The latest cover on the National Review - with Neil deGrasse Tyson.
In his book, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, Richard Hofstadter delves into the reasons that intellectuals – mainly on the Left – are detested with such verve by the American Right. The reasons often aren’t pretty, or even comprehensible, and in fact are often downright puerile and smack of envy, i.e. that the Right simply lacks the brainpower of the nation’s liberals.
One of the best insights into hatred of the Left intellectual is provided in Hofstadter 's account of how Adlai Stevenson was relentlessly skewered ca. the 1952 presidential campaign. (pp. 221-22). This included barbarous and savage verbal assaults in the media(p. 225). As Hofstadter notes (ibid.) Stevenson's wit was detested even more than his intellect. Of course, wit often functions in the service of intellect, to amplify intellect's intent and render its goals more efficacious. Or to smooth the delivery of information related to weighty issues.
For this Adlai was repeatedly slandered and referred to as a "comedian" or "clown" and portrayed in cartoons with a jester's cap and bells. The
Thereby rendering an additional slur - one that directly ties intellectual display or wit with homosexuality. This was reinforced by the description of Stevenson’s followers as "typical Harvard lace-cuff liberals." At lower levels of society today, this pernicious virus can still be seen - in our public high schools. There, day in and day out "geeks", "dweebs" and "dorks" are relentlessly assaulted by feeble-minded "jocks" for openly displaying any intellect. Many are also accused of being "gay" simply because they prefer the life of the mind and books- to football, mailbox 'baseball' or cow-tipping.
No wonder little has changed.
We now fast forward to the 21st century (“Revenge II”) and the latest screeds against smart people on the Left as embodied in a despicable article in the recent National Review story by Charles C. W. Cooke entitled “Smarter Than Thou”. Therein, Cooke whined about “the extraordinarily puffed-up ‘nerd’ culture that has of late started to bloom across the
“Started of late”? You effing moron! It was always there, but only recently has occupied more public prominence because more of these Left intellectual voices are afforded platforms they weren’t before. We now have an intellectual president, after all, who really did earn his place at Harvard and wasn’t allowed in as a “legacy” – as Bush Jr. A fact that continually eats at the Right’s innards.
Then there is the Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman, whose voice has consistently skewered the assorted shibboleths of the economic Right. Finally, we beheld the charismatic and articulate Neil deGrasse Tyson who most recently provided perspective and voice to the remake of the Cosmos series. Tyson frequently interjected examples of scientific discoveries that infuriate the Right, especially to do with global warming, and evolution. (Presenting nearly one whole episode on each, with enough detailed, documented evidence to even educate a high school science flunk out).
But these presentations particularly enraged the Righties to distraction. A month ago, for example, it was none other than Fox host Greg Gutfield who, during one panel exchange, burped out:
I hate this guy! I remember hearing Chris Hardwick on a podcast talk about Neil deGrasse Tyson and he was just salivating. White liberal nerds love this guy so much, he could defecate on them like Martin Bashir’s fantasies and they would dance in the streets.”
This, spoken by a confirmed moron who isn’t fit to lick the soles of Tyson’s shoes.
Which brings us to Cooke’s polemic against Tyson in the National Review. We pretty well know what’s coming as we eye an illustration of Tyson on the cover, drawn to look like a self-satisfied Elite who looks down his nose at any and all crackers. This despite the fact Neil deGrasse Tyson hardly gives off that vibe in real life. He's an affable gentleman who's accepting of all and that trait carried over into his Cosmos appearances.
The actual article (it’s more like recovered anti-intellectual dreck from the 1950s) more than lives up to the cover art’s promise of the “green-eyed monster”, as Cooke expands his attack beyond one of the country’s pre-eminent scientists to include policy-oriented journalists, economists, other scientists, and “anybody who conforms to the Left’s social and moral precepts while wearing glasses and babbling about statistics.”
Oh, wearing glasses? So you don't know about the link between poor eyesight (myopia from young) and I.Q.? Babbling about statistics? Well perhaps because your I.Q. is too low to grasp even the most basic statistics, say like simple correlation and linear regression. So obviously you wouldn’t be able to handle Poisson statistics!
Cooke, realizing that he’s fired a broadside against anyone who dares to actually do things like examine evidence or consider the logic of an argument, hastens to add:
“The pose is, of course, little more than a ruse — most of our professional ‘nerds’ being, like Mrs. Doubtfire, stereotypical facsimiles of the real thing.”
Which is not only incomprehensible but misplaced. For one thing, if those like Tyson were mere “facsimiles” I am sure Cooke wouldn’t have been allotted so much prime magazine space to go after him and his cohort. I mean why joust at a windmill facsimile of a “monster”? You’d have to be mad or crazies, as the well attuned former IRS official Ms. Lerner described the Right in a recent email to a friend. I mean, you have to be crazy to assert anyone (“nerd” or other) is a “facsimile” especially given you don’t know enough about their work to make that determination!
But this is what Cooke – who’s probably never even taken a high school physics course- argues! That it’s all a big pose and all these people are just dummies pretending to be smart because they are “popular kids indulging in a fad.”
Hmmmm…..looks to me more like a pathetic excuse for a hack practicing a massive exercise in sour grapes, because he knows in his heart he will never be as gifted as those he mocks. So he projects his obtuseness on his targets and hopes enough people will bite. Well, maybe the readers of the National Review and a bunch of FOX-ites but few people with any sense.
How else explain calling Tyson a poseur, a stretch that even his extraordinarily gullible audience isn’t likely to buy. Oh, Cooke grudgingly admits that Tyson “has formal scientific training,” you know the type that prepares one to do any kind of serious research? But he refuses to go so far as to allow that the Director of the Hayden Planetarium is actually a scientist- as opposed to some hipster in a lab coat costume.
But the poseur scorn isn’t reserved only for Tyson.. This cornpone twit Cooke also drags in economist Paul Krugman and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, neither of whom he considers the real deal. Instead, he argues that the emphasis by liberals, on things like evidence, rationality, and empiricism is purely insincere, adding it’s “nothing more than a way to signal that you are better than southern, politically conservative, culturally traditional” types.
WhAAAAT? Well, if those “southern, political conservative, culturally traditional” types aren’t well versed in science then we are superior – at least in science! (I do grant them other superior advantages in: picking out the best pickups, hunting ducks, collecting guns, and finding chapters and verses for Bible quotes…..oh and cooking up great pulled pork!)
But to do like Cooke does, and declare a whole swatch of Left intellectuals “insincere” because he’s too dumb to grasp what the hell they’re doing, is well……pathetic to the point of sickening.
Sadly, this whining BWAAHAA! behavior is hardly an anomaly. “You think you’re so cool” actually became the basis for an entire book by the formerly named Fox News dunce, Greg Gutfeld (the same goober who declared white nerds love to be “defecated on” by black elites like Tyson.) Gutfield wrote an entire book called Not Cool: The Hipster Elite and Their War on You.
It’s main talking point is that it gives the delirious, brainless Right base a bunch of pointy-headed Left intellectuals on the coasts to hate – while the banksters and corporate tycoons like the Kochs (who really fucked them) get to walk free without any complaints. It’s called adjusting the target and generally works for the lowest quintile of intellects. The key is to head off hatred of the genuine elite targets at the pass, convince the base not to listen to the critics’ arguments in the first place. Hence, they can’t actually hear the evidence for global warming if they’re too busy slagging on the messenger for thinking he’s so smart with his PhDs and his facts.
Which 'Romper Room' is exactly where conservative leadership wants their audiences to be, and where most of them (who can’t think for themselves and lack adequate education) are. So much also for the conservative claim that individuals who work hard toward the top should be rewarded for their contributions to society. Not if you’re a successful liberal scientist, writer, or even just an actor. Oh no! You are now one of the “termites of life” – who presumably should be extinguished, if not physically then by prohibiting your words, ideas from gaining a major forum. (You can, of course, blog to your heart's content for a few dozen people.)
There's no sign this hostility of the American Right to the intellect will change any time soon, so very likely we will soon have 'Revenge on the Nerds III'.