THURSDAY, JANUARY 13, 2022
Over Here, we Democrats don't: We were strongly underwhelmed by last weekend's Sunday Review in the New York Times.
Talk about first world problems! There was Professor Manne, seeming to say that there are too few somewhat overweight women in the world of academic philosophy:
MANNE (1/9/22): I have lately wondered how much my self-directed fatphobia owes to my career as an academic philosopher. More than one author has remarked that there is a dearth of fat, female bodies in academia in general and in philosophy specifically. Philosophy, with its characteristic emphasis on reason, often implicitly conceives of rationality as the jurisdiction of the lean, rich, white men who dominate my discipline.
Among our elites, it's surprising to see how often such problems prevail.
When last we heard from Professor Manne, she was insisting that we all should believe Tara Reade's claims against Candidate Biden.
(Headline in The Nation: "I Believe Tara Reade. And You Should, Too.")
Were Reade's accusations true? It's our impression that many people decided they probably weren't. Basically, our tribe largely let her claims fade away—and as far as we know, no one has asked Professor Manne what she thinks of them now.
Instead, the Times published her ruminations about the relative dearth of fat women in academia in general and in philosophy specifically. It can be hard to get liberals to see how underwhelming our tribe can be, especially on its more exalted ends.
The Sunday Review also featured an essay by Rebecca Solnit. She started with a statement which was perfectly accurate, after which she got amazingly fuzzy real fast:
SOLNIT (1/9/22): When called upon to believe that Barack Obama was really born in Kenya, millions got in line...
It's true! If reputable surveys can be believed, millions of people did "get in line" when Donald J. Trump spent four years serving as King of the Birthers.
After some instantly fuzzy claims, Solnit started her second paragraph with another statement which is basically accurate. Even though it's basically accurate, it's a statement we wouldn't make in the same manner ourselves:
SOLNIT: While much has been said about the moral and political stance of people who support right-wing conspiracy theories, their gullibility is itself alarming...
We wouldn't put it that way ourselves, but widespread mistaken and bogus belief has been a major national problem for at least the past thirty years. What bothers us about good, decent people like Solnit is this:
Perhaps a bit gullibly, such people seem to believe that mistaken and false belief only occurs Over There!
Solnit's column was a classic of the genre, with highly flawed reasoning used to establish the claim that we reason quite well.
"Democrats operate on the basis of reasonably factual premises and usually accept the authority of science, law and history," Solnit says near the end of her essay, "while Republicans uninhibitedly push whatever’s most convenient for their goals and incendiary for their base."
Those uninhibited Others today!
That particular passage could have come with a hat tip to Goofus and Gallant! At any rate, that's the story we creatures have peddled ever since we first crawled up on dry land—or at least, so the experts have always all told us.
At present, the pro-Trump base really has surrendered its trust to a set of unreliable narrators. In very large numbers, they even believe that Donald J. Trump won the 2020 election.
In very large numbers, that belief has taken hold in the absence of anything dimly resembling serious evidence. A relatively small number of pro-Trump types have even acted out violently in support of this bogus claim.
That said, is it true that we unassailable Democrats "operate on the basis of reasonably factual premises and usually accept the authority of science, law and history?"
Isn't it pretty to think so? we'd say. And we'd say that the answer is no.
Solnit goes on, at some length, about how "gullible" The Others are. As a matter of basic courtesy, and in search of a more successful politics, we'd recommend staying away from that word, except when describing one's own.
Over the course of the past dozen years, our tribe has invented all sorts of false claims! All too often, we've been a bit cruel as we've pushed these false claims, and we don't think we've served anyone well in the process.