Mr. Gnade referred to and commented on some of Wolfe's views on email, the Internet and by extension, blogs. Good points were made by all, but my attention was piqued by other statements made by Wolfe, specifically, this notion of intellectual fashion. From the interview:
This is Tom Wolfe's MO--sorting out and at once demolishing pretension, snobbery, vanity in all its guises. "There is such a thing as intellectual fashion--just as we get our clothing fashions--and often it does not mean anything more," he says. "One follows fashion in order to look proper, and it's the same thing with ideas."The current height of intellectual fashion is to consider the Bush administration an abject failure. To dare to consider that anything positive might come from the administration at this point marks you as an intellectual square by the self-proclaimed intellectual elite.
It's something Wolfe takes exception with:
George Bush's appeal, for Mr. Wolfe, was owing to his "great decisiveness and willingness to fight." But as to "this business of my having done the unthinkable and voted for George Bush, I would say, now look, I voted for George Bush but so did 62,040,609 other Americans. Now what does that make them? Of course, they want to say--'Fools like you!' . . . But then they catch themselves, 'Wait a minute, I can't go around saying that the majority of the American people are fools, idiots, bumblers, hicks.' So they just kind of dodge that question. And so many of them are so caught up in this kind of metropolitan intellectual atmosphere that they simply don't go across the Hudson River. They literally do not set foot in the United States.It's interesting to read these statements in light of comments made by many bloggers in conjunction with the third "anniversary" of the war in Iraq.
I think one way to identify intellectual fasionistas is by the degree to which they are open to examining all (not "both") sides of a story.
For example, Joshua at TFK recently gave his version of a numerical rundown of the war in Iraq.
"2318 American soldiers have died in Iraq, a total of 2525 coalition soldiers. Credible reports attribute 33,710-37,832 Iraqi civilian casualties to military actions since the invasion, credible epidemiological research puts the number of excess fatalities above 100,000. In 1,100 days, that amounts to ten people a day who didn't have to die."What Joshua doesn't consider is the number of people who would have died if other, or no, action had been taken. Granted, most people would expect casualties not to be as high. But then, most people in Kansas City wouldn't have expected more than 120 homicides last year.
The intellectually fashionable fail to consider numbers from other sides of the issue:
- 1,581 Iraqi civilians killed by Islamic terrorists so far this year
- 4,535 deadly terrorist attacks since the attack on The World Trade Centers in New York
- 3,262 people have been killed by Islamic terrorists in America in 37 terror attacks since 1973.
But, as Mr. Gnade notes in a separate post, there is no such thing as a perfect war or a perfect world. And mistakes have to be weighed against the cost of doing nothing at all. The the best way to do this is with objectivity and intellectual honesty.
Of course, that is much more difficult and takes more effort than following the intellectual fashion trends.
tagged: Iraq, war, terrorists, Wall Street Journal, Tom Wolfe, Bush, intellectual, fashion, casualties