Friday, August 20, 2004

Liberal Condescension... no secret. But I couldn't resist linking to this commentary about it at Tech Central Station (which today has more than its usual number of good reads). Here's Joshua Elder, writing about "Liberal Noblesse Oblige":
...[A]s Robert Fisk, Middle East correspondent for the left-wing British newspaper The Independent, put it after being viciously beaten by a group of thugs at the height of the recent Afghan War: "I couldn't blame them for what they were doing. In fact, if I were the Afghan refugees of Kila Abdullah, close to the Afghan-Pakistan border, I would have done just the same to Robert Fisk. Or any other Westerner I could find."

It's a rare man (heck, a rare masochist) who can receive a savage, unprovoked beating and come to the conclusion that he probably deserved it. I attended a lecture by this unique individual two years ago at Northwestern University and took the opportunity to ask him if he would still consider the attack justified had the roles been reversed -- if it had been an Arab journalist attacked by a group of grieving American relatives of those who died in the World Trade Center. He told me no, that Americans were too educated and too civilized to ever do something like that.

And there you have it. Americans (and Brits like Fisk, presumably) have agency. They are in control of their own destinies and can be held morally accountable for their own actions. Afghans, Pakistanis and all the other poor, brown-skinned people from that part of the world, however, simply cannot. They aren't like us, you see. Nor do they matter except for the way that their failures reflect negatively upon us. Their failures are our failures and therefore our responsibility.

Unsurprisingly, the French have a term for this; they call it noblesse oblige. Defined as "the inferred obligation of people of high rank or social position to behave nobly or kindly toward others," it is the philosophical cornerstone of the entire modern liberal project -- at home as well as abroad. Leftists are self-anointed saviors, enlightened elites that will bring about a new golden age for mankind if only the American people will embrace their ideas and vote their candidates into office....
Add guilt for being wealthy, stir well, and you have a Hollywood liberal.