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I Hate To Tell You, But…

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Having heard that a certain blogger seems to think that Stanley Fish is a representative figure of the American left [to be clear, it’s G*oldst*ein, not Maha, who’s making this mistake] I can’t resist quoting Terry Eagleton again:

It is one of the minor symptoms of the mental decline of the United States that Stanley Fish is thought to be on the Left. By some of his compatriots, anyway, and no doubt by himself. In a nation so politically addled that ‘liberal’ can mean ‘state interventionist’ and ‘libertarianism’ letting the poor die on the streets, this is perhaps not wholly unpredictable.

Stanley Fish, lawyer* and literary critic, is in truth about as left-wing as Donald Trump. Indeed, he is the Donald Trump of American academia, a brash, noisy entrepreneur of the intellect who pushes his ideas in the conceptual marketplace with all the fervour with which others peddle second-hand Hoovers. Unlike today’s corporate executive, however, who has scrupulously acquired the rhetoric of consensus and multiculturalism, Fish is an old-style, free-booting captain of industry who has no intention of clasping both of your hands earnestly in his and asking whether you feel comfortable with being fired.

I think Barbara also gets the Maher/Limbaugh question right. Maher and Limbaugh’s remarks are equivalent in the sense that they both constitute objectionably sexist ways of characterizing women, and Maher should not be considered exempt from criticism because he’s part of “our team.” But the remarks are not equivalent both because Limbaugh’s sexist attack on Fluke was not a single badly-chosen word but sustained and repeated for several days, and they’re especially not equivalent in the sense that Limbaugh is a figure of far greater influence than Maher is.

On Fish, see also Holbo.

*As Paul notes in comments, Eagleton is wrong about this; Fish isn’t a lawyer or even someone with a law degree, just someone who figured out that you can make a lot more money teaching in law schools. For that matter, it’s not particularly “addled” for liberals to be state interventionists unless you think libertarian views of freedom are correct, but that’s a discussion for another time…

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