Madison Cawthorn Continues the Trump Legacy of Dumb Counterfactuals
I've posted a decent bit in recent years about rightwing politicians in the U. S. and abroad offering dopey counterfactuals on different topics and my fear that they were reinforcing longstanding biases against the genre.
Donald Trump on Andrew Jackson anyone?
Now Madison Cawthorn is getting into the act. In a recent Fox News interview, GOP Congressman Madison Cawthorn did his best to continue the political right’s longstanding effort to discredit counterfactual reasoning by uttering a boneheaded “what if?”
When asked about his refusal to wear a mask on the House floor, he replied:
“I just want us to imagine, really think to our founding fathers, know that we're not descended from fearful men. Imagine if you had George Washington when he was trying to get the British to capitulate in Yorktown, except he had a mask on his face. That's not who we're descended from, we're descended from men and women of valor who stood up for their own personal liberty and that's what my friends and colleagues and I were doing on the House floor yesterday.”
I’m less interested in commenting on why this nightmare scenario is unconvincing. (It's a bad sign that Cawthorn neglects to provide a punch line to his own "what if?" -- not to mention the obvious objection that the will of the British to fight at Yorktown was not contingent upon their understanding of Washington’s “personal liberty” and, oh yes, the presence of the French fleet, which pummeled the English).
I’m more interested in the encouraging responses, which highlighted the fact that Cawthorn’s counterfactual did little honor to the genre.
Here is a sampling:
And then there's this:
And my favorite:
Let's hear it for the burgeoning resistance movement opposed to bad counterfactuals!