November 30, 2006

REMEMBER BACK WHEN THEY WERE THE PEOPLE OF THE LAW?:

Much Lies Beyond the Grasp of Arrogant Atheism (David Klinghoffer, Nov 24, 2006, The Forward)

I’m no longer surprised by the cluelessness of Jewish educational institutions. Thus a friend studying at a certain Orthodox-affiliated college emailed me this week, asking for my definition of conservatism. He explained that he is taking a class in advanced psychology, the specific topic being the “authoritarian personality.”

That phrase encapsulates a highfalutin’ slur on religious and other conservatives, inspired by psychologist Robert Altemeyer. It holds that conservatism arises not from ideology, but from a personality deformation associated with “conventionalism,” “authoritarian aggression” and “authoritarian submission.” Since most of his fellow students, as Orthodox Jews, would likely rank as right-wing authoritarians on Altemeyer’s scale, my correspondent wrote with his earnest request for an outside perspective.

Interestingly, my young friend’s demanding course has exactly two required texts. One is by Altemeyer. The other is Watergate alumnus John Dean’s recent “Conservatives Without Conscience.” Dean claims that, especially on the “religious right,” conservatism has no meaningful definition but simply masks certain resentments and anxieties.


It's like a madrassa.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 30, 2006 6:24 PM
Comments

Why does anyone really listen to John Dean? For heaven's sake, it is John Dean.

Posted by: pchuck at November 30, 2006 7:26 PM

"authoritarian personality", like "homophobe" and "Islamophobe", are merely ways to shut down debate and dismiss opponents by relegating them to be among the crazy. And no one cares about what the crazy think, or need bother to debate them.

Washington City is like Hollywood: full of has-beens and never-weres who are "famous for being famous". John Dean being a perfect counterpart to Paris Hilton. (A comparison which is probably a complement to one and an insult to the other.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at November 30, 2006 7:52 PM

No they aren't. To be conservative is to believe in Authority. Being Jewish used to mean the same.

Likewise, Islamophobe is perfectly descriptive. Homophobe is indeed more problematic. While most who are anti-gay just hold them in contempt, some part are indeed afraid, most likely those with such tendencies themselves, as that preacher who just got busted.

Posted by: oj at November 30, 2006 7:56 PM
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