kickstarting a major debate on the aftermath of the US election - exploring its impact in America and internationally, on everything from war and peace to science and environmentalism.The first installment (same link) includes this bit of sneering nonsense, among others of its ilk:
Norman LevittSo, I am a Red-State "nativist," am I? Mmmm...not a bad description, except for the fact that I'm not undereducated, superstitious, saturated with religious zeal, puritanical, chauvinist, xenophobic, and easily seduced by platitudes. In fact, I'm a "Cosmopolitan": well-read, articulate, analytical, skeptical of religion and other blind enthusiasms, tolerant of cultural difference and individual eccentricity, and sensitive to the fact that there is a real world beyond America's borders. That's why I -- and many, many others like me who also supported Bush's re-election -- detest (yes "detest") the shallowness of Levitt and his like. Blinded by their hatred of those who simply refuse to accept the superiority of their judgments and values, they resort to childish name-calling.
A glance at the electoral map tells the essential story. America is a deeply fissured society. The post-Second World War 'Era of Good Feeling', with its universal consensus that one was singularly lucky to be living in the USA, has disintegrated. Two cultures glare balefully at each other with an antagonism that goes far beyond party politics. Ironically, the events of 9/11 and their sequel have catalysed, rather than retarded, the hardening of mutual distrust into mutual detestation.
The two factions might usefully be called 'Nativist' and 'Cosmopolitan'. The former - Bush country on your map - is fiercely nostalgic for a perhaps imaginary nineteenth-century ethos. It is undereducated, superstitious, saturated with religious zeal, puritanical, chauvinist, xenophobic, and easily seduced by platitudes into supporting the very politicians who, in reality, bleed its people white. The latter - Kerry country - is reasonably well-read, articulate, analytical, sceptical of religion and other blind enthusiasms, tolerant of cultural difference and individual eccentricity, and sensitive to the fact that there is a real world beyond America's borders.
The apparent re-election of the half-wit favorite son of the Nativists obviously deepens the gloom of the Cosmopolitans (but even a Kerry victory wouldn't have effaced it). An unprecedented number of Americans now daydream, at least, about the possibility of living somewhere else, somewhere where Yahoos don't abound. The scientific community is especially alienated.
America's vaunted prosperity is now threatened by decay - not mere numinous psychological malaise, but concrete, physical degradation of infrastructure, concomitant with the paralysis of American society's ability to renew and innovate on an appropriate scale. Europe, all in all, is a much more hopeful place. One wonders, then, whether a reverse brain-drain might eventually develop, with American scientists and intellectuals migrating, in serious numbers, eastward across the Atlantic, leaving the Nativist barbarians to deal with the growing mess.
Norman Levitt is professor of mathematics at Rutgers University and author of Prometheus Bedeviled: Science and the Contradictions of Contemporary Culture.
I believe what I believe -- about the robustness of America's political system and economy (freighted as they are by taxation, regulation, and agenda-ridden science), the essential corruptness of most foreign regimes, and the wisdom of an aggressive defense posture -- precisely because I am well-read, articulate, analytical, tolerant (but not a dupe to political correctness), and knowledgeably realistic about the world beyond America's borders.
Levitt and his like simply cannot abide the fact that are many, many more like me who have the gall -- the very gall -- to think instead of mindlessly swallowing and regurgitating their proscribed vision of collectivist anti-Americanism. They huddle in mutually reinforcing packs, stoking their egos and flaunting their imaginary superiority, but lacking the curiosity and imagination to understand anything that doesn't conform to their vision. They epitomize
...the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone,Norman, you've got it wrong when you accuse me and my intellectual allies of nostalgia "for a perhaps imaginary nineteenth-century ethos." We're not nostalgic for anything but a return to something America once had but has lost because of left-wing Yahoos like you: the greater measure of economic and political liberty that made America a place its citizens would rush to defend. Only, this time, we want that economic and political liberty for all Americans.
All centuries but this, and every country but his own....
[Gilbert & Sullivan, The Mikado]