Monday, August 13, 2012

Intellectual Dishonesty on the Left

Are liberals the only ones afflicted with intellectual dishonesty? The other day a Facebook friend asked whether there are any conservative plagiarists out there.

It’s a good question. I don’t have a good answer. Wrack my brain as I might I cannot think of any conservative intellectuals plagiarists or academic frauds.

If someone can find me one or more I will be happy to give them equal time on this blog.

As it happens, Jonah Lehrer and Fareed Zakaria are not outliers. They were preceded by Jason Blair and Stephen Glass, writing respectively for liberal publications, The New York Times and The New Republic. The name of Doris Kearns Goodwin also comes to mind.

Blair and Glass have been drummed out of journalism as has Pulitzer Prize winning Washington Post writer, Janet Cooke, who pretended that a fiction was fact. Goodwin has taken a decidedly lower public profile.

This morning Victor Davis Hanson offers a more expansive list of liberal plagiarism, misrepresentation and lies. He emphasizes that in many cases, the perpetrators have been quickly and easily forgiven.

Take Elizabeth Warren, a woman who gamed the affirmative action quota system into a professorship at Harvard Law School by claiming to be 1/32 Cherokee.

Warren still has her Harvard professorship. Harvard Law School apparently has a different set of standards for faux native Americans.

Warren is now running for the Senate from Massachusetts.

When Hillary Clinton was running for the presidency in 2008 she lied about coming under fire in Bosnia. She is now Secretary of State.

Bill Clinton lied to the American people, but he is now lionized by American liberals, and will be speaking prominently at the upcoming Democratic National Convention.

Our current vice president, Joe Biden plagiarized a speech by a British politician and also plagiarized work in law school.

And, Barack Obama fictionalized his life in his autobiography, as did Nobel Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu. Anthropologist Margaret Mead was either duped by her Samoan subjects or just made it up.

Of course, Timothy Geithner was a tax cheat. He is currently Secretary of the Treasury, in charge of tax collection.

Hanson suggests that liberals feel that they are morally superior, doing God’s work, and therefore do not have to obey the rules:

In short, our top pundits, our political elites, our very president all believe that they can blast the unfairness of high capitalism while doing everything in their power to enjoy its dividends — and demand an ethical standard from others that they habitually do not meet themselves. It is as if the more left-wing one sounds, the more anti-left-wing his tastes; the more the ethicist lectures on morality, the more he is likely to be unethical; the more green an advocate, the less likely the 800-square foot cottage replete with recycled water, a solar toilet, and 70-degree hot water. The only mystery here is whether there is some sort of logical connection. Does the profession of cosmic morality by design allow one to enjoy without guilt quite earthly sins? 

Liberalism seems to mean not having to observe the same moral standards that you impose on everyone else.

Being a liberal today is like belonging to a cult, or better to a church, the Church of the Liberal Pieties.

In a manner that seems analogous to medieval Roman Catholic practice, the Church of Liberal Pieties has been selling indulgences. These are, roughly speaking, get-out-of-jail-free cards.

This is not just about making political points. By following the dogmas of political correctness and identity politics liberal intellectuals have corrupted the marketplace of ideas.

If you want to know why public discourse has been so thoroughly debased one principal reason must lie in the liberal guardians of the marketplace of ideas. They do not believe in intellectual value or intellectual integrity.

Even if elite intellectuals did not know that Lehrer and Zakaria were plagiarists they certainly should have known that the writings of these two men were insubstantial, lacking serious insights and barely able to withstand serious critical scrutiny.


Anonymous said...

Mary Mapes deserves a place in the discussion as well.

Anonymous said...

What is wrong for thee doth not apply to me.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thanks... there are so many one tends to lose track of all of them.

Anonymous said...

Love this blog, Stuart. My only problem with the Hanson piece you linked to is that he mentions the Al Gore "happy ending" sexual assault story. Gore was cleared by Portland, OR police after the massage therapist accuser didn't show up for three police interview appointments to support her allegation, while she sold her story to the National Enquirer for $1 million (for enquiring minds: That's wrong, and I don't care if "liberals do it, too (or more/worse)." Lesser figures have their lives ruined by such accusations. Sexual assault is a serious charge, and it's best we recognize that and thoroughly vet our sources. Intellectually serious minds o not need to perpetuate urban legends, frauds and myths. We have enough material on Al Gore and his loony theories. He refuses to answer, defend or debate his "inconvenient truths" about global warming, climate change, shifting weather patterns, or whatever the greens call inclement weather this month. Indeed, this intellectual heavyweight claimed "the debate is over." I enjoy Victor Davis Hanson, but his mentioning this scurrilous, unsubstantiated claim about Gore contributes to what's wrong with today's political atmosphere, and detracts from the excellent points he makes in his column. I expect more from the writers I follow, especially when they're writing about fabricated sources, plagiarism, fictitious claims, and/or outright lies. I'll leave it to you to choose which category the smear on Gore falls into.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thank for the kind remarks. I was not familiar with the outcome of the Gore case, and I think you for bringing it to our attention.

I did not mention Al Gore.. which may have been an accident or may have been the work of my guardian angel... because I wanted to limit myself to people who plagiarize and lie.

Anonymous said...

No worries. The Al Gore case is not woth mentioning, guardian angel or otherwise. And yes, the people who plagiarize and lie should be the primary targets of our wrath. Like Harry Reid, Joe Biden and the rest of the knuckleheads in our nation's (gulp) public servants. Keep up the great writing!

Anonymous said...

HP article today says Fareed admitted to "similar wording" to avoid the real truth. He didn't write the column at all. A flunky did. -- Rich

Anonymous said...


Stuart Schneiderman said...

I saw the article on the Huff Post... but it sounds like a rather convenient way out. It asserts that he is so important he cannot be bothered to write his own columns. Arrogance, any one?

In his apology Zakaria said nothing about any assistants. I suspect that the empire is rallying to him in order to save his career and reputation.

Anonymous said...

Like mother, like daughter the gushing Vogue piece, Chelsea Clinton besides being a modern day polymath, doesn't experience a day with an Albanian coming up other to thank her for her father. Who knew the Albanians had such access to the rich and powerful.