kurt's nightmare

Generally, I post once a week. Topics are randomly selected and depend mostly upon whether it's baseball season or not. Other topics will include sex, politics, old girlfriends, music, and whatever else pops into my little brain. If you'd like to read, or ignore, my blog about China: http://meidabizi.blogspot.com/

Location: Dayton, OH, Heard & McDonald Islands

I'm an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Dayton. I represent no one but myself, and barely do that. I'm here mostly by accident.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

David Hororwitz is a Boob

And not the good kind.

Some of my readers (well, my reader) know that I've had a few exchanges with David Horowitz, who now makes his living publishing various things at FrontPage magazine, a webzine of remarkable energy, most of which seems to come from being a bit pissed off about things. I have no problem with that.

My favorite was a letter I sent, under the name of Julius Hibbert (The Simpsons' family physician). Horowitz responded, twice, in his typical brusque, take-no-prisoners fashion. He seems to have cleaned up the page where the letter first appeared, and thus the comments pointing out who Dr. Hibbert was, are gone. Sadly. For those who wish to see what remains, here's the link:


The second go around was at the chatroom for Ann Coulter (I've posted before about the changes there; I've been banned from that site, which tells us, well, something.) I've posted below (in a separate entry) an edited version (edited solely for readability) of the whole exchange for those who are really interested.

A few days ago, I was in a local bookstore, waiting for my daughter. I picked up Horowitz's relatively recent tome, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America. A couple of things struck me about it; there is an article about Noam Chomsky (of course), and there is an article by Thomas Ryan, which mostly highlights a University of Dayton professor, Mark Ensalaco, but takes a few passing shots at some of our other radicals.

The article about Chomsky is interesting, if only because one can read the whole piece without having any idea that Chomsky has done a bit of work in linguistics. (Sort of like Niels Bohr did a bit of work in physics, or Gregor Mendel did a bit of work in genetics.) A reader of this text, then, unfamililar with Chomsky's work, might well be astonished that a Professor of Linguistics at MIT spent all his time railing against the imperialistic power structure of American politics. And have no idea that contemporary linguistics was more or less founded by Chomsky, continues to be fundamentally informed by Chomsky, and that Chomsky's students--who don't necessarily agree with him--dominate the field. Breathtaking stuff.

The article about Ensalaco struck me, first of all because it isn't written by Horowitz, although it appears in a book that lists him as its author. Back in the Ivory Tower, some of us might cluck about publishing another's work under one's name, but the article itself lists Ryan's name, so I guess it's okay.

I also remembered the piece, because I wrote Ryan an e-mail (no longer accessible, unfortunately), showing--I want to be delicate here--what a moron he is. I did so with some degree of tact, concluding with a complaint that it's me who teaches really radical stuff--Plato, Rousseau, Hobbes, Marx, Chomsky (!), Habermas--and that I was sorely disappointed that Ensalaco got all this attention, instead. Ryan never quite got back to me, and the article is published, as far as I can tell, verbatim in Horowitz's book. Here's the link (Ryan's title):

Channelling Churchill

There is a pretty important point here, I think: the more one knows about a situtation, the better one's criticism of a view that is fundamentally wrong. I know Ensalaco, I've seen him speak, I've talked with his students, and I've looked at Ryan's comments about him. Ryan also lists as radicals at UD Margaret Karns, Juan Santamarina, and Theo Majka; I know all of them, and, again, have listened to them, talked with them, read them, talked with their students, and, in one case, seen them teach. I gather, from reading Ryan, he has done none of these things.

Ryan's strategy is a pretty simple one: find a book on a teacher's syllabus, infer that the teacher agrees with everything in that book, find a particulary controversial view in the book, and then attribute that view to the teacher in question.

Thus, since I've taught Heidegger, it would be fair (according to the hermeneutical strategy of Ryan) to claim that I believe the Führer is the leading light of German history and will bring about a new stage in the development of German Dasein. I've taught Hegel, and thus agree with his views on history and race; I've taught Aristotle, so I agree with his views on women; I've taught Hume, so I agree with his views on miracles (well, that may be true); I've taught Peter van Inwagen, so I agree with his views on Christianity. Yikes; talk about a runaround inference ticket.

I can't go into all the details of Ryan's approach, but want to give at least a couple of quotes, to show either that he is beyond postmodernism, or seems to have failed reading, logic, or both.

The University of Dayton, a Catholic, Marianist University in Dayton, Ohio, offers its students a major in International Studies, with concentrations in Global Development, Human Rights, Peace and Global Security, and European and Latin American studies. Described as a “multidisciplinary major designed to meet the needs of students interested in acquiring a broadly based international perspective,” the program’s idea of “international perspectives” are those which are chiefly critical of the United States. In 1999, UD was the first university to offer an undergraduate degree program in human rights. Of this, Ensalaco stated that the program “fits so squarely with the University's Catholic, Marianist philosophy of education because it instills in students an appreciation for social justice.” Social justice, of course, is code word for the contradictory notion of equality under a Marxist rule.

Of course, this means any Marxist rule, from contemporary Viet Nam to North Korea to, perhaps, Sweden. Ryan's suggestion seems to be that those who major in International Studies should not look at international perspectives. While an odd inference, it is clear that since such perspectives may well be critical of the US's role in the world, such views entail an identification between "social justice" and Marxism of any and all stripes. The Ryan approach to International Studies seems to be that one should ignore international perspectives, and stick to views that are a) domestic and b) supportive of the US role in the world. One might suggest a change of the title to this major to "Bush Suck Up." A minor detail.

I don't think I even need to provide comments on the following incisive analysis provided by Ryan; I'll leave it to the reader to determine its accuracy, and whether Ensalaco's questions are worth considering:

Ensalaco has also been critical of the current administration on Iraq. He has exclaimed, “I don't see the sense of asking really serious questions about this Administration's exit strategy or the force levels or serious concerns I have with respect to the way the intelligence analysis was conducted prior to the war. I think there could be a lot more serious criticisms which all goes to the question, is this administration competently managing the crisis, did it miscalculate with terrible consequences in Iraq, and if so and what is the consequences in Iran or North Korea or other trouble spots?” The democratic elections, which Iraq successfully achieved for the first time in its history, are proof that the Bush administration is managing Iraq competently.

Finally, he picks on my friend Theo Majka, who teaches sociology at UD, quoting what he tells his students:

"One thing I would like you to come away with is a realization that political issues have an enormous impact on our own lives and futures, even though their influence may often be indirect and complex. Also, if you and I are not knowledgeable about political issues and do not participate in political decisions in informed ways, then others, usually powerful private interests, will successfully manipulate our consciousness and dominate the public arena, often in ways that are not neither in our personal nor in our national interest."

With this statement, Majka is telling students that the U.S. government can’t be trusted, and that throughout this course he will instruct them on whom and what to be wary of, indicating an expressed declaration of his political intentions.

Actually, with this statement, Theo is telling students that it is the responsibility of citizens to be informed about the decisions they make, decisions that are important in their own lives and in the lives of their community. This, by the way, is not particulary controversial (Theo has some views that are, by the way!), unless one wishes to regard the history of American political thought (and before), from Locke and Burgh to Jefferson and Franklin to De Tocqueville and Mill on to virtually any competent thinker (which evidently excludes Ryan), as problematic. For consider the alternative: accept what politicians say, don't be informed about your political decisions, and shut up.

The Founding Fathers set up a Constitution on the premise-well-founded then, with mounting evidence ever since--that Government cannot be trusted, one should be wary of it, and that it is the obligation of citizens to keep informed. That being informed is often prevented and obstructed in contemporary society should remind us that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. I wonder what commie said that? Or which threat to the Republic observed "A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both"?


Blogger Bazarov said...

Excellent! I have started to take a certain approach with people like this. Before they get a chance to call me unAmerican for criticizing anything I may say, I immediately go on the offensive. If you call their side unAmerican before they can call you unAmerican, it sorta takes the wind out of their sails. I have yet to hear a good argument supporting what this administration has done with regards to foreign relations. Even the "we have to do what's in America's best interest" crap fails, unless you think getting the entire world united against you is in America's best interest. Something tells me this Ryan guy has never travelled abroad.

The problem is that people eat this shit up with a smile. Like I still bump into people who don't think Global Warming is real. I inform them that there is no argument about whether or not it's warming up (unless you consider arguments like those supporting the idea that we're on a flat Earth surrounded on all sides by the firmament) and that the arguing is about whether or not the warming is due to human activities. The stance that it isn't has been out of favor with the scientific community for quite some time now, but what do they know compared to God and Bush, right? They don't argue much because they're just parroting what they heard while they worked the other day and then I figured out where they hear this shit. Just the other day I heard Sean Hannity on the radio, and he had this "chemist" on and the first thing Sean asks the guy is something like, "So Dr. Blahblahblah, is there any evidence that global warming is real?" And the douchebag answers the way any douchebag would answer that question: "To date there is not one scientific experiment showing conclusively that global warming is a real phenomenon."
I wonder if there is one scientific experiment that conclusively shows that driving my car over Sean Hannity's mailbox would destroy it. No? Well I guess that means I can!
With all this crap, where does one start? I'm afraid I just avoid these people.

5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as I can see:
There are some of us who take offense to:

*God and Bush side by side in a sentence.

Just because W. believes in God (as he says) doesn't mean he's a bad man.

Just because W. believes in God doesn't mean he/she believes in him.

Just because W. believes in God doesn't mean he thinks he is. Maybe he's made poor choices. Along with the 1,000 other Left and Righters (as people say) in Washington and beyond.

*The way some others of us choose to 'discuss' or 'banter' or 'badmouth' the 'War on Terror' (thus any other war).

Just because they once believed in or believe in Freedom (as is, as was, as wished) and the reality of the Revolutionary War. Presuming this was the 'beginning' of US military (or cohersion or need to fight for what the Founding Fathers wanted, wished, believed) they/we assume a 'force of defense is, was, might be necessary'.

Just because she/he (for the above stated reason) entered the armed forces and see the 'discussion' as disrespectful to the men/women who have or had been or are in the midst of a war (or stood at attention if one were to ensue).

Just because she/he (for the above reasons) have/had/or are watching their sons and daughters suffer post-war exposure.

Just because he/she (f t a r) have/had/are unable to breathe from inhaling black smoke while aiming at the enemy's head who is aiming at his/her head. (Or the head of a brother/sister in uniform).

Just because she/he (f t a r) no longer visits a family member in person, but in the ground, in concrete while others fly all over the world to visit family, why he/she asks?

Just because she/he dreams about the smoke or gunfire. Jumps as the fireplace fire cracks. Asks the self what is right, what is wrong?
Questions the beliefs that brought them to the place they are?

Just because there are some of us who Question the beliefs and actions of those who stood at enemy lines without having been there and without considering the above.

Just because those discussions and questions seem a Judgement. A condemnation. An opinion the soldier has allowed the 'Questioners' to have.

And there are those who take offense just because:

*it is a means of making money to (feed children, clothe children, send children to the Best Schools, drive an SUV or hybrid, camp in National Parks, fly to Paris, live in a warm home, have a home, have a large home)

*it is a means of perpetuating the 'debate' to achieve: money making, a division, a distration. All of which present a problem in some circumstance or another.

*just because.

(And these people are on either side of the debate or discussion. We all take offense to something unless we have not or express not, an opinion.)

Dr. Ensalaco, Dr. Majka, Dr. Majka, Dr. Mosser, Dr. Biddle, Dr. Fischer, Dr. Sexton, Dr. Kerns, Dr. John, Dr. Bartalow. I know, from personal experience,(with exception of one Dr. Majka) they have all offered more than regurgitation of a text or book. I, personally, think it impossible to do so Without revealing a certain bit of belief. I also believe it would be a sad day in the University Without a professor doing so. I, personally, believe everyone is a critic and everyone is a cynic. I also believe the ghost writer is just another one who perpetuates the debate. Those who know where danger lies are much more reserved. They walk somewhere in the middle of the road where they can be hit from either side.

(That's just what I believe.)

2:11 AM  
Blogger kmosser said...

As Jim Hightower once said, the only things in the middle of the road are a yelllow (yaller) stripe and dead armadillos.

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If dead. They are on the side of the road my friend. The yellow is not always contiguous. This doesn't make them any less obvious, just harder to follow.

12:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last night I watched re-plays of Bill Maher (aka Intelligent sexy arrogant ass - ISAA, like Butterface (everything but her face)). I'm feeling he's less arrogant. I've been informed by my BMaher fellow watcher that I may not go to a show in person. She knows my original intent. Kind of like original sin. Regardless, he Even said we have Liberals, Conservatives, and the 'Bushies' blowing down the middle of the road...How long has anyone known about the bees dying???? My mum was a beekeeper a few years ago and she'd not said anything...So I am on a ramble because BMaher always makes me think of you KMosser. I can't get anyone to 'Care Enough' to come to your nightmare and it is annoying. I think I'd enjoy my conversations with my friends more if they were reading from your blog. Not simply watching and listening to Bill. Do Blog. Atleast twice this summer. JR

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