Aggressive ignorance

How clueless is the New York Times? Here’s a hint:

Movement of the Moment Looks to Long-Ago Texts

The Tea Party is a thoroughly modern movement, organizing on Twitter and Facebook to become the most dynamic force of the midterm elections.

But when it comes to ideology, it has reached back to dusty bookshelves for long-dormant ideas. It has resurrected once-obscure texts by dead writers — in some cases elevating them to best-seller status — to form a kind of Tea Party canon.

(Emphasis mine, of course.)

What obscure text is the NYT’s Kate Zernike referring to? Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom.

John Miller notes a few facts about this little-known book:

She is of course referring to Friedrich Hayek, whose book The Road to Serfdom was excerpted in Reader’s Digest and never has been out of print, whose Nobel Prize for economics in 1974 celebrated the importance and mainstream acceptance of his thinking, and whose death in 1992 isn’t exactly ancient history.

To Zernike and her editors, this book is obscure. They really, really don’t understand us at all.

UPDATE: There’s more here to mock:

[blah blah blah] . . . “the rule of law,” Hayek’s term for the unwritten code that prohibits the government from interfering with the pursuit of “personal ends and desires.”

So the rule of law is another outlandish notion, deserving of scare quotes. (Plus, the notion is due to Hayek! Take that, Samuel Rutherford!) Jonah Goldberg adds:

Everything about this is hilarious. The rule of law is an “unwritten code”? Really? I thought the rule of law was the code. The rule of law is not “Hayek’s term” (it’s A.V. Dicey’s). But the idea stretches back to the earliest days of Western civilization. So on the one hand Hayek is obscure, but on the other hand he’s ecclipsed Aristotle, Locke, Montesquieu, and the gang. Way to go Hayek!

If I had said a day ago that your typical New York Times reporter doesn’t have the vaguest sense of what the rule of law means, I would have heard from all sorts of earnest liberal readers — and probably some conservative ones too — about how I was setting up a straw man. But now we know it’s true. It’s not just that she doesn’t know what it is, it’s that even after (presumably) looking it up, she still couldn’t describe it and none of her editors raised an eyebrow when she buttered it.

Okay, let me be serious for a second. If the New York Times, which fancies itself “the paper of record”, doesn’t have a single reporter or editor who is even aware of (let alone understands) the basic tenets of what used to be called liberalism (and still is, in other parts of the world), they really might want to hire one.

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