On May 20, Politico had an interesting little treatment of columnist Charles Krauthammer crowning him as the most important conservative columnist of the day. A brief overview of his life and his emergence as the most reliable voice against Obamaism served as the main subject for the piece, but a few quotes on Mr. Krauthammer made by other columnists added a sense of how respected Krauthammer is to scribe Ben Smith’s piece. All the quotes were complimentary but shockingly, in one of those quotes, lefty Time columnist Joe Klein seemed to hint that a person in a wheelchair was incapable of really understanding enough of the world to make for a worthy columnist.
For those unaware, Charles Krauthammer has been confined to a wheelchair for several decades after he was injured in a swimming accident as a young man.
Can you imagine? In this day and age, saying that a person in a wheelchair is incapable of really understanding the world because they can’t easily get out there themselves because of their disability? And, how does a lefty columnist get away with saying this? Will no one scold Klein for his conceit that because he has two working legs that this fact somehow automatically makes him better qualified to opine as a columnist than a wheelchair bound Krauthammer?
Here is how Politico quoted Joe Klein on Charles Krauthammer (my bold):
“There’s something tragic about him, too,” Klein said, referring to Krauthammer’s confinement to a wheelchair, the result of a diving accident during his first year of medical school. “His work would have a lot more nuance if he were able to see the situations he’s writing about.”
What else could Klein mean by “if here were able to see the situations he’s writing about”? Is Klein saying that one cannot understand anything unless one goes somewhere and “sees” them for himself? If that is true, isn’t history completely lost to everyone? After all, who can now visit WWII Europe to learn about it? Who can “see” ancient Rome? Did the Twin Towers not really fall to anyone who has not been able to “see” them do so?
John Podhoretz was also taken aback by this conceit of Klein’s.
Is it conceivable that Joe Klein is saying a man in a wheelchair is incapable of understanding the nuances of Iraq and the war on terror because he can’t get on a plane and go there like Joe Klein can? Is it possible, in this day and age, for someone seriously to argue such a thing? We cannot go back in time and visit the battlefields of the Civil War, or Agincourt, or the Peloponnese–are we therefore incapable of seeing their nuances? FDR was in a wheelchair and did not visit the battlefields of World War II–were its nuances beyond him as well?
This “seeing” concept, however, is part and parcel to the left’s assumption that one person cannot properly understand anyone else’s world view because they haven’t lived it or “seen” it themselves. It’s an assumption that someone’s experience makes them a sole expert in any discussion on whatever it is that they have lived in such a way as to discount anyone else’s opinions on the matter. It goes to the same notion that a man should not be able to discuss abortion because he cannot become pregnant, or that a white person should not be allowed to speak on race issues because they’ve never “experienced” racism. Certainly actual first hand experience is an important part of human knowledge, but to say that it precludes non-experiencer’s opinions is to completely discount human intelligence and empathy.
Of course, taking the left’s concept to its natural ends, we would not, for instance, be able to outlaw murder. After all, if you haven’t been murdered, how can you make a law about something you’ve never experienced?
In truth, this is just another attempt at segregation by the left and another artifice by which they can discount opposing ideas instead of confronting them in reasoned debate.
But permit me here to speak to an amusing dichotomy in leftist thinking, such as it is. While leftists claim that white people can’t speak to a black person’s issues, or men cannot speak for women, they also posit that humans can speak for animals when arguing animal “rights.” So, while on the one hand leftists preclude any possibility that humans can legitimately understand other humans, they curiously contend on the other hand that people can fully understand the feelings of animals in order to advocate for their “rights.” Talk about illogic!
But let’s face it, we won’t hear anyone of the left taking Klein to task for saying that wheelchair bound people are incapable of understanding a world they cannot “see” for themselves.