This blog, which nobody actually reads anyway, makes a habit of inspecting the ideas “we” have that make very little sense — and that means, the big “we.” “All” of us. There’s a recurring theme in the blog’s pages, in which we launch repeated attacks against the ideas borne out of “groupthink” and, instead, reserve our respect for the ideas at which people arrive in groups of one. Why do we do this? We’ve been looking around for quite awhile at ideas and how they are formed…and we can’t help but notice people tend to forget lots of things when they think in groups. Important things. “Keystone” type things, upon which entire classes of other things depend, utterly, completely. Things like — What do I know? How do I know it?
This cool new idea we all just had…who, exactly, is going to look like a raging asshole if it doesn’t work? And what’s the worst that will happen if we don’t do it?
Individuals don’t forget stuff like that. Groups do, in a hummingbird’s heartbeat. And then there is the matter of history; not to say that groups don’t think up some good ideas that help out in the long run. But if you collect for me a randomly-selected list of a hundred nice things a committee has done, I’ll show you ninety-nine cases of plagiarism in which a good idea was stolen from an individual. An individual thought of it, the committee sat to put it in motion, claim credit for it, and then adjourn. Ironically, group-thinking is at its most toxic when it admits this outright. “We’re here to arrive at a plan, and to ensure all those involved have a voice in the process,” the group might say, “and the decision of the committee will be final.” Indeed it shall. And we shall have accountability, through the involvement of the group. But not the kind of accountability people cherish right before they get something good done — more like un-accountability. The decision may be found to be counter-productive, and with the benefit of hindsight we see the decision made no sense at all. Whose idea was it? Nobody’s. The group sanctioned it. What was the rationale for the decision? No helpful answer awaits such a question, only noise. Among the participants who supported the bad decision and will cop to it, each man’s justification was his own. Nobody can authoritively state what “everybody” was thinking when they made the bad decision.
So the blog that nobody reads, hammers away at the “prevailing viewpoint” with regularity and gusto. And we haven’t done an awful lot to defend Ann Coulter. But once again, we find a lot of reason to attack those who attack her.
She came up with a column yesterday. At the same time, Hugo Chavez made a speech to the United Nations in which he called our current President “El Diablo,” meaning The Devil. And while he was at it, the Venezuelan crackpot made sure everybody knew that he’s a fan of Noam Chomsky, the M.I.T. egghead who specializes in linguistics but would rather devote his energies to political science. I’ve read enough of Chomsky to get an inkling of what he’s all about, I think. And I’ll confess, that isn’t very much. If Professor Chomsky was a presenter of fact, it would be important for me to read much more before commenting. But he isn’t. He’s a presenter of opinion. His opinion is, that United States foreign policy is bad. That’s really about all you need to know — that’s what makes Chomsky an outspoken left-wing zealot, and that’s what makes him so popular.
Now, what does “groupthink” say about Ann Coulter and Noam Chomsky? Probably something nice and palatable, like, they’re both “firebrands” and one is on the “right” and the other is on the “left.” Group-think will never deign to suggest that either one of them will have more productive things to say than the other, because of course that would be “biased.” Group-think will — and this rule has very few exceptions, I note, even across a great deal of time — labor to ensure that when a decision is made, and somehow both Coulter and Chomsky have influence upon the decision made, that there is equilibrium between the two pundits upon the decision made. We must have balance, you know.
An individual will do things better. Even an individual who disagrees with me about Ann Coulter, will do something far more sensible than what the group will do. He’ll say “Ann Coulter is a nutcase and she shouldn’t decide anything,” and make sure the decision is cleansed of the tiniest tincture of Coulter-think. Well, if you think the lady’s crazy, that just makes sense.
The group will thunder on about “balance,” but won’t even show consistency with its own dictates. Time has a way of making sure right-wingers get equal time for scolding left-wingers, and left-wingers can reciprocate against the right wingers, but in conference rooms things end up being done the left-wing way. We see it even in the last few hours, as the United Nations comes up with a new deadline for Iran. Like Diogenes searching for an honest man, I’m trying to find an individual — liberal, conservative, anarchist, I don’t care — who thinks this is a swell idea, or at least, makes sense on some level. I’m not holding my breath.
But surely the group must be wiser than the individual…who has been known to do half-cocked things, like, for example, actually agree with Ann Coulter. And Ann Coulter says such irresponsible things, like…
Never mind trusting liberals with national security. Never mind trusting them with raising kids. These people shouldn’t even be allowed to own pets.
And you see, that is just so irresponsible. I don’t know what gets into her sometimes. Why does she think such a thing? I wish I could somehow find out, but of course, that’s impossible.
Oh wait I forgot. Ann Coulter is not a committee, she’s an individual. Therefore, she knows why she thinks the things she thinks. Which a committee does not. And in this case, she even wrote it down.
The belief that we can impress the enemy with our magnanimity is an idea that just won’t die…[it] has never worked, no matter how many times liberals make us do it. It didn’t work with the Soviet Union, Imperial Japan, Hitler or the North Vietnamese � enemies notable for being more civilized than the Islamic savages we are at war with today.
By the way, how did the Geneva Conventions work out for McCain at the Hanoi Hilton?
It doesn’t even work with the Democrats, whom Bush kept sucking up to his first year in office. No more movie nights at the White House with Teddy Kennedy these days, I’m guessing.
It was this idea (Be nice!) that fueled liberals’ rage at Reagan when he vanquished the Soviet Union with his macho “cowboy diplomacy” that was going to get us all blown up. As the Times editorial page hysterically described Reagan’s first year in office: “Mr. Reagan looked at the world through gun sights.” Yes, he did! And now the Evil Empire is no more.
It was this idiotic idea of being nice to predators that drove liberal crime policies in the ’60s and ’70s � leading like night into day to unprecedented crime rates. Now these same liberal ninnies want to extend their tender mercies not just to rapists and murderers, but to Islamic terrorists.
Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill had a different idea: Instead of rewarding bad behavior, punish bad behavior. How many times does punishment have to work and coddling have to fail before we never have to hear again that if we treat terrorists well, the terrorists will treat our prisoners well?
Fortunately, history always begins this morning for liberals, so they can keep flogging the same idiotic idea that has never, ever worked: Be nice to our enemies and they will reward us with good behavior.
Now, it should be noted this argument is not so strong as to be unanswerable, for there is a refutation of it circulating in American discourse. And that refutation is — let me see if I can paraphrase it — “Ann Coulter is misrepresenting liberals” and “Ann Coulter is so nasty.” But as they say, facts are stubborn things.
Ann Coulter is misrepresenting liberals, by the way. Speaking for myself, I have never, ever heard anyone advance the notion that if we’re nice, Al Qaeda “will reward us with good behavior.” Not conservatives, not liberals, not as individuals, not in groups. Things do have to make a certain amount of sense in order to be spoken by somebody with a name, and that little strategy always seems to be lopped off from the end of the argument being advanced. Words are reserved for the stuff leading up to that conclusion. We must, we ought, we shall, we’re better than them, blah blah blah. That’s the kind of nonsense that makes just enough sense to find its way through the voiceboxes of people with reputations and microphones.
Oh and the reverse gets a lot of press play, too. If we torture the bad guys, our troops are in danger on the battlefield. We hear that all the time from the important people who are sent out to peddle group-think ideas. But the prediction that would actually matter and would actually seal the deal — if we abide by the Geneva conventions, Al Qaeda will learn from our superior example — is never quite articulated syllable-for-syllable. It doesn’t make enough sense for that. It’s only implied.
And yet, this is the bare minimum of what would have to be asserted, to make the whole treat-em-nice school of thought strategically appealing. And don’t even get me started on the new deadline for Iran…what with that Iranian dog having eaten the homework, or whatever.
So say what you want about Ann Coulter, she makes more sense in five minutes than treat-em-nice crowd has all year long; more than the United Nations has in half a century. You need group-think to make the treat-em-nice ideas look somewhat sound. An individual will want to know what the payoff is when we’re so nice to those who want to kill us. Well, it seems there is no payoff, and Ms. Coulter has done a great job of making that point.
By the way, this is a life-and-death issue, although a lot of folks don’t want it to be seen that way. It is life-and-death, in that, there are people who want us dead. Let’s be clear: To say our lives are not at stake, is to assert 1) those people don’t want to kill us, after all; or 2) there is a significant likelihood their attempts on our lives, will everlastingly fail.
The people who try to coerce and intimidate us from thinking of terrorism as a life-and-death issue, will not say which of those two assertions receive their support. They don’t have to. Only an individual would insist that they make such a decision, and their sales pitches are designed for the group environment.