"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Friday, April 11, 2014

Liberal Left to Opponents: Shut Up!

I have spent a lot of time in a very conservative part of the country, where opinions are expressed with little doubt or indecision.  Global warming is horseshit, concocted by socialist scientists and supported by their shills and  lackeys in academia who want to shut down America’s great capitalist engines. Marriage between a man and a woman is a God-given ordinance and anything else is Satanic perversion. Abortion is murder.  The right to firearms is absolute, inviolable, and enshrined in the Constitution, itself God-given.

There have never been any popular liberal talk shows – nary a left wing Hannity or O’Reilly.  Surely the Left could have found some media-savvy demagogues who could whip up the legions of Americans who hate Bush, Wall Street, the Koch Bros., and the XL Pipeline just as hysterically as Limbaugh flogs Joe Bob on to hysteria, and fuels his hatred for Obama and his crypto-Socialist conspirators.  Yet, there has been no one except limp Al Franken who wasn’t mad, wasn’t funny, and was just too rational.

The problem of the Left – at least up till now - has been its on-the-one-hand-on-the-other consideration, and its granite humorlessness.  Women’s rights, the environment, and One Percent greed are no laughing matters.  To pander, exaggerate, distort, and calumny would be to descend to the ignorant depths of the Right.

Worst of all has been the Left’s lack of hot button issues – issues that fire up the nation, not just a narrow constituency.  Few Americans really care about global warming and most consider it a hysterical liberal construct. Even for those who begrudgingly accept it, it is a distant reality that can be dealt with by American ingenuity.  If blacks haven’t made it out of the ghetto yet, its their problem; and women? They already piss on men and get away with it. Fracking? Most Americans support it for its contribution to energy independence and job creation. 

No matter what they do, liberals can’t seem to light a fire under anyone; and since the fire under old Sixties idealists – the foundational constituency of the Left – is slowly but surely flickering out, there is not much hope left for a ‘progressive’ agenda.

So, shellacked at the polls, dismissed by the media, ridiculed by good, honest Middle Americans, and marginalized and isolated in the carrels of Bard and Harvard, ‘progressives’ have changed their tactics. They have been unable to stem the conservative tide and have been unable to convince citizens that environmental Armageddon is right around the corner, so new stratagems are required.  Their anguish over how our once great country has become the playground of the indifferent, venal, and corrupt rich has fallen on deaf ears. The only feint left is to cloture the debate, intimidate those who disagree with their policies, and spread the word that all social, environmental, and economic issues have been ‘settled’.  There are no longer two sides to arguments about global warming, same-sex marriage, abortion, or income inequality.  Ships flying all flags have sailed rough and roiled political waters, and are now safely at port. 

This tactic has been remarkably successful.  Although the hardened Right hasn’t budged an inch, many if not most moderates have toed the politically correct ‘progressive’ line. Those who legitimately harbor questions about the impact of climate change, the role of genetics in intelligence, gay militancy, or the moral implications of abortion keep their mouths shut. 

Charles Krauthammer, writing in the Washington Post (4.11.14) illustrates the trend with a personal experience:

Two months ago, a petition bearing more than 110,000 signatures was delivered to The Post, demanding a ban on any article questioning global warming. The petition arrived the day before publication of my column, which consisted of precisely that heresy.

The column ran as usual. But I was gratified by the show of intolerance because it perfectly illustrated my argument that the left is entering a new phase of ideological agitation — no longer trying to win the debate but stopping debate altogether, banishing from public discourse any and all opposition.

Krauthammer goes on to cite the case of the CEO of Mozilla who was dunned out of office for his legitimate, honest, and serious opposition to gay marriage.  Brendan Eich has not only spoken out on the issue, but he contributed to causes that supported his conviction, most notably to California’s Proposition 8 which defined marriage as between a man and a woman:

To oppose [gay marriage as Eich did] is nothing but bigotry, akin to racism. Opponents are to be similarly marginalized and shunned, destroyed personally and professionally.

‘Progressives’ have vilified conservatives for their supposed ‘war on women’ and anyone who has raised reasonable questions on issues of equal pay, glass ceilings, or social mobility have been vilified and condemned as ‘sexist’.  Lawrence Summers, then President of Harvard was just as summarily dismissed from his job as Brendan Eich.  Summers’ sin?  He offered a number of legitimate reasons why there were so few women in the sciences at Harvard, but his academic colleagues objected and said they were offensive, hateful, and ignorant.

Religious fundamentalists believe in the primacy of the Bible and prefer to follow its injunctions rather than those of a secular state; yet they have been labeled as wrongheaded ignoramuses by the Left.  God’s Law, they say, is higher than Man’s; but this legitimate, faith-based conclusion is rejected out of hand by ‘progressives’.

Political correctness is one of the most corrosive phenomena in American society today because it threatens the bedrock democratic principles of free speech, academic inquiry, and open debate.  There are always two sides to every argument, and it is ignorant to suppose otherwise. One does not have to believe in the absolute moral authority of the Bible to respect those who do.  Evangelical Christians make up nearly 40 percent of Americans, and while it is difficult to accept their rejection of Evolution or side with their often narrow exegesis of  Biblical texts, agreement is not the point.  The Left cannot simply accept the legitimacy of opposing arguments; and therefore try to cloture debate.

One could make the argument that the Left’s cloture strategy is simply a deft political response to the hysterical screeds of the Right.  Not much difference between demagoguery and posturing and shutting down rational debate.  Do whatever it takes to win. Yet political correctness is far worse because it closes the minds of the best and the brightest. The academics of Harvard and Yale are no dummies, and in a freer, more open intellectual environment they could put those big brains to work and look for real solutions rather than work on apologias for liberal causes.

In other words, I expect more from the Left – more intelligent inquiry, more sophisticated historical analysis, more objective scientific inquiry.  It is one thing for Joe Bob to foam at the mouth over Obama’s birth certificate, another thing for an Associate Professor at Harvard to shout down the smartest man in the room.

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