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Dec. 4 2009 - 6:49 pm | 45 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

The Academic Left Thinks We’re Stupid

Nurses and other healthcare activists rally fo...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

There’s an irony surrounding the academic discipline of anthropology, at least in its contemporary form: it’s a subject devoted to the study of man, yet it is profoundly misanthropic. In recent years, anthropologists (and sociologists) have learned to caricature every human impulse (even – or rather, especially – the benevolent and charitable) as imperialist, paternalist, or worse. Efforts to curtail female genital mutilation, for example, are cast as colonialist, as is Doctors Without Borders, an organization that has done much to improve the lives of the downtrodden.

It has been instructive, therefore, to observe the Academic Left’s response to President Obama and the Democratic Congress’ efforts to expand healthcare access. While it has generally supported the laudable attempts to insure all Americans, certain scribes have still managed to convey their contempt for the American people. It almost makes one wonder why they profess such compassion for people that they clearly despise.

Take my True/Slant colleague, Laurie Essig. Essig, a sociology professor, has come out in favor of socialized, single-payer health care, a position that I share. Yet in arguing her case for socializing American medicine, Essig does not even bother to hide her contempt for those who would benefit – ya know, Americans.  Consider the following paragraph, from a post she published here in True/Slant today:

The inability of the US health care system or the federal government to deliver free and fair access to the threat of a pandemic flu should have Americans angry and demanding universal coverage. But it doesn’t. Instead average Americans, fed a steady diet of stupidity by Fox News, are responding by believing universal health care to be a “threat” to the “American way.” Instead of caring about themselves or their fellow Americans, they protest, scream, yell, and in Arizona,work to change the state constitutions so no person or employer can be “forced” to have health care.

In this one short paragraph, Essig a) dictates to Americans what they “should” be feeling, b) caricatures “average” Americans as unthinking Fox News-watching drones, who clearly harbor “false consciousness” c) accuses Americans of “not caring about their fellow citizens” d) equates any disagreement with “screaming and yelling,” and e) uses scare quotes to discredit very real concerns regarding the pitfalls of a health care mandate. All of which makes one wonder: if “average Americans” are such contemptible rubes, why do they deserve access to health care in the first place?

This is not only to point to Essig. Anyone who has spent time around social sciences departments at elite institutions knows that contempt for “average Americans” is de rigeur.  From (the now disgraced) Ward Churchill to Bill Beeman, to countless others, there’s no shortage of academics willing to bloviate on the “stupidity” of Americans.

Yet, as leftists, these academics still purport to be the compassionate party. Do they think we’re stupid or something?

Oh, right: we already know the answer to that.


1 Total Comment
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  1. collapse expand

    Wait, what? “Leftists” are a party composed entirely of academics?

    Also, I took the liberty of checking one of the so-called leftist papers, the one casting efforts to curtail female genital mutilation as colonialist, purported by Epstein to be representative of American leftist academic thought. The author of that paper is Abdulmumini A. Oba, University of Ilorin.

    Ehhh, okay, so someone in Nigeria who is likely pro-FGM by their native culture, and is also probably a non-leftist Muslim, is writing against the campaign against FGM? How is this representative of the Leftist Academic Party invented by Epstein?

    Mr. Epstein needs to work harder if he wants to live up to the “True” part of True/Slant’s name, though it seems he has the “Slant” part down pat.

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    I'm a writer based in Portland, Oregon. My work has appeared in the Weekly Standard, the American Spectator, the New York Press, The Big Money, sp!Ked online, the Epoch Times, the Daily NK, and others. From 2005 to 2007, I wrote a column on culture and politics for the (alas, now defunct) Seattle-based Internationalist Magazine. In so doing, I filed dispatches from Berlin, Seoul, Paris, New York, and, yes, Reno - among other places. In 2009, I reported on business from Shanghai. I attended Reed College, in Portland, Oregon.

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