Saturday, January 7, 2012

A dramatic contrast in civility

Glen Greenwald (who is not remotely a supporter of Ron Paul), puts his Presidential candidacy in a striking context (via). I often disagree with Greenwald, but this is a wholly admirable essay. One quote provides the flavour (though I urge you to read the entire essay):
The thing I loathe most about election season is reflected in the central fallacy that drives progressive discussion the minute “Ron Paul” is mentioned. As soon as his candidacy is discussed, progressives will reflexively point to a slew of positions he holds that are anathema to liberalism and odious in their own right and then say: how can you support someone who holds this awful, destructive position? The premise here — the game that’s being played — is that if you can identify some heinous views that a certain candidate holds, then it means they are beyond the pale, that no Decent Person should even consider praising any part of their candidacy.
In dramatic contrast is Seumus Milne in the Guardian, who rails against any notion that Margaret Thatcher was a great leader, worthy of a state funeral (the lady is not dead yet: the psychology of his chosen subject matter says something methinks). He finds nothing admirable in her career or Premiership.

Now, Milne has made a career of being self-righteously wrong and his judgement about Thatcher is of a piece with this. He is a walking stereotype (of the narrow-minded, morally purblind Graudinadinista) who preaches to the converted. Greenwald is far more intellectually serious, in part because he is far more morally serious. He considers where Milne merely manifests.

(On the matter of those Ron Paul newsletters, Steve Horowitz says what needs to be said [via]. Matt Stoller's essay on Ron Paul's challenge to US liberalism is, as Glen Greenwald says, also worth reading.)

Perhaps one way to make political civility more attractive is to point out that it is smarter. Milne has never convinced me of anything and I never bother to read him except as a manifestation of everything that is wrong with the "anti-imperialist" Western left. Even when he annoys me, Greenwald is at least worth engaging with and his essay on Ron Paul is a splendid example of why.

[Crossp-posted at Critical Thinking Applied.]


  1. What seems to be amazing is the way the US MSM is treating Ron Paul as the "invisible man" in the Republican race despite him being consistently near the top of the polls and caucus votes. An interesting discussion of this can be found here.

  2. Quite, and that is a useful discussion you link to.