The Front Page ‘discussion’ with Norm and Nick is hilarious in a sad sort of way – sad if only because of the waste of time and effort and attention. Norm and Nick might as well have conversed with two nice four-foot lengths of solid brick wall, for all the good it did them.
Here’s FP’s Jamie Glazov starting things off, for instance:
The Left has a long, depressing, ugly and blood-stained record of worshipping the most vile and barbaric tyrannies of the 20th century, including Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, Ho Chi Minh’s Vietnam and Castro’s Cuba…But if you are on the Left, are you not part of an ideology that holds that human redemption, accompanied by human equality and a classless society, is possible and that it can be engendered through social engineering?
No. Why? Because the left covers a lot more ground than that, as both Nick and Norm patiently explain over and over again. But…
After everything that the Western Left has perpetrated in the 20th Century, including the facilitation of the bloodbath in Indochina after forcing an American withdrawal from Vietnam, that you would represent the Left with a reference to an effort in a free society to improve the quality of public schools . . . . leaves me somewhat speechless. Stalin’s, Mao’s and Pol Pot’s killing fields were spawned by the notion of the possibility of earthly redemption. Those who believe that earthly redemption is possible and work towards such a reality, having learned nothing from the past, are complicit in the earthly incarnations of their ideal. I remained somewhat puzzled as to what is so complicated about this.
Nick tried gently and sweetly to explain it to him.
Here you are up against a psychopathic totalitarian ideology. You ought to have the sympathy of democrats around the world. But if you, like the Bush administration, refuse to understand that there are different currents in democratic thinking and say with no self-consciousness of what a fool you sound that ‘the Left has been totalitarian throughout its history’ you alienate your potential allies. Democracy is a little more than one notion of the free market from America, which in practice America follows more in theory than in practice. Now get a grip and read some history.
Then another round of the same thing, then Horowitz, amusingly, plays the religion card.
Your refusal to answer my question as to why you choose to belong to a movement in which the views you represent have been consistently marginal for a hundred years suggests that your commitment to the left has a religious rather than a rational basis.
Norm offers another gentle retort:
If I want an exchange with someone who tells me that my commitments have “a religious rather than a rational basis,” and puts the word “explanation” in scare-quotes to refer to a view I’ve expressed, I can drop into some rabid comments box somewhere. But I have better ways of spending my time.
See? This business of charging that someone’s commitments have ‘a religious rather than a rational basis’ is a rhetorical ploy used by some unpleasing characters; Philip Johnson springs to mind (because I’ve just been reading an article by Robert Pennock disputing just such accusations). So it’s a little puzzling when people who have no great fondness for the Horowitzes and IDers of the world say the same thing. There’s a mystery here, and some day I will get to the bottom of it.