What Passes for Rationality on the Left

John Hinderaker rips apart Frank Rich’s New York Times column on—well, it’s hard to say, exactly; Joseph Stack, the Tea Party movement, Sarah Palin, the Republican Party, and assorted other things that have nothing to do with one another. Normally, I wouldn’t bother with Rich’s sort of inanity. It’s filled with vague phrases like “It was a flare with the dark afterlife of an omen.” (Kind of like “emanation of a penumbra,” perhaps?) Republicans are somehow to be associated with Stack’s flying a plane into a building because they “gave it a pass.” It’s the sort of column that is so stupid, so mindless, so foolish, and so disconnected that you lose IQ points in the act of reading it.

I point you toward it, and Hinderaker’s masterful dissection of it, because I’ve begun to realize that many people on the Left think that the style of “reasoning” in Rich’s column is actually a sign of great intelligence. They string associations together, assuming, fallaciously, that if A is associated with B, and B with C, A must be associated with C. But A, B, and C don’t have to be associated in the world—those who style themselves as most intelligent would snicker at the suggestion that there is such a thing—but only in their own minds. The less connection there seems to be, in fact, the more intelligent one is for linking them together. In this kind of discourse, in other words, one scores points by making connections that are, on their face, absurd. A guy goes nuts and flies a plane into a building, leaving behind a note filled with Marxist ravings? Must be Sarah Palin’s fault. Tea Party protestors worry that the government is spending too much money? They’re anarchists in favor of political violence. To describe this sort of discourse as cartoonish is unfair to cartoons. But the Left considers it clever, and thinks that moderates and conservatives are stupid for not being able to see the connections they “see,” or, more accurately, imagine.

Shame on the New York Times for printing Rich’s rubbish. And shame on the people who consider it insightful and intelligent.

UPDATE: Ron Radosh (“An Embarrassment to the New York Times“) and Ed Driscoll (“If our Colleges and Universities Do Not Breed Men Who Riot”) join in this morning. Radosh helpfully reminds us that advocacy of political violence has actually been a recurring feature of the Left. But I disagree about one thing. I’m not sure it’s possible to embarrass the New York Times any longer.

One thought on “What Passes for Rationality on the Left

  1. You know, I think Frank Rich wrote about Nidal Hasan and his possible associations- or would that be too glib?- with radical Islamism. Just a sec, I’ll find it in a minute….

    Is there a New York Times Style Manual that says, “Always begin your idiotic ramblings with a cliche about how hard (not to mention stupid) it is to predict what history will say about the pivotal moments of a presidency/era/the Olympics, before you write 700 words about your obsession? Remember when Paul Krugman predicted that historians would regard the Enron scandal as the defining event of the Bush presidency, as opposed to say, relatively trivial occasions like Jenna’s wedding and 9/11?

    Rich was a hack when he was a culture critic, too.

    Speaking of trivia, in one of her books, Ann Coulter claims that the only time she was shown to be inaccurate about her facts was when she mentioned, in passing, in one of her columns that Frank Rich was homosexual. She apologized but noted that her mistake was perfectly understandable. In support of that, every person I’ve mentioned this little factoid to says, “He’s not?”

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