August 27 2013

MSNBC'S Karen Finney: Bad Phone Manners or Just Plain Ignorant?

Charlotte Hays

Our faux educated left would be extremely amusing, if it didn’t set the tone in culture and politics.

Still, radio host Hugh Hewitt’s interview via telephone with MSNBC’s Karen Finney has, as we used to say when I was answering letters in the letters to the editor department of a magazine, brightened my day. You gotta scroll down and listen to this. It is a hoot and a half until the disgrungled "Disrupt" hostess disrupts the confersation by hanging up in Hewitt's face.

In his introduction, Hewitt played a clip of Ms. Finney lamenting the “dangerous” climate being created by Senator Ted Cruz. She--of course--compared Cruz to Joe McCarthy. Hewitt asked Ms. Finney a few questions about history. For example: Did any real communists infiltrate the U.S. government? Was Alger Hiss a communist?

Hewitt was quite polite but lethally persistent. Finney adamantly refused to answer Hewitt’s questions. She accused him of wanting to go “down a rabbit hole.”

As Hewitt persisted, Finney resorted to more blather, falling back on the left's gold standard: attacking the Tea Party, etc.

It is unclear whether Finney simply could not bring herself to say that Hiss was a communist or she is ignorant and didn't know the answer to Hewitt's question. I am going with the latter.

Peter Wehner has a great comment on the exchange over at Commentary:

So why call attention to this exchange? In part because it’s another chance to expose the political demonization that is so common among the left. Liberals don’t like Ted Cruz and so they turn him into a modern-day Joe McCarthy. Can references to Hitler be far behind? 

But more fundamentally, Ms. Finney embodies the epistemological closure that afflicts many liberals (though it needs to be said that it is not confined simply to liberals). The Hewitt-Finney exchange is a fantastic example of a person (Finney) who inhabits a mental world in which facts that are contrary to her philosophy are not only dismissed; they are not even entertained. They are not allowed to penetrate the ideological force field that she has been put in place.

Partisans like Finney are so afraid of a genuine engagement with different ideas that they grow angry–and eventually may even hang up–when calm reason and history are employed against them. …

If my hunch that Ms. Finney is ignorant is right, then she is not alone in our elite culture. (Okay, so nobody actually watches MSNBC, but they’re still part of the elite.)

Victor Davis Hanson has a great piece that deals with the ignorance of our elites—it also addresses other characteristics of the elite, as is apparent from the title: “American Satyricon.” Trimalchio is the host of a debauched dinner for bored elites in the one longest surviving chapter of Petronius’ take down of the mainstream culture of mid-first century A.D. in Rome.

Here is what Hanson writes about the faux educated of yesteryear and today:

 Another farce in the Satyricon involves the nonchalant ignorance of Trimalchio and his guests. The wannabes equate influence and money with status and learning and so pontificate about current events, with made-up mythologies and half-educated references to history. When Trimalchio and his banqueters begin to sermonize on literature, almost everything that follows turns out to be wrong — as Petronius reminds us how high learning has become as inane a commodity as food or sex, and only sort of half consumed, rather like the 2008 campaign of faux Greek columns and Vero possumus, which were supposed to convey gravitas.

Likewise, in our version, what does a $200,000 Ivy League education or a graduate degree really get you any more? In the sophisticated world of our political and highly credentialed elites, there are 57 states. Atlantic Coast cities are said to lie along the Gulf of Mexico; after all, they are down there somewhere in the South. The Malvinas become the Maldives — Ma- with an s at the end seems close enough. Corps-men serve in the military (as zombies?). Medgar Evans was a civil-rights icon, but you know whom we mean. President Roosevelt addressed the nation on television after the stock-market crash in 1929 — well, he would have, had he been president then and if only Americans had had televisions in their homes. And how are we to know that what we read from celebrity authors is not just made up or plagiarized, whether a Maureen Dowd column or a Doris Kearns Goodwin book?

The famously nouveau-riche Trimalchio’s guests drop the names of the rich and powerful, mostly to remind one another that they are now among the plutocracy that is replacing the old bankrupt aristocracy. We too are seeing something like that metamorphosis. It is hard to guess on any given summer weekend which populist progressive family — the Obamas, the Clintons, the Kerrys, the Gores — will be ensconced on what particular Hamptons, Nantucket, or Martha’s Vineyard beach, rubbing shoulders with just the sort of Silicon Valley or Wall Street new zillionaires who during work hours are supposed to be the evil “1 percent” and “fat cats” who need to be forced to pay their “fair share.”

One of my own favorite moments was when a certain president, who doesn't speak French, hectored us about being a nation of people who don't speak French.

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