Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Althouse is wrong, Goldberg is right   posted by Razib @ 12/27/2006 11:39:00 PM

On this segment Ann Althouse rips Jonah Goldberg for his quasi-defense of a discussion of the ideas and influence of Frank Meyer, the libertarian conservative who was the father of "fusionism" and arguably the man behind William F. Buckley's throne. Althouse was appalled that at a Liberty Fund event to which she was invited a discussion of the great man's ideas did not dwell long enough upon his support for the American South's practice of Jim Crow in the name of State's Rights (perhaps one might say that Southerners supported State's Rights because of Jim Crow, while Meyer accepted Jim Crow because of State's Rights). Althouse's point, from what I can gather, is that Oh my god Frank Meyer was a racist!!!! Goldberg made, I thought, a pretty level-headed response, sometimes one must extract and abstract ideas from their context to explore fully their ramificatins, validity and utility. This does not mean that I don't share Althouse's discomfort, even censure, of Jim Crow and the Right's support of these policies during the 1950s and 1960s. The Zeitgeist has changed, and for the better. Especially for those like myself who happen to have brown skin. Nevertheless, there are two issues that we must address

1) Ideas are not like a stew, each and every one mixed together so that they are fundamentally inseparable, unperceivable without tasting the whole.

2) To examine questions from every angle one must withold judgement, censure or outrage on occasion.

This does not negate emotion, feeling or values. It simply means that different aspects of life, and cognition, have their own purposes. Margaret Sanger was a progressive racialist eugenicist. That doesn't mean that Planned Parenthood is Nazi. Isaac Newton was an alchemical nut. That doesn't mean that his Mechanics and Optics don't exhibit a scientific virtuosity which induces awe. Emotions tell us what is important. Rationality allows us to realize and perpetuate what is important.