June 24, 2009

The Narcissism Revolution Continues

Mark Shea has taken umbrage at my remarks on the Narcissism Revolution taking place in the conservative blogosphere, and I?d like to reply? but I?m not sure what to say exactly. Shea doesn?t so much respond to my critique as,

1) Assert his grand magnanimity: the great Shea will deign to answer ?some guy named Richard Spencer?; though curiously, later in the same blog, he indicates that he?s quite familiar with Taki?s Magazine.

2) Completely misstate my argument: Shea writes that I called him narcissistic for writing the following passage,

Iranians sound like they have a lot more in common with the common sense of the theistic tradition, which says rights come from God, not from Caesar. I find that much more sensible than our ruling elites, who have embraced the New Atheism and must therefore perforce believe (and live) as though rights are a subjective mask on the face of power in a Darwinian universe of Might Makes Right.

The only problem is that I never referred to this passage in my piece?indeed, these lines don?t appear anywhere in the blog I linked to! Where did they come from? I?ve no idea. Perhaps Shea could enlighten me. I would remind him that there?s a difference between changing one?s position and doing a little post facto redaction. And it?d probably be ethical for him to alert his readers to the fact that he?s doing the latter and not the former.
3) For no apparent reason allude to the specter of the New Atheists and the cold, dog-eat-dog universe of Might Makes Right: Shea seems to think that a harsh Nietzscheanism lies at the heart of the discourse of Christopher Hitchens and much of America?s elite?  Clearly, On the Genealogy of Morals and The God Delusion are to blame for former Hippies? taking over academia and installing multicultural programs, George W. Bush?s wars to spread democracy and grant Muslim women undergraduate educations, and the U.S. media?s going gaga over the great American story that is Sonia Sotomayor. But, nevertheless, all this is entirely irrelevant. 

4) Assert that all believers in higher powers should work together to combat said New Atheist specter. 

5) Spencer?s original critique safely averted, quote at length from C.S. Lewis?s Mere ChristianityQ.E.D.! 

Why don?t we return to what I actually argued

The ?Narcissism Revolution? refers to the fact that when so many ?conservative? bloggers and journalists, Shea being one, saw photos of Iranians taking to the streets and waving green flags in the air, they thought to themselves, without much hesitation, 1) This is good! 2) This is pro-American!! 3) The ideological origins of this must lie in Catholic teachings and the ?American Values? of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King!!!

I reached these conclusions after reading passages such as this one (which Shea actually did write!):

The Greens in Iran are acting on ideas that are stunningly American (and, of course, deeply Catholic). ?  How strange it is to hear Muslims shouting “Allahu Akbar!” in support of the teachings of Thomas Jefferson and St. Thomas. But that is, in fact, what is happening in this revolt.

And this,

What is striking to me is how deeply American culture has impacted there [Iran]

Oh, and this, 

What strikes me about [the revolutionary video] is how deeply the American love of freedom (expressed in the grammar of video that owes *everything* to a specifically American political campaign) has permeated the Iranian resistance to the regime.

And don?t forget this,

It is beyond ironic that the country most identified in our minds as one of the major fomenters of Islamic nutjobbery should suddenly reveal a gigantic population of people who seem to have grokked the ideas of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Now Shea tells me that what he?s really saying is that there?s common cause between the Green protestors, MLK, and Mark Shea because they all believe in a higher being (even if it?s not the same one exactly.) Well, I?ve been reading a lot about the goings on in Iran, and yet I haven?t come across any statements from Mir-Hossein Mousavi in which he?s claimed that he?s leading a revolt again the dangers of atheism and Richard Dawkins?s Selfish Gene. Moreover, if Shea makes friend-enemy distinctions on the basis of belief in itself (that is, irrespective of the question in what?), then I wonder why he?s so quick to align himself with the seemingly more secular Mousavi and not with Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollahs, who really, really believe in their god. 

We still don?t know what the ?Green? protesters who?ve taken to the streets over the past ten days actually want in terms of government and political representation. And we?re not brought any closer to understanding by reading Mark Shea and much of the rest of the ?conservative? blogosphere. 

P.S. As I said, this whole notion of ?believers??Christians, Muslims, Sun God devotees et al.?uniting together vis-?-vis wicked atheists is completely irrelevant to the discussion of the Iranian Reovlution, but since Shea brought it up?

What I find most striking about this idea is how recent its vintage is. Charlemagne didn?t exactly go on a peaceful “listening tour” through pagan Europe, nor were the Habsburg much impressed by the fervent belief of my Protestant Saxon ancestors. If only Christopher Hitchens had been alive in 17th Century, then Christendom might have united and the Thirty Years? War been avoided?


Subscribe to Taki’s Magazine for an ad-free experience and help us stand against political correctness.


Sign Up to Receive Our Latest Updates!


Daily updates with TM’s latest