Down with Derb

John Derbyshire sees the foolishness in “Islamo-fascist”:

We had a wee discussion in The Corner about the appropriateness of “Islamo-fascist” as a description of the terrorists we are fighting. There was much discussion of the point elsewhere in the blogosphere, too. Randall Parker had some sensible things to say at ParaPundit (especially his comments at the very end there).

Personally I can’t see what’s wrong with “jihadist.” That’s what these guys are doing: making jihad. As Randall points out, there are just too many differences with fascism. Fascism was atheist; jihadis are devout. Fascism was nationalist; jihadis want the whole world under one rule. Fascism was blood-and-soil racist; Islam is (in theory, at least) oblivious to distinctions of race. As Randall also points out, sticking the word “fascism” on the phenomenon just reinforces the silly idea, which already has too much currency, that nothing much important happened in the world before the 20th century.

If we do go with “Islamo-fascist,” though, then considering that Hugo Chavez, at the U.N. the other day, pretty much lined up with the blighters, we should start referring to him and his pal Castro as “Hispano-fascists.”

It’s nice to see that the nonsensical term is increasingly losing favor in the commentariat. Derb also mentions this:

A friend of mine, an academic psychologist, remarked offhandedly a few months ago that communication between two human beings is difficult if the gap between their IQs is as much as one standard deviation (i.e. 15 points). If you try communicating across gaps bigger than that, she said, mutual understanding quickly becomes impossible…. If this is a fact about the human world, it’s a pretty depressing one. The full range of human IQs you are likely to encounter spans about six standard deviations; so depending where you fall in the range, there could be an awful lot of people with whom, for you, mutually rewarding conversation is not possible.

I tend to agree with Derb’s friend here. The nature of my work being rather solitary, I probably have actual conversations with six people per day on the average. All of the people with whom I regularly speak are within two standard deviations of me, (three are in the same range), and on the rare occasions that I now find myself speaking with normal individuals for an extended period of time, I generally find that I can’t wait to extricate myself from the situation. Silence can be such an exquisite pleasure….

One of the funniest things my Dad ever said to me was when he came back from a posh charity event, at which he was seated between two very nice women of our acquaintance who were both of very average intelligence. When I asked him how the evening had been, he sighed and answered: “Now I know what Hell is like.”

Unlike other intellectual elitists, I don’t dislike normal people nor do I believe I have any right or responsibility to do their thinking for them. I just can’t bear to listen to them for more than five minutes at a time. And it’s fun to have conversations with people at your own level, it’s interesting to see how the pace of communication accelerates as each person discovers that the other is capable of keeping up.