With finals on I missed this piece from the Opinion Journal. It addresses an issue I have thought a lot about: the chimera of liberal intellectual superiority. Though conservative on most issues, I at least understand that there can exist an intelligent opinion opposite mine. My problem with liberals is the attitude that “if I were only as intelligent as they, then I would see the world as they see it.” Alas, most conservatives are dumb (or are dumb people conservatives?) and will remain in ignorance of the obvious liberal solutions to the world’s problems. You know, like immediate withdrawal from Iraq.
The following is an excerpt from a piece by Jonathan Rosenblum with analysis by James Taranto (one of those dumb conservatives).
Writing in the Jerusalem Post, Jonathan Rosenblum of Jewish Media Resources ponders the careers of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice-designate Sam Alito, and in the process makes an excellent point about Ivy League conservatives and liberals:
Because of their minority status it is far more difficult for conservative students to entertain the illusion that all smart people think like them. They are exposed to many obviously bright young men and women whose opinions on almost every issue vary radically from their own. . . .
Being forced to recognize that there are different points of view helps make bright young conservatives such good debaters. They learn early on the limited persuasiveness of shouting at someone with whom they disagree, “You’re an idiot.” Of necessity they have to develop the ability to cast their arguments in ways that appeal to those starting from very different premises. . . .
Liberals can be wonderful people, and boon companions, but they often have a hard time dealing with people of opposing views–especially when they cannot dismiss them out of hand as idiots. Too often they have spent their entire adult lives surrounded almost entirely by those who think just like them, and it comes naturally to dismiss those of other views as intellectually or morally challenged.
This is true beyond the Ivy League, as we noted just after the 2004 election. With liberalism the dominant ideology in the news and entertainment media, it is virtually inescapable to any American who doesn’t go to great lengths to insulate himself from it. Big-city liberals, by contrast, can easily filter out conservative ideas, and thus need contend only with their own prejudices. Thus conservatives are smarter than liberals–not necessarily in terms of native intelligence, but of understanding the world around them.
Regarding his conclusion that conservatives are smarter… I don’t necessarily agree. I think Mr. Rosenblum confuses intelligence with being open minded. The stereotype holds that conservatives are, by definition, more narrow minded than their liberal, progressive brethren. I think that exactly the opposite is true. There is a very narrow, liberal ideology, and anything that does not fit that paradigm is discarded offhand, literally labeled the less-intelligent (even dumb) or less enlightened (owing to their Enlightenment roots) point of view.
At least most conservatives don’t think competing opinions are dumb. I certainly don’t.