What is it with these liberal intellectuals? Are they all just pompous frauds?
First, Jonah Lehrer. Now, Fareed Zakaria.
We know that liberal intellectuals are suffering from terminal groupthink, to the point where they are incapable of the least deviation from the party line, but… plagiarism.
They did not have to self-deconstruct just to prove my point-- that they cannot think for themselves and that they -have a serious problem with integrity.
You recall that Lehrer was a boy wonder, a young pseudo-expert in neuroscience who had parlayed his charm and good looks into writing gigs at Wired, The Wall Street Journal and finally The New Yorker. Yes, The New Yorker.
No sooner did Lehrer start to blog on The New Yorker site than people discovered that he was recycling his old pieces. Self-plagiarism they called it.
Some pooh-poohed it, because he was plagiarizing himself, and self-plagiarism is a victimless crime. Yet, expecting to be paid twice for the same work smacks of dishonesty and sloth.
Then, an enterprising Bob Dylan fan discovered that Lehrer had made up a Dylan quote in his bestselling book, Imagine. It was not the sole infelicity, exaggeration or lie in the book, and before you knew it, Jonah Lehrer was intellectual history.
It takes a special kind of hubris for a thirtyish intellectual with limited talent to think that he can get away with such dereliction.
And now, we have the case of Fareed Zakaria, a more serious and well-established liberal intellectual, a highly respected and highly overrated deep thinker, about whom, like Lehrer, I have had occasion to express my opinions. Link here.
Yesterday we all discovered that the great Zakaria had plagiarized a column from, of all places. The New Yorker. Did he imagine that no one reads The New Yorker, and that if he lifted whole paragraphs from it no one would notice? Was he trying to tell us that people who respected his highly limited talents did not know how to read or to think?
Clearly, Zakaria is nowhere near as bright as everyone but I thought he was. Being far less capable than the cognoscenti took him to be, Zakaria was returning the favor by showering his dimwitted readers with contempt.
Anyway, Zakaria has now apologized. His employers, CNN and Time Magazine have suspended him for a month, at the least.
I doubt very much whether Zakaria will be back in a month. If he were it would be an even greater scandal.
One strains to imagine the degree of arrogance that would allow someone of his standing to commit such an egregious intellectual fraud, but maybe he, like Lehrer wanted to tell us that the great minds of the liberal intelligentsia are all sloth and no integrity.