Friday, August 11, 2006


It Doesn't Take An Idiot

It doesn't take an idiot to be idiotic.

This may be obvious to some; nonetheless, I think it bears repeating. We are used to thinking of some people as wise, others as being about as intelligent as ourselves, and still others as being idiots. And that's a problem, because it's all too easy to dismiss someone as an idiot, having concluded that everything they say is idiotic and unworthy of your attention.

But it's not so. People can be wise about some things and utterly clueless about other things. That's where the stereotype of the Absent-Minded Professor comes from: a genius in his field (which may be Ancient Sumerian Runes or some such), who isn't clever enough to come in out of the rain. We see a different side of this phenomenon nearly every time a movie star starts talking politics, forgetting that pretending to have been wise -- in a movie, with someone else putting words in one's mouth -- doesn't make it true.

I found myself thinking about this the other day when Ned Lamont, fresh from his primary victory over Joe Lieberman, suggested that Israel negotiate a cease-fire with Hizbullah on the principle of land-for-peace. This is idiotic on several levels. First, only a first-rate starry-eyed idealist could believe today in land-for-peace, a concept never tried in history before the Arab-Israeli conflict, and one which has brought no peace to the region in the last thirty years. Second, for Israel to negotiate with Hizbullah at this point, having failed thus far to achieve the initial objective -- getting two kidnapped soldiers back alive -- would be to make such kidnappings an effective tactic for the future. And finally, Israel has no territory to give back to Hizbullah! Hizbullah is a Lebanese terrorist organization, which has long stated that their one and only goal was to eliminate the Israeli presence in southern Lebanon. Israel did indeed withdraw from all of Lebanon in 2000, and took the extra step of getting the UN seal of approval for having done so. That Hizbullah did not then disband, but instead spent the next six years arming itself to the teeth, culminating in an unprovoked border-crossing and the kidnapping of another country's sovereign citizens, shows them for the liars that they are.

To give Hizbullah something valuable that they never asked for, in return for a cease-fire, is sheer idiocy. But that doesn't make Ned Lamont an idiot. It merely makes him utterly clueless on the subject of Middle Eastern politics. Time will tell if he is similarly clueless on other subjects.

Wisdom is where you find it -- and it's always in desperately short supply. We can't afford to dismiss it, simply because we think the speaker is an idiot in other matters. And oh, how I wish that the Bush-haters across America -- who universally dismiss the President as an idiot -- would think about that.


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