Friday, October 19, 2007

The Absolute Dead Center

Of what, Spotty?

The Absolute Dead Center of the American Experiment, Mitch Pearlstein, rushing to the defense of President Dease and St. Thomas over the dis-invitation of Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu, says in an op ed in the Strib:

Grant Smith ("These are stifling times on college campuses," Oct. 12) pined for what he described as much more tolerant college campuses of the 1980s. Comparing then to now, he wrote, "I stand in awe over how intolerant of diverse views higher education and research institutions have become."

Was he really referring to the same decade I remember?

With the strains of The Way We Were wafting in the background, Mitch gives us three examples of intolerance from the 80s:

When, for example, in 1983, intellectually barren thugs at the University of Minnesota unfurled a large swastika from the Northrop Auditorium balcony, trying to shout down then-United Nations Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick?

Or might he have been fondly recalling 1987, when a similar gang, again at Northrop, tried to prevent then-Vice President George H. W. Bush from speaking?

Or was Smith talking about the same stretch of history when students, especially at the most prestigious institutions, were more likely to sophomorically demonize Ronald Reagan as "Ray-Gun" than to welcome him respectfully to their campuses?

Boy, he's got a point, Spotty!

But there is a big difference between St. Thomas and the examples cited by the Absolute Dead Center. Can you tell what it is, grasshopper?

[thinks for a while] No, Spotty I can't.

It's quite simple and quite important, grasshopper. Only one of these situations is a case of institutional intolerance. Which one is it?

Of course! It's St. Thomas who brought institutional intolerance to bear to un-invite Archbishop Tutu! That's much more important than what some students or activists might do, isn't it?

As that stuffed shirt George Will might say, grasshopper, they are not morally equivalent. But Mitch wants us to know that he thinks his sack of grievances is bigger than the liberals':

But at the risk of framing this issue excessively in ideological terms, there was at least a subtle implication in Smith's column that scholars and speakers on the left such as Tutu are generally treated by colleges and universities no worse than their counterparts on the right; that all different kinds academics and activists are abused and censored equally. Yet no way is this true.

When was the last time, boys and girls, that Mitch was ever afraid of framing things "excessively in ideological terms?"

Can't remember the last time, Spotty.

It's actually a pretty funny thing for the chief extruder at the ideological extrusion plant called the Center of the American Experiment to say.

But there is a larger point to be made here. Every time that the Dismal Swamp belches another bilious blast of racism, bigotry, or misogyny, it gets all bent out of shape when the notion isn't accepted into the Pantheon of Ideas and listened to respectfully as a matter of "balance." Here's just a couple of examples:

Al Gore drives conservatives absolutely crazy. Paul Krugman wrote about it in Gore Derangement Syndrome. But hating Al Gore doesn't diminish the reality of global warming; conservatives seem to think if they can get people to hate Gore more, global warming will go away. It is completely magical thinking, like trying to blame your sins and shortcomings on Lucifer.

A little closer to home, we have Tracy Eberly's recent racist rant on American Indians, calling them little more than animals. When Spot called him out on it at the link, Tracy left a comment, saying:

Just how is an opinion about a stone age culture racism? Indian still subscribe to the collectivist beliefs that have failed miserably in the 20th century.

A culture that is incompatible with western ideals is hardly a racial issue.

Tracy Eberly is not only a racist, he's an eliminationist! But he's offended that someone might listen to him with less than complete respect.

There are many variations on this theme. Spot remembers back when Katie lamented that people were intolerant of the intolerance of Michele Bachmann.

But there is no need for tolerance of the intolerant: quite the reverse.

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