October 27, 2003

More Evidence of My Rightwa...

More Evidence of My Rightward Heave?: I give supporting quotes in a City Journal article that begins thusly:

The Left's near monopoly over the institutions of opinion and information—which long allowed liberal opinion makers to sweep aside ideas and beliefs they disagreed with, as if they were beneath argument—is skidding to a startlingly swift halt. [...] Everything has changed.
So have my knuckles begun that fateful gravitational drop?

Uh, not quite. In fact, though my quotes in there make it seem like I'm all fired up about Chomsky & Jensen & whoever, I was fixated on them then (when I started this weblog), but not now. They are not in charge of the most powerful country in the world at a critical juncture in human history, last time I looked, and there are more than enough pathologies among those who support those who are to keep my attention elsewhere for the moment. Besides, it's not as if the liberal lefty-basher bench isn't plenty deep.

Brian Anderson's essay is very interesting and worth reading, largely in the way that it details how a lucrative market has been created out of the energy railing against traditional gatekeeper-types. But I'd quarrel with his inconsistent use of adjectives (Bill O'Reilly is "Bill O'Reilly"; Michael Moore is "loony-left"), his drawn-out hi-five to Fox News, and above all, his conclusion:

It's hard to imagine that this development won't result in a broader national debate—and a more conservative America.
Broader debate, sure. "More conservative America"? Well, I suppose it depends on your definition of "conservative," but unless the word means "likely to engage in stupid French-bashing," or "the definition of a country under a Republican administration," I just don't see it. But what the hell do I know?

Posted by at October 27, 2003 08:06 PM
Comments

Two things:

1. Since when has the Left had a monopoly on the institutions of opinion and information? They're certainly don't have much market share in the bars or around the proverbial water cooler. I think a lot of people who spend too much time focusing on the media forget that most people don't watch the news or read the paper unless something big happens. The rest of the time, they get their info from hearing other people talk and exchanging opinions with their friends (ie, "Bullshitting"). The papers and TV hardly have a grip on the national psyche. That's a hard trick to pull off when most people aren't listening to you.


2. Engaging in stupid French-bashing is a national pass-time. It's one of the few things that unites us as a country, regardless of class, income or political persuasion. Everyone does it, except for maybe that creepy family in the New York Times ad.

Besides, the French are just like us, except that we go to foreign countries to be assholes while the French allow everyone else come to them to experience their special Gallic charm. But somebody's gotta be the red-headed stepchild, and it sure as hell isn't going to be Ecuador.

Posted by: Paul at October 27, 2003 08:38 PM

Hater!

Your Point 1 is excellent, and almost always forgotten about in the endless, tedious blather about Media Bias.

Also, the French stuff is partly in response to the article, where the fact that a blogger coined "Axis of Weasels," and then it was in the New York Post 30 hours later or whatever, is posited as some kind of Important Victory in the Struggle. My view is obviously skewed, but sinking to the Gauls' level of Yankee-bashing does not strike me as an achievement, though it can be pretty funny (like the Post's "Weasel Kiss" cover, which we are framing).

Posted by: Matt Welch at October 27, 2003 08:52 PM

I know of this all-mighty Media Tsar Chomsky of which you speak, but who pray tell is this Jensen fellow, and which institutions of opinion and information does he rule? Is he, perhaps, the Murdoch of the Left? The Westinghouse? The Tribune Corp.? The Hearst Corp.? AOL-Time Warner?

Oh, mighty Robert Jensen, from what great towers of babel do you speak to the great armies of the unwashed? Bear this great responsibility carefully, for each of your words surely echoes through the nation's consciously like a might wave...

Thank you for your help in this matter, Mr. Welch. ;-)

Posted by: Christopher at October 27, 2003 10:34 PM

"Interesting"? If Walter Duranty were still alive, he would be writing columns about Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the dominance of the right wing, just like Brian Anderson.

Posted by: Steve Smith at October 27, 2003 10:36 PM

Steve -- I found the mechanics & numbers of the right-wing publishing phenomenon especially to be interesting and informative, as well as the quotes from 10 different people, though I didn't exactly agree with, say, David Horowitz.

Posted by: Matt Welch at October 27, 2003 10:40 PM

Nothing in America is the equivalent of the left-wing info bubble the poor Europeans live in. People in England wear BBC propeller caps, invisible to them but visible to Americans (Americans who aren't wearing Chomsky propeller caps)...

Have you noticed the new thing? "Lets find pictures of children missing BOTH arms, and always blame them on American air strikes in the captions and just gloss over the the fact that some things are worth fighting against and that there are no perfect wars where no innocents get horribly mamed or killed."

Posted by: ct at October 28, 2003 12:09 AM

You know... It just occured to me I've been mistaking you for Laker's fan Ken Layne (or some other blogger Ken Layne-ish). I know it's someone with a black-and-white-ish looking blog.

Yeah, he's the Laker's fan, YOU'RE the Angel's fan. (Somehow, from a non-blogger's perspective, all you 'dudes' are living in the same commune somewhere...)

Posted by: ct at October 28, 2003 12:21 AM

ct -- I was a Laker's fan before Ken Layne could spell his own name. I met Wilt Chamberlain when I was 4, and enjoyed my Dad's season tickets from when I was old enough to walk to Magic's rookie year. My Laker problem is deep and wide and hopeless, though more rewarding than the Angels problem. This year looks pretty grim so far (no Chick, the Kobe problem, new radio announcers, etc.), but I'll be roped in before too long....

Posted by: Matt Welch at October 28, 2003 12:30 AM

In that case the Mavs dismantle, humble, and cause widespread backstabbing in the Laker's clubhouse tomorrow night. And this will just be an apertif to what the Kings will do to them.

Of course the Lakers will pull it together by play-off time when everything matters and all that.....

I may have as many LA connections as you do, but my family got out of LA before I was born. My uncle was sort of in the center of LA culture being the fire chief of the Beverly Hills fire dept. and also in his spare time a 'skipper' of yachts owned by typical celebrity names I won't drop because they're just dumb celebrities and my uncle was mostly pulling them out of their swimming pools, if you know what I mean... My mom grew up in one of those canyons that often burst into flamewalls... Las Flores Canyon or something like that... My grandma would come up to Sac from LA to watch me pitch in little league and compare me to all the great Dodgers pitchers of the 60s which she listened to, every game, on her little transistor radio... I may have mentioned the great Rick Schu was on my little league teams (his dad coached, my dad managed) and he played for the 'California' Angels...

There. Now turn your blog over to me. I know more about LA than you. Give me the passwords!

Posted by: ct at October 28, 2003 01:01 AM

Christopher,

Robert Jensen has a permanent place on the editorial page of the Houston Chronicle's web site.

He's over on the right, under the heading "Jensen Revisited". He's been there forever, since 2001. He's only been in the actual paper a couple times since then (although I must admit that I have stopped paying much attention to the Chronicle's opinion page). I don't understand why they feel the need to enshrine him there, but there he is.

Of course, it's only Houston.

Posted by: Angie Schultz at October 28, 2003 09:14 AM

Paul writes, apparently with a straight face:

Since when has the Left had a monopoly on the institutions of opinion and information?


Gee.

I guess that's why (to take only a prominent, metaphorical example) The University of California at Santa Barbara for the academic year 2001-2 offers some 62 different courses listed under "Chicano Studies," among them Introduction to Chicano Spanish; Methodology of the Oppressed; Barrio Popular Culture; Body Culture and Power; Chicana Feminism; History of the Chicano; History of the Chicano Movement; History of Chicano and Chicana Workers; Racism in American History; Chicano Political Organizing; Chicana Writers; Decolonizing Cyber-America; and Dance of the Chicanos. In the history department are listed 13 similar courses on Latino and Chicano issues, in addition to more generic classes on race and oppression. In contrast, the entire catalogue has few classes listed on the Civil War, and no real courses dedicated to either the Revolutionary War or World War II.

It is not just that many of these classes are politicized -- the problem is that such therapeutic classes do not necessarily teach a broad body of disinterested knowledge -- elements of the ancient world, Renaissance, Reformation, or Enlightenment -- that is subject to debate and differing analysis, the building blocks of a true liberal education. Instead they reinforce the most unfortunate of youthful activities -- arrogance coupled with ignorance -- as activists with incomplete historical knowledge and without writing and speaking fluency claim wisdom on the basis of their "commitment" or zealotry in a particular cause.

If during the Vietnam War such pernicious ideas about education were confined to activist young professors and graduate students, they are the common currency of that generation now come of age and into institutional authority and responsibility. Yesterday's assistant professor is today's college dean, provost, or president. Like swallowed prey making its way through the digestive tract of a snake, the 1960s generation has gone from newly minted PhD's to tenured radicals and on to university administrators, thus explaining why today's institutional hierarchies tend to support rather than mitigate often extremist views.

One of the reasons that a Noam Chomsky or an Edward Said wears so thin is precisely that his own radical politics are so at odds with the compensation he receives, the houses he lives in, and the places he jets to -- all greater than those enjoyed by most of the middle-class Americans whom the professoriate so smugly dismisses. So it is no surprise that the hotspots of activism against the Iraq war were places like Westwook, Santa Cruz, La Jolla, the Berkeley Hills, and Davis rather than Bakersfield and Tulare. Affluence, leisure, and security are an integral part of campus radicalism.

But revolutionary politics and elite tastes are always a bad match. The public that is often a paycheck away from penury has little tolerance for affluent professors who preach American pathology while living off the country's largess. Perhaps guilt about living lives so at odds with professed radical politics explains unquestioning faculty support for affirmative- action quotas, suspicion of Western civilization, and empathy for opponents of the U.S. military. For every trip to Europe or each child at prep-school, psychological penance is achieved by weighing in at little cost on the side of the happily distant other.

Posted by: Robert Light at October 28, 2003 03:46 PM

Dude, I have your Donny Most LP. This one here:

http://www.rasputins.com/manifesto/archives/tvdinners1000.html

"if you can't dance to this you don't deserve to have feet... "

Posted by: Apt. E at October 28, 2003 05:02 PM

That you again, Rob-bob? Where the hell are you? And if that's really my Donny Most record, why did you go and steal it? Or is the answer revealed in a certain five-letter word that begins with "s" and ends in "e"?

Posted by: Matt Welch at October 28, 2003 05:12 PM

Robert, I must have more faith in people's intelligence than you do.

See, this is what all this crap boils down to: One extreme set of assholes trying to control what people think being pissed off at the other set of extreme assholes who are trying to control what people think.

Here's a clue: Just about everyone manages to get through this life by thinking for themselves. They aren't souls to be saved for your cause and the evangelistic exploits of both sides as they proselytize to the ignorant masses is obnoxious.

You mentioned the college classes. Has it ever ocurred to you that a very tiny minority actually take these classes seriously? They're easy credits-- everyone knows that. You nod your head, give the professor what they want and get out with a good grade. You don't take that shit seriously, because just about everyone knows that the melodramatic rantings of some old dude or hag are valuable only for their entertainment value. You give them what they want and move on. Anyone with the least bit of sense can take what they're told in a classroom, compare it with their experiences in the real world, and know that it's all bullshit. And if they don't figure it out in college, then they sure as hell will once they leave campus and come live with the rest of us.

To take something that amounts to Art History or Movie Appreciation and get yourself all worked up over it is ridiculous. Put down the sword, Gabriel. Everything's fine. It's never as bad, or as good, as it seems.

Posted by: Paul at October 28, 2003 08:25 PM

What Robert Light said, times infinity. Dude.

Posted by: ct at October 29, 2003 12:23 AM

Robert, pass whatever you are smoking over here. Chomsky has done so well since 9/11 that his publishers have reissued books that have been out of print for over a decade. He draws overflow crowds (sometimes in the thousands) whenever he speaks in public. His popularity is increasing, despite the contemptuous finger wagging of the blogosphere and despite the fact that he has been on national TV in the US exactly once in the last 5 years. I'm sure some people are sick of him, but the evidence suggests that more people than ever want to hear what he has to say.

Posted by: MaB at October 29, 2003 08:08 AM

So your point is there are many ignorant people in the United States, not to mention the many who are just purely melavolent towards Anything-American.

When I use to make fun of Christians I hadn't yet read the Christian sacred writings or learn anything about Christianity.

When I use to be a left-wing Dukakis-voting liberal I had yet to learn about something called 'history'. Ancient, modern, or any other kind of history.

Being stupid is a gift of being born for most people (some people seem to get a clue younger than other people).

I was totally surrounded by liberals and liberal media and liberal education up to my early 20s when I finally discovered there were other books other than what you get assigned in highschool english classes.

My early drafts of anti-Christian screeds are actually more intelligent than anything Chomsky ever penned, and my anti-Christian screeds are painfully stupid.

You Chomskyites really need to, at some time along here, get a clue.

Freedom is good. (And rare.)

Posted by: ct at October 29, 2003 08:31 AM

"My early drafts of anti-Christian screeds are actually more intelligent than anything Chomsky ever penned..."

Given your obvious feud with basic grammer and logic, I rather doubt this. I suppose I won't shock you to learn that I am not going to take your word for it.

LOL

Posted by: MaB at October 29, 2003 09:08 AM

Yeah. Here's a sentence: "Christians are so stupid, and part of their stupidity is they're too stupid to KNOW that they are stupid, so you can't even explain to them how stupid they are."

Here's another: "Christians are taught that if they are Christians then sentences like the first sentence above will be written about them and this is supposed to be PROOF that Christianity it true, so you can't even enlighten them by telling them they're stupid because they take that as proof that Christianity is true."

The final sentence: "Christians are so stupid."

Now here's some Chomsky: "Pol Pot just wanted to feed his people but Kissinger determined otherwise."

More Chomsky: "The history of the so-called killing fields in Cambodia could be written by any social historian who has spent more than a few years in Detroit. [wild applause]" That was from a speech at Harvard.

Chomsky on Mao: "If any stories of Mao's Red Guards strolling through agricultural villages collecting cut off noses and ears from villagers who rebelled against Revolutionary quotas could be to any degree true we can very elegantly lay the responsibility at the moral culpability of Ronald Reagan which is so universal and so immersed in the corrupt emanations coming from the United States as to be able to flaunt time and space---Nancy wore a waist chain of severed noses of Chinese villagers at a reception at the White House in 1985. Was this reported in the right wing New York Times? Of course it was, coded in a story about the stock market rising and laying further burden on El Salvadorans just as Nixon's execution squads were lapping up the blood of the sons of mourning mothers throughout Central America."

See? My juvenile anti-Christian screed, painfully stupid as it is, is actually better written and argued than what Chomsky writes.

Posted by: ct at October 29, 2003 11:12 AM

Beyond satisfying all of our pet peeves, I just don't see how the debate on liberal/conservative bias helps journalism or our understanding of events. If anything it leads us to become more opinionated ... or less informed.

Posted by: Scot at October 29, 2003 11:23 AM

Jeez, and I thought Robert had the good stuff! Does "CT" stand for Chronic Toker? You've overestimated your talent - even these alleged quotes (without checkable references of course) are better then your nonsense then or now. Strike two...

Posted by: MaB at October 29, 2003 11:40 AM

I wrote it all, MaB! Strike two? Home run!

Posted by: ct at October 29, 2003 12:01 PM

Is that Grady Little walking out to the mound to pull MaB? He's learned his lesson! Rehire him!

Posted by: ct at October 29, 2003 12:04 PM

You've proved that some of your phony quotes are better than some of your other phony quotes. Wow. My wasted charity in describing them as alleged was based on an the assumption that you were at least an honest idiot who believed other internet inventions about Chomsky. Perhaps you are the source of those lies as well. Sticking with the baseball analogies - Maybe next year, Harry Chiti!

Posted by: MaB at October 29, 2003 12:18 PM

MaB unhappy in the dugout! Look out water cooler! Don't punch it with your pitching hand!

Seriously, MaB... That crust of 20th century victims of atheist totalitarianism blood covering your hands can be washed off by the River of Water of Life. Take it right off. (Your blindness can be cured too!) You'll have to give up all you hold dear though. No more feeding at the toilet of Noam Chomsky. Try it!

Posted by: ct at October 29, 2003 01:10 PM

As opposed to the purity of Xtian arms unleashed by Tiger Force in Southeast Asia, the death squads in Latin America, or the treatment of the Native population here. I guess if you really want to look at the "Black Book calc" applied to "democratic capitalism" you'd have to count the 75 million+ excess deaths in India attributed to the lack of public health reforms and other such measures in other countries under "free world" domains. But that is if you were really concerned with bloodshed as such and not merely the bloodshed you'd like to blame on enemies.

Posted by: MaB at October 29, 2003 01:38 PM

Your happy little band represses, imprisons, tortures, and murders 100,000,000 'omelet eggs' and you scold Christians for not getting India indoor plumbing... At least you EXPECT to get indoor plumbing from Christians!

And oh how you giddy workers of number (and skull) crunching fear that Black Book of Communism! You can't neutralize it with a passing vague reference! If you throw things on the field you'll get tossed out of the game! Back to the clubhouse! Not such a bad deal!

Posted by: ct at October 29, 2003 02:11 PM

Ah...yeah - Those South Vietnamese peasant babies were decapitated and burned by freedom loving children of God. The blades that ripped through the flesh of Salvadoren priests, the machine guns that massacred thousands of Timorese, the starvation imposed on people driven off their land - all of this compares quite well the worst crimes of communism. Only there happens to be much more of it.

Posted by: MaB at October 29, 2003 03:12 PM

Trainer, wrapping your shoulder in ice: "Absolutely (whatever you say, sport). You were robbed!"

Posted by: ct at October 29, 2003 03:25 PM

Certainly a hyperbolic peice. Consider the following:

"Fox viewers will see Republican politicians and conservative pundits sought out for meaningful quotations, skepticism voiced about environmentalist doomsaying, religion treated with respect, pro-life views given airtime—and much else they’d never find on other networks."

I can't believe he uses the word "never" in that last sentence. Pro-life views never got aired before Fox? Conservatives never got meaningful quotations? You could say they're "less likely to be found" on other networks, or you could use a word like "seldom". But never?

Hmmmm. National thought control must have been pretty powerful pre-1996 to prevent any of those ideas from ever being expressed.

Thank God for Fox.

Posted by: William Swann at October 30, 2003 01:35 PM

Given your obvious feud with basic grammer and logic

MaB, it is spelled "grammar" :-)

Posted by: Gideon at November 2, 2003 06:12 PM
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And oh how you giddy workers of number (and skull) crunching fear that Black Book of Communism! You can't neutralize it with a passing vague reference! If you throw things on the field you'll get tossed out of the game! Back to the clubhouse! Not such a bad deal!

Posted by: ct at October 29, 2003 02:11 PM

Ah...yeah - Those South Vietnamese peasant babies were decapitated and burned by freedom loving children of God. The blades that ripped through the flesh of Salvadoren priests, the machine guns that massacred thousands of Timorese, the starvation imposed on people driven off their land - all of this compares quite well the worst crimes of communism. Only there happens to be much more of it.

Posted by: MaB at October 29, 2003 03:12 PM

Trainer, wrapping your shoulder in ice: "Absolutely (whatever you say, sport). You were robbed!"

Posted by: ct at October 29, 2003 03:25 PM

Certainly a hyperbolic peice. Consider the following:

"Fox viewers will see Republican politicians and conservative pundits sought out for meaningful quotations, skepticism voiced about environmentalist doomsaying, religion treated with respect, pro-life views given airtime—and much else they’d never find on other networks."

I can't believe he uses the word "never" in that last sentence. Pro-life views never got aired before Fox? Conservatives never got meaningful quotations? You could say they're "less likely to be found" on other networks, or you could use a word like "seldom". But never?

Hmmmm. National thought control must have been pretty powerful pre-1996 to prevent any of those ideas from ever being expressed.

Thank God for Fox.

Posted by: William Swann at October 30, 2003 01:35 PM

Given your obvious feud with basic grammer and logic

MaB, it is spelled "grammar" :-)

Posted by: Gideon at November 2, 2003 06:12 PM
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