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Gore v. the Unabomber Redux

Greybeards may remember that a number of people noted the parallels between the Unabomber's infamous "Manifesto" about the evil of industrial society and Al Gore's Earth in the Balance (n.b. I once asked a very senior FBI agent I know if the rumor was true that they found Al Gore's book in the Unabomber's Montana shack; he wouldn't comment).  Well, now we have another one, courtesy of the good folks at Pajamasmedia: Is it Christine O'Donnell, or Jimmy Carter?  

This is too easy.
Categories > Politics

Discussions - 6 Comments

I'm sure you saw this, too, Steve: Carter Claims He's a 'Superior' Former President.

Jimmy Carter is the gift that keeps on giving. Please, sir... stop. Just... stop.

Here's hoping Carter's got competition for that dubious distinction in 2012!

Your "very senior FBI agent" (Well, well, well!) didn't need to comment; the list of possessions found in the Unabomber's cabin are a matter of public record, including all the books, listed here in alpha order - the Gore book is not among them:
http://www.thesmokinggun.com/file/unabombers-belongings-be-auctioned?page=9

although - brace yourself! - Mark Twain's "Life on the Mississippi" is, along with books covering Latin grammar, history, and math.

The "Al Gore or The Unabomber" quiz is absurd and then some.

I scored an 83% but I think a good part of that was luck and simply sussing out their linguistic tone. It's still conceptual garbage.

Firstly, the quiz only addresses quotes wherein the writers proclaim the world to be in crisis, and how it got there. One can find writers right, left, and center who address this sort of thing, on end-times theories ranging from eco-apocalypse to the social fabric disintegrating for whatever reason to our moral decay (Elvis and his pelvis) and the return of Jesus. The quiz offers no quotes on how to solve the crisis or avoid a certain end. Surely Gore and Kaczynski would vary greatly, Kaczynski would probably scoff at cap and trade, too, only for very different reasons than you would.

Secondly, the quotes are of the standard sort - within that genre - that is critical of modernity, that could come from a lot of minds (not all of them necessarily left-of-center). Some of them are just rather non-controversial textbook fare (I hope! but maybe in Texas...), such as this, the entirety of #6:

"All pre-industrial societies were predominantly rural. The Industrial Revolution vastly increased the size of cities and the proportion of the population that lives in them, and modern agricultural technology has made it possible for the Earth to support a far denser population than it ever did before."

Yes...and? Does any of that really qualify as a viewpoint, per se?

We could set up a similar quiz, it's fun -

Pol Pot or Mister Rogers?

"Buttered toast tastes good with orange juice"
"People like to have friends."
(etc.)

#11 on the quiz is particularly lame:

"Industrial society seems likely to be entering a period of severe stress, due in part to problems of human behavior and in part to economic and environmental problems."

Wow - that could be David Brooks or just about anyone.

I liked #9, since Gore wrote about 2 guys he's frequently compared to by the right-wing, since, you know, he's one of the "liberal fascists" and all that:

"The atrocities of Hitler and Stalin, and the mechanical sins of all who helped them, might have been inconceivable except for the separation of facts from values and knowledge from morality."

Steven, didn't you write not so long ago about the intellectual degeneration among conservatives? Silliness like this and whatever Carter "critique" is being proffered at PajamasMedia ("Now Hiring What FoxNews is Firing") isn't going to help matters on that score, I think. Unless raising the bar isn't really the goal, since Glenn Beck and the "Is Obama a Commie Mozlem terrist?" schtick might actually get some short-term political results from a fact-free, dumbed-down populace.

Next time, let's get "Harry Jaffa or Sayyid Qutb?"

Whoops, meant to mention that the Gore quote about Hitler and Stalin and how they could come to be would have been much better in a "Gore or Hilary Putnam?" quiz:

http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674013803

I bet Jimmy is angling on getting the Navy to build a Superior Aircraft Carrier with his name on it.... For some peculiar reason, the Navy has by passed him.. Let's see Reagan has one, Bush 41 has one... Oh yeah the Navy also skipped over Billy Boy... Maybe they can make up for it with a special brand of cigars... Bet GW Bush gets a ship before Jimmy and Billy....

The important thing, though, is just that the Unabomber-as-Gore-fan story gets passed around at cocktail parties, men's retreats, church potlucks, and tea party meet-ups. It's not important that it's demonstrably false.

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