Sometimes the Internet gives you a present.
While writing my previous post on Palin and the Left’s Status-Anxiety, I worried that I wouldn’t make my case sufficiently because I didn’t have room to add in any examples of the kind of leftist comments on Palin I thought supported my hypothesis.
Thankfully, Google’s inbound link service alerted me to a link from a leftwing blog in which virtually every comment provides a very good example of the kind of emotion-driven reasoning that I have written about in the Palin post and elsewhere.
I think there is fodder for several posts in some of the comments, but for now let’s just follow the main theme.
… a journalist, commentator and speaker. He is the co-founder and president of Michigan Citizens for Science and co-founder of The Panda’s Thumb
He’s apparently some kind of professional atheist and science journalist.
(Let me just say, that I always get a little shiver of fear when I read someone like Brayton. I can’t help thinking, “that could have been me.”
After all, I am philosophical agnostic (like Huxley) but a functional atheist. I only concern myself with materialistic phenomena and I don’t base any of my decisions on the premise that anything supernatural exists. I was educated as a biologist and evolutionary theory remains a major interest of mine. A big part of my life from the ages of 14-25 was spent arguing with religious creationists. Up until my late 20s, I did think almost exactly like Brayton and his commenters. I really only changed when the vagaries of life booted me from academia and I was forced to deal with the real world. Had a few of my life experiences been just a bit different, I might be just as arrogant, elitist and sneering as they are. That is a very humbling thought.)
Brayton’s own contribution is brief but typical. After quoting me saying, “In short, it is not the ideas she puts forth, its that someone like her is significant at all,” he says:
Yep, that’s true. I am appalled that someone like her — willfully ignorant, demagogic, completely clueless — could be in a position to influence people and hold political power in this or any other universe. Guilty as charged.[emp added]
Brayton probably doesn’t realize it but he rather proved my point. He just states that she is the wrong type of person and considers that definitive. Now, I would let him off the hook personally because he’s obviously preaching to the (atheist/leftist) choir and expects everyone to agree with him. What I find revealing is that in the 47 comments (as of this writing) no one else does either!
Squiddhartha even makes it explicit:
For “leftists” to be reacting to the “ideas she puts forth,” she’d have to be putting forth ideas.
I find this very typical and revealing. Most Palin haters have no clue where she stands on specific policy issues and they really don’t care. All they care about is the type/kind of person they imagine her to be.
You would think that at least someone would take five minutes to cobble together a counter-argument showing that her stance on various policy issues was so outside the mainstream that it justified their extreme revulsion. Clearly, no one believes this is necessary. They don’t believe it necessary because they all take it for granted that they are clearly superior people to Palin and all they are required to do is point that out.
Leftism is based on the idea that a special intellectual elite have a vastly superior understanding of how the world works, and therefore what public policy should be, than the vast majority of people. From that axiomatic assumption, it follows that any member of the elite will make better decisions about any subject than any member of the non-elite.
You can see this axiom in action in the assertion that because Palin makes bad decisions in one domain that she therefore must make bad decisions in all domains — e.g., Palin believes in creationism (supposedly), therefore she must also be wrong about foreign policy, energy policy, environmental policy or any of the hundreds of other areas a political figure must deal with. This only makes sense if you believe that all “correct” thinking people come to the same conclusions about all problems in all domains.
Of course this is nonsense. Failure in one domain does not translate automatically to failure in another domain, any more than expertise in one domain translates automatically to expertise in all other domains.
The idea that leftists/intellectuals have a universally superior understanding of all domains is easily refuted by even a casual glance at history. Self-anointed intellectuals have a long track record of believing incredibly stupid things and basing horrific policies on them. Major examples would be Marxism, Freudianism and Eugenics. Simply declaring someone as not an intellectual, (“willfully ignorant”) does not mean they make bad political decisions. Arguably, it often means the opposite. At the very least such a person will not make errors born of intellectual hubris.
In the end, the only thing that matters for a political office-holder is that they make good decisions. How they arrive at those decisions is irrelevant. We don’t judge historical political figures by their backgrounds, their religious beliefs or who they associated with prior to being in office. We judge their legacy solely on whether history decides they made the right decisions when it counted. Presidents who we today admire, such as Lincoln and Truman, were scorned as uneducated, ignorant bumpkins by the Braytons of their day.
Leftists take their intellectual superiority so much for granted that they believe all they must do is mark Palin as not one of them and they have damned her utterly in the eyes of all the people that matter. They do not seem to understand that those of us who are not members of their little mutual admiration society don’t see things quite that way.
There is a lot of fodder for posts in some of the comments (there are some howlers), and I will I will try to return to them individually in future posts. Right now, I’ll think I’ll head over to the thread and post a comment of my own and see what happens.
This is going to be fun.
[Update: The next related post, Palin as the Leftwing Anti-Christ. Did you know the Assemblies of God want to start a nuclear war?]