Sunday, August 22, 2010


Ross Douthat, and no I have no idea how its pronounced, is a columnist for the New York Times.  He took over the coveted William Safire conservative memorial seat after William Kristol proved to be an even greater serial liar and manic than the late Safire.  Douthat, who has some kind of a degree from Harvard, wrote a book about, among other things, how he found premarital sex and Harvard equally icky, became the Times' conservative columnist because he is supposed to be reasonable and serious.  Two weeks ago, he tackled same sex marriage debate and concluded that

But if we just accept this shift, we’re giving up on one of the great ideas of Western civilization: the celebration of lifelong heterosexual monogamy as a unique and indispensable estate. That ideal is still worth honoring, and still worth striving to preserve. And preserving it ultimately requires some public acknowledgment that heterosexual unions and gay relationships are different: similar in emotional commitment, but distinct both in their challenges and their potential fruit.
At no point prior to this paragraph does he establish his key point here of the greatest of the idea of heterosexual monogamy. But there it is reasonable and serious  people can think that heterosexual monogamy is one of Western Civilizations greatest ideas because it is, after all, one of Western Civilizations greatest ideas.  Leaving aside the circularity here, it's not even true that Western Civilization sees or saw heterosexual marriage as monogamous, unique, or indispensable and Douthat hasn't established anything like that. He has simply claimed that what he wishes was the case is in fact the case. It ain't.  Seriously you can read all manner of dull history books about ancient Greece and early modern Europe in which historians show that marriage was about power, property, and anything but monogamy. For a fuller and funnier discussion of this column see here.

The week after he took on the Burlington Coat Factory mosque and decided, following some bastardized version of Huntington's clash of civilizations argument, that there are two Americas, one which is tolerant of others, follows the rule of law, and generally lives up to great, if somewhatless great than monogamous heterosexual marriage, ideas of Western Civilization enshrined in US Constitution and the other America of bigots, thugs, and bullies who, although he doesn't see fit to mention it, formed the backbone of the KKK and other nativist groups.  Guess which one he throws his lot in which, no really guess. He argued that

During the great waves of 19th-century immigration, the insistence that new arrivals adapt to Anglo-Saxon culture — and the threat of discrimination if they didn’t — was crucial to their swift assimilation.
Leaving aside the fact that this wrong as a matter of historical fact; you would think a reasonable and serious adult  would deplore the continued existence of intolerant bullies in our midst but no not he, it is what he calls the second America that is going to do for the Muslims in our midst what they did for Mormons and Catholics
The steady pressure to conform to American norms, exerted through fair means and foul, eventually persuaded the Mormons to abandon polygamy, smoothing their assimilation into the American mainstream. Nativist concerns about Catholicism’s illiberal tendencies inspired American Catholics to prod their church toward a recognition of the virtues of democracy, making it possible for generations of immigrants to feel unambiguously Catholic and American.  
Again, leaving aside the nonsense, errors, and all the sweeping under the rug "fair means and foul" accomplishes (hint lynching was a foul means)  it would seem that his solution is more militant Muslim bashing is in order, quite literally, to whip them Muslim newcomers into good solid American shape.It is a dialectical process, he insists in his mindless dopiness, that takes the raw material of dangerously unassimilated foreigners and burnishes it into a highly  glossed Real American(tm). Muslims in our midst will 
need leaders, in other words, who understand that while the ideals of the first America protect the e pluribus, it’s the demands the second America makes of new arrivals that help create the unum.
 Bravo, brave, serious and reasonable conservative thinking guy, you've made bigotry sound necessary for the creation of real Americans. For a discussion of Douthat's updates see  here.

Today, he takes on the issue of cheating in sports. After a long and pointless discussion of the Giants stealing signs and how or if that played a role in Thompsons' shot heard round the world as compared to Clemens individualistic steroid abuse he concludes
What Roger Clemens wants — what he’s recklessly pursued, to the point where he’s facing perjury charges and possibly jail — is what Bobby Thomson enjoyed. He wants to be judged on what happened on the field, where pitches are thrown and swings are taken, and everything else fades into irrelevance.
We know too much to give him that. But though he hasn’t asked for it, maybe we also know enough about baseball history to give him our forgiveness.
And there you have it, one guy's team cheated and another guy may have cheated and therefore let's all join hands and sing Kumbaya. If anyone cares to read the column, and I can't think of why you would, and would like to explain if or how the larger point is other than a plea for the forgiveness of cheating cheaters because everybody knows cheating cheaters cheat. Countering Douthat's "argument" one could argue that a Great Ideal of Western Civilization is that cheaters never win and winners never cheat and cheating cheaters who cheat ought to be asked, like Pete Rose, to remove themselves from polite company.  Indeed, one could argue that Clemens and possibly Thompson suffered from the sin of hubris the punishment of which, in the tradition of the Great Ideals of Western Civilization running back to the founders of Western Civilization, who lost their standing what with the debt and all, ought be the loss of all they desired to gain, like Rose.  Consequently one could ask how this reasonable socially conservative's adamant defense of Great Ideals of Western Civilization except when those great ideals are something other than heterosexual monogamy or Muslims in our midst building mosques is something other than abject nonsense parading on reasonable social conservativism, which is another word for bullshit.

If Douthat wasn's such a Douthat and did some actual reading around about steriods, he might have come up with something like thisVia

No comments:

Post a Comment