June 24, 2009
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,
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 Christianity. Q.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!):
Oh, and this,
And don?t forget this,
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?
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