34 Responses to Why are anti-science conservatives so damn condescending?
The center-right Washington Post publishes another inane attack on liberals
I’m going to invent a new word — CONservativeDESCENDING. It carries the traditional meaning “displaying a patronizingly superior attitude” but it only applies to people displaying such an attitude while adopting an anti-scientific position, while descending into disinformation and obfuscation that threatens all of our children and countless generations beyond them.
After all, everyone with strongly held views appears condescending to those who disagree with them, but only those who are CONservativeDESCENDING can be patronizingly superior while being objectively wrong. Indeed, the fact that just about everyone appears condescending to those who disagree with them makes it utterly inane for the Washington Post to publish an Outlook piece Sunday, “Why are liberals so condescending?” — and have a “Q&A, Mon., 11 a.m.: Outlook: Why are liberals so condescending to conservatives?”
Before addressing the nonsensical thesis of the piece in as un-condescending a manner as possible, let me first note that the piece is doubly nonsensical being published in the Post, which is the home of the single most condescending person in the country — or at least the single most condescending person who has a media megaphone, the person who defines the word CONservativeDESCENDING. Indeed, while I defy you to find any liberal columnist for the Post who routinely displays a patronizingly superior attitude to conservatives, I defy you to find a George Will column that does not display a patronizingly superior attitude to liberals.
For instance, just last year, the Post published one of his anti-scientific pieces with the headline, “Climate Change’s Dim Bulbs.” I kid you not. What was particularly striking about that condescending diatribe was that the Post, abandoning any journalistic standards, let Will publish for the third time global warming lies debunked on its own pages! That is the epitome of CONservativeDESCENDING.
You won’t be surprised to learn that the Outlook article is yet another opinion piece by a right winger (see Post’s Kurtz calls paper’s op-ed page “left-leaning” “” even as it features mostly right wingers) — Gerard Alexander, Visiting Scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute But you might be surprised the Post does not share the AEI affiliation with their readers. I’ll be interested to see what the print edition says about Alexander, but online they merely say he’s a U. VA. professor giving a talk at AEI Monday.
But, of course, the fact that he is conservative doesn’t mean he’s wrong — it would be condescending to suggest that. No, he’s wrong because, well, his argument just makes no sense:
Every political community includes some members who insist that their side has all the answers and that their adversaries are idiots. But American liberals, to a degree far surpassing conservatives, appear committed to the proposition that their views are correct, self-evident, and based on fact and reason, while conservative positions are not just wrong but illegitimate, ideological and unworthy of serious consideration.
[I suppose it would be simply be too condescending to point out that the second sentence doesn’t quite make sense as written.]
Hmm. Let’s see. Who wrote this condescending piece on the opinion pages of the Washington Post last year?
The revelation of appalling actions by so-called climate change experts….
The e-mails reveal that leading climate “experts” deliberately destroyed records, manipulated data to “hide the decline” in global temperatures….
I’ve always believed that policy should be based on sound science, not politics….
Our representatives in Copenhagen should remember that good environmental policymaking is about weighing real-world costs and benefits — not pursuing a political agenda….
In his inaugural address, President Obama declared his intention to “restore science to its rightful place.” But instead of staying home from Copenhagen and sending a message that the United States will not be a party to fraudulent scientific practices….
Without trustworthy science and with so much at stake, Americans should be wary about what comes out of this politicized conference.
Yes, that is Sarah Palin, who the Post also allowed to publish falsehoods that were debunked on its own pages.
What is remarkable about that piece is not merely its anti-science anti-intellectualism, but that it simultaneously satisfies the very definition Alexander offers for condescension. Palin repeatedly asserted that her views are “correct, self-evident, and based on fact and reason, while [liberal] positions are not just wrong but illegitimate, ideological and unworthy of serious consideration.”
Again my point isn’t that liberals are never condescending — only that it is transparently obvious that conservatives are every bit as condescending and that it is nonsensical to assert otherwise. Just read the message boards at anti-science websites like WattUpWithThat.
Some observers have decried an anti-intellectual strain in contemporary conservatism, detected in George W. Bush’s aw-shucks style, Sarah Palin’s college-hopping and the occasional conservative campaigns against egghead intellectuals.
Note the strawman. “College-hopping” is not a significant basis for observers’ detection of an anti-intellectual strain in Palin. It’s her anti-scientific anti-intellectualism that is the basis for that view.
Alexander cleverly dodges the not-“occasional,” but now permanent campaign against scientists, especially on the climate issue:
Chris Mooney’s book “The Republican War on Science” argues that policy debates in the scientific arena are distorted by conservatives who disregard evidence and reflect the biases of industry-backed Republican politicians or of evangelicals aimlessly shielding the world from modernity. In this interpretation, conservative arguments are invariably false and deployed only cynically. Evidence of the costs of cap-and-trade carbon rationing is waved away as corporate propaganda….
He turns Mooney’s well-argued analysis on conservative disdain for climate science — which has been more than vindicated by the ceaseless attacks on climate science and climate scientists from the right-wing — into a dispute that is merely about the cost of action, where he thinks conservatives are on strong intellectual grounds:
Perhaps the most important conservative insight being depreciated is the durable warning from free-marketeers that government programs often fail to yield what their architects intend. Democrats have been busy expanding, enacting or proposing major state interventions in financial markets, energy and health care. Supporters of such efforts want to ensure that key decisions will be made in the public interest and be informed, for example, by sound science, the best new medical research or prudent standards of private-sector competition. But public-choice economists have long warned that when decisions are made in large, centralized government programs, political priorities almost always trump other goals.
Even liberals should think twice about the prospect of decisions on innovative surgeries, light bulbs and carbon quotas being directed by legislators grandstanding for the cameras. Of course, thinking twice would be easier if more of them were listening to conservatives at all.
The Post‘s editors let Alexander ignore the entire dispute over climate science — where conservatives embrace a remarkably consistent anti-scientific strain, led by the uber-condescending Will (and Palin). But at least they (apparently unwittingly) let him hang himself intellectually (again, apparently unwittingly):
Perhaps the most important conservative insight being depreciated is the durable warning from free-marketeers that government programs often fail to yield what their architects intend
If the most important conservative insight is that free marketeers should get complete freedom from government oversight, then the most important conservative intellectual insight has just been smashed to bits on the rocky shoals of the Bush-Cheney depression. Of course, avoiding such catastrophes would be easier if more conservatives were listening to liberals at all. Sorry if that sounded a little condescending, but at least it wasn’t CONservativeDESCENDING.
I won’t be having a Q&A Monday sponsored by the Post on “Why are liberals so condescending to conservatives?” so in lieu of that, I’d like to here from you on “Why are conservatives so condescending to liberals?”
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