Saturday, September 23, 2006

Being de-legitimized is a bitch, isn't it?

Poor Ronald Bailey, resident science guy at magazine, has published a semi-long article defending himself against the charge of being a paid agent of ExxonMobil. Bailey had long been a climate-change skeptic, but last year converted to Al Gore's general view on the subject. He seems so terribly offended and has to defend himself, all while admitting his involvement in groups that relied upon funding from Exxon or other oil company or other "suspect" groups. Bailey feels the dreaded taint and fights righteously against that taint.

All I can say is: Ron, welcome to the world that the so-called "left" (or people defined as "left") inhabit, where defending your integrity is something you have to do every time you open your mouth.

During the Cold War, those in the elite corridors of the media and government perfected and consistently used a nomenclature that delegitimized those who saw through the lies that went with propping up dictators who did American corporations' bidding, and also saw through the lies nearly every step of the way during the 25 year war in Vietnam. Two better known phrases, which ironically had their ultimate origins among Russian Bolsheviks at the time of the Russian Revolution of 1917-1921, were:

1. "fellow traveler", which meant someone who hung out with members of organizations that hung out with others who were not quite friendly to the American way; or

2. "useful idiot", which was used to denigrate an otherwise very intelligent person who happened to reach, independently, conclusions that paid hacks propogated.

The nomenclature proved so effective that it led to de-legitimizing of not merely the "left," but eventually a vast group of Americans then known as "liberals." Today, as we know, "liberal" is an epithet that carries with it a worse connotation than even "communist"--because at least people think commies are tough, whereas "everyone" knows "liberals" are weak.

A full read of Bailey's defense of himself reveals him to be both a "fellow traveler" of, and a "useful idiot" for the ExxonMobil public relations machine--if one was to use that nomenclature against libertarians or conservatives. The fact that he has repented after the latest climate data is like listening to Lillian Hellman tell us, "Oh, I didn't realize Stalin's trials in the 1930s were a hoax and lie until Krushchev told me in 1956."

How does that feel, Ron? Not too good, I bet. I know you can take it, but I'd love to see how it would feel if every time you and your friends at or those at the National Review opened your mouths, you not only had the burden of proof on the content of the subject of which you are about to opine, but also had to prove you are not traitors, hate America, or somehow lack legitimacy or integrity. This is the bane of those of us who doubted the Iraq War II from the start, seek a national health insurance plan for all Americans, want to reform union laws to help workers organize better at the workplace, etc.

I'd feel more sympathy for Bailey if he joined with some lefties to call out against this pernicious de-legitimization of people on important topics such as the environment or American foreign policy. Perhaps such a grouping would assist Americans in focusing more on the content of a public policy dispute than an all-too-easy assigning of labels that more often obscure than enlighten. Fat chance, I'd have to admit, but worth at least a discussion.



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