Assume the Position
Tuesday, August 20, 2002
Anti-Europeanism in America. Tim Blair posts an edited e-mail he received from an Italian reader.
Is the same thing happening in the US? Asinine anti-Americanism over here breeds anti-Europe resentment over there and so we end up with this kind of idiocy ricocheting to and fro on both sides of the Atlantic. True, we are blessed with a very vocal left which is still raging because the great communist revolution they expected never materialised. True, the elites in Brussels or wherever should stick to issuing regulations about zucchini and tomatoes and not worry their little heads about anything more complicated than that.Of course it's happening here. As a first order effect, it's simply a generalization. Nearly everybody recognizes there are millions of Europeans and they don't all share a monolithic opinion, but hardly anybody is going to continuously preface every remark with "The official position of European governments, the prominent pronouncements from the academy and what the European press is saying, is . . .," when they can just say, "The Europeans . . .," instead.
At the second order, Americans may tend to overestimate how much the government/press/academy troika represents the majority European (or a single European nation's) sentiment. That overestimation, if it exists, may stem from at least two issues.
First, the impression Americans have is that Europeans (officials, press, and apparently a large portion of the population) seem to give more deference to the "intellectual elites" than Americans (officials, press, and large portions of the population) do. Americans have a general distrust that any pronouncements from the "ivory-tower leftist pointy-heads" have much applicability to the Real World™. The common European complaint that Americans are "anti-intellectual" reinforces the American opinion that Europeans are gullible suckers for anything, no matter how outrageous, that comes out of the London School of Economics or Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques - Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris, or lame US academic hacks.
Second, the European political mainstream steams along somewhere to the left of the US. How far left is debatable, but they're definitely off the port beam. Thus it's easy to conflate the anti-American rhetoric of the troika with the overall leftist European tilt and conclude that anti-Americanism is a mainstream European sentiment.
So, when you Tim Blair readers in Milan read something about Euroweenies, feel free to exclude yourselves from that anti-European characterization; and when I read something from Europe about America as a bunch of genocidal fascist war criminals, I'll try to remember there's at least one guy in Milan who might not go along with that description.
Monday, August 19, 2002
Post-communist anti-individualism? I find John Fonte's "transnational progressivism" analysis useful. It provides a workable nomenclature for the group of core ideological assumptions shared by various anti-Western movements. Some, such as Bill Quick and Razib, tend to dismiss Fonte's analysis because the various groups probably can't maintain long term coalitions due to some inherent contradictions and that their ultimate goals "are to a great extent incompatible." Yet, the threat isn't that these groups actually form a cohesive "coalition" under the banner of "transnational progressivism"—they themselves use the more accurate terms "convergence" and "solidarity" to describe their alliances.
It's too easy to discount any threats from TP, partly because the blogosphere has already coined a dismissive term for these movements—"idiotarians."
Discounting TP now might be like discounting communism at the turn of the 20th-century because it was obvious that it could never actually 'survive its own internal contradictions.' Doing so then was to ignore the potential misery communist ideologues would shortly inflict upon millions.
I suspect that "transnational progressivism" and "idiotarianism" could just as accurately be called "post-communist anti-individualism," which might put its potential threat to liberal Western democracy on a par with Islamic fundamentalism—another ideology 'riven with internecine, factional strife.' Fonte's warning isn't about the threat that these idiotarians will ever actually succeed, but about the damage they may cause in the attempt.
Now maybe we can bring the special forces home. If CNN actually shows the video of al Qaeda gassing dogs in their chemical weapons experiments, the war on terror might be turned over to PETA and their other lawless friends. Of course, they'd be expected to demonstrate a few qualities they appear to be missing.
Multiculturalism Undressed. Before pointing out a letter in the Sydney Morning Herald, Tim Blair asks,"Remember all those pinheads whose immediate response to September 11 was that the West should examine why it was so despised?"
Of course, most everybody does. All the multiculturalists stepped out of their classrooms and seminars to collectively say, "We must ask, 'Why do they hate us?'" Before anybody allowed the questioners to turn around and provide their answer to that question, they should have taken a good look at who was asking. Decades before Sep 11, 2001, the multiculturalists had already answered the question of hate with a standard refrain (everybody sing along):
People hate what they fear,They built an entire industry on that two-line answer to why one group hates another. And yet, after Sep 11, they actually had the nerve to ask the question. Of course, they had to, because if they'd given the people who'd been force-fed their simplistic mantra a chance to think about it, the multiculturalists would have been yanked out of their comfortable offices, classrooms and lecture halls and shipped off to the mosques and madrassas to give their diversity training and cultural sensitivity classes to the people who really need it.
Letting the multiculturalists both ask and answer the question allows them to continue to ply their trade in the land of central heat and air-conditioning. If we hate them, it's because we don't understand them, and are thus in need of cultural awareness training. If they hate us, it's because we don't understand them, and, again, we're the ones in need of cultural awareness training. It just won't do to say that maybe they hate us because they don't understand us and they are the ones in need of mandatory cultural sensitivity seminars.