The other day the Brawler suggested that Boots and Sabers blogger Owen Robinson didn't know much about history.
Apparently, based on Owen's protests, he knows history. He just doesn't know how to write a coherent paragraph.
Here's an original Owen Robinson paragraph from a Waukesha Freeman column:
Since elections are so crucial to the very fabric of our nation, there have always been people who seek to manipulate elections for their benefit. For decades, the crooks of Tammany Hall in New York City routinely stuffed ballot boxes, twisted arms, and invented vote tallies to make sure that their fellow crooks were elected into office. During the LaGuardia administration and for several years afterwards, Tammany was so corrupt that it was none other than the "Prime Minister" of the mob, Frank Costello, who pulled the strings of New York politics.
The Brawler said Owen was linking LaGuardia and Tammany -- a stone-ignorant connection. (LaGuardia, actually, was a Republican and ran, with FDR's support in 1932, as a reformist against the Tammany Machine.) (Note: the Brawler includes the first sentence of the paragraph, which he did not in the original go-around.)
Owen says, No I wasn't! When he dropped LaGuardia's name, he was just making reference to the time period! He could have said it was the 1930s or during FDR's administration or Hitler's rein. So, Owen charges, the Brawler was misreading the paragraph and the Brawler should update his post.
The problem, of course, is unlike the 1930's, Hitler or FDR, LaGuardia was a person who was elected as a city politician in New York. And the paragraph as it is written -- regardless of Owen's intent -- suggests that LaGuardia was a product of Tammany Hall. How else could somebody be elected except with the backing of that arm-twisting machine?
Here's a handy definition of a paragraph from Wikipedia (which, yes, Michael J. Cheaney, can be a handy resource if you're familiar with the terms defined and can glean whether the wiki is accurate):
Typically, a paragraph starts with a main point which is followed by supporting details. The non-fiction paragraph usually begins with the general and moves towards the more specific so as to advance an argument or point of view. Each paragraph builds on what came before and lays the ground for what comes next.
Let's review Owen's paragraph. The first sentence is quite general:
Since elections are so crucial to the very fabric of our nation, there have always been people who seek to manipulate elections for their benefit.
Fine (although the "always" is wildly unsubstantiated).
He goes on:
For decades, the crooks of Tammany Hall in New York City routinely stuffed ballot boxes, twisted arms, and invented vote tallies to make sure that their fellow crooks were elected into office.
Wow! That Tammany Hall is clearly an example of "people" who seek to manipulate elections. The sentence builds on what came before.
He goes on:
During the LaGuardia administration and for several years afterwards, Tammany was so corrupt that it was none other than the "Prime Minister" of the mob, Frank Costello, who pulled the strings of New York politics.
Now, if you assume that each sentence in a paragraph builds on what preceded it -- and lays the groundwork for what follows -- this sentence clearly suggests LaGuardia was a product of Tammany Hall. After all, Tammany Hall made "sure their fellow thugs were elected to office." So how could LaGuardia have been elected if he wasn't a "fellow thug." Then, after mention of Fiorella's name, we're told that a mobster "pulled the strings of New York politics." (Even though Fiorella worked over time to attack said mobster.) If everything was so corrupt, how could Fiorella have been elected?
Owen can say he knows that LaGuardia was an enemy of Tammany. But the way he writes suggests otherwise. And that's not a misreading. That's looking at the cold print. (One could say he was assuming that Waukesha Freeman readers knew the ins and outs of NYC city politics in the 1930s, but that would be a deeply flawed assumption.) Moreover, Owen completely elides that a strong contingent of progressive Democrats -- including FDR -- were opposed to Tammany.
The Brawer, frankly, is confused as to why Owen didn't allude to Tammany in its19th century heyday. But perhaps that didn't have the hot mobster link he was looking for.
But The Brawler suggests that in the future Owen consult with an English teacher -- Folkbum's a nice guy -- before launching an attack!
UPDATE: Apropos of Michael Horne's comment, the Brawler has corrected repeated misspellings of LaGuardia throughout the piece. The Brawler apparently had an Esenberg moment, what can he say. And yes, the irony -- the damnable irony -- of the misspellings is not lost on the Brawler.
UPDATE II: With admirable brevity and a lack of spelling errors, Kay carries on the fight for good composition in the comments section at Owen's original post. Wendy, meanwhile, demonstrates she doesn't know how to compose a paragraph. None of this will deter the Robinsons from making their voices heard on education policy, however.