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The self-destructive snobbery of the left

By Murray Soupcoff
web posted September 2, 2002

In a revealing essay ("The Left Has Lost Its Way and Lost Its Voice") in Britain's Times recently, Camille Paglia uncorked this insightful quote: "One problem is that too many leftist periodicals are run by callow cliques whose vaunted populism is a mask for snobbery."

Right on, Camille! But in this scribe's opinion, Ms. Paglia's apt critique would apply to all of the American left these days. Indeed if there is a latent role for contemporary leftism among today's journalistic and academic elite, it is to serve as an identifying badge of sophistication and superiority to distinguish these haughty souls from those whom they view as their inferiors -- namely the entire rest of the population, including the poor, the working poor, the suburban middle class, and naturally anyone who's wealthier than them.

For example, a normal, human response to the events of September 11 would have been one of anger, hurt, anguish and a desire to "hit back". But the leftist media and academic elite immediately responded almost as one with a stultifying assortment of attempts to "understand" the Islamofascist enemy, to show "tolerance" toward fellow Islamic Americans even if they were clandestine al-Qaida supporters or sympathizers, to take a "balanced" view of history by dragging up every alleged American historical act of imperialist, capitalistic or racist exploitation that might justify the outrages of September 11, and to counsel against "irrational" national acts of revenge.

Now of course, these near-demented public and journalistic outbursts were partly the result of these misguided souls having immersed themselves for so long in the brain-damaging post-modernist zeitgeist of moral equivalence, cultural relativism and reflex anti-Americanism. However, it's important to note that this self-hating post-modernist sensibility only provided the fabric into which something more fundamental could be sewn: a compulsive need by these haughty elites to symbolically establish their status superiority over the rest of us -- to symbolically demonstrate how much more "understanding," "tolerant" and "reasonable" these lofty souls were as compared to the rest of us flawed and inferior humans.

In other words, if there is one thing that the contemporary leftist sensibility -- with all its progressive and post-modernist baggage -- is meant to do, it's to symbolically show just how much better and morally superior its adherents are than you and me.

Hence, the righteous and haughty voice of today's many media proponents of American globalist guilt, of American diplomatic appeasement, of recklessly signing on to economically-destructive international environmental agreements, and of Munich-style world peace. Their every arrogant word and gesture signifies, "I know something that you don't know (the truth), because I'm more sensitive, sophisticated and educated than the rest of you mental and moral midgets."

Hence, their dismissive, know-it-all stance towards their opponents (unfortunately that includes yours truly and anyone still reading this missive), and a body language that seems to symbolize that these righteous prophets of left-wing goodness have a direct line to God, even if they personally don't believe in a supreme deity.

And of course, in the words of Camille Paglia, one depressing result is the "many leftist periodicals" (including today's NY Times) run by "callow cliques whose vaunted populism is a mask for snobbery."

Unfortunately, among today's trendy literati, this symbolic battle for ideological status superiority not only trumps common sense, but even considerations of national survival. Is it any wonder then that so many of today's media glitterati are so irrationally opposed to military action against Saddam Hussein and his budding nuclear and biochemical arsenal?

In fact, there's really little else one can say about this depressing phenomenon, except thank goodness that George W. Bush has never had any pretensions to being an intellectual giant or contemporary cultural maven like his critics. In fact, contrary to what the left has been saying about the president, maybe being a "cultural illiterate" isn't such a bad thing after all. If nothing else, it may yet save America from self-destruction.

Murray Soupcoff is the author of 'Canada 1984' and a former radio and television producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He also was Executive Editor of We Compute Magazine for many years, and is now the Managing Editor of the popular conservative Web site, Iconoclast.ca.

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