Tuesday, 31 August 2010

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You'll learn nothing at all from thems et al. Do you know what happens when you allow “scholars” like Jonah Goldberg to invent historical movements and monsters? You end up with uncited statements of obvious provenance that mask sheer lunacy behind the rhetorical scrim of conventional wisdom: [T]he principles that inspired the American founding were always viewed as universal principles, which applied to all of mankind. Curiously, it wasn’t until the introduction of Historicist and Darwinian philosophy (which gave birth to Progressivism) that some Americans began to argue otherwise. I wrote a dissertation about popular adaptations of evolutionary theory during the Progressive Era and have long styled myself an historicist* and I have absolutely no idea what that second sentence could possibly mean. Does its author, Joseph Philips, mean to argue that Darwinism—which was neither the only nor even the dominant evolutionary paradigm of the Progressive Era—gave birth to “Progressivism”? Does he mean to argue that the New History movement—inaugurated in 1912 by James Harvey Robinson’s The New History and abetted by works like Charles Beards’ An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States (1913)—gave birth to “Progressivism” fifteen years after it’d been born? Or does he mean nothing at all—but learned from the likes of Goldberg et al.—that the best way to prevent people from criticizing the seriousness of an assertion is to pretend its “knowledge” so common as to be above reproach? Care to place bets as to where I fall on this one? I didn’t think so. *Before someone objects: writing “an historicist” is too correct.
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Pamela Geller's Pedophile Problem Pamela Geller wrote a “STICKY POST” seemingly intended to insult the very crowd she courts: NO SIGNS AT THE 911 GROUND ZERO MEGA MOSQUE RALLY — FLAGS! **STICKY POST** Robert and I respectfully request that those of you who will be attending our protest against the Ground Zero mega mosque bring American flags, not signs [...] Please get the word out now [...] We are asking that we all respect and honor that day with the flags, states flags, flags of other countries.. lots of flags…PLEASE don’t bring signs [...] It is a solemn day. No signs. FLAGS. From a rhetorical standpoint, listing the banned item before the desired one gives the impression that you’re more concerned with stopping people from bringing the former than encouraging them to bring the latter. To wit: NO CHILD RAPISTS AT BILLY FOURTH YEAR BIRTHDAY PARTY — GRANDMAS! **STICKY POST** Write that and people will not only assume that some members of your audience want to bring a pedophile to a young boy’s birthday party, but that they will do so unless specifically told not to. What does that say about how you feel about your audience? It says that you believe they lack common sense, that they might not only consider bringing a pedophile to the party, but that they might even think it’s a good idea. At the very least, you suggest that your audience might think of bringing a pedophile before a grandma, which means you think they think more about pedophiles than grandmas. As if to prove you think they’re scum, you decide to “sticky” a post ten days in advance of the event and implore people to “get the word out now,” because you think that if your audience isn’t constantly reminded not to bring pedophiles to the party, some members of it will. Then—presumably because you feel your audience has been insufficiently insulted—you follow that title with a post whose tone flits between pleading and hectoring: Robert and I respectfully request that those of you who will be attending Billy’s fourth year birthday bring grandmas, not pedophiles [...] Please get the word out now [...] We are asking that we all respect and honor that day with the grandmas, great-grandmas, other people’s grandmas.. lots of grandmas…PLEASE don’t bring pedophiles [...] It is a happy day. No pedophiles. GRANDMAS. Why would you write that? Because you know that more than a few pedophiles will be showing up at the party and you want to establish plausible deniability. Now replace “pedophile” with “hilariously misspelled, overtly racist, or just plain pig-ignorant sign” and the respect Geller has for her fellow attendees becomes all too apparent.

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