Life, Literature and Intellectuals; Life Gets Tough When You're Stupid

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 5, 2004 | Go to article overview

Life, Literature and Intellectuals; Life Gets Tough When You're Stupid


Byline: Suzanne Fields, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Feodor Dostoyevsky was a Russian and a man of the 19th century, but he has the American and European intellectuals of the 21st century down good and proper.

"Oh, tell, me, who first declared, who first proclaimed that man only does nasty things because he does not know his own real interests," he asked 140 years ago. "And that if he were enlightened, if his eyes were opened to his real normal interest, man would at once cease to do nasty things, would at once become good and noble because, being enlightened and understanding his real advantage, he would see his own advantage in the good and nothing else. e. Oh, the babe! Oh, the pure innocent child."

So easily the "enlightened" men and women turn upside down the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity, and they become distorted as tyranny, usurpation and panic. The "enlightened" of our present day interpret almost everything that the United States does - even when such things are clearly in their interest - as nasty, selfish and malevolent. Criticism of any public policy, or public man, is fair game in open and honest discussion, something to be not tolerated but encouraged. But many of our enlightened intellectuals - or who pretend to be intellectuals- start with the assumption that American policies, and the men and women who formulate them, are not debatable, but diabolical.

Jean-Francois Revel, in his book "Anti-Americanism," documents how his colleagues among French intellectuals blame us for September 11. Terrorism is something we brought on ourselves with our economic, cultural and political liberties - free trade, capitalism, technological inventiveness. The intellectual left refuses "to renounce its demonized image of the United States, an image that it needs all the more since socialism has ended in shipwreck ... Woe upon those who would deprive them of the convenient Lucifer that is their last ideological lifeline."

In England the attacks take a slightly different shape. Dr. Rowan Williams, who as the archbishop of Canterbury heads the established Anglican Church, demands that America show not righteous anger but sympathy for the men who murdered 3,000 of us on September 11. We must recognize that these mass murderers who crashed into the Twin Towers "have serious moral goals" that Americans merely fail to appreciate. Since we can't judge what's in our best and moral interests, he says, we must let the United Nations do it for us. …

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