Do New York liberals think they are of a different species? Kurt Andersen says yes, and coins a neologism

We were going to poke a little fun at Kurt Andersen today. In his piece in New York Magazine, the founder of Spy Magazine examined the exquisite consciences of the NYC liberals who were haing trouble dealing with their cognitive dissonance over the Iraqi elections (if they experienced any dissonance at all). You know the routine: musn’t we feel that the Iraqis have come to a possibly good place, even if it was the knuckle-draggers and the “cunning” neo-cons who accomplished it? In the course of his commentary, he said this:

New Yorkers think we are smarter than other Americans, that the richness and difficulty of life here give our intelligence a kind of hard-won depth and nuance and sensitivity to contradictions and ambiguity. We feel we are practically French. Most New Yorkers are also liberals. And most liberals, wherever they live, believe that they are smarter than most conservatives (particularly George W. Bush)…..

Like most New Yorkers, I disagree with the Bush administration politically, temperamentally, and ontologically most of the time.

Huh? How can you “disagree ontologically?” Only, we reasoned, if you are of a different species. Google says we’ve stumbled on a neologism, apparently created by Andersen. (The only prior use of the phrase appears to be here, and we can’t figure out what Herder has to do with it.)

But could Andersen be serious? We consulted another of his pieces, People Like Us, and the answer appears to be yes. Andersen:

For me, the equivalence between Christian fundamentalism and Islamic fundamentalism seems plain. For me, both are unfathomable and scary. But, of course, to Evangelical Christians in South Dakota or Tennessee, my own New York godlessness and casual acceptance of wholesale perversion (homosexuality, pornography) as well as mass murder (abortion) are equally unfathomable and scary.

Which is to say, our great bright-blue metropolis has more in common with red America than we would probably prefer to think. They march in lockstep, close-minded and self-righteous? Us too, dudes.

We mean this piece to be light-hearted, so we are not going to drag it down by too much philosophizing. But Andersen really has a point. A significant number of the red-blue arguments today are precisely ontological arguments, if not the original ontological argument. Our own views on this subject have been well-summarized in a couple of posts.

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