August 27, 2004

"Many who denounced the book clearly had not bothered to read it..."

Great article by publisher Adam Bellow, My Escape From The Zabar's Left, How a pedigreed upper west side liberal came out as a conservative warrior.

...Although I had grown up in the liberal counterculture, I was increasingly uncomfortable with the way that it was hardening into a rigid and intolerant orthodoxy. I resented the fact that there were ideas you couldn’t discuss and opinions that were considered immoral. Nor did I share the existential panic of most liberals over the emergence of conservative Christians as a political force.

Finally, in 1987, Allan Bloom published The Closing of the American Mind. Bloom was a friend of my father’s, and I had spent the previous year at the University of Chicago taking courses with him on Plato, Machiavelli, and Rousseau. Bloom’s attack on relativism and multiculturalism and his defense of the Great Books were bitterly condemned as racist, sexist, Eurocentric, and elitist. Many who denounced the book clearly had not bothered to read it, relying instead on hostile reviews that distorted it beyond recognition. This was a fatal blow to my esteem for the Zabar’s Left. For an earlier generation, it was the excesses of the antiwar and Free Speech movements that had pushed them into the conservative camp. For me, it was the intellectual dishonesty of the debate about Bloom’s book....

(Thanks to Roger Simon. For the meaning of "Zabar's," see here.)

Posted by John Weidner at August 27, 2004 4:36 PM
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