The Incredible Lightness of Being Nussbaum
Posted by Robert Alt
This next item quite frankly left me speechless. I am ashamed to admit that Ms. Nussbaum teaches at my alma mater. In the following article, the only thing which appears to be correct and not infused with utter vapidness or rank partisanship is the spelling of her name. Enjoy the unintended parody here.
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What is Ms. Nussbaum thinking? Having such blind faith that international agreements will solve any of these overarching problems that she sees is hopeless. Even signatories are only "asked" or "implored" to fulfill their obligations. See the UN Resolution to Iraq in 1991. The words "ludicrous" and "sycophantic" immediately come to mind.
Nussbaums liberal conceit and contempt for America is truly breathtaking.
In response the first question, she makes the amazing claim that war is justified only in response to "unjustified aggression" (whatever that means) and "staggering" human rights abuses, "like genocide". She also concedes that "[t]here was sufficient proof that the Al Qaeda was linked to 9/11."
In response to the second question, she impugns the motives of the Bush adminstration and suggests that they are (a) trapped in our Cold War past and (b) trumping up the crisis in Iraq in order to "cover-up" the state of the economy. I think one can disagree with the Presidents policy choices regarding Iraq, but it is simply wrong to suggest that our policy with respect to Iraq is motivated by a desire to cover-up a sluggish economy. Is Nussbaum so blindly partisan and self-righteous that she is unable to see the genuine complexity of the issue for both sides?
In response to the seventh and eigth questions, Nussbaum demonstrates a totaly misunderstanding of the role of gender in electoral politics and also of campaign finance. She also shows complete distain for "old" ideas like individualism and does not even bother to mention the serious issues of constitutional law implicated by affirmative action policies -- issues that are more or less unique to the United States and that her Indian audience would probably not know about. All of this from someone employed at what is supposed to be one of the best law schools in country.
Nussbaum was a pretty good classicist, back in the day, but, as a public intellectual and self-proclaimed citizen-of-the-world, shes a disaster -- holding forth on things about which she cares deeply but know little. It is noteworth that this interview was with an Indian newspaper. I doubt that Nussbaum would have the temerity to say such things in the American press. Arguably, she only makes international relations worse by making statements abroad that feed ignorant and overly-simplistic anti-American views. I am not one to challenge anothers patriotism or impose restrictions on anothers right to speak her mind, but, it seems to me that Nussbaum should be aware that when she speaks abroad she speaks not only as an inidvidual but also as an American -- i.e., as one who is presumed by her audience to speak with uniquely personal knowledge and familiarity regarding American life, politics, law, and government. Under those circumstances, I would feel some sense of duty (to my country and my audience) to educate the foreign audience, to put American policy in context, and to try to convey the real complexity of these issues, specifically, and of American life, politics, law, and government, in general. Nussbaum either does not share that sense of moral obligation or does not truly appreciate how unhelpful her ignorant and simplistic criticisms really are. Either way, she seems self-absorbed.
She is a moderate...I am sure that her views are not at all uncommon, for those who accept her basic premises. "Entitlements, of course, are a supplement for rights, since they combine a positive notion of freedom with economic rights."
She echoes Kant in attacking Business for using people around the world as means rather than ends. She sounds just like any other progressive. Certainly you cant be alarmed that such people exist. The field of Ethics that she teaches is dominated by such thinking.