Thursday, June 23, 2011

Melanie Phillips

1 comment:

Bentang said...

I imagine Melanie Phillips has witnessed and personally experienced some startling “inversions” in her time. So have we all. Things we once thought true have been proved false, shame has been transformed into pride, the honorable has become dishonorable... It must seem that the world has been turned upside down or that we’ve walked through the looking-glass and into a moral maze.

But it’s worse than upside down: we can’t even find our feet. Not only is the ground shifting, but everywhere we step seems to have a different vector of gravity.

As a journalist and editor, Ms. Phillips would have been expected to help her readers decipher the world, and she was by nature and upbringing a person in need of a strong moral compass. A 2003 New Statesman profile of her talks about her compulsion to control, order, and label everything—people and objects—that come within her sphere.

My impression, after listening carefully to this video, is that she feels she has to have an opinion about everything that happens in the world—even when she is not fully informed about it. This is her journalistic side; she is constantly on the defensive, challenged by experts and intellectuals, and expected to have and forcefully express opinions on the fly. (The pressure was especially intense because she was the first woman editor at The Guardian—and also a Jew.) Her reaction to all this pressure was to become imperious—a management style that proved disastrous for her at the paper but seems to work pretty well for her as a writer and speaker.

Then there’s her Jewishness, which has imbued her with a sense of history and of her purpose in the world. It seems rather grandiose and megalomaniacal at times: she has divided everything up very neatly, just as she arranged and labeled the decanters on her liquor tray. There are the “ideologies,” or “-isms” on one side (all of which are “militantly secular,” she says), and on the other, there is logic, reason, and truth, epitomized by Judeo-Christianity. The borders between these two are impermeable: there are no Christian environmentalists or anti-Zionist Jews. Anti-imperialism, like anti-Americanism, anti-colonialism, and multiculturalism, is also militantly secular. (She does actually say this. Check it out around 15:15: “They’re all militantly secular; they’re all against organized religion and particularly against Judeo-Christian tradition.”)

And, of course, she is not herself an ideologue (16:30: “...the rest of us, who are not ideologues, start with facts and evidence and then arrive at a conclusion...”).

Ms. Phillips covers a lot of ground, but there’s no depth to any of it. She dismisses anthropogenic global warming without even attempting to address the overwhelming scientific consensus supporting it. And here she sounds exactly like a small child who believes that she can make something disappear by closing her eyes: (around 5:40) “The seas are not rising, the ice is not shrinking, the polar bears are not vanishing, there’s been no significant warming since 1995, and temperatures have not increased at all since 1998. ...The assumption that climate itself can be predicted or its course changed by anything that we do is absolutely ridiculous.”

Really? She should take that idea to Munich Re, the world’s largest insurer, or to NASA, or to the U.S. Military. She could tell them that they have started with a conclusion, not with the facts.

Ms. Phillips’ disregard of the facts is absolutely breath-taking.

Where does she get her “information” about global warming? From Ian Plimer’s 2009 book on the subject. And who is Ian Plimer? He’s a professor of mining geology and the director of four mining companies.

Yikes. How bad can it get?