In the comments to ari’s post, Martin G. noted his fondness for Bérubé-style agon. I couldn’t agree more. That is, after all, the point of the copy-pasta post everyone incidentally linked to the other day. But a proper political agon requires some ground rules: first and foremost, a commitment not to Rorschach your interlocutor with a Godwin to the balls.* Such strictures are, however, unmanly. Manly men—real Men—cede every ounce of their intellectual authority to the Man who wrote The Most Important Book Ever:
- [A]s Jonah showed us in Liberal Fascism . . .
- I recommend Jonah Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism . . .
- Why worry about people using it to invoke “Godwin’s Law”? As if that is anything more than an internet convention used as shorthand to dismiss arguments like those made in Liberal Fascism.
- Goldberg’s book has opened a door to enlightening . . .
And when Really Manly Men are challenged, they choke back the tears, tighten the gasket on that whine, and project, project, project. To wit:
- The man whose posts regularly range in 4,000 word pastures writes “[a]s for SEK, he just likes to hear himself talk[.]“
- The man who valiantly complains that others “want to freeze me out from their linkfests” writes “[SEK's] entire blog is predicated on traffic.”
Really Manly Men don’t care about traffic. Not one whit. The people who care about traffic are the ones who never mention it. We’re all about listening to ourselves talk, ignoring the “self-” of our importance, and guilting our readers into giving us money.** Once upon a time, I thought it possible to discuss things with Manly Men whose Knowledge and Foresight allow them to see The Coming Socialism. Then the Manly Men drunk deeply of the Manly Book, realized the Womanly Challenge before them, and told their less Manly compatriots to ____ ___.***
All of which means I was as right as I was wrong: whatever you might say about the boorishness of Manly Men, they were once far less stupid. Now that Goldberg’s spoon-fed them Kool-Aid, they feel history vindicates their abject paranoia. The Democrats won this election cycle, certainly, but we ignore idiocy at our own peril. I’m not saying all our time ought to be devoted to slapping the sluggish—that’d leave no time to marvel at the spectalurness of our failure—but as stupidity trickles down, we can’t rest on Obama’s laurels.
*Rorshach’s “power,” for those unfamiliar with Watchmen, being raw brutality of the Pol Pot variety.
**Because, you know, we’re “important,” i.e. the only ones who can “break away from partisan cheerleading and closely examine the kernel assumptions of the several mainstream political ideologies in order to tease out how and why those ideologies either conform to, or break with, our founding principles.”
***And despite their hate-hate affair with their own voice, they only linked to themselves five times while doing so.