June 24, 2016

George Weigel on Our Degraded Political Culture

Freedom of Speech
George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, discusses the abysmal state of our politics in "Confessions of an 'Elitist'" wherein he laments the systematic rhetorical degradation of opponents. Political correctness has wholly eviscerated traditional notions of civility in the conduct of public discourse. Weigel writes:
The term "elitist" has been bandied about so promiscuously in this election cycle that it’s become virtually content-free. Yet "elitist" is also being weaponized as a scare-word to prevent legitimate criticism of ideas, attitudes, and behaviors once thought beyond the pale, even in the rough-and-tumble of politics (which, as Mr. Dooley reminds us, "ain’t beanbag"). That kind of bullying is bad news for an already degraded political culture.
So let me offer these Confessions of an Elitist in the hope that they might encourage others to push back against the “anti-elitist” thought police—and in so doing, help rescue American public life from terminal moral trivialization.
I believe that intelligence is superior to emotion and reason better than anger in making political arguments and choices. In political debate as in curry, heat doesn’t necessarily make things better.  Continue Reading...
EPPC scholar Roger Scruton's "Universities’ War Against Truth" takes to task "the new ideology of non-discrimination," under which "almost every belief system that in the past seemed objective and important is now dismissed as an ‘ism’ or a ‘phobia’ so that those who stand by it are made to look like ideological fanatics." Scruton notes in part:
Young people today are very reluctant to assume that anything is certain, and this reluctance is revealed in their language. In any matter where there might be disagreement, they will put a question mark at the end of the sentence. And to reinforce the posture of neutrality they will insert words that function as disclaimers, among which the favourite is ‘like’. You might be adamant that the Earth is spherical, but they will suggest instead that the Earth is, ‘like, spherical?’
Whence came this ubiquitous hesitation? As I understand the matter, it has much to do with the new ideology of non-discrimination. Modern education aims to be ‘inclusive’, and that means not sounding too certain about anything in case you make people who don’t share your beliefs feel uncomfortable.  Continue reading...
May we, in the words of George Weigel, "push back against the ‘anti-elitist’ thought police — and in so doing, help rescue American public life from terminal moral trivialization."

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