Jewish World Review Nov. 11, 1999/ 2 Kislev, 5760
Marianne M. Jennings
Succumbing to the intellectual child within with the help of
crackpots and screwballs
SENATOR JOSEPH MCCARTHY once said that he didn't care how many
"crackpots" and "screwballs" taught on college campuses; he supported their
academic freedom so long as they didn't infiltrate the government. Senator
McCarthy didn't anticipate infiltration by their disciples. Mrs. Clinton
used her Yale and Wellesley education to attempt a hijack of health care and
hold seances with Eleanor Roosevelt in the White House. Mr. Clinton is
surely the nation's alpha crackpot.
His vice president, our own father of the Internet and Tipper's
self-proclaimed stud, Al Gore, has succumbed to his inner intellectual child.
He has been relying, for $15,000 per month, on the advice of Naomi Wolfe, a
feminist whose major contribution to social science is requiring sex
education to include masturbation techniques for young girls. Touted in
Promiscuities, her theories urge women to allow their "shadow slut" to
emerge. We may now understand how Mr. Gore roped in the Teamsters.
In The Beauty Myth, Ms. Wolfe put Vince Foster conspiracy theorists to
shame with her notion that the diet, cosmetic, and cosmetic surgery
businesses are "capital made out of unconscious anxieties" in response to
feminism and that "the beauty myth was perfected to checkmate power at every
level in individual women's lives." Apparently the 1800's draw-string corset
and eyebrow plucking dating back to Egypt were anomalies for Ms. Wolf sees
beauty standards as a backlash to feminism. In Fire with Fire, she explored
"dyke-baiting" and the need to hire male strippers so that women can
There's something about the draw of these elite crackpots that suckers
the desperate into their folds despite the common man's clear understanding
that these intellects, consultants and purveyors of quick-fixes are not the
sharpest tools in the shed. There is the lure of sophistication that makes
the ungrounded grasp. Nancy Reagan's astrologer was mocked as a
shawl-wearing psychic with gold bangles. Add a PhD in parapsychology and
Mrs. Reagan would have had a consultant. Credentials dupe, regardless of the
snake oil being peddled.
Princeton University hired Australian philosopher Peter Singer to occupy
an endowed chair, believing it had captured the Einstein of ethics.
Professor Singer has an interesting sale-on- approval program for parents.
If, within the first 30 days after their child is born, the parents decide,
due to disabilities, deformities or other imperfections not found generally
in models' frozen embryos, that they really don't want the child, they can
kill it. The whoopla, including protests from trustee Steve Forbes, has been
loud, but Mr. Singer's nutso ideas don't stop with baby take-or-kill
We in the field always walk away facing Mr. Singer. He has long
touted equality for animals, though he has not yet proposed infanticide
programs for them, "For instance, if for some reason a choice has to be made
between saving the life of a normal human being and that of a dog, we might
well decide to save the human because he with his awareness of what is going
to happen, will suffer more before he dies . . . This decision would be in
accordance with the principle of equal consideration of interests, for the
interests of the dog get the same consideration as those of the human, and
the loss to the dog is not discounted because the dog is not a member of our
Crackpot intellectualism surfaces in the arts and its critics. The
movie of acclaim this season is American Beauty, touted as Annette Bening's
Oscar vehicle and Kevin Spacey's coup role. Some intricacies and delicacies
in the plot: Annette has an affair, Mr. Spacey masturbates, Mr. Spacey is
enamored of his teenage daughter's nymphomaniac friend and his mid-life
crisis finds him in a new job at a take-out window.
The art of this season
has been the elephant dung on the Virgin Mary at the Brooklyn Museum.
Television's darlings include Sex in the City, a show featuring four women
who sleep with different men each episode and, having allowed their "shadow
sluts" to emerge realize no one wants them as a beloved betrothed. Sarah
Jessica Parker serves as the show's "executive consultant." Executive
consultant on sex sounds like a Gore campaign position.
Christopher Hampton theorized that "sophistication is a rather feeble
substitute for decadence." And therein lies the secret to crackpots'
popularity and their embrace. If you would find employment as a $15,000 per
month consultant, come up with thoughts and theories that fly in the face of
common sense and religion while promoting promiscuity with a focus on the
Al Gore thinks he can win the presidency because Naomi Wolf
advises him to wear earth tones and quit being the Beta male. There is a
tragic commentary on the electorate and the quality of leadership that a
presidential candidate hires a crackpot.
More tragic is that Mr. Gore has
sold his soul for he surrendered himself to the nonsense and then hid behind
the skirts of the screwball who gave it when confronted with the cold harsh
reality of the
JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State
University. Send your comments by clicking here.
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©1999, Marianne M. Jennings