Sometimes, it’s only when you’re on the outside looking in that you can perceive the real truth of a situation.
This appears to be the case for Max Boot, a conservative pundit who has become disillusioned with the right wing and the Republican Party since the rise of President Donald Trump. Boot has already publicly announced that he was wrong for supporting the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and he left the GOP in disgust at its current state. And in a new column for the Washington Post this week, he expressed more regret about his past in the conservative movement — in particular, his engagement in the anti-intellectual rhetoric common on the right.
“I used to think right-wing anti-elitism against the intellectuals — in contrast to the left-wing anti-elitism against the rich — was innocuous and even well-warranted,” he wrote. “While warning of the dangers of populism, I sometimes indulged in this kind of posturing myself. Like a lot of conservative eggheads, I imagined that, even though I lived among the coastal elite, I was expressing the wisdom of the heartland.”
He added: “I now realize that these stereotypes are lazy, stupid and dangerous.”
It’s dangerous, of course, because anti-intellectual rhetoric is a common tool of authoritarians seeking to undermine anyone who could challenge them. Boot noted that Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, and Mao Zedong all demonized and went after intellectuals they feared. These actions mirror Trump’s attacks on experts and the media, whom Trump calls “the enemy of the people,” echoing Stalin himself.
Of course, intellectuals and commentators aren’t without their faults. Boot himself, as a backer of the Iraq War, would be a prime example of their failings. But anti-intellectualism — denunciations of the “chattering class” — was itself a disturbing trait of the second Bush administration as it devised to bring the country to war, with horrifying consequences. Public intellectuals aren’t above criticism, but a political ideology that denounces them as illegitimate should be feared.
When someone like Trump wields anti-intellectualism and hostility to public figures who can challenge him, it’s a clear sign we’re on a perilous path.
“In the United States, to be sure, it will not lead to Stalinist show trials, a Cultural Revolution or the ‘killing fields,’ but it could conceivably lead to the kind of soft authoritarianism that Viktor Orban has imposed in Hungary,” wrote Boot. “President Trump shows his eagerness to imitate the dictators by calling the news media ‘the enemy of the people’ and denouncing his critics as traitors. The president’s hateful rhetoric encouraged one supporter to mail pipe bombs to prominent liberals and journalists, and could yet spark greater violence.”
He also speculated that Trump’s anger toward the media and others comes not just from cynical political motives but arises from his fragile ego.
“More than a political threat, the chattering classes are a psychological threat: They feed Trump’s insecurities because he knows they view him as a buffoonish ignoramus, not as the ‘‘extremely stable genius’ that he so desperately wants to be,” said Boot.
UK travel giant Thomas Cook set to collapse: report
Thomas Cook's 178-year existence was reported to be coming to an end on Monday after the British travel firm struggled to find private investment to keep it afloat, potentially affecting thousands of holidaymakers.
The operator has said it needs £200 million ($250 million) or else it will face administration, which could affect 600,000 holidaymakers and require Britain's largest peacetime repatriation.
A source close to the negotiations told AFP that the company had failed to find the cash from private investors and would collapse unless the government intervened.
But ministers are unlikely to step in due to worries about the pioneering operator's longer-term viability, the Times reported, leaving it on the brink.
‘We are the people’: Watch Billy Porter get a standing ovation for his passionate speech at the Emmys
In a powerful and passionate speech accepting his Emmy, "Pose" actor Billy Porter showered the audience with love and proudly reminded all of their right to belong and be loved.
"Oh, my God. God bless you all! The category is love, y'all, love!" Porter exclaimed.
The epic FX show "Pose" depicts Black and Latinos in the LGBTQ ballroom culture of New York City in the 1980s in the first season and the early 1990s in the second season.
"I am so overwhelmed and so overjoyed to have lived long enough to see this day," he said. "James Baldwin wrote, 'It took many years of vomiting up the filth I was taught about myself and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here.' I have the right. You have the right. We all have the right."
Paris show of King Tutankhamun artifacts set new record with 1.42 million visitors
A blockbuster Tutankhamun show set a new all-time French record Sunday, with 1.42 million visitors flocking to see the exhibition in Paris, the organisers said.
The turnout beat the previous record set by another Tutankhamun show billed as the "exhibition of the century" in 1967, when 1.24 million queued to see "Tutankhamun and His Times" at the Petit Palais.
"Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh" -- which has been described as a "once in a generation" show -- will open in London in November.
The last time a show of comparable size about the boy king opened there in 1972 it sparked "Tutmania", with 1.6 million people thronging the British Museum.