In today’s dive into culture war mindlessness, I got baited by someone posting this gem of a Facebook status update: “St. Patrick was a cultural imperialist.” By the by, every factual claim I repeat here is taken from “How the Irish Saved Civilization” so this is a kind of sloppy summary of that book, which unless I’ve updated this post to admit that the book was full of lies, I give a full-throated Faugh a Ballagh or whatever approving cheer would be appropriate to respectfully indicate that I think this book may be worth your time for learning a bit about Ireland. I hope, dear reader, that your St. Patrick’s day was better than mine. Somehow I spent my day giving myself a vitamin D deficiency by not only fighting on Facebook, but then blogging away indoors about how stupid it is to pick fights on the internet.
Of course as the saying has it, it takes two to tango. I couldn’t have wasted the afternoon without a fellow culture war patsy. I know we’re patsies, because otherwise there’s no way we’d have been so mindless about wasting our time and sanity on a sideline battle of the larger culture wars. (Plus I can’t resist calling myself a Patsy when my sin is wasting time defending St. Patrick.) I’ve named my interlocutor “Patsy Left” and myself “Patsy Center” in recreating the dialogue below.
TLDR: After four hours of talking past each other, Patsy Center signs off with one final parting shot because Patsy Center has noticed some discomfort; it is a couple hours past dinner time. Patsy Center has so far won only the concession that St. Patrick is “100% not nearly on the same scale as Christopher Columbus.” (Do notice the way St. Patrick is still struggling to escape comparison to bad guys, rather than getting to join a pantheon with Ghandi or Frederick Douglass or whoever it is that isn’t problematic these days.) Patsy Left sends a direct message admitting to having really just been against the deliberate destruction of cultures, not St. Patrick in particular. Success? Patsy Center sighs, decides to re-live the whole joyous experience by blogging it.
Principle lesson: From this harrowing indoor experience your intrepid blogger at briefliteraryabandon reaches the same conclusion as Scott Alexander of SlateStarCodex, and G.K. Chesterton before him. I reject the notion that logical debate has been tried and found wanting. “I think it has been found difficult and left untried.” Perhaps my experience adds only this: difficult indeed!