In the Arena

Self-Referential Feedback Loop–Relooped

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Ezra’s response to my response to his response to Justin Fox here.
Actually, one of the things I like most about blogging is the ability to acknowledge mistakes immediately, link to others, including readers, who make good arguments, and to publish additional thoughts…These “updates,” including this one, are not signs of being “embattled.” They are signs of having a conversation.

I’m secure enough in my opinions–if not in the anxieties of writing–to stand up for what I believe, even if my beliefs don’t conform to the prejudices of the blogosphere…The incivility and anger–and the broad, foolish assumptions about what I do for a living–that sometimes appear in the comments section seem more pathetic than threatening to me. I simply ignore them. And the comments from people who raise points I haven’t thought about, or dispute me intelligently, are absolutely bracing.

The thing about blogging that makes me feel most insecure is not having an editor to call me on my mistakes before they’re published–and also to push me to make the best possible statement of my position. There’s no getting around that, but I’ll live with it.

And I’m as proud of being named “Wanker of the Day” as I am of being Sean Hannity’s “Enemy of the State for the week.” After 38 years of doing this, I’ve found that most of the real wankers and enemies of the state–and intellectually insecure bullies–are ideological extremists.

Update: Why we need editors. To untangle sentences like the last one. I meant to say that the real wankers and enemies of the state tend to be ideological extremists–and intellectually insecure bulies–who need to hunt for “wankers” and “enemies.”

Maynard, a Swampland reader, asks about the “broad, foolish assumptions about what I do for a living”:

What assumptions are these? Can you give us some examples and explain why they are wrong. Perhaps then we can explain why we have those assumptions in the first place.

OK, here are two examples–
1. Lots of you accuse people like me of hanging out at DC cocktail parties and concocting my version of the “conventional wisdom” from things i learn at such occasions. I admit: I’ve been to DC cocktail parties, but not very many since I don’t live in DC. And I concoct my opinions from reading, traveling, reporting–that is, asking people questions–and thinking.

2. Lots of you assume that my relative moderation is some sort of carefully calculated chicken-hearted pose rather than an actual belief system. But I’ve come to my views honestly, after years of watching extremists on both sides of the spectrum refuse to accept the complexities of reality with disastrous consequences–beginning with the liberal attempt to impose court-ordered school busing to achieve integration in Boston in the 1970′s (I couldn’t find any black people who actually favored it) to the ridiculous supply-side aversion to taxation to the current foreign policy of the neoconservatives. I could give you more examples but, in truth, I’m writing this right now to avoid some real work–reporting and writing–that I have to do.
Update : Two points on busing. Judge Garrity, who imposed the silly order, was a suburban liberal. And the effect of his order was to further segregate the Boston public schools, as whites skedaddled.

Commentariat Shorter Version: Only right-wingers are extremists.

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