soldiers while I was in the Army. So she can't back down and say the colour is different (when the white shemagh gets dirty it actually looks somewhat deceptively ok).

Malkin could also argue she was talking about leftists, fashionistas, students, or others, who are wearing the scarf. However, the property still stands. She has made the argument from the scarf, and its properties, to the person wearing it. Not the other way around. Malkin is implying that wearing a Keffiyeh is a sufficient and necessary condition for symbolising Jihadism and terrorism. It isn't a sufficient condition as a person can wear a Keffiyeh and still be against Jihadism and terrorism. It isn't a necessary condition as Jihadism and terrorism can be "symbolised" in a variety of ways without a Keffiyeh (whatever the ambiguous, and subjective, language of "symbolism" means). Therefore, wearing a keffiyeh is neither a sufficient, nor a necessary, condition for symbolising Jihadism.

Finishing up, Malkin's argument adds more smoke to an already deceptive playing field in which the real crafty types would make sure not to bring attention to themselves. I'm sure Intelligence agencies don't sit around and use shemaghs as a conditional indicator of terrorist behaviour. Malkin may raise a counter-argument stating the issue is symbolism and culture war. However, western societies have a habit of amalgamating other cultures into its own. If it is a culture war then blending with cultures should be seen as a Sun Tzu-like strength. Contesting the strength of cultural blending comes off as dogmatic as some middle eastern cultures who'd never amalgamate the bikini into their culture.


The Whited Sepulchre said...

I have stated this before someplace, but I want to find the people who taught you guys rhetoric and logic.
I want to study at their feet for a decade or two, and then go out and make the world a better place via syllogisms.

Curtis Gale Weeks said...

"the power of insidious symbols" (Malkin)

It isn't the symbols that are powerful, but the minds interpreting them.

Malkin wishes to be one of those minds -- who influences or co-opts other minds. I have detested that mind for a couple years at least. So apparently, she's failed in this one regard.

Jay@Soob said...

Great breakdown, Munz. The comedy here is that the woman who wore the scarf (as a scarf mind you) in a Dunkin Donuts commercial is about as threatening as a crippled kitten. Although I suppose she could drive you insane with perkiness and good cheer. Malkin made one hell of a leap from Rachel Ray to murderous jihadi. Then the online saps that simply drooled a bit on their keyboards for a second and then stampeded in behind her, jabbering and decrying. Lol! The whole things too funny. Talk about herd mentality!

Anonymous said...

This last paragraph about culture and war is great. All cultures adapt and change by borrowing new values and symbols, the real mistake is associating the same values with a single culture and assuming they never change. Our enemies expect to do just this, as it makes the fight morally and existentially tenable for the long-term. But, the very fact that culture is dynamic and socially and politically contingent makes it vulnerable to change, and we should confound our opponent's cultural expectations at every opportunity. Wearing the kaffiyeh, or wearing a Saddam moustache, both achieve this purpose.

Ymarsakar said...

It doesn't matter why you wear a fashion garb the same as Palesitnians do. Once you accept it as normal, you will also accept the cultural customs of Palestinians as normal, simply because they look the same.

You may not agree with their ideology, but most people of the same culture don't agree with each other's ideology. They are still of the same culture. This is a side ways result of multiculturalism in that if you mix together a bunch of cultures without regard for their merits, the strongest or the most brutal culture inevitably comes to dominate everybody.

Ymarsakar said...

Anti-American fashion designers abroad and at home have mainstreamed and adapted the scarves as generic pro-Palestinian jihad or anti-war statements. Yet many folks out there remain completely oblivious to the apparel’s violent symbolism and anti-Israel overtones.

(p1) Object A has Properties P, Q, R and so on
(p2) Objects B also has properties P, Q, R, and so on
(p3) Objects B has property X
(c1) Therefore Object A probably also has Property X.

The real logic at play here is.

p1. Object A has the property of anti-American or pro-Palestinian symbology.

p2. Fashion designers have designed object B with the intention of using said anti-American or pro-Palestinian symbology

p3. Those that use Object B thus are contributing to anti-American or pro-Palestinian symbology.

By erasing the premise 2 in my syllogism, M, you're entirely erasing the logic chain and reforming it differently. Without a premise linking Object A to Object B, any conclusions made from Object B according to premises on Object A would thus be illogical since there is no reason to believe one affects the other.

G said...

whited supulchre, thanks. I make no claims to being good at it. I'm only a couple of months into my major in logic and philosophy of science so I'm bound to make some mistakes along the way!

Curtis, you are correct. It certainly is subjective.

Jay, cheers. The thing that peeved me off was that Malking was arguing from all shemaghs, then when individuals called her out on the military aspect her supporters then changed their position and stated it was specific people wearing them. Quite clear she was arguing from the symbolism of the shemagh to the person.

Stephen, certainly so. That's what makes the west great to me.

Ymarsakar, I can see what you are saying but I would disagree. Going from wearing shemaghs in general to accepting ALL cultural aspects of a group who wears a specific type of pattern and colour of shemagh is a slippery slope fallacy. If I wear a beret am I accepting the entiriety of French culture? Of course not. That's not to say there is clothing in the world that brings strong cultural symbolism into play. KKK clan outfits come to mind as an item of clothing that has properties which cannot be separated from a racist subculture. But I think shemaghs has properties that do not have strong ties to "terrorism." Green shemaghs are tied to the symbolism within Hamas. Tons of Diggers in the army wear green shemaghs. That doesn't mean Aussie soldiers support the Hamas culture. One could possibly argue a strong position of specific shemaghs with specific colours and patterns representing certain groups, but Malkin wasn't arguing that. She was arguing from a position of all shemaghs then to the people wearing them as ignorant jihadi-supporters.

Regarding the rewritten logical argument:

P1 begs the question. It needs independent reasoning to support the claim that it has the property of "anti-americanism." Once again, plenty of western soldiers wear shemaghs, including the particular shemagh colour in question (if that is what you are talking about). Are these soldiers projecting anti-American symbolism when they go into battle? I would say they are certainly not. It is a practical tool for them. If it can be worn in a manner that does not project the particular property and symbolism then it is neither sufficient, nor necessary as a condition for anti-Americanism.

P2 assumes you know the intent of every fashion designer who has created a shemagh. Jawa report has a blog post showing that the debated donut scarf isn't even a palestinian shemagh. As it doesn't match the patterning structure. So in the malkin case P2 doesn't hold.

GrEaT sAtAn'S gIrLfRiEnD said...

Great Essay. There is a wealth of ammunition to use against intolerant, time traveling, unfun, unfree, unhappy - nigh unhinged regimes and their fanboys with out even raising mohammedist fashion.

Reckon that deploying and redeploying the same points against enemies by focusing on mohammedism is appealing to the easiest common denominator?

Anonymous said...

that is the typical "Hitler was a Vegetarian - so all Vegetarians are Nazis" argument. gosh!