Friday, March 27, 2020

Intellectual prostration

Catching up on The New Yorker, I paused when I hit this sentence, from the historian Charles Beard, quoted in “In Every Dark Hour,” Jill Lepore’s piece on the prospects of democracy, past, present, and future:

The kind of universal intellectual prostration required by Bolshevism and Fascism is decidedly foreign to American “intelligence.”
Lepore likens this kind of intelligence to “street smarts — reasonableness, open-mindedness, level-headedness.”

And then I recalled this praise of our president:
“He’s been so attentive to the scientific literature and the details and the data. And I think his ability to analyze and integrate data that comes out of his long history in business has really been a real benefit during these discussions about medical issues. Because in the end, data is data, and he understands the importance of the granularity.”
That’s Deborah Birx, Dr. Birx, she of the thousand and one scarves, speaking to the Christian Broadcasting Network this past Wednesday. And if her praise of the president isn’t an instance of intellectual prostration, I don’t know what is.

And I’ll add: when it comes to the coronavirus, there can be no meaningful granularity without sufficient testing. That’e because granularity is “the extent to which a larger entity is subdivided.” I know a little bit about granularity.

[Lepore’s piece is in the February 3 New Yorker. Online, the title is “The Last Time Democracy Almost Died.”]

comments: 5

Chris said...

"Prostration" might not be exactly the word I would have used, but it does sounds a bit like it.

Michael Leddy said...

Nicely played. :)

Fresca said...

The Rise of Toadyism.

Michael Leddy said...

Yep. Jay Inslee and “the woman” (Gretchen Witmer) better shape up.

Anonymous said...

So much of this country is prostrate before Trump--it doesn't matter how often he shows his ignorance, ineptitude, vulgarity, and lack of humanity. His numbers stay high. We as a nation should stop patting ourselves on the back for being rugged, independently-thinking , street-smart individualists. We have, as a mindless collective, enabled a beast. And then all the spineless, ambitious, venal sycophants around him, flattering him...A nauseating spectacle.