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The Arrogance of the Intellectuals

The latest number of Salmagundi, the venerable liberal quarterly of the arts, features a transcript from a symposium it sponsored at Swarthmore College called "Jihad. McWorld. Modernity: Public Intellectuals Debate 'The Clash of Civilizations.'" As befits a left-wing journal run by those with a deep respect for "diversity," the conference features as many conservative thinkers as you can count on no fingers.

In itself, this is somewhat remarkable. After all, the title of the symposium refers to The Clash of Civilizations, an influential work by the conservative political scientist Samuel Huntington. Yet no one at Salmagundi saw fit to ask Mr. Huntington to appear. Gee: You would have thought he would be some sort of an expert on his own book.

Not that Mr. Huntington's conspicuous absence was without benefit to the scheduled participants. In fact, it allowed Benjamin Barber, author of the work Jihad vs. McWorld to offer the following assessment of The Clash of Civilizations:

I would just remind those of you who are enamored of Sam Huntington's phraseology that, in the book that gave us this expression, he argues not only that there is a clash of civilizations, but that this clash is aided by a fifth column in the United States made up of African Americans, who are undermining the West and its ideals.

Can anyone say "tendentious," boys and girls? We knew that you could.

But this was not the Benjamin Barber remark from the symposium that struck us as particularly obnoxious. At the conclusion of the first session, after a rousing discussion focused on promoting hardcore redistribution of wealth in the world, Mr. Barber opined:

The last point I want to make for now has to do with the nature of the discussion we've been having and what might be the political viability of the debates that we so-called "public intellectuals"engage in. When I try to imagine an African-American, unemployed guy from Detroit or Arkansas, an out of work (what did Howard Dean call him?) confederate guy with a shotgun in his pick-up truck, sitting here and listening to us talk, I realize that a number of the things we say in good faith and with impressive intellectual clarity and historical perspective are nevertheless politically unviable as ways of talking about the world. We haven't yet found a language that takes the vitally important, moral, philosophical and historical points we're making here and translates them into a language that ordinary Americans will understand.

As a service to our benighted non-intellectuals, we'll supply a translation: Those proles just don't understand how brilliant and informed we are. For some reason, they don't take much of a shine to our socialistic schemes and capitulation to terrorism.

Boy, we average Joes sure are dumb. Why don't we trust a bunch of deep thinkers who spent the 20th century lauding Communism and thus see Osama bin Laden as an opportunity to redistribute wealth? We can't think of a reason either.

(Note: The crack young staff usually "weblog" over at "The Hatemonger's Quarterly," where they are currently yakking in response to Martha Nussbaum's incessant moral preening.)


Comments (8)

So arrogant, that the salma... (Below threshold)
snowballs:

So arrogant, that the salmagundi images don't even show up (12:28 EST).

Wouldn't it be wonderful if... (Below threshold)

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the liberals staged a demonstration and no one showed up?

Kinda like that Iraq war ap... (Below threshold)
pg:

Kinda like that Iraq war appreciation march featuring Don Rumsfeld.

All of the links to the ima... (Below threshold)
snowballs:

All of the links to the images at (http://www.skidmore.edu/salmagundi/) still seem to be broken as of the time of this post, but I did get this action here at the bottom of the page...

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

...which probably is the crux of the entire article, really.

That's a new one - an error from a webserver gives us a correct and succinct summation of an elitist New Yorker's view of Jihad - from an "Intellectual" point of view that is...

To clarify things further, I see this;

"Available In Print

Coming Online Soon!"

Heh.

From the hatemonger's quote - wherever it originated...

We haven't yet found a language that takes the vitally important, moral, philosophical and historical points we're making here and translates them into a language that ordinary Americans will understand.

Have they tried Arabic?

Unlike in Europe where they... (Below threshold)
docjim505:

Unlike in Europe where they are lauded and applauded for sitting around the cafes spouting bulls***, "intellectuals" in America have always been SOL. It's not that Americans don't have respect for smart, well-educated people, but rather that our respect tends to go to people who DO things, or at least lay a theoretical foundation for practical applications.

The natterings of a bunch of latte-swilling, artsty-fartsy types bloviating to each other about the "clash of civilizations" (translation: why America deserves to be hated) isn't something that's going to ring any bells out in Flyover Country no matter what language is used. The hoi-poloi will be even less impressed when they are told, in effect, "You HAVE to listen to what we say! We know better than you about these things, because we're (drum roll) INTELLECTUALS!"

They have to try and "imagi... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

They have to try and "imagine" the unemployed African-American or "average Joe" because they are clueless. Even if they manage to travel outside their echo chamber to another country it is just to another echo chamber compund completely out of touch with reality.

When I was doing humantarian relief effort sin Africa we had one of the socialist, rich thru inheritance, supposed intellectuals blow through a village (small one in the northeastern section of Cote D'Ivoire) we had just finshed 9 months of work on. She had blown through 2 years before.

Her comment?

"It seems as if their culture has been destroyed. It isn't as quaint as it used to be."

The difference? We had built a school, 2 new fresh water wells, and new agricultural techniques that nearly doubled their crop yield. This allowed them to make more money at market which allowed them to help pay for and establish a sewer system for the village.

She was upset that they were no longer so poor they had to chase her down the street offerring to sell anything they had so they could eat that day.

She was bothered that they dared elevate themselves above daily starvation and actually started lifting themselves up out of a hellhole. She decried the loss of their "culture"--which apparently to her meant that black Africans were put on this Earth to suffer and let her pity.

There aren't equivalent English words to translate the denigration the village elder spat out when he heard what she said. Well, not exactly true, there are words, but they would seem tame as insult whereas in their country it is the height of insult. Best I can do is to say imagine the most vile, evil, useless, destitute of any morality or even right to live creature imaginable. The elder's insult was pretty much saying she wouldn't be fit to lick animal manure off such a creature's foot.

Oh Faith+1, but the death o... (Below threshold)

Oh Faith+1, but the death of diversity; Oh Woe! [beating breast and gnashing teeth]

This is the same way Blue s... (Below threshold)
Sillary Rotham:

This is the same way Blue staters view Red staters!




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