Monday, May 22, 2006
Integrity of perspective
The anti-Semitism behind the current wave of Strauss hatred, like the anti-Semitism that drives so much talk about the neoconservative "cabal" in Washington, is barely even veiled. end quote.
Here is the fallacy of guilt by association. If A, then B. I hope you're not buying it.
This writer tells us that Strauss has not been depicted by liberal & progressive observers, but caricatured by them. That everything you could possibly gather about his work in the here and now is false. Strauss's savior is Steven Smith.
The demonization of Leo Strauss, in short, is one of the most dismal signs of the times. The shamelessness and baseness of much of what has been written about him is redolent of the propaganda of the 1930s, Auden's "low, dishonest decade."That is why "Reading Leo Strauss" (Chicago, 256 pages, $32.50), a sober new study by Yale professor Steven Smith, feels so heartening.By returning to the source and examining what Strauss actually wrote, Mr. Smith lets the breeze of reason into the feverish sickroom of ideology. He portrays a Strauss who cherished democracy as the best bulwark against tyranny, and who valued intellectual honesty above all. By the time Mr. Smith is done, nothing is left of the Strauss caricature except the ignorance and malice that fathered it. end quote.
Again, the fallacy of guilt by association, coupled with the fallacy of appeal to experience (the 1930s as the rise of lethal anti-Semitism culminating in Kristallnacht & the Holocaust).
Kirsch asserts that Strauss himself wrote that democracy was "the best bullwark against tyranny," yet there is not one direct quote from Strauss in this review. Not one.
In other words, we see the fallacy of the burden of proof-- he forces the reader to prove the point he himself cannot prove.
In the language that describes Strauss's detractors, one may also say that there is an implied appeal to ridicule.