“The Russians did it!”

This is the first instalment of “The Russians did it”, a series on rhetoric to blame the Russians. The hacking of the Democratic Party and the US elections is covered as kick off.

The Clinton campaign blamed the Russian government that it tried to interfere with the elections, which the Russian president, mr. Putin, denies. “We have better things to do, like, feeding our people which is a bit difficult with all these sanctions you put on us.”

According to Ray McGovern, in Russia Today, the evidence is just not there. It is a diversion from the Clinton campaign away from the ‘fact’ that they stole the nomination from Bernie Sanders.

Technique: “Diversion”, number 29. Talk of something else as if it is related to divert attention away from the real topic.

What could a Russian official say in reply? Maybe someone would ask for proof, and take the absence of evidence as proof of the contrary, which is a logical fallacy. Ray McGovern tries to make the case that if the act was committed, evidence would exist, and the US agencies would have found the evidence. You just can’t defend against wild and unfounded accusations. It is slander, and there are laws against it. You can only appeal to authority, the court, not to reason (number 30). In international politics, there are no courts, so we’re left with rhetoric and force to defend ourselves. I would apply the following rhetorical technique:

Answer: “If you think that meddling in foreign elections is wrong, then stop doing it yourself.” Give it back to them. Without admitting or denying anything, we turn the tables by launching an attack ad hominem.

Technique: “Ad Hominem.”, number 16.

 

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