Intellectual laziness

INTELLECTUAL LAZINESS…. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R) nationally-televised address on Tuesday has been widely panned, and for good reason. As political speeches go, it was a train wreck. It’s rare when political observers from across the ideological spectrum can agree on something subjective, but there was near-universal agreement on this one — Jindal blew it.

Two dissenters, however, stood out. For example, Rush Limbaugh insisted that conservatives who noticed Jindal’s awful speech should keep their mouths shut: “[I]f you think — people on our side I’m talking to you — those of you who think Jindal was horrible, you think — in fact, I don’t ever want to hear from you ever again…. I’ve spoken to him numerous times, he’s brilliant. He’s the real deal.

Of course, this isn’t really a defense, so much as it’s a call to “clap louder.” Limbaugh thinks Jindal’s speech should be free of criticism because Jindal is a far-right Republican. That’s hardly a mature way to assess a speech, but Limbaugh is Limbaugh.

The far more fascinating response came from blogger Ann Althouse, who noted the “instinctive revulsion” towards Jindal.

Why are all these people so confident that they are not manifesting racism? There’s just something about this man that doesn’t seem right, that you don’t care to examine exactly what it is, but you know it deep down in your gut somehow. Seriously. How do you know this is not racism? [italics in the original]

Now, I saw quite a few negative reactions to Jindal’s speech, from the left, right, and center, but I didn’t notice a single critique that incorporated racism, even subtly. Indeed, Althouse didn’t offer any examples to bolster her claim; she just seems to believe that some unnamed observers might be motivated by racism.

This is pretty disturbing, and by some measures, offensive. Jindal gave a bad speech. Political observers noticed and then commented on it. That’s what political observers do. The response wasn’t “instinctive,” but rather, “descriptive.” Throwing around casual accusations of racism, without evidence, has no place in serious discourse.

There’s a certain intellectual laziness at play, and I’m afraid we’ve seen it before. If you don’t like a Roman Catholic judicial nominee, you must be anti-Catholic. If you vote against a woman candidate, you’re likely a misogynist. If you were unimpressed by an Indian-American’s speech, you might, “deep down in your gut,” be “manifesting racism.”

How sad.

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