Entry from August 24, 2010

One of the principal memes of the left in the renewed culture war currently being fought on the op ed pages of America over the Ground Zero mosque as well as gay marriage and other matters has to do with the stupidity of the right. This must be why, as Maureen Dowd believes, “the country is having some weird mass nervous breakdown” on account of “disinformation” from the right. Something like two thirds of the American people are too stupid to recognize self-evident absurdity when they see it — since, according to the increasingly shrill “progressive” consensus, the only arguments at their disposal in opposing the mosque are absurd ones. And if eighteen per cent of the American people are now supposed to think that Barack Obama is a Muslim, it stands to reason that that figure should be a significantly higher 31 per cent among the stupid party. I don’t believe it, myself, either about the President or about Republicans, but the media is so obsessed with what is clearly an outlying poll number because it backs up their core belief that Republicans are stupid, the highly gratifying corollary of which is that they themselves are smart for being able to tell them so.

It may, of course, be so, though the stupidity of those — like Richard Cohen in today’s Washington Post — who keep insisting that the battle of the mosque is all about tolerance and freedom of religion seems to me more shameful. It is one thing to be mistaken on a matter of fact. At least it is understandable if lots of people think that someone whose middle name is Hussein and who has engaged in “outreach” to the world’s Muslims even when this involves criticism of the (mostly non-Muslim) country he was elected to lead, might himself be a Muslim. But what are we to say of those who can see on the part of those who disagree with them nothing, as Mr Cohen does, but “the arguments of bigots, demagogues or the merely uninformed”? In such cases, stupidity is the charitable explanation; those of a less kindly disposition would call it malice and dishonesty. As Mr Cohen says, “This is not a complicated matter.” For the smart people who think us opponents of the mosque are stupid, of course it’s not a complicated matter. But for those of us who think it is a complicated matter, the cavalier denial that it is complicated is, well, stupid.

But this is invariably what happens to those who base their world-view on the unquestioned principle of their own intelligence and the stupidity of those who disagree with them. When both things are taken for granted — as they are among increasing numbers of the “progressive” persuasion — argument becomes superfluous. If you have already assured yourself that those who disagree with you are stupid, you apparently lose any scruples you might once have had about unjustly attributing to them stupid arguments. Some people do make stupid arguments on my side of the matter, it’s true, but Mr Cohen and others of his kind seem to me to have a duty to answer the non-stupid ones, instead of lumping them together with the other kind as if there were no difference. How smart do you have to be to see how stupid that is?

Oddly, this bad habit of the left could also explain why, whatever the numbers, the erroneous belief that Barack Obama is Muslim is as widespread as it is. Though actually he drew back from his endorsement of the mosque, he is inevitably being pushed back in that direction by its champions, who are so largely those long accustomed to regarding him as one of themselves. Why should they not be accepted as such by the now-alienated “stupid” majority? It is the Democrats and the most fervent Obama supporters who are making these hysterical attacks on the large majority of their fellow-countrymen and, in doing so, making the jihadist-style argument that, as Mr Cohen puts it, “the difference between compromise and defeat is nonexistent.” That also appears to be the position of Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, the mosque’s chief backer and an apologist of the Iranian theocracy. Of course his association with the Imam’s extremism doesn’t make Mr Cohen a Muslim any more than it makes President Obama one, but it should not surprise us if most Americans find all three equally anti-American.

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