Finally, A Liberal Who Makes Sense

Discussion in 'Politics' started by AAAintheBeltway, Oct 10, 2007.

  1. Camille Paglia responds to readers on Among her more interesting takes:

    Frankly, I have greater respect for Osama bin Laden than for any of the Democratic senators. Finding myself between al-Qaida and the DNC/ Kos in a war zone, I would be hard-placed to know which way to shoot.

    Phillip J. Hubbell
    Omaha, Neb.

    Surely you don't really mean what you say. Surely this bloody scenario is a rhetorical sally, meant to shock and amuse.

    The senators of my party, with a few stellar exceptions like Dianne Feinstein, may be a pack of vain, spineless, poll-puking, strutting peacocks, but they are not mass murderers. They did not coolly plan an amoral strike on American landmarks and cause the unspeakable suffering, death and incineration of nearly 3,000 people, U.S. citizens as well as foreign nationals.

    As for the Democratic Party's governing committee or the combative, impudent left-liberal activist groups, they are just as committed to their altruistic vision of a future America as are conservatives, who base their values on tradition and faith. Both sides deserve respect.

    However, I must confess my own exasperation with the Democratic leadership, who spout tiresome platitudes but achieve little and who stampede off on puerile publicity stunts that alienate potential voters across party lines. The latest example is the near-delusional campaign to turn popular radio host Rush Limbaugh, who has unwaveringly supported the military for nearly 20 years, into an anti-military antichrist. If Democrats are serious about ideology-based government regulation of talk radio, then the party is fast abandoning its fundamental principles, central to which should be constitutionally protected free speech.

    To return to your war zone hypothetical, I doubt that the sociopaths of al-Qaida would be moved to mercy by your extermination of (probably pacifist and fumblingly unarmed) fellow Americans. Wouldn't you be next in the terrorists' line of fire?

    This kind of partisan rancor and mutual recrimination are the sad legacy of two self-destructive administrations in a row. Bill Clinton's lies about his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky paralyzed the government and tainted his legacy, while George Bush's poor judgment and managerial ineptitude have mired us in an endless, brutal war with little chance for a happy ending.

    I find it hard to believe that my fellow Democrats want to backtrack and relive every tedious scandal from the Clinton era. But that's what we'll get if Hillary is the nominee -- a long, sulfurous night of the walking dead, with chattering skeletons tumbling out of every closet. I've been discouraged by the clumsy missteps of the Edwards campaign, but I'm still hopeful about Barack Obama, who had the guts and good sense to publicly oppose the Iraq war from the start and whose ascent promises a clean, invigorating break from the sordid past.

    I too grew up in upstate New York. I am an environmental groundwater geologist (who almost majored in fine arts). Your take on the Al Gore/global warming pseudo-catastrophe was right on target. Anyone can read up on Holocene geology and see that climate changes are caused by polar wandering and magnetic reversals. It is entertaining, yet sad to read bloviage from Leonardo DiCaprio, who is so self-centered that he thinks the earth's history and climate is a function of his short personal stay on this planet. Still he, Al Gore, Prince Charles and so on, ad nauseam, continue with their jet-set lifestyles. What hypocrisy!


    Thank you for your input on the mass hysteria over global warming. The simplest facts about geology seem to be missing from the mental equipment of many highly educated people these days. There is far too much credulity placed in fancy-pants, speculative computer modeling about future climate change. Furthermore, hand-wringing media reports about hotter temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere are rarely balanced by acknowledgment of the recent cold waves in South Africa and Australia, the most severe in 30 years.

    Where are the intellectuals in this massive attack of groupthink? Inert, passive and cowardly, the lot of them. True intellectuals would be alarmed and repelled by the heavy fog of dogma that now hangs over the debate about climate change. More skeptical voices need to be heard. Why are liberals abandoning this issue to the right wing, which is successfully using it to contrast conservative rationality with liberal emotionalism? The environmental movement, whose roots are in nature-worshipping Romanticism, is vitally important to humanity, but it can only be undermined by rampant propaganda and half-truths.

    I was interested to see you claim in your Salon column to be a supporter of multiculturalism and was wondering if you could say more about what you mean by "multiculturalism."

    Personally, I feel that what most liberal multiculturalists mean by "multiculturalism" is really monoculturalism. For example, Japan is an extremely sexist society. I doubt any self-described multiculturalists would want sexist cultures included in their list of acceptable cultures. The same goes for female genital mutilation practiced in Africa or forcing women to wear the burqa in the Middle East.

    So-called multiculturalism is really a Western upper-middle-class liberal monoculturalism. It mostly amounts to urban hipsters and yuppies desiring many choices of restaurants. Furthermore, what is the relationship between multiculturalists and the multiple cultures they purport to love? Clearly a multiculturalist purports to like all of the multiple cultures that make up the diversity they demand to be celebrated, whether they be Muslim, Japanese, Chinese, Somali, African-American, etc. Oddly enough, however, none of these cultures are themselves multicultural. Japan, for example, is fiercely protective of its culture, as are most other cultures in the world.

    So do multiculturalists advocate we all adopt multiculturalism as our ethic? If so, multiculturalism advocates changing the cultures they purport to respect.

    My suspicion is that liberal multiculturalists really want everyone else to remain monocultural, while they aristocratically float above them all and reserve the multicultural perspective and arrogant, elitist moral and aesthetic superiority and sense of freedom for themselves.

    Michael Toynbe

    This is a delightful skewering of p.c. pretensions! Multiculturalism has become politicized in Great Britain and to a lesser extent Canada. But I can speak only from my own experience: Multiculturalism is an academic shibboleth to which many give lip service but which few honestly try to follow. Like "diversity," multiculturalism became a convenient rubric for the turf wars of identity politics, which began nearly four decades ago with women's studies and African-American studies and which generated one seceding fiefdom after another

    All these new subjects were important and worthy ones, but whether universities should have accommodated them by splintering the curriculum into fiercely autonomous mini-majors is a completely different matter. I myself felt, from my college years in the mid-1960s on, that American higher education urgently needed a cosmopolitan broadening of perspective -- a dissolution of existing departments (such as English) into a few overlapping interdisciplinary fields. Identity politics worsened the provincialism, as suggested by the paucity of significant culture critics to emerge from the generation of academics now in their late 30s and 40s.

    Multiculturalism for me means the imperative for students and professors alike to learn about the art, literature, history and religion of every major civilization. We cannot understand our own culture fully until we juxtapose it with that of others. The gifts, limitations and repressions of each society come into focus through comparative analysis. For example, I want Judeo-Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam taught in every school.

    My portrait of Western culture in "Sexual Personae," however, was not value free. I argued that the grand achievements of the West are inextricable from its restless egomania and its perverse phobias. I accepted the worst things said about the West but connected them to the birth of brilliant, world-changing ideas -- individualism, democracy, civil liberties and feminism, among others.

    Too many multiculturalists subscribe to a glib anti-Americanism and constantly sneer at the very European tradition that invented and shaped their mental tools. It's wearisome and amateurish and has seriously degraded scholarly standards in the U.S.
  2. Wow. Utterly refreshing. Thanks for posting AAA.