via Brian comes this excerpt from Bill Whittle:

Intellectualism, as it is practiced today, is a trap.

quoth Admiral Akbar: It's a trap!It is not a palatial hall of great minds looking for answers and then testing them in the real world; it is a basement in your parents house filled with lazy and filthy hippies eating your leftovers and drinking the last of your milk. Intellectualism is certainly not the same as intelligence, and more and more, it is becoming antithetical to intelligence. When well-off people who call themselves intellectuals drive their SUV's to march in support of Marxism, you can see the chasm between intellectualism and intelligence in full flower. When elitists who fancy themselves brighter and more compassionate than the rest of us choose to support the Taliban, with its stoning of women and execution of homosexuals in football stadiums before mandatory audiences, over a representative democracy with unparalleled structural protections of minorities and freedoms of expression, then self-styled intellectuals have abandoned intelligence altogether, as well as morality, reason, compassion and indeed sanity.

(the photo of the Admiral is purely for my own amusement). The real trap is for those, like Brian, who run from the excesses of the rabid leftist idiots straight into the arms of rightist rhetoric like this, which is as defamatory to true conservatism's intellectual roots as those leftists are to liberalism's.

Anti-intellectualism has never been expressed more effeciently than in the essay by Whittle above - it's has as its hallmarks an enmity to the process of applying morality and larger principles to political analysis. Intellectualism is not liberal or conservative, it transcends that one-dimensional spectrum. In fact, it birthed it.

It is telling that Whittle's argument relies entirely on stereotype, straw-men characterizations, and outright misrepresentation of his perceived political opponents to make it's point[1]. It wraps up neatly with an assertion of moral superiority which is sadly ironic.

The intellectuals of today are the likes of Matthew Yglesias, Razib Khan, Kevin Drum, Eric Robson, Joshua Marshall, Jonathan Edelstein, Zack Ajmal, Bill Allison, Tacitus, Steven Den Beste, Jay Rosen, Charles Kuffner... etc (most of my blogroll, actually) - these are people whose arguments anti-intellectuals (ie, polemicists) like Whittle will reject or accept solely on the basis of one or two political-ideological litmus tests, but whose arguments are actually founded in nuance the likes of which he is not willing to make the effort to understand. If their writing is a trap, then so be it.

[1] The stereotype of intellectuals as dirty, irresponsible etc is an age-old method of character assasination. Whittle is trying to insinuate that all intellectuals cannot be taken seriously by using a slovenly sterotype of their person to reflect on their arguments.

The straw man is obvious - there are no SUV-driving liberals "parading in support of Marxism" (I suspect Whittle meant to say, "Communism", because a conservative populist like himself wouldn't normally be caught dead critiquing the notion that the labor of an ordinary blue-collar stiff is the foundation of capitalism). Whittle presumably equates the demonstrations against the Iraq war as pro-Saddam (who also was not a Marxist), and then extrapolates to intellectualism as a whole.

Finally, the outright misrepresentation of those who were against the bombing of Afghanistan as "supporting the Taliban" is an attempt to turn the human-rights rhetoric against itself. It is interesting (ie, hypocritical) that Whittle rejects the notion that people could be justified in their concern for the innocent victims of saturation bombings and daisy cutters, then turns arond and invokes the welfare of the Iraq people as justification for that war. Clearly his concern for the safety and well-being of a given nation's citizens is situational.

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