Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Humorless Fanatics


America's kulturkampfers are normally a tough-minded, unemotional bunch. But remind them about the Christlike sufferings of Larry Summers - or, if you're in a hurry, wait for them to remind themselves - and they'll weep like a captured squonk.

For instance, the irrepressible George Leef is heartstricken that unlike Larry Summers, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was given the opportunity to say stupid things on an American college campus:

The New Republic points out the idiocy of embracing freedom of speech for a murderous dictator, but refusing to listen to a respected scholar.
It's probably my superficial, postmodern intoxication with the play of difference that causes me to believe there's a distinction to be made between "embracing freedom of speech" and "refusing to listen" to someone who's exercising it.

And between "refusing to listen" to a respected scholar, and disagreeing with what he says.

And between disagreeing with him, and providing compelling evidence that his "academic speculation" amounts to little more than bad-faith bullshit.

And between visiting a college in one's capacity as a foreign leader, and running it in one's capacity as its president.

Leef seems to understand that he's sunk himself in a dangerous rhetorical swamp, and accordingly attempts to pull himself out by his own hair, like Baron Munchausen:
Why are so many American professors humorless fanatics who think that everything they do has to revolve around pushing their political vision?
Beats me. As I understand it, Summers is a hero to conservatives for arguing, despite a lack of relevant expertise and evidence, that women are underrepresented in the sciences because they lack certain "intrinsic aptitudes." If that doesn't qualify as "pushing a political vision," it's hard to imagine what would. Even granting the conservatarian tendency to see informed disagreement with male-supremacist pseudoscience as neo-Lysenkoism, it's hard to see how Leef can claim with a straight face that people "refused to listen" to Summers.

Between that, and the fact that he feels personally affronted by the mere existence of Latina/o Studies, I'm thinking Leef may want to direct his search for humorless fanatics to the nearest mirror.

(Illustration via Oldtasty.)

3 comments:

MikeJ said...

I was fairly sure that when Summers made his controversial remarks he was speaking at a university.

It seems the right believes that if someone is allowed to speak, no one is allowed to disagree with the speaker. If you follow this logic, you can understand why they wouldn't want Ahmadinejad to speak. By merely hearing a repugnant point of view, collegians will be forced to accept it!

Phila said...

By merely hearing a repugnant point of view, collegians will be forced to accept it!

Unless they "refuse to listen." But apparently, Ahmadinejad's rhetoric is so compelling that that's not an option in his case.

Phila said...

I was fairly sure that when Summers made his controversial remarks he was speaking at a university.

He did. I was just making a lame attempt at saracasm.