Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Letter to a Blogger Turning Blue

In an angry post Sunday, I lobbed every vile accusation imaginable at today's liberals. Glenn Manishin, at Fear and Loathing, takes issue only with my 16th and last point:
No Oil for Pacifists. . . says that liberals are "unable to understand" conservatives . . , [Carl] opines.

This is just hogwash. . . . [S]mart liberals understand conservatives all too well; they just loathe them and yet cannot match their pragmatic, unprincipled approach to electoral politics.
(Manishin wanted to stick me with choke-chain duty for Pat Buchanan; I declined here.)

Glenn's no fool, but his claim to understand conservatives is belied by his very objections. Plainly, if he comprehended the right, he wouldn't dispute my description. In any event, he's wrong. Indeed, Manishin's defense mostly proves my case:
  1. Liberals understand conservatives: Not a chance.

    • They don't know us: The left has little contact with what it dismisses as "fly-over" America. NRO's Cathy Seipp agrees:
      One of the election lessons for Democrats is that while the Left doesn't understand the Right, the Right can't help but understand the Left, because the Left is in charge of pop culture. Urban blue staters can go their entire lives happily innocent of the world of church socials and duck hunting and Boy Scout meetings, but small-town red staters are exposed to big-city blue-state values every time they turn on the TV.
      George Weigel recounts a Kerry aide admitting this when interviewed on PBS:
      The night after the election, PBS correspondent Margaret Warner recounted a conversation she’d had with a John Kerry aide, still reeling from the results of a contest he and his boss were certain they’d win. "You know, Margaret," he said, "the Republicans were talking to five, six, seven million people that we don’t understand at all...and you and the press don’t understand them either.
      Crowded into the academia, confined to the North East and the Pacific Coast, blue-staters all attend the same cocktail parties, which rarely extend beyond 2-Volvo, 2-children pro-recycling households; they can go years between Republicans. In sum, today's liberals are too insular to understand conservatives, as most famously reflected in 1972 by the late Pauline Kael's astonishment at the Republicans' 49-state landslide victory: "How could that be?" she demanded. "I don't know a single person who voted for Nixon."

    • They assume we're evil, stupid or nuts: When they try to understand conservatives, their analysis is completely, and insultingly, wrong. For example, speaking at Tufts University, Andy Rooney hypothesized that conservatives suffer from "a lack of education. They haven't been exposed to what the world has to offer." Among academics, it's widely assumed that liberals are more fair and more concerned with "the little guy" than conservatives, as George P. Lakoff, a Democrat on the Berkeley faculty, admitted:
      Unlike conservatives, [liberals] believe in working for the public good and social justice, as well as knowledge and art for their own sake, which are what the humanities and social sciences are about.
      And a taxpayer-funded study conducted last year at (where else?) Berkeley concluded that
      the core of political conservatism is the resistance to change and a tolerance for inequality, and that some of the common psychological factors linked to political conservatism include:

      Fear and aggression

      Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity

      Uncertainty avoidance

      Need for cognitive closure

      Terror management
      Needless to say, these traits--a similar list here--aren't why I'm a conservative.

      These smug assumptions aren't confined to academicians. Democratic Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards called conservatives crazy: "I'd say if you live in the United States of America and you vote for George Bush, you've lost your mind." In sum, the left, and most of Europe, seem convinced conservatives are "fat, lazy, and stupid."

    • They insist we're religious bigots. The majority of today's Dems are committed to "dogmatic secularism." So, when viewing conservatives, lefties wear glasses "that only allows them to see homophobic knuckle-draggers." According to Peter Wallison, the "fact that Christian fundamentalists hold different views from their own means that, in their eyes, the fundamentalists are divisive and intolerant." Only two weeks ago, I complained that:
      The left demonizes religion and assumes political views informed by faith are ignorant. Just the phrase "right-wing" or "Christian conservative" are enough to inspire dozens of hillbilly jokes. Elites believe liberal philosophy is more "evolved" than conservatism--[and] is contemptuous of people and ideas tied to religious values, implicitly denying that conservative values are rational.
      As Michael Novak concludes in the November 29th National Review (subscription-only), "[i]t is simply not the case that believing Jews and Christians are bereft of reason."

      In fact, George Wiegel says it's the liberals who have some 'splaining to do:
      What Kerry’s secularist supporters can’t seem to understand is that . . .what needs explaining is the Harvard faculty club, Michael Moore, and most of the op-ed regulars at the New York Times – people who’ve persuaded themselves that a profound belief in the God of the Bible, expressed in a commitment to live by the Ten Commandments, is the fast track to fascism.
      Liberals don't "grok" conservatives--they don't even try:
      Democrats are far less understanding than we think we are. Our version of understanding the other side is to look at them from a psychological point of view while being completely unwilling to take their arguments seriously. "Well, he can't help himself, he's a right-wing religious zealot, so of course he's going to think like that." "Republicans who never served in war are hypocrites to send young men to die. " "Republicans are homophobes, probably because they can't deal with their secret desires." Anything but actually listening and responding to the arguments being made.
  2. Conservatives are unprincipled: Surely this requires proof--but Manishin provides none. I'll let him do the homework. But, I note conservatives didn't claim to be non-violent while starting a riot. No one on the right passed himself off as a pacifist while dreaming of assassinating the President. Republicans didn't pretend to be anti-war to mask rooting for the enemy.

    During the campaign, only the Democrat nominee pandered to voters via flip-flops, ethnic make-overs and straddles--by the end, Kerry reversed himself practically daily. Senator Kerry, not President Bush, based his foreign policy values on a made-up memory somehow "seared" into his brain. Kerry alone told the Senate his brothers in arms were war criminals, not soldiers (a subsequent investigation found no evidence), tossed his medals over a fence--well someone's medals!--then based his Presidential campaign on being a Vietnam Vet and war hero still "ready for duty."

    Kerry thought he could become President by appearing to be "all things to all people." If that isn't unprincipled, then unprincipled has no meaning. Top it if you can.

  3. Liberals loathe conservatives: Ya got me there, pal. The libs are consumed by hate, enough to make some--international and domestic--pray for America's defeat. Here's one on the Democratic Underground website:
    [T]oday I can freely say that I hate America. I hate Bush's America and after this election I guess all of America will be Bush's America. So until people rise up and throw him and the conservatives out of power (There is no doubt in my mind that someday they will be out of power) I hate America.
    They particularly hate Bush who, as every blue-stater knows, is Hitler. This was too vile for voters, according to A Sad American:
    I could not stomach to listen to your incessant hatred of President Bush. Bush is stupid, Bush is an idiot, Bush is Hitler, Bush is a Nazi, Bush masturbates to photos of dead Iraqi babies, I'd vote for my dog before I'd vote for Bush, I'd vote for Castro before I'd vote for Bush, the Rethuglicans are fascists, Bush voters are treasonous, Bush should be impeached, blah blah blah blah blah blah. It was old three months after Bush's inauguration, and it's now just tiresome. . .
    Indeed, the hatred covered all Bush supporters. After the election, actress Janeane Garofalo hoped the "Archie Bunkers in the cracker belt. . . feel pain." And Village Voice theater critic Michael Feingold proposed conservatives "be exterminated before they cause any more harm."

    Glenn, I concede: the left hates the right.
Glenn's no far-left extremist. Still, he's more clear-eyed about Dems than conservatives. Though he lives in a red state, since the election, he's turning a more purplish blue.

Glenn, a suggestion: take a deep breath. Get to know your opponent. And consider joining.


Anne Applebaum, in Wednesday's WaPo:
At least a part of the Western left -- or rather the Western far left -- is now so anti-American, or so anti-Bush, that it actually prefers authoritarian or totalitarian leaders to any government that would be friendly to the United States. Many of the same people who found it hard to say anything bad about Saddam Hussein find it equally difficult to say anything nice about pro-democracy demonstrators in Ukraine. Many of the same people who would refuse to condemn a dictator who is anti-American cannot bring themselves to admire democrats who admire, or at least don't hate, the United States. I certainly don't believe, as President Bush sometimes simplistically says, that everyone who disagrees with American policies in Iraq or elsewhere "hates freedom." That's why it's so shocking to discover that some of them do.
In other words, the left hates the right more than it loves freedom.


MD at the Sun Also Rises agrees:
[E]veryone knows by now that the prejudices of the powerful are labeled "rational," while the simple rituals of the peasantry are labeled "superstition." Hence, following our last national election, it was asserted, without the barest hint of shame, that those in the red states, as revealed by their voting patterns, are irredeemably "ignorant," in contrast to those in the blue states, who are presumably "rational."

We might call this one more superstition of our ruling class: that they are rational and the rest of us, or at least that portion to chooses to vote in deviation from the candidate of the ruling class, are "ignorant." I'm sure it will enter their canon, if it hasn't already.

The ruling class has many superstitions. Some are misleading, some are amusing, some are delusional, and most are irrational.

However, in comparing their superstitions to those of a more traditional bent: the superstitions of our ruling class are not only false; they are useless.

And in our pragmatic, humanistic age, is there a more severe indictment?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Whew! Heavy lifting, Carl. And very well done. DBJ