Humor is a funny thing. What we find funny–what we spontaneously laugh at–tells others more about us than might be revealed by an extended interview. Consider this passage from a blog post dedicated to the defense of what its author regards as “Enlightenment values.” The author quotes a passage from Zeev Sternhell’s The Anti-Enlightenment Tradition, and comments as follows:
Sternhell takes Rousseau and Kant to be Enlightenment figures, though he is very aware of their being “complex and ambiguous figures in the history of Western political thought.”
(By contrast, I take Rousseau and Kant to be Counter-Enlightenment figures, though I agree very much with Sternhell that those are difficult judgment calls. And I laughed out loud at his quoting from Judith Shklar’s Men and Citizens on Rousseau as “the Homer of the losers.” Perfect.)
So “the Homer of the losers” is supposed to be funny. Maybe because losers are?
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Here’s an exchange I just had with Stephen Hicks over a recent Wall Street Journal article, “A Generation of American Men Give Up on College” (Sept. 6, 2021). (The Journal piece is paywalled, but can be one-time accessed by registering.)
Naturally, I’m having trouble with the technological wonders of the “block editor,” so I’ve indicated in italics where each separate quotation begins.
Stephen’s reaction to the article:
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- This is a bad thing. Boys and young men have been ill-served by mainstream education, such that they are unmotivated and unprepared for life’s challenges — and they know it in their bones.
- This is a good thing. Rather than waste two or four more years of the same at colleges and universities that extend the mis-education, the young men will gropingly get into real life and actually find something engaging and valuable to do.
Stephen Hicks (Philosophy, Rockford University) has an article up at his website, also published elsewhere, on “How to Tame Religious Terrorists,” meaning, essentially how to tame Islamic terrorists. Below I’ve posted a long comment I wrote in response. I’ve added hyperlinks in the version below, and added a clause to one sentence to clarify its meaning (“as is typically done in the United States”).
It should go without saying that my point is not that all Islamic terrorism can be justified as a legitimate response to real grievances (it can’t), but simply that some Islamic terrorists (and would-be terrorists, or sympathizers with those terrorists) have real grievances. One way (though not the only way) of “taming” terrorism would be to reduce the number of real grievances they have, especially when we ourselves are the direct or indirect source of the grievance–as in the Israeli case, we are. Continue reading →