First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC
Three Books That Name Names
Bernard Goldberg, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (And Al Franken is #37).
Kate O'Beirne, Women Who Make the World Worse: and How Their Radical Feminist Assault Is Ruining Our Schools, Families, Military, and Sports
David Horowitz, The Professors: the 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America
We Americans have been through massive cultural and social revolutions in the past two generations. We've drastically revised the way we marry, the way we have sex, the way we educate our children, and many other aspects of our lives.
Some of the changes are purely technological. LPs and 8-tracks are gone, cassettes are fading, CDs rule. Beta and VHS came and went -- now we buy DVDs and record on TiVo or DVR. Our cameras are digital and our printers are inkjet, and we send and receive hundreds of letters a year without anybody licking a stamp. We send our kids to junior high with cellphones in their backpacks and pay ridiculously low fares to fly through airline hub cities, with lithium ion batteries in our laptops so we can play solitaire across country.
Somebody complains about every single one of these changes. Change always annoys somebody. Somebody always misses the good old days. Have you forgotten how wonderful it was to put an LP on the recor-recor-recor-recor-recor-recor <screeeeeeeee ...> on the record player?
Remember how long it took to get the last diehards to stop yearning for the old days of segregation? (When did Jesse Helms retire? When did Strom Thurmond die? Oh, wait ... Trent Lott is still in the Senate!)
Some people just don't want anything to change. Apparently everything was perfect when they were ten years old, and the world should have frozen right then.
Don't they understand progress? Change is unavoidable! Get on the train or get out of the way!
"Revolutionary" is a good word. Revolutionary new household cleaning products. Revolutionary new poet! Revolutionary car design!
Don't be a counter-revolutionary! Nobody likes a Contra.
Oh, wait ... that was a different set of rhetoric ... The old war. The cold war.
So now we're out of the kitchen, out of the closet, out of the back alley, and out of the back of the bus, and don't you even think about trying to roll back the clock!
What's the voice I hear? Not the screaming one, the quiet person saying ... what was that? A little bit louder? Yes, you, ma'am. You asked ... what?
"Do we have to pretend to like all the changes in order to keep any of them?"
Well ... what is it you want to keep?
"My daughter gets so sad all the time, ever since her abortion. She didn't really want it, but her boyfriend was so ... and everybody said --"
Shut up. Nobody wants to hear from you. You're anti-choice!
You, sir -- yes, you, young man!
"I just wanted to wrestle in college. But they couldn't get enough girls to join teams in other sports so they had to cancel the whole wrestling program so we'd have equal numbers of men and women on the athletic teams."
Yeah, yeah, reverse discrimination, yadda yadda yadda. You men had your way for ten thousand years, buddy, now it's women's turn. Get used to it.
You? Yes, let's have the voice of reason here.
"I paid $25,000 a year to send my kid to a great university. I thought he'd come back with a whole set of sharp intellectual tools, questioning and analyzing everything. Instead he's completely indoctrinated and refuses to listen to anybody who disagrees with him. I could have sent him to the Klan to learn that."
A progressive person doesn't have to question his progressiveness.
What is it with you people? Do you want to live in the good old days of segregation and lynching?
"No, sir. But what about the good old days when thirteen-year-olds weren't having babies or abortions, and most marriages actually lasted till one of you died?"
A myth! Never happened! It was the age of millions of women dying from back-alley abortions, when women were miserably stifled and shut up in the kitchen while their brains atrophied, and men had their own way about everything. The age of the double standard, buddy! The age of oppression. You just can't handle freedom, my friend!
We've Reinvented the Establishment
Here's the sad fact about the human race. Yesterday's revolution keeps calling itself a revolution, but in fact it quickly becomes the establishment -- repressive, narrow-minded, unquestioning, cruel, smug, and stupid. So sure they're the only ones with right ideas that they work hard to silence anybody with different ones.
Happens over and over again.
And whenever you question the establishment, they trot out the old bugbears that they fought against.
You know -- if you wanted to change anything in 1965, you were a Commie.
Now if you want to change anything, you're a Nazi or a Klansman or child abuser. We've come a long way, baby!
If you seek a middle ground, or just a chance to vote on one of these changes to see if that's where America actually wants to be, you're vilified as if you were putting manacles on everybody but yourself and your (rich, white, Nazi) friends.
But in spite of the Establishment's tendency to scream at people who disagree with their dogmas, to call them foul names, to accuse them of lying, and to take away their jobs, there are people who have carefully documented the hypocrisies, ignorance, lies, stupidity, cruelty, arrogance, and elitism of the Establishment.
These three books will naturally look exactly alike to the Establishment, because all opposition looks exactly alike to them (it always does).
But they're really quite different, because the authors are different. Bernard Goldberg is an award-winning broadcast journalist who train-wrecked his career by publicly pointing out shoddy and false reporting on CBS news -- which obviously continued after he left. His book -- 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America -- is entertainment. He doesn't footnote or source things; he's drawing from the public record and pointing out the stupidity, hypocrisy, and harm.
He doesn't pretend to be even-handed. He includes the token conservative wacko -- Michael Savage, who is really scary -- but he's attacking the establishment. The people who decide whether you can get: a doctorate; tenure; a movie made; favorable coverage in the news media; or called an "intellectual."
And those people are overwhelmingly liberal. Not just a little bit liberal. Way, way liberal.
That's what happens when your team controls almost all the organs of culture -- you get criticized.
Escaping the Feminist Utopia
Kate O'Beirne, on the other hand, is far more firmly in the conservative camp -- she's the Washington editor of National Review, as smug as a conservative publication can get. But O'Beirne isn't smug. She's furious, and it shows.
Funny -- the Left, especially feminists, can call other people terrible names and make wild accusations about them, and that's OK, because Their Cause Is Just. But let somebody from the Right get a little angry, and you get reviews like this one that a committed liberal who calls himself "ranmasan" put up on Amazon:
"Kate makes numerous statements about what people think, and presents no supporting quotes as proof." Actually, she supplies hundreds of quotes, along with reference -- but you can lie about the book if it's an evil right-wing book.
"The book is filled with misrepresentations of facts, and out right lies." In fact, she does an excellent job of showing what her opponents say to the general public -- and what they say behind closed doors. Most of her book consists of exposing other people's "misrepresentations of facts" and "outright lies," and she documents them.
"Her grasp of Statistics is non-existent. So her whole chapter on income disparity is moot. (You can't just ppick a few random occupations and average the salaries together.)" But ... but ... that's precisely what feminists have done to "prove" that women are still underpaid. That's her point. Did he read this book?
And here's the clincher from that review: "Kate is apparently stuck in the 1950s, in an I Love Lucy rerun, and wants the rest of the USA stuck in there with her."
Now, I know I'll be criticized for choosing a review written by a volunteer citizen on Amazon to pick apart. But my point is that this guy follows the kneejerk establishment script:
Lie about what your opponent actually says ("No quotes" when there are hundreds).
Accuse the opponent of everything the opponent accuses you of ("misrepresentations" and "outright lies") so that neutral people who don't understand the game will assume that truth must lie somewhere in between, when in fact the critic of the establishment (like O'Beirne) may well be absolutely honest, while those who attack her have no such scruples.
Accuse the opponent of being unscientific, ignorant, or stupid ("grasp of Statistics is non-existent"), not because you actually understand science or statistics or anything else yourself, but because you just know that your team always has the facts on their side, regardless of whether you can actually prove it; so anti-establishment "evidence" must all be an ignorant misunderstanding.
Accuse the opponent of wanting to roll back the clock to an earlier time, usually the 1950s, and bring in some absurd irrelevancy ("I Love Lucy reruns") merely to make fun of her.
Oh, I almost forgot: Speak of your opponent with smug condescension. Where O'Beirne respectfully refers to all of the feminist leaders she is critiquing by their last names, the Leftist reviewer pats her on the head and calls her "Kate."
This guy on Amazon has the formula down pat. There is no evidence he has actually read her book -- and plenty of evidence that he has not. But the Left doesn't have to listen or read -- they already know!
Meanwhile, O'Beirne gives a healthy dose of reality. For instance (to take another statistic), what about that political gender gap that plagues Republican candidates? You know, the one where women vote far more for Democrats?
If you don't include the African-American vote, which goes overwhelmingly for the Democrat almost every time, regardless of gender, we get a very different picture. "While women have been fickle voters, backing Reagan twice and George H.W. Bush in 1988 (but not 1992)," white males have opposed the Democratic candidate by a landslide in every presidential election since 1976.
"Al Gore received only 36 percent of the white male vote in 2000, John Kerry only 37 percent in 2004.... GOP congressional and gubernatorial candidates also typically win the white male vote by 20-point margins" (p.149).
Well, duh. When the Democratic Party keeps screaming that white men are wrong on everything and should be shut out and excluded in order for things to be more "fair," why exactly should white males vote for Democrats?
The real surprise is that John Kerry may have "carried the overall women's vote by 3 points," but he lost white women voters by 11 points.
The Democrats seem to forget that women often have sons and husbands, who they know don't fit the evil stereotypes propounded by the extremist groups that dominate the Democratic agenda.
If it weren't for the Democrats' success in continuing to persuade black voters that Republicans have nothing to offer them (which, of course, the Republicans helped them do by embracing the old segregationists of the South from Goldwater on), the Democrats would be about as politically relevant today as the Federalists were by 1808.
Maybe it's time for Democrats to look at the political if not the scientific facts and start acting for the good of the nation instead of accepting the insane agenda of anti-evidence, anti-male feminism.
The third book is different still. David Horowitz's The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, while it has an excellent introduction about the virtual disappearance of reason and scholarship as a requirement of America's politicized academia, replaced by a political litmus test, consists almost entirely of brief biographies and scads of quotations from those 101 academics.
He is at great pains to point out how lionized and feted and petted and respected these academics are, and then shows us how outrageously anti-American, irrational, unscholarly, unscientific, or downright dishonest they are (depending on the individual statements of those professors).
I know from experience what the response of academia will be. Oh, there'll be the kneejerk establishment statements like those above, but by and large these academics will put on their "tolerant" hat and say, "Look how Horowitz wants to force everybody in academia to think like him. Look how he's trying to force a rightwing political litmus test on everybody. Can't we all just get along?"
Meanwhile, the very same academics refuse to allow students with "incorrect" ideas to enter or, if they do sneak in, get a doctorate from their program; refuse to hire faculty that isn't part of the permanent "revolution"; and indoctrinate their classes with subtle or overt leftwing propaganda and ridicule or vilify students who disagree with them.
The thing I find most absurd about the academic establishment is that they really believe they're "liberals" who are seeking to better the lives of the "common people" -- even as they constantly talk about how much they hate everything the "common people" like, and work to avoid any chance of actual democratic resolution of political controversies.
It's a little group of elitists who think they're smarter than everybody else.
What all these books have in common (especially, of course, the heavily documented ones -- O'Beirne's and Horowitz's) is that they expose the intellectual flaws in the so-called "intellectual" position.
When the Establishment claims superior knowledge to justify imposing their vision on the rest of us, then their information had better be correct. If there are competing statistics that might suggest an alternate course of action, then honesty and fairness demand that they include it.
But they don't. They act like it doesn't exist.
And when we send our kids to college, they are taught as if that evidence didn't exist. Until and unless they actually start doing serious scientific research in the particular field, they can go through a complete university "education" and get only the "evidence" that supports one point of view.
Like the "evidence" for the Ophelia Complex, which after years of waiting still remains to be produced -- while genuine studies that show the opposite keep piling up.
Yet even after a "fact" like that has been completely discredited, the Establishment keeps citing it as if it were the national consensus.
The Elite Know Best
The overwhelming conclusion you have to reach after reading these three books is: The Establishment doesn't care about facts. Doesn't care about democracy either. They're so sure they're correct on everything -- even on mutually contradictory propositions -- that they deliberately shut their eyes to all evidence.
Let's see: You select only the evidence that supports your predetermined, ideologically based conclusions and deny or ignore the rest; you vilify any opponents and try to silence them or ridicule them until nobody pays attention; you punish those within your power by trying to end their career; you never actually question your own beliefs or even try to reconcile them with the beliefs of others.
I know what that's called! It's faith.
It's religion. And that's fine. People have the right to believe anything they choose to believe, based on any evidence (or lack thereof) that they choose.
What they don't have a right to do is hire onto university faculties or newspaper and broadcast news staffs only people who share their faith.
Most people know that religions in America get along pretty well precisely because we don't expect everyone around us to agree with us on every point of faith. No matter how idiotic with think other people's faith is, and how right we think our beliefs are, we've learned to treat each other with, if not respect, then at least courtesy and basic fairness.
But the Establishment, as Establishments are wont to do, doesn't follow such rules. They're the elite. Regular rules don't apply to them.
Thus the media applies the oddest rules. Hillary can have a track record of extreme leftist writings, but because she's trying to be elected President, the media won't demand that her earlier writings be unlocked and examined; meanwhile, anything that any Conservative every wrote about anything is going to be nitpicked to death.
Different rules for different circumstances.
As Horowitz points out, the complete intolerance of most university faculties for "incorrect" ideas is justified by reasoning like that appearing in Brandeis Professor Herbert Mancuse's essay "Repressive Tolerance" in 1965 (yes, the revolution is that old). Horowitz summarizes and quotes (passim):
"The views of right-wing intellectuals reflect the rule of an oppressive and already dominant social class. Marcuse identified 'revolutionary tolerance' as 'tolerance that enlarged the range and content of freedom.'
"Revolutionary tolerance could not be neutral towards rival viewpoints. It had to be 'partisan' on behalf of a radical cause and "intolerant towards the protagonists of the repressive status quo.'... In this view, a blacklist was a potential tool of 'liberation.'"
The extreme Left is the Establishment in America. That's why they're fighting so hard to resist change -- to resist any change in the ideological makeup of the Supreme Court, any hiring of conservatives into soft-subject university departments, and any intrusion of moderate, let alone conservative, viewpoints as respectable alternatives in the news media.
They feel entitled to have their views prevail, regardless of the often huge majorities of ordinary Americans who oppose them.
The Open Mind
So what about you?
If you already think you might agree with these writers, then you'll enjoy the books. Or, well, maybe "enjoy" isn't the right word. Mostly they'll appall you -- but you'll be armed with the evidence and arguments that will support your instinctive revulsion at some of the absurd actions and statements of so many members of the Leftist Establishment.
And if you're already convinced that these three writers and their books are evil, awful, and monstrous, then would you please turn in your credentials as an intellectual at the door as you leave? Because you aren't one.
If you are incapable of reading a book you disagree with, without considering the author's evidence and arguments with some attempt at open-mindedness, you're no intellectual. Just like the old joke that says that Macdonald's has nothing on the menu that requires you to have teeth, you don't even need an intellect to simply agree with all the dogmas of the Left and automatically hate whatever contradicts them. In fact, it helps not to have an intellect, or at least to keep it sleeping.
And just in case you're wondering: Yes, I read things I disagree with all the time. I seek out articles and books that reach conclusions I am not disposed to believe, and read in hopes of learning something new -- at least until I've determined whether their methodology includes (a) evidence and (b) rational argument.
And when I open books (like these) that do reach some conclusions I share, I read with particular skepticism, constantly on the watch for flattery. I get angrier at idiots on my team than I ever do at those on the opposing side. Because the idiots on my side of the argument discredit me.
What I'm searching for is truth if it's available, and when (as is usual) it remains elusive, a rational compromise that allows most people to achieve the goals that are most important to them.
It's the Establishment that thinks it shouldn't have to compromise, because they're ... they're them, and their opponents are just ... us ordinary dumb people.
We really should just let them tell us what to do. Because they know ... well, everything.
As an NPR reporter so tolerantly and impartially said on the air during the Florida recount in the election of 2000, "If the Republicans would stop challenging every ballot, this recount would go a lot faster."
If their opponents would stop this obsession they have with evidence and logic -- you know, male thinking -- everything would go so much more smoothly.
Copyright © 2006 by Orson Scott Card.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.