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Ed Vulliamy: superior intelligence, education and ethical sensitivity

Moral exhibitionism: the déformation professionelle of the intellectuals

Picking up the London newspaper the Guardian, Dalrymple lights on an article by a poseur called Ed Vulliamy on the subject of the monstrosity of the wish of his countrymen to leave the EU and the various abominations of Brexit Britain.

The article contains sentences such as the following:

On the slipstream of empire, I’ve always thought — to the point of treason — of my British passport as a ‘burden of shame’, as UB40 so eloquently put it — ‘a British subject, not proud of it’. Now, trying to cling on in ‘the Continent’, it is just a downright embarrassment — not only a badge of shame, but also, worse in a way, of pointless, bellicose imbecility.

Badge of bellicosity

Badge of bellicosity

Dalrymple makes two points:

  1. This is typical of the hyperbole that followed the result of the referendum, to the holding of which few people objected before the results were known. You can have elections and referenda, so long as the results are correct.
  2. Overweening pride runs through the passage. The man who wrote it is middle-aged: he has kept his ‘badge of shame’ for decades after he could, if he had felt shame about it, have got rid of it. His pride is to have a badge of shame, extravagantly exhibited, to demonstrate his moral superiority over people who wear the same badge who are not as intelligent, educated or morally sensitive. On me this has the same effect as the sound of a nail running down a blackboard.

‘Superbia’, detail, The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things, c. 1450-1515, attr. Jheronimus Bosch

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