Gendarmes de pensee

John Leo hasn’t held an academic job. But he sure can endorse right wing screeds about the likes of Ward Churchill, the Duke rape case (wtf?) and Norman Finkelstein (I suppose he was for tenure denial).

>As college students return to campus this fall, we are reminded of the academic controversies of the past year. These events — associated with the names Norman Finkelstein, Ward Churchill, and the Dartmouth Trustees — raise profound questions about the health of our universities. Have they forgotten their academic purpose in pursuit of radical ideological causes?

> has a short answer to that question: yes. It is a new enterprise that will seek to provide necessary supervision for universities that have increasingly cut themselves off from the broader society. During his brief term as president of Harvard, Lawrence Summers noted this insularity when he spoke to the faculty about patriotism, praised the ROTC and the military, and warned that “coastal elites” were drifting dangerously away from the mainstream and its values. He was right.

>One need only look to the many professors who falsely accused the Duke players of rape last year, or to the large number of academic supporters that Ward Churchill gained, or to the growing threat to free speech on many campuses highlighted by such organizations as the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (F.I.R.E.), to understand that our universities require closer scrutiny-and reform.

Hasn’t he ever heard of La Liberte dans la salle de cours?

Science guy

John Tierney was a terrible columnist. Now he’s a terrible science writer:

>After looking at one too many projections of global-warming disasters — computer graphics of coasts swamped by rising seas, mounting death tolls from heat waves — I was ready for a reality check. Instead of imagining a warmer planet, I traveled to a place that has already felt the heat, accompanied by Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish political scientist and scourge of environmentalist orthodoxy.

Let’s reinterpret this. “After not doing any serious research on global warming, I went to talk to a famous and obviously unqualified skeptic, who, oddly, doesn’t really even doubt the reality of global warming.”


Tom Friedman, Middle East Expert, today:

One of the most troubling lessons of the Iraq invasion is just how empty the Arab dictatorships are. Once you break the palace, by ousting the dictator, the elevator goes straight to the mosque. There is nothing in between � no civil society, no real labor unions, no real human rights groups, no real parliaments or press. So it is not surprising to see the sort of clerical leadership that has emerged in both the Sunni and Shiite areas of Iraq.

Not surprising? Tom Friedman on the possibility of a democracy in Iraq:

Right, exactly. And I don�t apologize for that. I�m not going to apologize for thinking that if we could find a way to collaborate with people there to build a different future in the heart of that world, which is afflicted by so many pathologies, that that wouldn�t be a really good thing. Tom Friedman on why we invaded Iraq:

What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, um and basically saying, �Which part of this sentence don�t you understand?�

You don�t think, you know, we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy, we�re just gonna to let it grow?

Well, Suck. On. This.


That Charlie was what this war was about. We could�ve hit Saudi Arabia, it was part of that bubble. We coulda hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could.

Dennis Moore

Readers might enjoy this hilarious interpretation of “thou shalt not steal” from Walter Williams, some sort of pundit I guess:

>There’s a more fundamental question that I’d put to the pope: Should the Roman Catholic Church support the welfare state? Or, put more plainly, should the Church support the use of the coercive powers of government to enable one person to live at the expense of another? Put even more plainly, should the Church support the government’s taking the property of one person and giving it to another to whom it doesn’t belong? When such an act is done privately, we call it theft.

For more a humorous (and thorough) analysis, see Sadly, No!


The most facile critique of Rawlsian liberalism consists in claiming that liberalism espouses values just like any other system, so it’s really no different from them. This is a favorite tactic of Stanley Fish:

>But right there, in the invocation of “free development” and “mutual forbearance,” Starr gives the lie to liberal neutrality. Free development (the right of individuals to frame and follow their own life plans) and mutual forbearance (a live-and-let-live attitude toward the beliefs of others as long as they do you no harm) are not values everyone endorses.

So one cannot claim that one is for religious liberty, and be religious, without contradicting himself. If one is, say, Catholic, and one endorses a political system based on government neutrality toward any non-human sacrificing religion, then one is, on Fish’s ever more childish analysis, espousing yet another system of value, as intolerant of intolerance as intolerance is intolerant of tolerance. It’s just crap.

John Holbo at Crooked Timber makes a related point about Fish:

>I would also like to request a moratorium on critiques of liberalism that consist entirely of a flourish for effect – with accompanying air of discovery – of the familiar consideration that liberalism is inconsistent with blanket, categorical tolerance of absolutely every possible act and attitude. That is, liberalism is incompatible, in practice, with any form of illiberalism that destroys liberalism. If something is inconsistent with liberalism, it is inconsistent with liberalism. Yes. Quite. We noticed.

And this points out the silly category problem of Fish’s analysis. Every mental attitude (political, eschatological, metaphorical, emotional, ethical, and so on) is exactly the same. So if I endorse religious liberty, I value it; if I belong to a religion, I value it; if I like Vernaccia, I value it; if I like the Detroit Lions, I value them. All values, all the same. But maybe, just maybe, the problem is the use of values. Maybe they’re not all the same.