Monday, November 5, 2007

What's the Frequency, Kenneth? Part 2

Well, Blogger won't let me fix that little font snafu, so howabout I cease trying to be clever with font sizes in the future?

Anyway, back to my point: How can otherwise rational people, who would know better than to believe the CIA has any interest in some guy living in a box in an alleyway, unquestioningly enable blood libel and hatred?

The answer, I am afraid, is postmodernism, and specifically its focus on alterity. The more Other someone is, the more one seems to be obligated to take their perspective. This seems to have removed the critical faculty needed to judge between the stories of those who tell the truth and fabulators. I use the term "fabulators" instead of "liars" because lying implies an intent to deceive. A fabulator may honestly believe Jews created the AIDS virus---but they are still wrong.

Pair alterity with the intellectual vanity so encouraged by liberal arts faculty that a liberal education gives students the tools to become experts in anything to which they put their minds, and you have people poised to take any fool at his or her word, as long as they are exotic and different. Now to the mix of alterity and intellectual vanity, let's add the typical wealth of First World intellectuals, specifically their disposable income.

Now, if you are a member of some exotic group wanting to raise money for a cause, you have a gold mine in a bunch of people who don't understand you and your situation, but think they do, who will open their wallets for you. All they need is a story that conforms to their expectations. Just point out how you are oppressed, how those guys you hate are oppressing you, throw in some Rousseau/socialist nonsense about the way your people lived before Those Other Guys came along, wear some exotic native costume while doing so, and turn up your accent a bit. Bingo, your cause is rolling in the dough, and you can now go shopping for weapons.


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