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The Belgium Analogy - Dilbert Blog

The Belgium Analogy

Regular readers know I have been waging a battle in this blog against analogies. The problem with analogies is that people use them in place of reason. For example, the biggest analogy going around lately is that Trump is the next Hitler.

And by now you know that arguing why Trump is NOT like Hitler changes no one’s mind. Analogies are not part of reason, but they are higher than reason on the influence stack. So how do you kill a bad analogy if you can’t use reason?

Two ways. The first is to appeal to identity because that is higher up the influence stack. So, for example, Trump could say some version of “We’re Americans, and the instinct for freedom is in your DNA. Have some confidence in our constitution and in our people that a dictatorship can never happen on our shores.”

Some version of that might work. But it comes with risk. Headlines the next day would be a picture of Trump next to a picture of Hitler, and Trump’s hypothetical quote “I’M NOT HITLER.” That would make things worse because the visual would overwhelm the words. So there might be no clean way in this case to appeal to identity as a way of destroying an analogy.

The other way to neutralize a bad analogy is with an equally bad analogy that cancels out the first one. For example, as of today, the Trump=Hitler analogy is partly neutralized by Belgium=USA-with-porous-borders.

Trump’s largest obstacle to the White House is the idea that he is a racist, despite the fact he has not mentioned race in any negative way. (He mentions countries and religions only.) The Belgium analogy goes a long way toward solving for that. No one in the United States wants to be the future Belgium.

But I also predicted Trump would go on a love offensive to counteract the accusations of racism. He has always used the word love a lot, but usually referring to his supporters or America in general. Now he has started using the love word to refer to protesters and Latinos. You’ll see more of it. Why? Because it works. And it works because your experience tells you real racists can’t publicly proclaim their love for groups they hate. They might be able to do it once, with fingers crossed, just to get elected. But no racist can publicly and frequently profess love for someone he hates. It would be transparent if he tried. So Trump simply has to keep saying love until you believe it. It is nothing but a numbers game now. Love, love, love. He already started.

Love is the answer, but the attack in Belgium reduced Trump’s third act problem by half. 

If you have any friends who won’t take your excellent advice about life, trying giving them my book. It will take the pressure off you.