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Pauline Lewis

Prof. Gierczyk

ENC 1101 Essay 2: Rhetorical Analysis

“Calling for Reason and Civility' Doesn't Make You Hitler”

The United States of America has become extreme due to our political polarization

through recent years which is damaging to our social progress and society. The America known

today has fallen into the habit of demonizing and attacking anyone and everyone based on

lifestyle, religious beliefs and political affiliation. Nowadays we as human beings can only work

out our differences through civil communication and reasonable debates. On September 3rd of

2019, the infamous political commentator, Ben Shapiro, from the conservative-leaning online

news site The Daily Wire, posted his response to a Washington Post article he found offensive

and counterproductive to open dialog in this country. Shapiro dissects a Washington Post article

that uses the "Hitler/dog" logical fallacy to claim that conservatives are reminiscent of

19th-century Southern slave owners.

The Washington Post’s argument [in its recent article]: Everyone on the Right is Hitler;

everyone is Hitler! ---- “ This because everybody who happens to be even slightly

right-of-center is tired, sick of being labeled a white supremacist. They’re tired of being

labeled racist…” ( Fairbanks,2019 - The‘Reasonable’Rebels )

Credibility is very important in writing as it speaks to how reliable the information that is

being presented is. In this article Shapiro employs several strategies to strengthen and continue

his line of credibility. The first strategy of ethos in this article is the long history Shapiro has

with writing, his first article being published at the age of 17 and having a history of

self-correction and acknowledgement of when he has written a bad article not to mention he even

wrote an article about all of his bad articles. Having a long history of publishing articles and
having the courage to admit when he is wrong shows his appeal to the ethos of this article.

Secondly this article also cites the article he is responding to several times verbatim and explains

exactly what his issues are with the exact line. Direct citation is very important in building ethos

in an article as general summation can be misconstrued or important details can be left out.

Shapiro is also very careful to define his words and meanings so the reader does not get confused

about what he is talking about.

So when people like me say, you know what, why don’t you have a conversation with us?

Because we actually agree on white supremacy being evil — we all agree that Nazis suck. We’re

all on the same page here. The first response of the Left is, “Ah but aren’t you a Nazi?” That’s

like, God bless it, you’re making my argument for me. My whole argument is that we are having a

tough time conversing with one another and people are getting angry and they’re responding in

dramatically reactionary fashion because you keep calling them something they are not. You went

at the Right long enough, you kept calling us white supremacists, you kept calling us Nazis, and

then Trump was out there basically saying you’re all schmucks. [So] we’re like, OK fine!

( Shapiro, 2019 - Calling For 'Reason And Civility )

The logos of any article or argument is held up by its inherent logic. If someone wrote an

article arguing that birds fly with the power of witchcraft, the reader wouldn’t take the article

seriously as the statements made are not logical or go against common sense and or reasoning.

Approaching a topic with verifiably false information cuts against the credibility of the writer

and weakening your credibility is not a logical way to persuade or inform an audience. In this

article, Shapiro takes a logical approach to countering the Washington Post article. He describes

the logical fallacy he sees in the Washington post article and compares it to another logical

fallacy to show their similarities. Shapiro quotes the Eva Fairbanks (2019) article and equates
her statement, that Conservatives’ use of the words reason and civility and so did the Old South

during the time of the civil war when they defended slavery, with the Hitler/dog logical fallacy.

The Washington Post, there’s a piece by a woman named Eve Fairbanks. The piece is titled “The

Reasonable Rebels.”Conservatives say we’ve abandoned reason and civility. The Old South

used the same language to defend slavery...( Fairbanks,2019 - The‘Reasonable’Rebels )

This is literally the Hitler/dog argument. This is, Hitler had a dog, you have a dog, thus by logical

deduction, you are Hitler! ( Shapiro, 2019 - Calling For 'Reason And Civility )

The Hitler/dog fallacy is a logical falsehood that since Hitler liked dogs, if you like dogs

you must be like Hitler. This is an argument that a person can determine to be false just by

simple reasoning. Another strategy Shapiro uses to lend logos to his article is the use of history

and facts. While events in history can seem to me illogical in nature, the fact that they happened

stays inherently true. Making an argument that ignores, omits or falsifies actual events is not a

logical way, again, to make an argument or inform the author’s intended audience. In his rebuttal

to some of the statements made in the article written by Fairbanks, Shapiro uses historical facts

about the civil war such as the attack on Fort Sumter and the death toll after the war ended.

Using historical facts when presenting an argument is a very logical approach when creating an

argument.

Washington Post: After the El Paso shooting, Ben Shapiro, a popular conservative

podcaster…asked Americans to draw a line between the few conservatives who are white

supremacists and those who, like him, aren’t. ---( Fairbanks,2019 - The‘Reasonable’Rebels )

Conservatism is about the sacrosanct nature of the individual. Conservatism is about judging

individuals as human beings. It is not about group identity. That cuts directly against

conservatism. Almost all Americans are “on the same side,” he said, and “we should be mourning

together.” In his telling, we aren’t, for one simple reason: Too many on the political Left [are]
castigating the character of those who disagree,” lumping conservatives and political

nonconformists together with racists and xenophobes.

( Shapiro, 2019 - Calling For 'Reason And Civility )

Emotions can, at times, be more powerful than both logic and reason and that is why it is

an important part of writing. Human beings are emotional creatures and we listen to our hearts

or guts more often than our brains sometimes. Shapiro utilizes emotion in his article to convey

his disapproval and objection to the Washington Post article. Much of the text has an “essence”

used in the article such as when he points out the logical fallacy in the Fairbanks article by

saying “Also, you know [how] I know that conservatives today are not like the Old South when

they call for reason and civility? Because I'm not whipping black folks while I'm calling for

reason and civility, you moron. Because I don't own slaves, you dumbass! Like, what are you,

what are you even talking about? This is it. It is exactly the Hitler/dog argument” (2019). His

use of less than professional language and rhetoric evokes an emotion of resentment towards the

thesis of Fairbank’s article and his outrage at the comparison of himself and others to the evils of

slave holders in the Civil War era.

Washington Post: I grew up in a conservative family. The people I talk to most frequently, the

people I call when I need help, are conservative. I’m not inclined to paint conservatives as

thoughtless bigots. It felt frustrating, When I [read, listened and watched members of the

“reasonable right]. The reasonable right’s rhetoric is exactly the same a...to be precise, in support

of the slave-owning South.( Fairbanks,2019 - The‘Reasonable’Rebels )

She’s reminded of slaveholders. That’s what she was reminded of! We’re just like the people who

decided to fight a civil war to secede from the United States while enslaving millions of black

people. Exactly the same. The same guys, cause you’re crazy.

( Shapiro, 2019 - Calling For 'Reason And Civility )


The audience of this article are those who frequent the site The Daily Wire and possibly

those who read the original Fairbanks article in the Washington Post. Some audience members

may have come across the Fairbanks article and searched for other perspectives on the subject

matter, whether it aligned with or went against their own beliefs. The audience that needs to read

this article are the former as listening and understanding that yours is not the only opinion or

“correct” opinion out there is healthy. Too often today people find themselves in an intellectual

echo chamber where their views are never challenged and their minds are never changed. It is

my analysis that Shapiro’s article utilizes strategies of Ethos, Logos and Pathos effectively in his

article/rebuttal of the Fairbanks article printed in the Washington Post.

Shapiro, Ben (2019) Calling For 'Reason And Civility' Doesn't Make You Hitler. Retrieved from

https://www.dailywire.com/news/51320/shapiro-calling-reason-and-civility-doesnt-make-daily-w

ire

Fairbanks, Eve (2019) The‘Reasonable’Rebels. Retrieved from

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/08/29/conservatives-say-weve-abandoned-reason

-civility-old-south-said-that-too/?arc404=true