Gordon Brown and Himmelfarb
I am glad to see I am not the only one to be disturbed by Gordon Brown’s enthusiasm for the writing of Gertude Himmelfarb, right-wing neo-con and Victorian-style moralist, wife of Irving Kristol (“the Godfather of neo-conservativism”) and mother of William Kristol (editor of Murdoch’s neo-con magazine The Weekly Standard) [for wikipedia entry on this Fox-News-style publication, go here].
I devoted some of my book The War For Children’s Minds to exposing the feebleness of Himmelfarb’s thinking on the social need for traditional, authority-based religion (in my view, she’s a light-weight: her books are heavy on quotes and historical references, which can disguise the flimsiness of her actual argument).
I like Gordon Brown, as it happens, but his enthusiasm for Himmelfarb’s reactionary writing is a bit worrying.
A typical bit of Himmelfarb:
[i]t is not only conservatives… who now deplore the breakdown of the family; liberals do as well. [Few today] seriously doubt the inadequacy of education at all levels, or the fragility of communal ties, or the coarsening and debasement of the culture, or the ‘defining down’ of morality, public and private. It is no mean achievement to have reached at least this point of consensus.
Himmelfarb’s cure for this moral malaise? Himmelfarb wrote an approving preface for Digby Anderson’s This Will Hurt, a collection of essays by various neo-cons recommending we bring back the social stigmatization of unwed mothers, gays, etc. etc.
As American Prospect points out,
even a parody could not come up with chapters like “Administering Punishment Morally, Publicly, and Without Excuse,” “Uniformity, Uniforms, and the Maintenance of Adult Authority,” and “Ostracism and Disgrace in the Maintenance of a Precarious Social Order.”
I can confirm that Digby Anderson’s book is indeed unintentionally hilarious. Perhaps someone should slip a copy of the weirdly sadistic, Monty-Pythonesque, and Himmelfarb-approved, This Will Hurt into Gordon’s Christmas stocking.
P.S. Digby Anderson’s own contribution to this volume is “Ridicule as a Means of Resisting Outlandish and Socially Damaging Ideas”. Yes indeed. I suggest we take the piss out of his book.