Tibor R. Machan
In the Sunday, April 18, 2010 New York Times article "Doing Fine, but Angry Nonetheless," the author, Kate Zernike, discusses a poll done by The Times and CBS News on Tea Party members. The gist of the findings is that the members are reasonably well off folks, with a higher than average level of education.
The piece has the usual tone when The Times discusses those whose views it despises–snooty, derisive, and uninterested in substance, as if what these people believed was some kind of disease, not worth serious consideration. The piece went into the history of Tea Party members, associating them with 60s conservatism. Like those sociological studies that aim to explain away people’s thinking, treating it as an affliction rather than a product of considered judgment, the study put Tea Party members under a microscope.
This is fairly typical of those like the writers at The Times. It reminds me of a movie by Woody Allen, in which a boy fell on his head and temporarily became a conservative, subscribing to National Review and such. It took another fall by the boy to get rid of this problem. No argument, no examination of the merits of the ideas. Instead it is like some kind of virus one catches, not a set of ideas one might actually find intellectually compelling.
Zernike also quotes one Mr. Perlstein, associated with the survey, saying, "It is entirely predictable." He was referring to what the Tea Party folks are thinking, doing, etc. Here is condescension for you! These Tea Party people are like robots, unable to think independently, freely, but instead are perfectly predictable, kind of like the weather and certainly not like we are, here at The Times, who have independent minds and think stuff through. Such people all reach the same conclusions, don’t you know, as those at The Times. But the Tea Party people, well they are dumb and cannot.
This is ironic, actually, considering that every time one reads a column by, say, Bob Herbert or Paul Krugman or Frank Rich, one can pretty much predict that the authors are going to be cheerleaders of every Leftist policy, foreign or domestic. The Left just cannot do anything wrong for these columnists. And Obama & Co. are uniformly brilliant except when they fail to spend enough of the taxpayers’ money on, for example, Keynesian policies such as stimulus packages. If it amounts to using other people’s resources for projects other people cannot have any say about, the team of columnists at The Times will mostly likely endorse it. No, but they are independent thinkers and not at all entirely predictable like members of the Tea Party.
The Times might want to stop this snooty elitism. Ms. Zernike and Mr. Perlstein might consider having a bit more respect for the people whose activities they cover and comment on. Maybe they will stop being so insulting. But it isn’t very likely. For the thinking at The Times, such as it is, seems to go this way: Those who disagree with the editors and columnists of The Times have to be wrong, couldn’t have anything of merit to contribute to public discourse. So there’s no need to argue with them, for example, or test their views for cogency, credibility and truth. No, that would accord those opponents of The Times’ views some measure of respect which, of course, we cannot have. (By the way, had The Times found Tea Party members uneducated and poor, you can be sure they would have been dismissed as pedestrian fools whose views again are not worthy of consideration.)
This is actually a ploy employed by hard core leftists since the time of Karl Marx. For Marx his opponents had nothing worthwhile to say because they were caught in a trap of class consciousness. The bourgeoisie just couldn’t help supporting capitalism, especially the right to private property, because it was in its economic interest which held it completely captive. So the way to cope was to liquidate these people, with their regressive, reactionary opinions. No need to make the effort to demonstrate that they were wrong about anything. They just couldn’t help themselves.
I do not think that many of those championing President Obama’s policies can imagine themselves being mistaken about anything and so listening to other than their pals and apologists is a waste of time. It is a historical necessity that the Obama viewpoint will triumph, not a matter of argument and analysis. What opponents say is, well, all entirely predictable.