3rd April 2017
Last week New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof joined Robert Redford, Mike Huckabee, and Norman Ornstein in conflating the humanities with federal subsidies for the humanities. Kristof assumes that those of us who think we could muddle through without the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) must not understand the importance of books. He therefore sets out to educate us.
The major defect of people who want the government to do everything for us is the overwhelming delusion that if the government doesn’t do something it therefore won’t get done.
Lest you think that Kristof “sounds elitist” when he talks about the importance of Big Bird, he wants you to know that “I’ve seen people die for ideas,” including the Tiananmen Square protesters who in 1989 “sacrifice[d] their lives for democracy.” What that has to do with the merits of federal funding for the CPB is anyone’s guess. Kristof seems to be invoking dead dissidents in the name of keeping Sesame Street available on all of the local channels where it currently can be seen.
Another major defect of people who want the government to do everything for us is rampant infection with the Aggregation Fallacy. Those whose lives consist of roaming the land seeking for some discrimination to smash appear incapable of making elementary intellectual distinctions where such distinctions are important.