The One Worldview
New York Magazine's Olivia Nuzzi is in the tweet above sneering at left critics of  Erik Prince's op-ed in the New York Times. Prince is the founder of Blackwater, the infamous military contractor. He's been implicated in war crimes.  In the NYT piece he argued that the US should use more mercenaries in Afghanistan—a transparent shill for the services of his former company.

Many people felt that Erik Prince should not be able to advertise his own business of death from the pages of the paper of record. Nuzzi disagrees though. She thinks that whacko leftists just don't want to consider opposing views.

Nuzzi is positioning herself as the dispassionate, eclectic journalist/observer. She wants to hear all sides and keep an open mind. Some less catholic thinkers might believe that venal war criminals are bad, but Nuzzi is less hasty. Let the venal war criminals speak, she says. Yes, murdering civilians is bad. But the only really unforgivable sin is to close your mind, by, for instance, refusing to  consider the possible benefits of murdering civillians.

Alas, there's a single sad flaw in Nuzzi's open-mindedness. She is willing to consider the views of Erik Prince, mercenary tool. But she isn't willing to consider the views of folks who think Erik Prince, mercenary tool, shouldn't get a gigantic megaphone with which to blare out his toolery. Such critics are instantly dismissed. Her open mindedness is based on a knee-jerk rejection of the closed-minded (as she characterizes them.)

This isn't an accident or a mental blurp. The argument for open-mindedness, as a chief, iconic virtue, is, by its nature, incoherent. To be equally open to all views is to be equally open to the view that you shouldn't be equally open to all views. To accept everything is to accept the view that you shouldn't accept everything.  Nuzzi isn't interested in all worldviews. If she were, she wouldn't have written a tweet dismissing  worldview-dismissing worldviews.

Of course, there are probably other worldviews with which Nuzzi wouldn't agree. Would she support giving David Duke an op ed in the NYT? Would she support an op-ed calling for the violent genocide of the punditocracy? An earnest editorial about the virtues of phrenology, or about how the moon landing was faked? Just about everybody recognizes that some views are too heinous, or too nonsensical, to be given the imprimatur of a major newspaper.

When Nuzzi sneers at people for not being open-minded, then, what she's really saying is not, "you should care about everybody's worldview!" Such a statement is, as I've said, both logically contradictory and preposterous. No, what Nuzzi is saying is, "I find this particular worldview acceptable, but I am too cowardly to defend it on its merits. So I will, instead, attack the attackers for intolerance. Clever, huh?"

This particular tactic has become increasingly popular among centrist pundits who hate the left but are too lazy to engage in a moral debate they have a disquieting sense that they would lose. And so you get this tweet, a vapid apologia for mercenary bloodshed couched in the language of intellectual inquiry.  If you're a serious centrist, you don't actually think about the things you read. You just reflexively hippie punch, shill for war, and preen—not necessarily in that order.