Tag: Liberalism

The Great Progressive Rewind: The Left Is in a Word War


Note: I should clarify this title, lest I invite confusion: the Left is not so much fighting an intellectual war through words, but one against words. And in this context, words mean spoken words, thoughts, or symbols.

From inane trivialities to proper comedic etiquette to authoritarian speech codes, the Left is deserting an expansive view of free speech that it once nourished during the Progressive Era. Where its forbearers defended with a vigorous voice a more fundamental right to free speech — particularly for those whose opinions were outside the mainstream of American political thought — the modern Left seeks out problematic views and quashes them. Whether inventions of First Amendment exclusions, punishment of climate heresy, or shaming of non-PC humor, the Left finds a new scourge on an almost weekly basis, oftentimes buried in American culture’s most innocuous places.

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You’ve probably noticed how the employee-recommends section of your local Barnes & Noble invariably features some conservative manifesto like End Of Discussion by Mary Katharine Ham and Guy Benson or Hayek’s The Road To Serfdom. Or maybe you’re familiar with walking into a coffee shop tastefully appointed with posters of Reagan and Thatcher and dog-eared copies of National Review resting […]

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The Day That Reagan Died


90265714_1It was June 5th, 2004. I had been in the Republic of Georgia for less than a month when I heard that Reagan had died. Reagan had meant a lot to me over the years, and I’d followed his political career since I was eight years old.  Growing up with the Reagan administration made the 40th president my childhood hero.

What I did not expect was how the Georgian people would react. As I was walking in the bazaar of a small provincial town, a man saw me, quickly crossed the dusty street, took my hand and said, “I am so sorry. Your great man died today. I am so sorry.”

I asked him, “Do you mean President Reagan?”

Why Are You Voting Against Your Own Interests?


shutterstock_99826235A major pet peeve of mine in the world of politics is the phrase “voting against their own interests.” It’s usually used to indicate a sense of exasperation and disbelief on the part of the speaker that a certain group of voters is favoring a candidate or political party whom the speaker believes does not represent their best interests (see here, here, and here, for examples).

More specifically, it’s often used by Progressives to bemoan the tendency of some female voters and some of lower socioeconomic status to vote for Republicans. The insinuation is that Republicans are the “party of the rich” and they support policies that might jeopardize “women’s health” (i.e., abortion), therefore they should be universally rejected by certain classes of voters. The writers of these pieces struggle to explain this behavior and they usually settle for some combination of religious belief, small-mindedness, fear, and stupidity.

One explanation that never seems to cross the minds of those who write these pieces is that they themselves may have misidentified the “best interests” of the people on whose behalf they purport to be speaking. Put another way, it takes a special kind of arrogance to think that you are capable of defining the best interests of anyone other than yourself, much less large swathes of society. In fact, when these individuals attempt to define the “best interests” of others, they often assign those interests that drive their own behavior and choices.

Tolerance and the Despot


obama as despot“That’s my reality!” she said over and over again. It was 1997, I believe, and I was relaxing with a few friends in the NCO Club at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina following my return from another tour of duty in the Mideast. A female NCO was at our table, where we all took turns telling stories from our various deployments over the years. As the number of empty beer bottles increased, so too did the eccentricity and humor of the stories, except, that is, for this solitary NCO whose demeanor became more emphatic and grim as time passed.

I forget the specifics of the stories she told, chiefly because of the startling manner in which she concluded each anecdote, leaning in for dramatic effect, her eyes widening all the while, and announcing, “THAT’S MY REALITY!” The effect was immediate and as she desired, for it foreclosed any further question or attempts to explore her perspective in depth. Indeed, it seemed that to trespass on her “reality” would have been akin to saying, “No, actually, I don’t think your children are attractive at all, and that crayon scrawl your jug-eared son drew suggests that the epilepsy meds aren’t working very well either.” Certain things just aren’t up for discussion after all, and that included her “reality.”

To her everlasting credit, however, she didn’t demand our immediate and universal endorsement of her reality, such a presumption being considered, once upon a time, rude and small-minded. She could have her reality, and we could have ours, and we would coexist in a genial conversation. But that was back then, when from the academy to the editorial page we were encouraged to push against the alleged tide of intolerance, to celebrate inclusiveness, embrace diversity and, above all, to exercise Tolerance. Remember that word? That goal? That talisman?

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The left gets more surrealistic all the time.  One of its latest ideas is to ban any religion that says anything harsher than “You’re ok!” to anyone–and all in the name of liberty. Much of the left has completely forgotten, but it has some deep roots.  One of them reaches down to John Locke.  Let’s call Locke’s idea […]

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Big Outrage


shutterstock_82453498Salon, your instructional guide to your daily outrage over the imperfectability of mankind – sorry, sorry, humankind! Sexism! It’s so institutional! – had a piece about how Big Beverage forced you to pay a lot of money for bottled water. (Since the industry has Big in its name, you know you’re supposed to boo and hiss, unless it’s Big Government, in which case you should fall to your knees so fast you crack the marble.) Bottled water isn’t any better than good ol’ municipal water, so you’ve been swindled with booshwa, and paid dearly for your ignorance. Big Bev compelled you to waste your money with marketing and advertising, and like most people whose brains are shallow dishes of agar waiting for the implantation of capitalism’s horrid spores, you went right along.

Well. Let’s take a look at the target market for bottled water. For the most part, people who fret about Toxins Toxins Everywhere, and prefer their produce to have been banked with night soil instead of pesticides, and abhor anything that has been genetically modified. They regard drinking tap water as the equivalent of Tchaikovsky drinking from a stagnant pail during a cholera epidemic, and besides: if the bottle says FIJI WATER it’s a sign to everyone else that you’re the sort of person who would like to go to exotic places, providing the tour operators paid the locals a living wage and contributed 10% of their profits to saving the reefs, somewhere.

In other words, the Salon audience.

The Sacrament of Recycling


Office Christmas parties have few redeeming qualities. I maintain that the world would be a better place if the practice were done away with completely. I do, however, have a rule about never turning down free food.  While standing amongst co-workers this past Christmas, plotting how I could subtly steal the entire tray of cannolis, some of our colleagues from Britain inquired as to where the recycling was.

One co-worker pointed to the holiest of holies, while beaming with unjustifiable pride.  Mildly surprised to find that we Yankees observed the same religious rites, our British colleagues began inquiring as to the depth of our devotion. Anyone can recycle bottles, cans and stacks of printer paper, but did we recycle cardboard? The American congregation was unsure.

Winning Back America by Ignoring the Parts You Hate


Remember a few years back when the media was stocking up on smelling salts over Sarah Palin’s reference to small towns as “the real America?” Truth be told, I was never warm to that formulation. As a matter of crass politics, a winner never disowns huge segments of the electorate. I also disagreed with the idea on principle. I think a lot of us at Ricochet know what Palin was trying to say: that there are parts of the country where earnest patriotism is regarded as gauche. I’m all for attacking that attitude when it specifically arises, but applying it as an undifferentiated slight does a disservice to a big chunk of the country.

Still, if the media’s outrage had to do with the content rather than the speaker, they’d be taking to their fainting couches over the latest column from (West Virginia native!) Michael Tomasky, whose new piece at the Daily Beast drops the mask about how leftists really feel about the South; namely, that it is populated by untermenschen. After referring to the region as a “reactionary, prejudice-infested place” (the evidence for which comes from Louisiana’s rejection of Mary Landrieu in last weekend’s Senate runoff), Tomasky lets fly with an olympian expectoration:

What is the Scent of a Liberal?


Yesterday’s Pravda-on-the-Hudson reported that the political science profession has done it again. It has come up with something that you desperately need to know:

Conservatives and liberals do not smell the same to potential mates. According to a study published this month in the American Journal of Political Science, people can literally sniff out ideology — and this may explain why so many couples share political beliefs. Or, as the study’s title says, “Assortative Mating on Ideology Could Operate Through Olfactory Cues.”

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  (Note: For entertainment purposes only. – DD) The family I grew up in, like so many American families, was divided politically. On one side there was my mom and two brothers (the conservatives) and on the other there was my dad, sister and me (the right-wing nut jobs). As an adult, the milieu I […]

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Liberalism and Profanity


shutterstock_173867810The pages of liberal, and especially feminist, commentary are awash with cursing. Just below the elite levels of the commentariat, cursing is as much a part of liberal discourse as “problematic,” “privilege,” and “narrative.” To read left-wing thought online, not merely in the comments sections but even in the featured pieces on websites like Salon and Slate, is to wade through cant peppered with curse words. In part, liberals use this vulgar lingua franca to establish their radical bona fides. Someone who regularly curses is manifestly not defined by the “establishment.” Despite their status among the cultural elite, the left is beholden to the imagery of radical chic. Comfort with cursing is a holdover from this stance and part of a deep-seated desire to relive the glory days of protest. All the same, there is more than radical posturing in the left’s love affair with profanity. The use of vulgar language is a logical extension of the pervasive grip popular post-modernism has in American culture and in its public discourse.

There is substance at the higher levels of liberal thought, but in its popular forms contemporary liberalism is the politics of symbols and emotion. Liberalism lacks an intellectual core, something we might trace to the great disillusionment with the failure of Marxism. In place of principles, liberalism has become an outlook of symbols. A liberal is what they support or what they espouse. See, for example, the absurd rise of #hashtag activism, perhaps the perfect distillation of symbolic politics. Holding events or episodes up as symbols of cultural malaise or depravity that need to be attacked is a core strategy for advancing the symbolic politics of liberalism. Kevin D. Williamson at NRO had an interesting piece on this notion recently.

If symbols are what form a liberal’s identity to the public, the chief criterion for the rightness or wrongness of an issue in the liberal mind is how it makes one feel. Post-modernism strips political and intellectual discussion of objective intellectual standards. The subjective self becomes the only criterion of judgment to which one has access. Once these suppositions are accepted, rational arguments are impossible and discourse is necessarily reduced to emoting, over-emoting, and playing on an interlocutor’s emotional sensibilities. In liberal blogging, the imperative is always to show more emotion. More anger, more joy, more disappointment. Forty years of obsession with feelings notwithstanding, the emotional and literal vocabularies of post-moderns are truncated things. The capacity to express complex and nuanced emotions in specific language is beyond many today (to the extent that one can express deep feelings in language). The result is that political commentary is frequently a struggle to out-emote an opponent with limited resources for expressing said emotion.

Me and Mrs. Jones


shutterstock_154817021I have three rules in life that I seldom break, as experience has taught me that no good can come from doing so. (1) I never take myself too seriously. (2) I don’t allow myself to be a burden to other people. (3) I never, ever, read Mother Jones. I fell off the wagon on number three today. In my defense, it has been a slow couple of days for news.

Entering their website is a bit like stumbling upon the unfiltered id of the liberal psyche. All stories warn of impending disasters of a global, or at least national, scale. Warnings of “Big Food” and their corrupting influence on the nation’s dietitians are given a prominent position near an endless string of climate change alarmism stories.  These are buttressed by a never-ending series of articles that chronicle how Republicans are the cause of every one of these oncoming disasters.

This formula is rarely violated. The drum of crises fed by evil conservatives is beat day and night with astonishing fortitude. No amount of exaggeration or distortion is unjustified in the face of the palpable and callous villainy perpetrated by the right. Case in Point:

Change: Climate and Otherwise


shutterstock_109199027“Change is a very most natural thing” — Steven Fromholz                                                                                 Recently, our president, leading what he claimed would be the most transparent administration in our history, went before an unquestioning press corps to call our attention to something (anything) more important than how four Americans were left helpless to die before a terrorist mob; or how it was covered up; or what a failure that “signature” health care bill is; or how 92 million Americans are not working; or exactly what we will all be paying when the final provisions of ObamaCare have kicked in; or that the entire world is considerably more dangerous after five years of a more “thoughtful” foreign policy on the part of the U.S. I know what a long, clumsy and run-on sentence that was. But the toughest English teacher I ever had is long dead and she was always the only one whose red marker I really feared. (I am told she passed peacefully at 96 grading essays and still believing that my spelling was the worse that she had ever seen — with the possible exception of my uncle, whom she also taught.) 

Our president was determined that we should take note of the politically crafted National Climate Assessment, which promises sure destruction if we do not act within the minute to arrest climate change. The report laid out predictions of dire, deadly, and immediate consequences. Yet, despite the scale of the supposed threat, our enlightened president has a solution — he can manipulate the earth, winds, and sky at whim if only he’s vested with enough tax dollars and authority to regulate individual behavior.

Almost every poll in recent months tells us that the American public not only does not consider “climate change” a pressing issue, but is also increasingly regarding it is a non-issue. Yet the left still treats it as one of the altars upon which our liberty should be sacrificed. 

Better To Be Gay Than Christian in the NFL


When University of Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams on Saturday — becoming the first openly gay player in the NFL — he laid a big wet one on his boyfriend in front of the cameras. In response, Miami Dolphins Defensive Back Don Jones tweeted out “OMG” and “Horrible.” The Dolphins were swift in their punishment. Jones has been fined and suspended.

But what about all those nasty tweets leveled against openly Christian Tim Tebow? Oh, that doesn’t matter. Because, you know, Christians deserve it. It takes courage to come out as an openly gay player in a society that is orgasmic about everything gay. But to stand up for your faith in the midst of a culture that is hostile to it, well, that’s just “annoying,” as one tweet said about Tebow.