Fuck the cogito. Let’s start from a more secure proposition: Charles Murray is a stupid sod. If you disbelieve this, read his latest dribbling in “The American,” which I refuse to link. If you must read it, you can check out a link on Strange Doctrines, via my blogroll. But I can’t recommend it. There’s First Amendment absolutism, and then there’s recognizing the moral necessity of planting a destroyer a few miles off the coast and shelling the shit out of the American Enterprise Institute.

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13 Responses to “Fuck the cogito. Let’s start from a more secure proposition: Charles Murray is a stupid sod. If you disbelieve this, read his latest dribbling in “The American,” which I refuse to link. If you must read it, you can check out a link on Strange Doctrines, via my blogroll. But I can’t recommend it. There’s First Amendment absolutism, and then there’s recognizing the moral necessity of planting a destroyer a few miles off the coast and shelling the shit out of the American Enterprise Institute.”

  1. Michael Drake Says:

    Your concerns about the inadvertently click-inducing link have been addressed. But I’m glad you’ve treated the occasion as a teaching moment.

  2. Paul Gowder Says:

    Alas, the message was clear, but the temptation was nonetheless unavoidable. I’d compare the urge to click on a Charles Murray link, even one accompanied by as witty a put-down as your original, to viewing a trainwreck, except I think it might be more enlightening to compare the latter to the former.

  3. Phoebe Says:

    Do you mean the article about Europe? If so, there were hints of not-unreasonableness in it, but buried deep beneath a good amount of WTF? Of course, being female, my brain couldn’t quite get around it.

  4. Paul Gowder Says:

    I think my brain, being vaguely functional, went into toxic shock at the blinding snowstorm of WTF and couldn’t even process the not-unreasonableness. Feel free to fill me in.

    Or perhaps it’s because I have the Stupid Genes from my black father.

  5. Phoebe Says:

    The hint of non-unreasonableness was the part of the article that stands up against the wave of ‘omg Europe is better in every way’ one does, to be honest, often find on the left, when a) Europe doesn’t hold some kind of moral high ground, looking at its past or present, b) the US still has a huge appeal to Europeans, attracting them for work, school, and, yeah, clothes shopping, and c) perhaps there is an ‘American model’ that takes some of the credit for the country’s strengths.

    So basically, the aspect of the article that was saying no, we should not begin proposals to changes in American policy with, ‘Why, but in Denmark…’ stuck me as reasonable. Everything else, not so much.

  6. Paul Gowder Says:

    Sure, that position is reasonable in the abstract, though Murray rather does not hold it for reasonable reasons! (And Europe is better in a lot of ways, like the health care systems most of its countries have. Or the cheese and wine.)

  7. Phoebe Says:

    Fine, but it’s more than that the view is “is reasonable in the abstract.” It’s a view that’s reasonable and often under attack, so there’s something to be said for defending certain aspects of what makes the US unique in a good way. But ideally this argument would be coming from an anti-racist, not a Charles Murray. (Have you ever had a conversation with someone that began with some reasonable ways Europe is ‘better’, and culminated in that same person telling you that Nordic folks are simply more beautiful? I have been stuck in this conversation, and I don’t recommend it.)

  8. Paul Gowder Says:

    You don’t think it is more damaging rather than helpful to the truth to have true propositions defended for laughably false and twisted reasons? “Europe is not better because it is too full of darkies and Muslims, because their work is insufficiently soul-destroying, and because their lives cannot be ruined at any moment by a hateful providence,” which is basically Murray’s argument, seems to be more likely to encourage sane people to the opposite belief…

  9. CJ Says:

    Phoebe–Is there any chance that you’re overexposed to the view “Europe is so great” just because of the graduate department you’re in? It’s not something I hear very often, other than in the context of healthcare. (And besides, aren’t fruits and vegetable selections in Europe somewhat…ummm…lacking?)

  10. Phoebe Says:

    Paul Gowder,

    I agree with you that his article’s more damaging than it is helpful. I just wish someone would find a way to critique the critique of the US that involves claiming Europe as some kind of all-encompassing ideal.

    CJ,

    I see why it might seem like that, but no. The interactions I was thinking of preceded my even thinking about going to grad school in French, or come from articles/posts/comments from the American left, not from those studying Europe. If anything, those who study Europe have *more* reason to be critical in their (our) assessments. In terms of contexts, one hears that ‘Europe is better’ re: healthcare, yes, but also: social mores (gays can marry in Belgium but not in the US), physical attractiveness, dress, ‘culture’, education (as in, look how uneducated Americans are as versus Europeans), and so forth. And I believe, if we’re going by stereotype, that the stereotype is that the produce selection is better in (Western) Europe than in the US. California aside, I’m not sure I’d dispute that assessment.

  11. Paul Gowder Says:

    But isn’t a lot of that just over-generalization? Pre-college education in the U.S. is terrible compared to many other developed nations (not just in Europe, but also not *only* in Europe — but surely it matters that a Romanian colleague of mine learned measure theory in high school), ditto health care, ditto sexuality, ditto conditions for workers. The error is in inferring that all European developed nations are better in these respects, that it’s something special about Europe rather than about being developed and not saddled with stupid christian/capitalofanatic ideologies, and that these superiorites entail some kind of general moral/cultural superiority.

  12. CJ Says:

    Phoebe–Ah. Thanks for explaining. I guess I was also being west coast-centric in my viewpoint of produce, too.

    You’ve heard claims Europeans are more physically attractive? Really?

    I have to wonder if when people say “Europe”, they usually mean developed Western Europe. Based on the things they claim they don’t seem to usually mean Eastern Europe or Italy. So maybe they’re already not thinking of Europe as an all-encompassing ideal?

  13. Uncommon Priors » Showing off your intelligence by saying stupid things. Says:

    [...] of praising human suffering for its own sake, as performed by the blithering idiot Charles Murray (discussed) and the merely normal idiot Helen [...]

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