Friday, April 08, 2005

More Big Lies Being Spread

Thanks to mrgumby at itlookslikethis, here's an excerpt of a post from The Abstract Factory that I enjoyed quite a bit. The original post is simply a refutation of some ridiculous charges that the noxious Jonah Goldberg made regarding "liberal professors" and their counterparts in the private sector, but this excerpt speaks, I believe, to a larger truth about right-wing bloggers and pundits today:

"Let's consider, rather, Goldberg's supremely asinine arrogance in how he constructs this argument. Goldberg clearly does not know a goddamn thing about science and engineering academia. I repeat: he does not know a goddamn thing about science and engineering academia. He does not know enough to make educated guesses; he does not know enough to have even the faintest throb of a gut instinct. But he's an expert in the ape-man grunts that constitute current conservatarian ideology ('Private sector good! Academia bad! Money good! Liberal bad! Oook ook!'), which enables him to deduce, a priori, the probable truth about any given subject. And he's an expert in the low, low standards of punditological writing, which permit him to describe his total ignorance with the phrase: 'I don't have the data to back this up handy', as if there were some wealth of both statistical and anecdotal evidence and he just didn't have enough research assistants to compile it at the moment. Hence, he feels comfortable smearing liberal academics in science and engineering fields as unemployable jokers.

Now, this would merely be an occasion for a hearty laugh at the village idiot's expense, if not for what it represents in its broader media context. The fact is, Goldberg doesn't care in the least whether what he says is true and well-reasoned, and neither do his backers and readers. Goldberg's function is not to say things that are true, nor is his function to present a reasoned argument. Goldberg's function is to spew forth some roughly grammatical stream of words that appear to reinforce conservatarian ideology, so that his readers can listen, nod, and feel vindicated in their beliefs.

And --- this is what's really maddening, all the outrages I've brought up wouldn't matter in the least except for this point --- virtually all right-leaning commentators, running the gamut from David Brooks to Rush Limbaugh to Glenn Reynolds, whether consciously or not, perform roughly the same function, and they're wildly effective. The entire right-wing movement is like a hovercraft floating on the perpetually roaring whirlwind of sub-rational, self-reinforcing nonsense that gusts through the minds of its adherents. It goes on and on and on, and nobody stops the people who feed it; most of the time, nobody with a prominent voice even stands up to them and calls them on their nonsense. For writing this column, and numerous other pieces of garbage like it, for filling people's minds with offal, Jonah Goldberg will never face judgment; he'll die peacefully, with a fat bank account and a kid gloves obituary."

This is essentially what I've been saying -- a lot of us have, in fact -- for some time now: the wingers just make shit up, and no one will call bullshit on them. Why? Why are the media so cowed by these noisy idiots? Why aren't more regular people able to see through the lies and the obfuscation of the wingnut machine? As my friend Ray, a man who works for former ambassador James Hormel, and who is very active politically, put it recently, "these are goddamned frustrating times we're living in."

My thanks to Cog for posting this (and to mrgumby for linking to it), and for standing up to Jonah and calling him on his nonsense. Would that a few more -- and more prominent -- people exhibited the combination of spine, factual information and cojones that he has.
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