In today's print edition, Detroit News op-ed columnist Laura Berman takes a cynical tack on David Horowitz's new book The Professors. Her column titled "Author skewers U-M professors as 'marketing tool'" begins:
"They are being touted, in a new book, as the 101 most dangerous professors in America.
When it comes to the world of ideas, "dangerous" is a relative business. Even a sound idea can be used to justify evildoing.
Because the book (The Professors," Regenery) is written by recovering leftist David Horowitz - whose swing from far left to far right bespeaks of a talent for extremism - a couple of his targets are employed by a state university located in East Lansing.
They actually work in Ann Arbor." (U-M)
Now I'm not here defending Mr. Horowitz. I take exception to Ms. Berman's swipe at the concept extremism. so I wrote a short LTE to the News as follows:
*In her column "Author skewers U-M professors as 'marketing tool'" of Mar. 7th, Laura Berman takes a swipe at author David Horowitz's extremism by declaring "...whose swing from far left to far right bespeaks a talent for extremism..."
So? I don't agree with some of Mr. Horowitz's ideas but being extreme is a quality I respect. It means he's being consistent.
Typical of today's intellectuals, Ms. Berman fails to understand that the concept "extremism" has no value outside the context of that about which one is being extreme. According to her logic, an extreme genius like Edison and an extreme butcher like Mao and an extreme benefactor like Pasteur and an extreme menace like Stalin are all equally to be avoided because they are all extreme.
I wonder if Ms. Berman's neighborhood is extremely peaceful. If so then her values require her to invite a moderate amount of crime in.*
I don't know if the News will print it but this idiotic notion that everything must always be in moderation no matter the cost needs to be challenged often.
The op-ed can be found here.
All sounds extreme. Not like Michell Malken.
I would go further and say that "extremism" shouldn't be used at all. Sure, it's used as an unjust smear against any consistent worldview. But it's worse that that, because it also implies dogmatism and a penchant for violence. It's used by people as if it were descriptive of a worldview, but it's really no different than characterizing someone's viewpoint as "asshole."
There's also an implication that minority opinions are ipso facto weak and inconsequential. This misconception has the doubly bad effect of making many good ideas look impractical, while making many evil ideas appear unthreatening.
Andrew, I concur. But your last point reminded me of a technique used by some TV moderators or interviewers when interviewing minority viewpoints. It consists of the moderator saying to the interviewee "Come on" every time the interviewee says something. This has the effect of suggesting to the audience that the minority viewpoint is irrational and the moderator is just trying to coax him back to rationality. He is attacking the arguementor without attacking the arguement.
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