Thursday, October 21, 2021
Conservatism Comes In Many Forms
Even the part about "white men," which sounds like '70's feminism (all that's missing is the term "chauvinism"), is defensible. You may think it absurd; but you'd also think it absurd to defend the idea that the vote belongs only to white male landowners. Yet that position was not only defensible but the only one acceptable, intellectually or otherwise, when the Constitution was adopted. Today it seems ludicrous. At the time, it was the only sensible, even intellectual, position to hold.
So which position is ludicrous and intellectually indefensible, and why? And how long did it take for that position to seem obvious and inarguable?
I understand that blaming all white men seems too broad a brush to paint with. But then again, the argument that only white men, who owned land, could be trusted to vote for the nation's leaders, or decide national policy, was a pretty broad brush, too. Mind the log in your eye before you go looking for the splinter in the eye of your brother.
There is a discussion to be had here, and as I say, it's been going on for 50 years or more, at least. 50 years is enough time to iron out the obvious weaknesses in the position. The argument against male-dominated intellectualism and "reason" is the reason we even notice, in Biblical studies, that the song of Miriam was reduced to two lines, while Moses gets all the lines he needs. It's given us new perspectives on both Biblical and traditional interpretations, as we erased Thecla from Paul's side (Paul didn't erase her), or reduce Mary to a "handmaid of the Lord," even though Luke gives her one of the most revolutionary songs in the Gospels. Luke's revolutionary treatment of women gets little notice even today, because men still dominate the interpretations. It's not absolute, but how many millenia did it take to notice Mary Magdalene is not a prostitute simply because her name appears in Luke 8 immediately after the story of the anointing that ends Luke 7? We can trace that appellation, Mary Magdalene=reformed whore, back to a specific individual; a man. It's not what Luke meant, and it's not what the gospel says; but we've said it for millenia because of the intellectual standards set by: men. There's not a lot of difference there between ignoring the views of women and ignoring the views of non-whites, all of which were, at one time or another, dismissed because they were not views originating with white men.
Dismissing this discussion as "mortifying" because of the out of context statement of one person in a news article (not always the best source for context, especially if the reporter is not well-versed in the subject under discussion) is what's mortifying. What the original speaker said and meant is subject to critique, and I don't defend or attack it here. But rejecting it on a knee-jerk basis is intellectually suspect and reactionary in the worst sense of the word. The question of who sets the standards of what is "rational" and "intellectual" is a discussion worth having; not one worth only of dismissing because you aren't conversant with it.
Posted by Rmj at 1:13 PM