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September 17, 2009


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That article was a little bit annoying. First, the tired "look at the course catalog" bit is dumb. He doesn't tell us what universities he looked at, or why this should matter. At Penn quite a few classes that either are on conservative thought, or that deal with it to a substantial degree, are offered. You can't always tell this by the course catalog. (If "recent political philosophy" devotes a significant amount of time to Nozick and Hayek, as it often does, you can't tell from the name of the course. So, if you're drawing inferences from the title you're either being dumb, lazy, or dishonest. I wish people would stop with this.) This is a serious strike against the piece. Secondly, it gives way to much credence to David Horowitz. The man is not only anti-intellectual and hysterical, as is implied, but a habitual and pathological liar. As such, he deserves zero respect and shouldn't be treated with even as much authority as offered in the article. Finally, Lilla responds to the claim of the Berkeley center (about which I have no opinion) that anti-communism was the "transcendent" issue for the right in the 20th century by noting that many right-wing parties have much older histories. But by itself that's a complete non-sequitur, and he says very little that would establish whether the claim is wrong. I agree that serious ideas on the right should be considered and taken seriously. This article gives us little reason to think this, though.

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