Saturday, April 23, 2005


It's horribly fascinating to see the way the Left in our society rely on torrents of abuse as a substitute for rational argument. Take this excerpt from a Leftist review of Thomas Friedman's latest book (Friedman is a conservative-leaning New York Times columnist):

"Thomas Friedman does not get these things right even by accident. It's not that he occasionally screws up and fails to make his metaphors and images agree. It's that he always screws it up. He has an anti-ear, and it's absolutely infallible; he is a Joyce or a Flaubert in reverse, incapable of rendering even the smallest details without genius. The difference between Friedman and an ordinary bad writer is that an ordinary bad writer will, say, call some businessman a shark and have him say some tired, uninspired piece of dialogue: Friedman will have him spout it. And that's guaranteed, every single time. He never misses. On an ideological level, Friedman's new book is the worst, most boring kind of middlebrow horseshit. If its literary peculiarities could somehow be removed from the equation, The World Is Flat would appear as no more than an unusually long pamphlet replete with the kind of plug-filled, free-trader leg-humping that passes for thought in this country".

That passage is virtually information-free. There may be facts behind it but the passage itself tells us nothing factual. It is mere abuse. And the review goes on like that at great length. There is the occasional fact mentioned but never any attempt at a balanced evaluation of the fact concerned. I have myself been the object of similar rage-filled tirades from Leftist bloggers recently. There may be shreds of rational argument somewhere among the rage but "shreds" is the word. One hardly needs do more than spell out the argument in order to expose its absurdity -- as David Boxenhorn has shown. But if I were a Leftist, I guess I would have to write in a similar irrational way. When the facts are so much against you, what is left but rage? But reading these diatribes of rage and hate does certainly explain the horrors that happen when Leftists gain unrestricted power (i.e. in Communist regimes).

And note this fact-free rant about Christian conservatives:

"They are the Theocrats, the Christian Taliban right here in America, and they are deadly dangerous both to this nation and the world entire. These people do not in any way represent mainstream Christianity, yet sadly they are redefining the meaning of that faith across the board. They would annihilate all that America has stood for these last two hundred years to 'save' the nation, literally as far as they are concerned, and right now, they believe they have the power to get everything they want."

And this comment from Powerline also shows how the Left rejoice in hate rather than in reason:

"How Sick Can the Left Get? I don't know, but we haven't hit bottom yet. A reader called me to point out this sickening display on Cafe Press. American political history is often not pretty. But I don't think we have ever experienced anything remotely approaching the current descent of liberals into hate. Not only hate, but weird hate. And it will continue until voters definitively reject the Democratic Party. Another reader points out this one. There is no depth to which the American left will not sink."

What I have noted above is of course far from entirely new. Around 100 years ago, Theodore Roosevelt was a "Progressive", but a decent one. Some of his wise words: "It is no impossible dream to build up a civilization in which morality, ethical development, and a true feeling of brotherhood shall all alike be divorced from false sentimentality, and from the rancorous and evil passions which, curiously enough, so often accompany professions of sentimental attachment to the rights of man .... The good citizen must be a good citizen of his own country first before he can with advantage be a citizen of the world at large".

(A short version of this post appeared on Blogger News yesterday)


I have come across some amusing confirmation of my observations about the Leftist diatribe against Friedman above: I am not a regular reader of the NYT -- to put it mildly. It is The Times of London that I read regularly. And I am certainly not a regular reader of Thomas Friedman. Links that I put up here to NYT articles are ones suggested to me by my readers. So when I read the diatribe against Friedman by Taibbi there was so much rage and abuse in it that the only information I could glean from it was that Friedman probably uses metaphors badly, that Friedman sometimes espouses conservative causes and that Taibbi has at least some Leftist views. All the rest seemed mere abuse with no real information content at all. And the immoderateness of what Taibbi said made even his few points of information about Friedman suspect -- which is why I described Friedman as conservative-LEANING rather than conservative. So the essence of what I pointed to in the Taibbi article was its devotion to abuse rather than rational argument. I note however that two conservative bloggers (Taranto and Powerline) have praised the Taibbi article. And from reading Powerline in particular I now understood what was worthy of derision in Friedman -- that his use of metaphors is indeed often bad and that he is a shallow thinker generally. Because Powerline and Taranto knew Friedman's writings, they needed no information about him from Taibbi. They simply approved of Taibbi being derogatory about him. So my point about the article by Taibbi being just a rage outburst with only marginal information content stands well confirmed.


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