Ron Rosenbaum At Slate Via The A & L Daily: ‘Bonfire Of The Intellectuals’

Full post here.

Is Paul Berman the left you’ve been looking for (if you’re not really on the left)?  or more a person on the left adhering to a fundamentally libertarian proposition:  freedom from violence in this case?

“By the “flight of the intellectuals,” Berman means their flight from the values they espoused when defending Salman Rushdie in 1989, and their sniping, snarking, and subverting Ayaan Hirsi Ali this century.”


“Is there a paradox at the heart of Enlightenment values? Should a belief in “tolerance” extend to the intolerant? Must Enlightenment values stop short of challenging multicultural values? Or do multicultural values sometimes entail moral relativism? One key issue, for instance, is whether Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s campaign against female genital mutilation makes her—as the intellectuals Berman attacks have called her—an “Enlightenment fundamentalist,”

Of course, the economy has a lot to do with how well or not well (more likely) Muslims are being integrated into European societies as well.  It’s really up to Europeans.

Also On This Site: Repost-Ayan Hirsi Ali At The CSM: ‘Swiss Ban On Minarets Was A Vote For Tolerance And Inclusion’

Some of the same tensions are at play here in the U.S.: From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

Nussbaum argues profoundly for more equality:  From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum

And A Straussian address of the problem:  From Wikipedia’s Page On Leo Strauss: A Few Quotes:  From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?

“Strauss taught that liberalism in its modern form contained within it an intrinsic tendency towards extreme relativism, which in turn led to two types of nihilism. The first was a “brutal” nihilism, expressed in Nazi and Marxist regimes. In On Tyranny, he wrote that these ideologies, both descendants of Enlightenment thought, tried to destroy all traditions, history, ethics, and moral standards and replace them by force under which nature and mankind are subjugated and conquered. The second type – the “gentle” nihilism expressed in Western liberal democracies – was a kind of value-free aimlessness and a hedonistic”permissive egalitarianism”, which he saw as permeating the fabric of contemporary American society.”

Paul Berman On Bloggingheads: The Left Can Criticize Iran

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2 thoughts on “Ron Rosenbaum At Slate Via The A & L Daily: ‘Bonfire Of The Intellectuals’

  1. John,
    thanks for reading and commenting. I’ll check out the review.

    The discussion about how to integrate Muslims into European (and Western societies) is a burden largely falling upon those Western societies, in part because Muslims are leaving much lower performing economies of their home countries for the opportunity found here (like hirsan ali)

    She has figured out that the current (potentially excessive?) relativism on the Continent isn’t quite enough to handle the problems that result, and she’s been using it to her political advantage and pointing out some important truths. Excessive relativism and endless ‘dialogue’ falls in line with the aims of many on the European left but it may be no better for Muslim immigrants in the long run (jobs, education, opportunity), and ultimately those European societies (conflict, violence)

    Yet Muslims, if they had their way (from the cave to the rest of the world) demand that everyone else live according to their own lights, and in fact, it is their duty to make sure this eventually happens. Some of the same theological and philosophical and political problems of the Muslim world (in my limited view, as a Westerner, and as an American) that lead to unrepresentative government and lack of economic growth are brought right here.

    A lot of their anger has real roots in injustice (and the pressures of living as a minority in a foreign country), but Muslims also have to take a long, hard look at why they’re leaving their own countries…

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