Posted by Peter W. Schramm
Victor Davis Hanson yields a mighty sword. He takes on four universities and their presidents and diversity. The sort of stuff we hear from Hanson on a regular basis, yet it remains powerful still and never dry.
These entrenched and often mediocre senior professors did everything for the cause except take early retirement, though many advised the perennially exploited part-time instructors to "move on" or "get a life." Preach it brother Hanson.
A fantastic essay, that. I have always been amazed by the hypocrisy of overpaid baby boomers lecturing the rest of America about issues of social justice from their comfortable chairs of humanities.
We can agree on their hypocrisy, but such hypocrisy would not make their arguments any less valid. I doubt if their arguments are correct, but one can be a hypocrite and argue perfectly morality, etc. and it could be correct. I just get tired of both sides using ad hominun hypocrisy attacks in order to try and discredit opposing view points, rather than opposing the argument with another valid argument. It gets old.
Probably not as old as being a grad student with pretty miserable job prospects and no health insurance watching "activist" professors go on strike in sympathy with university janitors - while we teach all their intro classes. Theirs is not just hypocrisy - it is profitable and self- serving hypocrisy, and those who engage in it deserve to be called on it. It is unjust for certain elements of the professariat, those who most enjoy marinating in their own virtue, to continue to do so without someone pointing out that their position is possible only because they exploit anothers cheap labor.
But, but - I thought only Wal Mart and Enron executives did that!
I get your point. I agree. Whenever I hear someone say hypocrisy I think of Rousseau, and this makes me want to run to Montesquieu and Hume.
I think modern societys obsessive concern over hypocrisy and authenticity is directly tracable to Rousseau. Rousseau claimed everyone should be authentic, and if everyone were, many social problems would disappear. He also implied it was a sin to be less than authentic becuase people are, on the whole, good. Anything hiding that natural goodness would be bad.
This is foolishness. People are, on a whole, not pleasent. People adopt manners when around other people so other people do not have to put up with their pscyhological disorders and emotional defects. People wear clothes so we do not have to view the imperfections of the body. Manners are clothes for the mind and soul.
Hypocrisy is a necessary condition of manners. Hypocrisy can result because people are not rational. C knows he should not smoke because it is unhealthy, but he enjoys it so he does it anyway, while he tells D not to smoke because it is unhealthy. Hypocrisy also results because people are inclined to be evil and selfish, and throw off manners the second they think they safely can.
I wonder if anyone has ever seriously written about hypocrisy? It may be the attribute that makes society possible. If more people would practice hypocrisy I have no doubt the world would be a much more pleasent place with less confrontations.
I totally agree with your larger philosophical point, and I acknowledge that scolding someone for hypocrisy can be a shortcut around a decent debate. I cringed when I first read Arendts quote "... only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core."
Really? Not the SS Kommandant? This is a woman who studied the machinery of evil, and she concludes that the worst failing is hypocrisy?!? I am pretty sure that violent fanatics - who often live blameless lives by their warped standards - are much much worse than hypocrites and do much more harm. I am positive I would rather live in a society of hypocrites than in a compound filled with murderous zealots, however "pure and uncompromising" the zealots may be.
I also agree that charges of "Hypocrite!" do not end an argument. So, Mr Sparks, you might fairly ask why I still indulge...? The reason I love to point out the hypocrisy of boomer professors is that they are of the generation who have for decades smugly lectured middle class conservatives like myself that "the political is personal." In any discussion of race or class the argument instantly turns ad hominem, the enlightened boomer arguing that conservative trolls (like myself) cannot possibly comprehend the extent to which we were born into unearned privilege, nor can we ever attain the ecstasies of hand wringing guilt our betters have learned to feel. Were we trolls so enlightened, we would readily concede what ruthless exploiters, toil avoiders, and "third base starters" we all actually are. So convicted, we would agree in an instant to racial quotas, enormous wealth redistribution, the estate tax, universal health care, or whatever the issue du jour is. This is hard to argue against without either conceding that you are an unreflective troll, or without resisting and thereby escalating the personal nature of the debate. The latter is not wise if you are a grad student arguing with a professor....
I have read enough Nietzsche to recognize masochistic raptures as experienced by intellectuals, and it is not a pretty sight. At the end of the day, I have trouble separating my annoyance with the vice of hypocrisy from my revulsion for the egregious belief that all politics are personal. The latter idea is far more pernicious than its attendant hypocrisy, but the hypocrisy is a softer target. Or perhaps all politics really are personal, and that is why I rise to the bait. Wouldnt that be sad...
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