Sunday, March 06, 2016

Arguments from Mediocrity

Scott Lemieux does a brilliant job dissecting Steve Salaita's cliched "voting is primarily about feeling good about myself, and voting for Hillary Clinton won't give me a fuzzy" presentation. Such arguments, as Lemieux observes, are deeply selfish and consumerist (I doubt most people vote because they are "inspired" by their politicians; I vote because I hope the politicians I vote for will make the world materially better compared to the ones I don't vote for. It's not about my feelings.). They also elide completely the very real and material differences in life circumstances for many that would result in a Trump versus Clinton administration -- an elision that no doubt makes sense to someone in Salaita's position because they primarily will impact people not him. That basic fact doesn't change no matter how many times one intones "liberal" or "neoliberal" as if that constituted an actual argument.

I'd only add that Steve Salaita, of all people, should be reticent to disturb those "mythograph[ies]" which have "conditioned us to treat mediocrity as superior." At this stage it's the only thing keeping his professional career afloat.*

* Usual caveats apply about how I consider Illinois' unhiring of Salaita to have been a breach of academic freedom; the university made its bed and should have had to lie in it, etc..

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