Critical Times for Critical Thought

A few weeks ago the Senate Intelligence Report, written by the Democrat-majority committee was released and the Washington Post dared to point out that the report stated very clearly that all of Bush’s “lied” leading up to the Iraqi war were actually “substantiated by intelligence.”

Some readers of the piece, clutching their truthiness to them the way Obama accuses the Midwest of clutching their guns and bibles (bibles, truthiness, we’re not so different, after all, are we?) seemed immune to the facts and left some juicy comments along the lines that the writer, Fred Hiatt, was a lying patsy of the Bush Administration, re-writing history and – because he’d reported the Senate Committee’s findings with some clarity – was in dire need of termination from his position.

It made me wonder about the state of critical thinking in the nation, and after talking to a teacher friend, a home-schooling friend and my son’s friends, I wrote this piece which is up at Pajamas Media just now:

“Yeah, it is that simple. He lied, and we all know it. So STFU. Now.” — Marecek

That was one of 1,643 comments left in response to Fred Hiatt’s June 9 piece in the Washington Post, entitled “Bush Lied? If Only It Were That Simple,” which covered the findings of the Select Committee on Intelligence, headed by Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV).

Marecek’s was the majority opinion.

In writing his piece for the editorial page of the Washington Post, Hiatt — that page’s editor — made the mistake of actually quoting passages of this report, which claimed that a host of “lies” of which President Bush has been accused since 2003 were “substantiated by intelligence.”

Vituperation and ad hominem attacks were left as commentary at the paper’s website, with calls for Hiatt’s immediate firing, for — apparently — his treason in quoting a report, written by a Democratic majority, that dared to depart from a narrative that has become conventional wisdom.

You know? The more I think about this lying idiot that edits WaPo, the more I realize how venal and corrupt the neo-cons really are. They really have no shame. No shame at all. Their corruption is complete. Frankly, the Emperor in Star Wars had more integrity than these neo-cons. Hiatt truly is a lapdog. — santafe2

Read the rest here.

Rick at Brutally Honest has more thoughts and a link to a youtube video that perhaps gives a clue as to how we got here.

A Home-schooling mom says her kids loved this series on thinking.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Leslie

    “Those who hate me, love death.” What is good, is bad, what is right, is wrong, what is up, is down. We were warned that this would be the road. So sad. sigh. Hanging onto prayer.

  • Peregrine John

    I’ve finally figured out a way to respond to that sort of baseless assumption of sinister and oddly clever doings. Though it depends on the situation, it boils down to this: “If things really were like they said, rather than sinister and oddly clever as you believe, what would be different? How would you identify the difference in motivation/action?” Using it, so far there has been no answer that isn’t (a) essentially an admission that it’s all based on assumption, (b) no answer at all, or (c) declaration that there is no way that it could be otherwise – the “I know because I just know” argument.

    There is probably a term for that maneuver that debaters and philosophers, who doubtless know it well, already have. But it’s fairly new to me.

  • orlin

    Hi Anchoress, I like your blog — thanks…Orlin (a lutheran brother)!

  • orlin

    Unfortunately, this type of language and rational is prevalent in the blogosphere today: void of reasoning, is obscene and laking respect of others’ opinions based on emotion. I suggest we should pray for enlightenment, discernment and wisdom when dealing with these types of comments. And of course that we should pray that the Holy Spirit guides us to a rightful attitude that is pleasing to our Lord in these situations.

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  • Elise

    Your article’s discussion of the confusion between feelings and truth reminds me of Brad Holland’s definition of “Forever Jung” as a basic term in modern art:

    “Postmodernists believe that truth is myth and myth truth. This equation has its roots in pop psychology. The same people also believe that emotions are a form of reality. There used to be another name for this state of mind. It was called psychosis.”

    Like Bush Derangement Syndrome, perhaps. Or Obamania. Or some Democrats’ viciously over-the-top hatred of Hillary Clinton which cannot see one good thing about her despite how similar her policy proposals are to Obama’s. Or the urge that makes people who can’t stand McCain decide his Vietnam service isn’t “real” because he spent it as a prisoner of war.

  • TheAnchoress

    Very true, Elise, but it exists both on the right and on the left. In the extremes of both parties you’ll find folks who are content to believe what feeds their feelings over what is true or factual. When the GOP primary was going on, there were extreme rightists who were claiming McCain was not a POW and so forth.

  • Elise

    I had to laugh at myself after I read your response, Anchoress. My first reaction was, “Well, I know that. I gave examples of the problem on the right, too.” Then I took at look at my post and realized I hadn’t.

    I don’t know if that’s because the continuing Democratic primaries meant I’ve been paying more attention to what the left is saying or – as I suspect – because I’ve traditionally considered myself leaning Democrat and left and am therefore more horrified at this kind of behavior in those who used to be “my guys”.

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  • erasmus

    Well stated. But can even Dante help us back on the path?

    Another insight:
    May 2008
    On the sadness of higher education
    by Alan Charles Kors
    On comparing the university life then with now.

    . . .
    The academic world I so loved revealed itself best in an undergraduate course I’d taken
    on the history of Europe in the twentieth century. When the professor, a distinguished
    intellectual of the Left, returned the midterms to the hundred plus or so of us who were in
    his course, he said that we’d saddened and embarrassed him. “I gave you readings that
    allowed you to reach such diverse conclusions,” he explained, “but you all told me what
    you thought I wanted to hear.” He informed us that he would add a major section to the
    final exam: “I’m going to assign the book I disagree with most about the twentieth
    century. I’m not going to ask you to criticize it, but, instead, to re-create its arguments
    with intellectual empathy, demonstrating that you understand the perspectives from
    which he understands and analyzes the world.” I was moved by that. The work was
    Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, and it changed the course of my intellectual and
    moral life. It also showed me immediately how I wanted to teach as an intellectual
    historian. Each year, I teach thinkers as diverse as Pascal and Spinoza, Hobbes and
    Butler, Wesley and Diderot. I offer courses on intellectual history, and the goal of my
    teaching is to make certain that my students understand the perspectives and rich debates
    that have shaped the dialogue of the West. I don’t want disciples of my worldview. I want
    students who know how to read deeply, how to analyze, how to locate the essential points
    of similarity and divergence among thinkers, and, indeed, how to understand, with
    intellectual empathy, how the world looks from the diverse perspectives that constitute
    the history of European thought. I know that I am not alone, but I also know, alas, that I
    am in a distinct minority in my pedagogical goals in the humanities and the so-called
    social sciences.

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