Friday, February 25, 2005

Nordlinger Gives Up "Honest Debate"

In a shocking turn of events this week, the National Review Online's Jay Nordlinger has given up trying to "reason with" people on the political left.

You want to have an honest, robust debate with your political opposition — you
really do. But what if they think you're out to screw old people and enrich Wall
Street? Can you talk to such people?
Can you?

It seems Nordlinger's well-meaning attempts at a mutually elevating dialogue have sustained one too many blows from the emotionally charged fictions that fuel such things as Wal-Mart protests and university conferences.

Yet, though discouraged, he comes out of the battle with the liberal elite with the truth at his side, still secure in the knowledge that "Wal-Mart is a godsend to the poor and the lower middle class." While we might think at first that he means lower middle class and poor Americans, who don't happen to work in manufacturing, want to join unions, or make a living wage, Nordlinger anticipates our misreading and misinformation. Yet, rather than succumbing to the temptation to mock the ignorant liberal reader, Nordlinger serenely turns away from the technique of making straw men out of the opposition and delivers us the cold hard facts, setting us straight about the Wal-Mart issue:


The anti-Wal-Mart mindset is a kind of religion, like dumb
environmentalism, or dumb devotion to gun control, or dumb hatred of the SUV. You can't reason with these people, can't have an honest debate with them: Wal-Mart is simply their devil.


After clearing up the whole Wal-Mart thing, Nordlinger moves on to make a compelling argument against the problems in the (other-than-Bob Jones) universities of today:


At Weinstein Auditorium in Wright Hall, you can attend a panel concerning
"What is the new surveillance? An overview of current conditions." Later you can
hear from such scholars as Joy James, "Africana Studies, Brown University," and
Amrita Basu, "Women and Gender Studies, Amherst College," and . . .
I could go on, but it's too depressing. One thing's sure: I bet they're not "invested in
the complexity of human endeavors across the planet"; I bet they regard things
as pretty simple
.

Nordlinger's relentless, brilliant logic is almost too much. It's no wonder his attempts at dialogue with liberals don't work; his arguments are too complex, too mercilessly dazzling in their subtlety and intricacy. All the poor overwhelmed liberal can do in the face of such an opponent is abandon any attempt at logical engagement and resort to name calling and gross generalization, pathetic rejoinders like "oh yeah? Well I bet you regard things as pretty simple! Ha!"

Somewhere, there is a secret academy where minds like Nordlinger's are trained. Until a liberal is admitted to its halls, our cause is hopelessly shackled by primitive thinking and cult-like fidelity to an ideology that ignores the facts. In the meantime, we should be grateful that Nordlinger is still publishing, and take this opportunity to learn from the enlightened.