Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education

12.11 This For-Profit College Is Leaving Students With Lots of Debt and No Degrees [It's a Trump University World]

Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

12.15 World leaders are trying to make a climate deal in Poland — despite Trump

12.15 John Kerry: Forget Trump. We All Must Act on Climate Change. [Might he be a candidate for President in 2020?]

12.15 Black lung disease is still killing miners. The coal industry doesn't want to hear it [Trump loves Coal]

12.14 You, Too, Are In Denial of Climate Change

12.14 After 30 Years Studying Climate, Scientist Declares: "I've Never Been as Worried as I Am Today"

12.13 'Whoever You Are, Wherever You Are, We Need You': 15-Year-Old Greta Thunberg Calls for Global Climate Strike

12.12 In Early Holiday 'Gift to Polluters,' Trump Guts Protections for 60 Percent of Nation's Streams, Wetlands, and Waterways

12.12 An Indication of What's Coming': Melting at North and South Poles Worse Than Previously Thought [4:47 video]

12.11 The will of the people is to halt climate change, what about politicians? [Excellent!]

12.11 'We live in a lobstocracy': Maine town is feeling the effects of climate change [Do you care?]

12.11 Protesters disrupt pro-fossil fuel event at COP24 – video [Do you care?]

12.11 'It's a sad reality': a troubling trend sees a 97% decline in monarch butterflies [Do you care?]

News Media Matters

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

12.15 What the Hell Is Wrong With Paul Ryan? [”The Saudi check is in the mail.”]

12.15 Scott Walker signs bills to limit powers of incoming Wisconsin Democrats [Immoral people cheat, etc.]

12.15 Paying Congress’s interns a living wage is a good idea. Paying professional staff one is even better.

12.15 Trump science adviser casts doubt on links between pollution and health problems [Consider the ignorant/bribed source.]

12.15 How Republicans are turning US states into labs of anti-democracy

12.14 We read Democrats’ 8 plans for universal health care. Here’s how they work.

12.14 The Senate just passed a resolution to end US support for the Saudi war in Yemen

12.13 Bernie’s Plan for Racial Justice

12.13 'We See You Stephen Miller': White House Reportedly Considering 'Despicable' and 'Racist' Plan to Deport Vietnam War Refugees

12.13 Sanders and Warren Are Challenging the Post–Cold War Foreign-Policy Establishment

12.13 'Stand Up, Fight Back!' Protestors Storm Capitol as Michigan GOP Moves Ahead With Lame-Duck Coup

12.13 'What a Despicable Sham': MSNBC's Chris Hayes Denounces Five House Democrats as 'Cowards' for Helping GOP to Block Yemen Vote

Justice Matters

12.14 The Trump inauguration is now being criminally investigated

High Crimes?
Economics, Crony Capitalism

12.15 Top House Democrats join Elizabeth Warren’s push to fundamentally change American capitalism

12.14 A World That Is the Property of the 1%: Wall Street, Banks, and Angry Citizens

12.10 Tackle climate or face financial crash, say world's biggest investors

12.10 Group led by Thomas Piketty presents plan for ‘a fairer Europe’

12.08 America’s Rigged Tax Collection System

International & Futurism

12.15 Denmark gives new fathers paid leave. Why do so few take it? [Audio clip]

12.14 Coal in, Activists Kept Out at Katowice Climate Talks

12.13 Yemen rivals agree Hodeida ceasefire, UN chief says

12.13 The Honduran Nightmare

12.12 Why women have better sex under socialism, according to an anthropologist

12.10 Smaller Democracies Grapple with the Threat of Russian Interference

12.10 US and Russia ally with Saudi Arabia to water down climate pledge [The Oil Mafias lobby for more insanity]

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  The Real Menace is 'Thinkers' Like Claire Berlinski
Newspaper logo

BOOK REVIEW:

The Real Menace is 'Thinkers' Like Claire Berlinski

Review by John Hickman
Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis Is America's, Too
by Claire Berlinski
New York: Three Rivers Press, 2006, 2007.
ISBN 978-1400097685 (Hardcover), ISBN 978-1400097708 (Paperback)

Berlinski’s explanation for her frustration and anger with Old Europe is a grab bag of café cultural criticism and sociological analysis.
A better example of the essential emptiness of neo-conservatism than Claire Berlinski’s Menace in Europe would be difficult to find. Sometimes descending to the level of invective heard on right-wing talk radio in the United States, Berlinski’s explanation for her frustration and anger with Old Europe is a grab bag of café cultural criticism and sociological analysis. She condemns Western Europeans as morally bankrupt, weakened by the entitlements granted by their social welfare states, and unwilling to defend their societies or Western Civilization from threat. The Dutch in particular are derided for responding to home-grown Islamist terror with what she describes as the same sort of “bargaining with depravity” she claims they exhibited during the Nazi Occupation. Beyond the ugly vituperation expressed in sweeping generalizations, the most salient problem with her book is in failing to make methodologically defensible comparisons.

First, Berlinkski compares apples and oranges. For example, in support of the claim that Western Europeans are bellicose, she lists 88 wars fought in Europe among Europeans since the fall of Western Roman Empire as against a single war fought in the United States among Americans: the American Civil War. Comparing Western Europe with all of North America rather than just the United States would have made more sense. So too would counting wars waged in North America between the Britain, France, Spain, the United States and Mexico and their many wars against Native Americans. Add all of the U.S. military interventions in the Caribbean and Central America to the list and North Americans appear every bit as bellicose as Western Europeans.

Berlinski cherry-picks her evidence.
Second, Berlinski cherry-picks her evidence. For example, to support the claim that Muslim minorities in Europe pose a national security threat, she points to findings from a December 2002 ICM Research poll that 44% of British Muslim respondents agreed with the statement that al Qaeda’s attacks (of September 11, 2001) were justified as a response to American aggression. The exact wording of that survey item was as follows: “Some people have said that the attacks by Al Qaeda and associated organizations are ‘a reaction undertaken by sons of Islam who are zealous in the defence of their religion and in response to the order of their God and prophet’.” It would have been fairer of Berlinski to note that the wording of the survey item fairly begs respondents to endorse the more extreme statement and that it is therefore surprising 48% of respondents disagreed.

Berlinski might also have looked at subsequent ICM Research polls of British Muslims. In a March 2004 ICM Research poll, British Muslims were asked the following question: “Would you regard further attacks by Al Qaeda, or similar organizations on the USA, as justified or unjustified?” While 13% of the respondents said further attacks would be justified, 74% said that they would not be justified. In a February 2006 ICM Research poll only 7% of British Muslim respondents agreed with the following statement: “Western society is decadent and immoral and Muslims should seek to bring it to an end, if necessary by violent means.” Instead, 80% agreed with the following alternative statement: “Western society may not be perfect but Muslims should live within it and not seek to bring it to an end.” The better portrayal these findings offer is of a British Muslim community with a rather smaller minority of the profoundly alienated.

Berlinski's Leo Straussian approach is eerily similar to the intellectual technique of fascist intellectuals who made mid-Twentieth century Europe a chamber of horrors.
Third, Berlinski gets her facts wrong. After stating that French agrarian populist José Bové was born in Bordeaux, 29 pages later Berlinksi writes that it was “no accident” that Bové “was being born in Cathar country.” The Cathars, or Albigensians, were a heretical Christian sect in 12th century southeastern France. Bordeaux is in southwestern France. For a part-time resident of France, Berkinski’s grasp of its geography is poor. She also makes the mistake of describing the crusade against the Cathars as “genocide,” when that description is no longer accepted by historians of the period.

Fourth, Berlinski writes about ‘national character’ as if it was real. After “analyzing” the lyrics and stage performance of the German band Rammstein, Berlinski concludes that fanaticism is “a German quality.” Elsewhere in the book she describes adultery as the “traditional French pastime.” In what is surely the most atavistic comment in the book, Berlinski describes hybrid relationships as “genetically” diluting culture.

Expressing contempt for objective truth—truth claims derived from the application of ordinary logic applied to empirical fact—is common among neoconservatives.
What at first appears to be intellectual sloppiness in reality may be intellectual technique. Expressing contempt for objective truth—truth claims derived from the application of ordinary logic applied to empirical fact—is common among neoconservatives. So too is agonizing about the moral and spiritual bankruptcy of society, which is then used to endorse traditional religion not as truth but as a crucial instrument of social control. These are both elements of the critique of modernity of University of Chicago political philosopher Leo Strauss. The problem for Berlinski is that Straussian technique is eerily similar to the intellectual technique of fascist intellectuals who made mid-Twentieth century Europe a chamber of horrors. They also sought to protect Western Civilization by articulating a vital anti-modernism against a range of often exaggerated internal and external threats. The inability to identify such an obvious contradiction reveals the hollow core of intellectual neo-conservatism.
John Hickman is associate professor of comparative politics at Berry College in Rome, Georgia. His published work on electoral politics, media, and international affairs has appeared in Asian Perspective, American Politics Research, Comparative State Politics, Contemporary South Asia, Contemporary Strategy, Current Politics and Economics of Asia, East European Quarterly, Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans, Jouvert, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Political Science, Review of Religious Research, Women & Politics, and Yamanashigakuin Law Review. He may be reached at jhickman@berry.edu.

Copyright © 2007 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on March 20, 2007.
 

Public Service Ads: