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Ed Driscoll

Interview: David Gelernter on America-Lite

August 24th, 2012 - 12:04 am

MR. DRISCOLL:  The 1940s through the 1960s are the backstory of America-Lite.  Let’s take things up to the present day.  What is Barack Obama’s role in America-Lite?

DR. GELERNTER:  He is America-Lite.  He’s the perfect hero, the perfect superhero of America-Lite.  He embodies everything that today’s cultural elite stands for, starting with ignorance and continuing with prefab ideas that you were taught instead of having to reach yourself, ideas as political furniture, prebuilt in so that you never had to go out and worry about.  Your mind is furnished by your education with an automatic view on every subject.  You don’t have to worry about reasoning for yourself.  You just wake up and you find them there.

I mean, after all, this man has degrees from Columbia and from Harvard, the creme-de-la-creme, the elite of the elite of American schools.  He’s always associated with and identified himself with intellectuals, been strongly supported by intellectuals.  Never dirtied his hands in the private sector or what you might call the non-ivory tower part of life.  Always been associated with the intelligentsia and with the left; represents perfectly — is the perfect hero.  The point is not so much what makes him distinctive as what makes him typical.

There are — there are many thousands — I mean, he’s certainly very smart and very articulate.  He isn’t typical in that respect.  But there are many, many like him who have been educated, who have come out of these same institutions, the Columbias and the Harvards, with exactly the same views, not because they reached the views themselves, by struggling with the opposition and trying to figure out for themselves what the right way was, but because all their teachers from childhood up have had exactly the same view on nearly everything, and have pumped that view into class after class of children.  And what do you get out the other end?  You get a country full of Barack Obamas.  You get — or rather you get a cultural elite — you get a cultural elite dominated by Barack Obamas.

MR. DRISCOLL:  You have several interviews that are posted at Bigthink.com at YouTube.  And I wanted to ask you about two of them, as they dovetail with some of the themes in “America-Lite”.

First of all, you have one interview which has had over 56,000 views, 549 likes and 5,025 dislikes on “The Danger Of Crusading Atheists.” Whatever could you have said to upset the legendarily tolerant and articulate crowd of YouTube commenters?

DR. GELERNTER:  Oh, The Danger of Crusading Atheists.  Yeah, right.

You know, atheists might not be — I think the cultural elite today probably doesn’t deserve to be called atheists.  I mean, “atheist” suggests that you have considered and rejected religious views.  These people have no concept of what religious views are.  So I — they’re post-atheists, post-religious, as I call them in this book, the post-religious globalist intellectuals.

Yeah, they — the fact that this country is a biblical republic, the fact that the ideas of freedom and democracy and equality came right out of the Bible, the fact that it was sermons to which the population listened, not only the Puritans, but the Anglicans, the Catholics, the Jews, they listened on Sunday or Saturday, in the case of the Jews, this is what molded the colonial personality.

It was the preachers; it was the religious culture of this country.  It wasn’t Enlightenment philosophy.  Nobody read philosophy then any more than they read it today.  This country emerged from the Bible.  This is the biblical republic par excellence, as our greatest founding father, Abraham Lincoln, our last and greatest, saw so clearly in the greatest address in American history, the second inaugural address, which is exactly a sermon, which is a sublimely beautiful sermon in which Lincoln says this war is God’s punishment of the North and the South equally for the sin of slavery.

This is at the center of our political life.  We are a profoundly biblical, profoundly Judeo-Christian nation.  That’s just the way it is.  That’s history; those are the facts.

And a lot of people don’t like to hear them.  But certainly my colleagues in — my colleagues at Yale and in, let’s say, you know, academia generally, don’t want to hear this — but it’s true.

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