While eating breakfast the other day, I remembered something: that heated discussion between Ecuadorian Defense Minister Fernando Cordero and TV host María Josefa Coronel. They talked about the police and their use of force against protesters recently.
It was so good, I had to watch it again.
In Ecuador, the government has censored practically all free entertainment, so watching politicians lose their minds on national television is a real treat.
At first, the interview unfolds relatively smoothly, but Cordero quickly demonstrates his many errors in reasoning. He quotes articles from the Ecuadorian Constitution to defend the government’s position, but unwittingly reveals that this document is nothing more than dead words on a piece of paper, as far as the Rafael Correa administration is concerned.
For example, when he mentions the state’s duty to ensure peace, security, and non-discrimination of citizens, he makes no mention of President Correa‘s frequent insults and arrogant positions. He also ignores the excessive use of force by the military and police, and the routine threats and allegations that the ruling PAIS Alliance makes against its critics.
While he insists on the “national dialogue” proposed by Correa to “democratically” resolve disputes with the opposition, he fails to mention that the administration has refused to call a referendum on important initiatives, such as indefinite presidential reelection.
I Can’t Hear You
The tension rises just after the show airs the first video of indigenous activists during a protest on Saturday, August 15. Cordero, in a typical arrogant and overbearing tone, calls the demonstrations “brutal.” He says the protests are not legitimate, and that the people shown in the video represent a violent and senseless uprising.
The minister never mentions the true cause of these protests, which is, of course, Rafael Correa’s lousy administration.
In a mediocre attempt to dismiss the demonstrations, he says the protesters are “plotting a coup,” even though they come from different parts of the country and represent various ideological and socioeconomic backgrounds. It is virtually impossible for such a diverse group of people to have agreed to overthrow the president so quickly.
After a back and forth between Cordero and Coronel, the show airs another video of the same demonstration in which police and military officers throw stones and tear gas into civilians’ homes.
Coronel then asks the minster why officers are clearly on the offensive if their duty is to protect citizens. And this is when Cordero explodes.
Being the good bureaucrat that he is, he tries to reverse the argument by asking whether he and the TV host had watched the same video. He then questions the protester’s motives again, dodging Coronel’s question.
The host responds by condemning the state’s violence, and tells the minister that he is clearly avoiding the question, but Cordero ignores her.
Pressed by the host and out of answers, the minister tries to argue that technical difficulties are preventing him from hearing Coronel’s questions.
The host repeats herself, again, but instead of answering her question, Cordero accuses Coronel of “trying to reverse” the evidence.
Fernando Cordero’s festival of fallacies (mostly ad hominem) can be summarized as follows:
How long will you continue with the misinformation? Being in front of a camera every day does not give you more rights than any other Ecuadorian…. That’s also an arrogant attitude.
Fallacies: Ad hominem, irrelevant conclusion, guilt by association.
You are siding with the violent ones: those who block roads, who shoot, who believe that spears are ancestral garments … but they are lethal weapons! Spears kill!
Fallacies: Ad hominem, contradiction (since the police also have weapons), straw man, false equivalence.
It’s one thing to be part of the opposition, and another to encourage violence. A television host encouraging violence in the 20th century?
Fallacies: Ad hominem, red herring, missing the point.
Horror: We are in the 21st century, not the 20th.
Your TV station, and all the free media … that have all the means, should investigate.
Fallacies: Unwarranted assumption, victimization, evasion.
When you see a woman throwing a stone [at the police], you say good; but when the police throw tear gas to intelligently disperse people, no…
Fallacies: Ad hominem, straw man.
… to prevent the country from falling into the hands of these bandits, these people who are, ultimately, out of ideas…
Fallacies: Ad hominem.
Ecuadorian politics is a joke. Every argument coming from the PAIS Alliance is full of errors, fallacies, resentment, hatred, dismissals, insults, and arrogance. Fernando Cordero has proved it. If this is how they plan to change the country, I doubt it will be for the better.
Although this sort of rhetoric is common for politicians, the minister has made a new contribution to the study of informal fallacies.
Unfortunately for Ecuadorians, it will not be easy to get rid of this argument strategy. The political field has too many traps, so every game played on it is unfair from the start.
I wish I was wrong, but from what I see on TV, I’m inclined to think otherwise. When fallacies reign, this can only lead us to ruin.