Moral indignation is the opiate of the literate left

Below is something I’d like to preserve because it is kept on an old Mail & Guardian web server that is still switched on for some reason, but may disappear: http://server.mg.co.za/mg/letters/index.html. It was a response to Richard Calland apparently writing (way back in 2002) that he is “quietly celebrating” every Israeli and American civilian casualty.

“Calland is no anti-Semite
Richard Calland is plainly not an anti-Semite: he is too cultured, and too conscious, to be guilty of such vulgarity. What Mr Calland himself may allow though is that he is prone to a number of other crude and destructive intellectual impulses.
In common with all political columnists, he exaggerates, wildly. Nuance, subtlety, qualification and complexity are not the stuff of which sharp, short commentaries are made — and so we get Yasser Arafat cast as a measured Madiba and Ariel Sharon as a madcap mass-murderer. This is unhelpful, to put it mildly, as well as irresponsible and inflammatory.
In common with intellectuals everywhere, Mr Calland suffers a fair dose of self-righteousness and sanctimoniousness. It has been said, pertinently, that moral indignation is the opiate of the literate left — and those who make a living out of public pontification are especially susceptible to addiction.
Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner goes the true radical creed. Perhaps Mr Calland could write a column on the subject. — Glen Heneck”

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