I didn’t realize he was this bad, but wow.
And by the way, that “peace movement” favorite — Le Chambon, the French village that refused to hand over its Jews during WWII — isn’t all its cracked up to be:
In a throwaway passage, Gladwell tells us himself that the village was in fact being protected by a Gestapo official, who gave the mayor prior warning of raids, and by sympathetic elements in the local Vichy police. By 1943, when the episode occurred, the war on Germany’s eastern front was not going well, and there must have been many in the Gestapo and the Vichy regime who suspected that the tide was turning against them. So this is not just a story of altruism and the impotence of villains. But for Gladwell these complicating facts are irrelevant. What the episode shows, he concludes, is that “wiping out a town or a people or a movement is never as simple as it looks. The powerful are not as powerful as they look—nor the weak as weak.” Determined to extract a consoling lesson, he passes over the perilous contingencies that shaped the actual course of events. Yet the people of the Czech village of Lidice, which was razed to the ground, its inhabitants executed or sent to concentration camps by the Nazis in 1942 in reprisal for the assassination of Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich, were not so fortunate. (…)
Reading Gladwell’s blithe assurances about happy endings for the vulnerable, one is reminded of Martin Buber’s rejoinder to Gandhi, who had urged Jews in Germany to practice non-violence against the Third Reich of the sort he was using against the British in India. “A diabolic universal steam-roller,” Buber explained, “cannot thus be withstood.” Earlier in the letter, Buber asked Gandhi: “Do you know or do you not know, Mahatma, what a concentration camp is like and what goes on there? Do you know of the torments of the concentration camp, of its methods of slow and quick slaughter?” The Mahatma did not want to know. It seems that many of Gladwell’s readers, in their less extreme circumstances, adopt a similar attitude toward the world. Unwilling to confront the raw facts of power, they prefer to inhabit a fantasy world in which it can be cleverly conjured away.
This guy at Esquire is equally fed up.