Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On being open minded

I have been reflecting upon T. Lief comment, “Still, glad you're open-minded enuf to give works by people like Bolano and Borges a try.”

Often (I’m tempted to say “always”) when someone suggests I might not be “open minded,” they mean that I don’t share their particular closed-minded view. Often such people have embraced the current “politically correct” view, and consider my views aberrant, retrograde and obsolete. And yet if such people reflected upon their own ideas they would realize that they are not themselves open-minded. They need some better term. They are abandoning “Liberal” for “Progressive,” perhaps they can abandon “open-minded” for something more suitable.

I dipped into T. Lief’s own blog: http://weeklygreenplanet.blogspot.com/ where I found such comments as, “It would require a virtual Encyclopedia Of 21st Century Republican Blunders to tell the whole story. In reverse chronological order one wonders who’s to blame for: The Ayers Strategy, The Palin Choice, The McCain Campaign Suspension To Do Nothing About The Bailout Package, The World Financial Crisis, The Military Failure In Afghanistan, The Iraq War Debacle, The Katrina Disaster, The Global Warming Denials, The 10 Trillion Dollar Deficit, Enron, Energy Deregulation?”

And “. . . the doyenne of conservative commentators, the ever-fatuous and dishonest Peggy Noonan who is treated with such undeserved deference and is such an unabashed shill for whatever bullshit is being peddled by the Republicans, has this performance after the Palin-Biden debate to live down.”

Gad! . . . However, I would have let all that go (“undiscovered” would be more descriptive) were it not for the innuendo about my open-mindedness. My emphasis has been foreign affairs; so I’ve studied the Afghan and Iraq situations in considerable detail. Only unrepentant close-minded Leftists call Afghanistan and Iraq military failures. I’ve commented on Afghanistan and Iraq at considerable length elsewhere; so I won’t do it again here, but most of the Left has abandoned the myth that these wars were failures. Obama no longer calls them failures. I tried to check the date of T. Lief’s pronouncement of these “failures” and it seems to be a recent comment.

As to the Ayers business, I investigated that at some length on my own. If T. Lief had gone a-searching for articles on Ayers in the way he went after articles on Balono’s Gaucho, he would have found some of my articles. There were more serious questions about Obama’s association with this Leftist than about Palin’s wardrobe, but we know which issues the media chose to publicize.

In an article by Jay Nordlinger, “An Area of Darkness,” (http://article.nationalreview.com/print/?q=YTkxYTUzYTY2NTVlYTI5OWJhNzdlNWRlNjljNGJjODQ= ) Bernard Lewis’s speech at the launching of ASMEA (Study for the Middle East and Africa) is quoted as follows:

“I would like to begin with a quotation from the famous Dr. Johnson, one of his conversations recorded by Boswell. He says, “A generous and elevated mind is distinguished by nothing more certainly than an eminent degree of curiosity. Nor is that curiosity ever more agreeably or usefully employed than in examining the laws and customs of foreign nations.” A very interesting statement and . . . one uniquely Western — uniquely distinctive of this Western civilization of which we are the heirs at the present time. And I use the word “we” in the widest sense. . . .

“Today we confront new obstacles in our study of the Middle East . . . One of them I have already mentioned: postmodernism. . . . The second is a combination of political correctness and multiculturalism — which combination established orthodoxies in the academic world, [instituting] a degree of thought control, of limitations on freedom of expression, without parallel in the Western world since the 18th century, and in some areas longer than that. I don’t need to tell you how careers can be furthered or destroyed by this kind of imposed orthodoxy. This, it seems to me, is a very dangerous situation. It has now made any kind of scholarly discussion of Islam, to say the least, dangerous. Islam and Islamic values now have a level of immunity from comment and criticism in the Western world that Christianity has lost and Judaism has never had.”

Nordlinger then adds, “Toward the end of his remarks, Professor Lewis said, ‘It seems to me that we are beset by difficulties’ – this is understatement typical of him (and of his native country). And he spoke of ‘the deadly hand of political correctness.”

In thinking over T. Lief’s crediting me with a degree of open-mindedness for my willingness to read Bolano, I had merely replied “I read a lot,” but that wasn’t an adequate response. I was being dismissive, and I apologize for that. I like this Bernard Lewis construction. If I must have a motivation for all the reading I do, call it “curiosity.” I read different things because I am curious about them. I was curious about Bolano. I liked his short story. I didn’t like his novel Distant Star all that much and I had a serious problem with The Savage Detectives. I haven’t drawn a curtain upon him, however. I am still a bit curious. I plan eventually to finish the latter novel, and I have By Night in Chile left to read.

But what does being “open-minded” have to do with reading Bolano, T. Lief? Beats me.

No comments: