Trump and the Anti-Elite ‘Intellectual’ Moment

If people call you an “intellectual,” you might not be so smart.

You may be an impostor, a two-legged adjective posing as a deep thinker. 

A true person of intellect is a thinker of thoughts, who uses his or her head -- not as an advertisement -- but as a tool to greater understanding.

Just as important, a real thinker wonders whether he or she has not seen the full picture, whether there is not much more to learn.

“It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers,” wrote James Thurber, an author and cartoonist at The New Yorker. In a sense Thurber, was re-working an idea embraced by Talmudic scholars.

“Who is the smart man?” asks the Talmud, answering: “He (or she) who learns from every man.” (Ethics of the Fathers, Chapter IV).

A real thinker combines a sharp head with an open mind -- “brain smarts” with the kind of emotional intelligence that not only admits possible error but actively seeks others who may know more or may know better.

By this rule, many of the “intellectual class” are dumb indeed, so smugly sure of themselves that they simply insult those with whom they disagree.

This takes place on many subjects, but the most jarring is climate change.

“Intellectuals” like President Barack Obama or New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, insult those with doubts about alleged man-made climate change. They berate the doubters as “unscientific” idiots who endanger the security of the United States and the future of the world.

Trump Win Could Make Climate Catastrophe Inevitable,” headlines Mother Jones magazine in a recent article. This is like saying “if Donald Trump wins, the world will end.”  This kind of pseudo-religious-end-of-days contention (masquerading as science) has driven people with common sense to doubt the wisdom of our so-called “intellectuals.” It has also helped Trump.

Indeed, if Trump wins and the world does not end, he may get messiah status, if not the Nobel Peace Prize that went to a man who acted like he was saving the world (Obama) but actually brought it many disasters.

President Obama has never shown convincingly that “climate change” is, as he claimed, the top danger facing the United States, but on this and other matters he and his colleagues have taken a smug We-know-best posture ruling out all debate.

The climate debate is only one of many arenas for the false intellects. Obama steadfastly refuses to admit that Islamic terror is a more real and immediate danger to US national security than climate warming, observed Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric in a recent interview.  Welch is an executive who succeeded by recognizing and fixing problems

Indeed, “Islamic terrorism” is a term Obama will not use. He sticks to his I-know-Islam-better-than-Muslims-know-Islam mantra, even to the point of saying that Islamic terrorists are not really Islamic.

“Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not ‘Islamic,’” Obama declared in a major national   security speech on September 10, 2014.

“No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim,” Obama said with typical superciliousness, sure of himself to the point of omniscience.

Many of Obama’s points were illogical non-sequiturs that were both   misleading and factually wrong. Anyone who has studied Islam or taken a course in comparative religion knows that.  But Obama studied with Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Dr. Edward Said -- not exactly real experts on Islam.

For over 1,300 years Islamic groups have attacked other Islamic groups: Sunnis fought Shiites, Shiites raided Kharijites, Wahabbis struck Hashemites, and many more. They were all Muslim. The common ground is/was believing they were/are the “true” Muslims.

Islamic groups often attack Muslims first, and then, these Islamic groups or sects will continue to attack non-Muslims, such as Christians, Jews, Pagans, Hindus, Buddhists, and other infidels. The fact that they kill more Muslims before killing non-Muslims does not mean that they are not Islamic. 

The term “Islamic State” is designed to recall the structure of the Islamic state that began in Medina under Muhammad, Islam’s messenger, and that continued under various caliphates -- states or empires headed by men who saw themselves as the khalifa (deputy, in Arabic) of Muhammad.

The Islamic State organization is named in Arabic “al-dawla al-islamiyya fi-al-Iraq wa-al-Sham” which means “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant,”  [hence ISIL]. term “al-sham” in Arabic means the crescent that includes Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel: the Levant.

The leaders of ISIL consider themselves Muslims, and the vast majority of their victims -- Muslims or non-Muslims -- also consider ISIL to be Muslim.

Barack Obama, who knows little Islamic history and no Arabic (and does not want you to know his grades at Columbia), pretends he is an authority on the subject.  So does Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

In a speech this month, Ms. Clinton said Trump was aiding terrorists by calling them Islamic. Clinton claimed the terrorists were rooting for Trump.

“Bringing Islam into the definition of our enemy actually serves the purpose of the radical jihadists,” Mrs. Clinton said -- a remark that was totally unsubstantiated by anecdotal or clinical evidence.

“Trump has made Islam and Muslims part of his campaign, and basically the jihadists see this as a great gift. They are saying ‘oh, please Allah, make Trump president of America.’”  She did not supply any proof for this statement.

As in the case of alleged man-made climate change, Obama-Clinton and their pseudo-intellectual chorus are not willing to address contrary opinions based on the merits. They are not even willing to look at data that contradicts their original prejudice.

Real thinkers do not ignore contrary evidence or silence opposing views, and they certainly do not falsify their data -- something that has happened more than once among the climate-heating orthodox community.

Similar stifling of free debate is evident on many issues, where the insult has replaced the factually-based argument.

Obama, Clinton, and some journalists suggest those with contrary views on abortion, immigration, the economy, crime, Iran, Israel and  terrorism are haters of women, racists, war mongers and  xenophobes.

They always seem to say: “We know the problems and the answers, and so, be good enough to stay out of our way.”

Throughout his time in office, Obama pictured himself and his team as experts on the Middle East, which has since sunk into greater chaos, with great waves of bloodshed and refugees, as terrorism has expanded.

Other world leaders who acted like they knew better but are now out the door or on their way are German Chancellor  Angela Merkel and Britain’s ex-Prime Minister David Cameron.  Their heritage is a refugee crisis and Britain leaving the EU.

So is it any surprise when the search for common sense leads the common man to spurn the so-called elites and so-called intellectuals?

Dr. Michael Widlanski, author of Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat, is a former reporter, correspondent and editor respectively at The New York Times, Cox Newspapers, and The Jerusalem Post. He served as Strategic Affairs Advisor in Israel's Ministry of Public Security, as well as a visiting professor at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of California/Irvine

If you experience technical problems, please write to