Saturday, June 28, 2008

Why are liberals obsessing over the 'Obama is a Muslim' rumors?

This bogus Obama-the-secret-Muslim meme -- and the belief that it is a GOP plot with the potential to wreck Obama's election hopes -- has become an idee fixe with liberals. There are not one, but two stories in the MSM about it. First, the New York Times rolls out Princeton neuroscientist Sam Wang and science writer Sandra Aamodt to tell us that voters are crazy:
Eighteen percent of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth, one poll has found. Thus it seems slightly less egregious that, according to another poll, 10 percent of us think that Senator Barack Obama, a Christian, is instead a Muslim. The Obama campaign has created a Web site to dispel misinformation. But this effort may be more difficult than it seems, thanks to the quirky way in which our brains store memories — and mislead us along the way.
Dan Collins at Protein Wisdom observes deadpan:
Delusion, it would seem, despite the universality of these processes, afflicts conservatives most.
Next, the Washington Post profiles another Princeton Ph.D. who's won a McArthur "genius" award and whose research project is trying to figure out where all those Obama-the-secret-Muslim e-mails are coming from. She's viciously mocked by Byron York, who suggests that these Ph.D. types are engaged in what amounts to oppo-research and propaganda.

Yet it is the subject of their investigations that fascinates me. Obama-the-secret-Muslim is transparently bogus to anyone who takes the trouble to investigate Obama's biography. Only the kind of idiot who'd respond to a Nigerian scam e-mail could fall for that crap, and yet these Ph.D. researchers are obsessed with a dumb rumor that only appeals to morons. What this obsession indicates is:
  • Academia is now so dominated by liberals that they don't even think twice about devoting themselves to partisan agitprop under the guise of "research";
  • Liberal academics have a very low opinion of the intelligence of the average voter; and
  • These academics believe that it is the average voter's stupidity that accounts for Republican political victories.
In other words, according to the liberal geniuses of academia, the only reason anybody ever votes Republican is because they've been deceived into false beliefs by the "right-wing noise machine." Therefore, the faults and errors of Democratic candidates and campaigns -- to say nothing of possible shortcomings in liberal policies -- need never be examined.

How comforting it must be to wrap yourself in the warm, fuzzy blanket of your own assumed superiority, and then to be rewarded for your self-justifying rationalizations with "genuius" grants and fawning publicity in the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The Vision of the Anointed, indeed.

UPDATE: Mark Halperin seems impressed that "a scholar with two Ph.D.s" is investigating the e-mails. In general, when I encounter someone with a graduate degree (except in medicine or law), I don't think, "Oh, wow! They must be super-smart!"

Rather, the phrase "Ph.D." automatically invokes memories of the grad students I knew when I was in college: A bunch of bums who preferred to keep hanging around college rather than go out in the real world and get a job. You'd see them down at the Pub, these guys who were 26 or 28 or 30, drinking beer and hitting on 20-year-old coeds (this was back when the drinking age was 19). And you'd think to yourself, "Yeah, I see what that game's about."

The people I knew who went to grad school weren't smarter than me, or even smarter than the average college student. No. It wasn't their brains that made them stand out. Their distinguishing characteristics were (a) an unwillingness to leave the campus cocoon and try to earn their own living, and (b) indulgent parents who'd foot the bill for them to pursue an MFA or whatever.

A stereotype? Sure. I know people with graduate degrees who worked their way through school, and who are genuinely devoted to whatever discipline they're pursuing. Yet the impression I formed from direct observation -- the typical grad student as an immature slacker seeking to avoid a confrontation with off-campus reality -- has lingered for some 25 or 30 years. The way I look at it, the decision to attend grad school is an admission that you're too feeble to earn a living with just a bachelor's degree.

UPDATE II: Linked by Ann Althouse. Thanks!

UPDATE III: Linked by See-Dubya, who's impressed by the "downright Newtonian epiphany" of the McArthur grantee. Also: See-Dubya narcs out his Mom as the phantom e-mailer.

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