Media Punditry and Power Sniffers

Every one, even the best, can be wrong. None of us are immune. But certain pundits blaze paths to simplistic conclusions based on claims that have little basis in data. Their assertions actually reflect a sub-conscious (my psychologizing here) desire to preserve the familiar and the well-trod paths of individuals who make themselves feel important by hanging out with one another in select groups of the self-appointed, golden, anointed ones.

Tom Friedman (and David Brooks and even Brett Stevens, and many other media darlings) fall into that category. They are what I call power-sniffers. Sometimes they have good things to say, and I respect them for that (I just posted something from Stevens today criticizing Israel because it a was good essay). But a lot of time they aggravate the hell out of me because they so very much crave to support old institutions, the familiar power circles, and the arguments that play well among the kinds of people who come from well-heeled backgrounds–the kinds of people who don’t ever really get to know how regular people live and what they’re thinking

Tom Friedman did this in “The World is Flat.” Obviously, world events have totally proven this thesis not only wrong, but profoundly wrong, especially in the U.S.–where we have never seen such a sharp division between rich and poor and the educated and not-as-well educated. The world still looks rather mountainous to me.

And now again we find the promise of Friedman shattered on the rocks of a horrifying murder of Jamal Khashoggi, apparently ordered by a cruel tyrant, posing as a modernizing member of a royal family–the very same prince to whom Friedman has cozied up and whom Friedman has praised for his visionary leadership of Saudi Arabia.

I’m not saying that we should be never pay attention to the favored clubby pundits that grace PBS, NPR, and the New York Times. They too have useful things to say. But, from now on, let us be more cautions when we read them (or listen to them). And may they use their powerful stoops to mix with the hoi-polloi and learn what real life is for a lot of people who do not run in the rarefied air of their intellectual circles.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2018/10/09/end-saudi-whisperer/?utm_term=.7cb11b35433f

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DR. LAURENCE H. KANT (LARRY KANT), MYSTIC SCHOLAR: Engaged Mysticism and Scholarship in the Pursuit of Wisdom; Discovering meaning in every issue and facet of life; Integrating scholarship, spirituality, mysticism, poetry, community, economics, and politics seamlessly. Historian of Religion: Ph.D., Yale University, 1993 (Department of Religious Studies); Exchange Scholar, Harvard University, Rabbinics, 1983-84; M.A., 1982, Yale, 1982 (Department of Religious Studies); M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School, 1981; B.A., Classics (Greek and Latin), Tufts University, 1978; Wayland High School (Wayland, MA), 1974. Served on the faculty of Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), York University (Toronto), and Lexington Theological Seminary (Lexington, KY). Works in many languages: Ancient Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, English, French, Italian, German, Modern Greek (some Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish). Holder of numerous honors and awards, including The Rome Prize in Classics (Prix de Rome) and Fellow of the American Academy of Rome.

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