Liberals – what are they good for?

Posted by Mike @ 9:31 AM Tuesday, 2 July 2002 • Category: Be nice

Meryl Yourish doesn’t much care for Ann Coulter. Thus:

I don’t hate America. I don’t hate flag-wavers. I don’t hate abortion opponents, and I certainly don’t hate all religions except Islam. “Even Islamic terrorists don’t hate America like liberals do,” Coulter writes.

Unbelievable canards. This woman slams millions of freedom-loving Americansa phrase that can also be applied to liberalswithout shame…

How you can claim this woman as one of your own astonishes me. How you can respect anything this woman writes astonishes me. How you can take seriously anything she utters angers me.

You ask liberals to decry the Cynthia McKinney loons. Fine. Now I’m asking conservatives to do the same for Ann Coulter. Stop being proud of idiots like Coulter and slam them the way you slam McKinney. I’m getting a little tired of the bozos getting a free pass because you agree with a few of the things they say. Fair practices, my conservative friendsthat’s all I’m asking for.

Yikes. Yourish picked up on a site that purports to fact-check Coulter’s ass, and says that while she doesn’t have a problem with debate, she does have a serious problem with “flat-out lies being passed along as ‘proof’ that liberals are evil.” I like Yourish, and I like Coulter as well. I won’t deny that Coulter has consistently made some pretty strong statements, but flat-out lies? I haven’t checked the site that got Yourish all worked up myself, so I can’t speak to the guy’s credibility at all.

But this got me to thinking about a related problem, one that I suffer from myself sometimes: the problem of overgeneralization. You all already know how much I bitch about liberals, Leftists, and Democommies on this site, and on occasion I’ve found myself posting something, then thinking a little harder about it, then finally admitting to myself that I’m not entirely comfortable with whatever it was I just said, or at least the way in which I said it. It’s no doubt true that all liberals don’t conform entirely to my own mental caricature of them, at least as expressed here. There are bound to be libs out there whose motivation is not a nihilistic and juvenile hatred of America and all it stands for, but rather a genuine and honest belief in a worldview that differs profoundly from my own but that still allows for at least some semblance of patriotic feeling. I don’t personally know any right off the top of my head, but to be honest, my circle of close liberal friends is, shall we say, somewhat circumscribed. Most of the people I hang out with and talk politics with are just as hawkish as me; some of them are more so. So I don’t claim to have the inside dope on what liberals really think; I just toss off a few insults, throw in a little salty language, and move on to the next topic.

But I do believe this: no matter how well-intentioned or generous of spirit some liberals may be, they’re dead wrong when it comes to how we should conduct national and international affairs. The assumption on the Left seems to be a visceral reaction to the belief, inculcated for years in a great many of us, that “My country, right or wrong” was one of the more hideous and immoral sophistries ever uttered by Man, ranking right up there with “the end justifies the means.” So the Left embraces the opposing sophistry, “My country – wrong.” Or maybe a better one would be “I don’t believe in the good intentions of the US government, ever, in any conceivable situation. But the corporations are worse.” I don’t think I really need to do any op cits here; we’ve all seen and heard plenty enough of ’em to make that assertion with a minimum of discomfort.

And see, that’s what’s really funny. The folks on the Left don’t trust the government any more than my friends on the Right do. They just choose to cite different reasons why. They keep their worried eyes on the ever-present symbiotic relationship between the USG and various big-business interests while I worry more about the ongoing effort to codify political correctness, safety-Nazism, and the general replacement of any notion of personal responsibility with the culture of victimization. They fret about greedy, shortsighted CEO’s who favor the raping of Mother Earth, the exploitation of Third World indigenous peoples in the name of increased profits, and the subjugation of individual will for the advancement of the Evil Multinational while I fret about elitist ivory-tower wackos who favor raping the capitalist system, the exploitation of our darkest personal insecurities in the name of increased government control, and the subjugation of individual will for the advancement of social collectivism. They look at any Republican politician and see neo-Hitler Ronnie Raygun, corruption and dishonesty incarnate, fangs dripping with the gore of the working poor, stripping away our individual rights because he hates freedom. I look at any Democratic politician and see neo-Stalin Bill Clinton, corruption and dishonesty incarnate, pud stiffening in anticipation of confiscatory taxes, stripping away our rights because he hates – freedom.

And it seems to me that this is the ironic part. If liberals fear and mistrust their government so, then why in the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed world do they favor increasing the size, budget, and power of every federal bureaucracy that gets delivered to us from some Congresscritter’s statist wishlist? Oh, don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty enough inconsistency on the conservative side to spread the (overgeneralized) canards around a little. I’ve said it often enough, and so have many others: how can a conservative claim to be for less government and more individual liberty and then turn right around and dictate the terms under which we choose to make love, reproduce, entertain ourselves, alter our consciousness? (And don’t give me that crap about altering our consciousness being inherently bad either – it’s one of the oldest human impulses, and everybody does it in one way or another. Whether it’s a couple of martinis after dinner, the jogger’s or skydiver’s endorphin rush, or smoking a joint or snorting a line or whatever, the impulse has always been with us as a species and is not ever going to go away.)

But the liberal dilemma is more obvious and damning, I think. The conservative can use the shield of traditional morality to justify his inconsistency, and it seems to work pretty well for them. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but they seem comfortable with it. The liberal has no such shield that I’m capable of puzzling out; liberal policies always increase the power and scope of the government over the individual, period, and I can’t find an ideological justification for it anywhere, nor reconcile it with their plain and obvious mistrust of said government. To say that the government is the only entity capable of seeing that we all do what’s best for ourselves and society in every case, and then turning around and saying to the victim-of-the-week “It’s not my fault! It’s this damned sneaky and nefarious government!” is a conflict I simply can’t resolve intellectually. It’s essentially why I’m not a liberal anymore, although I most certainly was one in college and immediately after. I think that when I admit that back in the day I used to think Jello Biafra and John Anderson were just about the two most politically-astute people in the universe, well, that’ll tell at least some of you all you really need to know.

The truth is, as I’ve said before on these very pages, I don’t know what to call myself. And the fact that I can’t easily pigeonhole myself should probably make me a lot more reticent about pigeonholing others – but I can’t honestly say that it always does. There’s a nugget of truth at the core of every stereotype, sure, but it’s certainly unfair to lump a large percentage of the population into a one-size-fits-all category like “liberal,” give them a good general cussing, and then dust your hands off and call it a job well-done.

So what to do about it? Well, I can tell you that I’m definitely not about to quit railing against liberals on this site, that’s for sure. I’ll try to be as specific as I can and consider the circumstances and particulars of the argument whenever I get out the old poison pen, but I won’t always be successful at it. I make certain assumptions in writing this stuff, and one of those assumptions is that you guys generally know exactly who and what I’m talking about when I use a generic term like “liberal” or “Lefty” or “socialist muttonhead.” I don’t mean to imply that each and every person out there who calls himself a liberal is an anti-capitalist commie dupe or a freedom-fearing, America-hating totalitarian or a tree-hugging hippie. To me, liberalism means one thing: the belief that government is the solution, almost always. I happen to believe that government is the problem, almost always. So if I seem to be overgeneralizing here and there, well, just read between the lines and cut me a little slack. I think you’re all smart enough to know what I mean.

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