Imperialism for the Anti-Imperialist

We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” have long argued that the stifling political conformity detectable on countless college campuses has a malign effect on education in this country. This is not, however, because left-wing professors succeed in indoctrinating countless college students. In reality, in order to be swayed, such students would need to show up to class, pay attention, and do their homework, and, quite frankly, that’s too tough a task for most undergrads.

Yet surely the academic echo-chamber leads to demonstrable intellectual impoverishment. A perfect case in point is “How to Be a Good Neighbor,” an op-ed in the July 8 number of The New York Times. Penned by one Greg Grandin, a history professor at New York University, this piece demonstrates striking obtuseness. In fact, if its author had ever shown the article to an academic who doesn’t think exactly as he does, he would never have submitted it to the Gray Lady in the first place.

In short, Mr. Grandin hopes that the United States of America will meddle in the recent Mexican presidential election. You see, his clear candidate of choice, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has lost in a squeaker to Felipe Calderon. And Mr. Grandin thinks that the “best thing the United States can do now is to support the push for a recount and to refrain from calling on Mr. Lopez Obrador to concede.”

Quizzically, Mr. Grandin believes that this will earn the love of Mexico. Perhaps he thinks that, say, France sticking its nose into an American presidential election would yield great esteem for the French. Why do we doubt that?

So why would Mr. Grandin, the author of the tome Empire’s Workshop: Latin America, the United States and the Rise of the New Imperialism, support such meddling? Don’t academics braying about the US’ role in Latin America typically excoriate American presidents for such hands-on treatment?

One shouldn’t be terribly surprised to find out the answer. As Mr. Grandin sees it, Felipe Calderon is–horror of horrors!–a fan of the free market, and hence his term in office will deliver an increase in Mexican anti-Americanism. Because, as all academics outside of economics departments know, the free market can’t work.

As a result, Mr. Grandin hopes that the US will support his beloved Mr. Lopez Obrador, whom he characterizes as “the center-left presidential candidate.” “Center-left”? What the heck is this guy talking about?

According to an article by Enrique Krauze in The New Republic (which really is a center-left publication), Lopez Obrador is a dangerous radical whose anti-democratic messianism spooks many on the Mexican Left. Mr. Krauze writes:

…the most likely outcome of the [Mexican presidential] elections is still the triumph of Lopez Obrador. In that case, Mexican democracy will face a new and momentous challenge. “Anointed” by the people, as he will no doubt experience his election, Lopez Obrador could be tempted to dissolve democratic institutions, including the ban on reelection–in a single blow or little by little. This certainly seems to be the worry of Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, the historic leader of the Mexican Left. Recently, Cardenas made clear to me in a conversation that he does not dismiss the possibility of his old disciple’s perpetuation in power.

Ah, so this makes Mr. Grandin’s argument clear: He favors America butting into the Mexican election (a little bit of beneficial imperialism, that) in order to elect a new Hugo Chavez. This, we are told, will stave off anti-Americanism in Mexico, rather than the election of a less anti-American candidate, whom, it seems, the majority of voting Mexicans actually favor.

As George Orwell once quipped, some ideas are so stupid you have to be an intellectual to believe them.

(Note: The crack young staff normally “weblog” over at “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” where they are currently urging Mrs. Greg Grandin to divorce her husband, in hopes that it will earn Mr. Grandin’s eternal devotion.)

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