"The last refuge of a liberal"
Krauthammer, crystallizing several years worth of postings here into a single column:
Liberalism under siege is an ugly sight indeed. Just yesterday it was all hope and change and returning power to the people. But the people have proved so disappointing. Their recalcitrance has, in only 19 months, turned the predicted 40-year liberal ascendancy (James Carville) into a full retreat. Ah, the people, the little people, the small-town people, the “bitter” people, as Barack Obama in an unguarded moment once memorably called them, clinging “to guns or religion or” — this part is less remembered — “antipathy toward people who aren’t like them.”
That’s a polite way of saying: clinging to bigotry. And promiscuous charges of bigotry are precisely how our current rulers and their vast media auxiliary react to an obstreperous citizenry that insists on incorrect thinking.
— Resistance to the vast expansion of government power, intrusiveness and debt, as represented by the Tea Party movement? Why, racist resentment toward a black president.
— Disgust and alarm with the federal government’s unwillingness to curb illegal immigration, as crystallized in the Arizona law? Nativism.
— Opposition to the most radical redefinition of marriage in human history, as expressed in Proposition 8 in California? Homophobia.
— Opposition to a 15-story Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero? Islamophobia.
Now we know why the country has become “ungovernable,” last year’s excuse for the Democrats’ failure of governance: Who can possibly govern a nation of racist, nativist, homophobic Islamophobes?
Note what connects these issues. In every one, liberals have lost the argument in the court of public opinion. Majorities — often lopsided majorities — oppose President Obama’s social-democratic agenda (e.g., the stimulus, Obamacare), support the Arizona law, oppose gay marriage and reject a mosque near Ground Zero.
What’s a liberal to do?
Ooh, I know! Scream “bigot” and “argument ad populum” as if you understand what the terms mean, then sprinkle in some tripe about being all for FREEDOM! — while secretly hoping no one notices that the freedom you’re all for never really extends to your ideological opponents, who frankly don’t deserve freedom anyhow, their being such hateful and pig-ignorant proles in the first place.
[…] When the Tea Party arose, a spontaneous, leaderless and perfectly natural (and traditionally American) reaction to the vast expansion of government intrinsic to the president’s proudly proclaimed transformational agenda, the liberal commentariat cast it as a mob of angry white yahoos disguising their antipathy to a black president by cleverly speaking in economic terms.
Then came Arizona and S.B. 1070. It seems impossible for the left to believe that people of good will could hold that: (a) illegal immigration should be illegal, (b) the federal government should not hold border enforcement hostage to comprehensive reform, i.e., amnesty, (c) every country has the right to determine the composition of its immigrant population.
As for Proposition 8, is it so hard to see why people might believe that a single judge overturning the will of 7 million voters is an affront to democracy? And that seeing merit in retaining the structure of the most ancient and fundamental of all social institutions is something other than an alleged hatred of gays — particularly since the opposite-gender requirement has characterized virtually every society in all the millennia until just a few years ago?
And now the mosque near Ground Zero. The intelligentsia is near unanimous that the only possible grounds for opposition is bigotry toward Muslims. This smug attribution of bigotry to two-thirds of the population hinges on the insistence on a complete lack of connection between Islam and radical Islam, a proposition that dovetails perfectly with the Obama administration’s pretense that we are at war with nothing more than “violent extremists” of inscrutable motive and indiscernible belief. Those who reject this as both ridiculous and politically correct (an admitted redundancy) are declared Islamophobes, the ad hominem du jour.
It is a measure of the corruption of liberal thought and the collapse of its self-confidence that, finding itself so widely repudiated, it resorts reflexively to the cheapest race-baiting (in a colorful variety of forms). Indeed, how can one reason with a nation of pitchfork-wielding mobs brimming with “antipathy toward people who aren’t like them” — blacks, Hispanics, gays and Muslims — a nation that is, as Michelle Obama once put it succinctly, “just downright mean”?
The Democrats are going to get beaten badly in November. Not just because the economy is ailing. And not just because Obama over-read his mandate in governing too far left. But because a comeuppance is due the arrogant elites whose undisguised contempt for the great unwashed prevents them from conceding a modicum of serious thought to those who dare oppose them.
As I tried to make clear yesterday to Middle Tennessee State’s facile-minded Professor of Reverb, William Yelverton, his (admittedly third-rate) attempts at trying to shame the 70+% of Americans he has taken to labeling “Christian teabaggers” into falling in line behind the social and political desires of self-styled progressive “elites” no longer carried much sting; that Americans had reached their threshold for being held hostage by the PC mandates of a phony and cynically self-serving “multiculturalism” that insisted, for its force, on denigrating the legitimacy of an American/Western culture born out of classical liberal ideals.
For the progressive agenda to ascend, the ideals of classical liberalism — those concerning individual autonomy, natural rights, Enlightenment notions of truth and the foregrounding of logic over rhetoric as a bulwark against the will to power — need to be deconstructed and then de-legitimized. Identity politics must replace individual autonomy, with the various factions within identity groups vying for what will become that group’s sanctioned narrative (with the losers in that battle cast out as inauthentic, or race-traitors, or sufferers of false consciousness, etc.); natural rights need be “separated” from the secular rights that are then decided upon by the ruling class; truth must always be “contingent,” subject to perspective and narrative frame for its relative rhetorical power, and never absolute; interpretation becomes such that the message of an individual becomes the property of an “interpretive community” whose own intentions then take precedence over the intentions of the individual — and are allowed moreover to determine the intentions of that individual.
To beat back the progressive agenda is to beat back the kernel assumptions of leftism itself — to reaffirm the very principles upon which this country was founded, and which the left has been steadily hoping to erode through an institutional takeover of language, be the offshoot of such a linguistic coup the idea of a “living Constitution” or identity politics as reinforced by such benign terms as “diversity” and “multiculturalism.”
Unfortunately, most Americans don’t recognize what is happening at the structural level. Fortunately, they seem to be waking up to it on a gut level.
This infuriates faux-sophisticates the likes of William Yelverton, who photograph themselves at artistic leisure and who for years has been able to advance their supposed intellectual superiority without having to do much beyond learn a few key phrases, then argue by accusation and haughty dismissal, buoyed by an academic and media culture that both supports and enables them. Our job is publicly to undress these pseudo-intellectual frauds and would-be petty despots, to expose them for the shallow and lazy “thinkers” that they truly are. Beyond that, it is our job to detail the structural takeover of this country by ever-parasitic leftism so that the brush strokes become evident to anyone intellectually curious enough to take the time to look.
Yelverton was an easy takedown, his being a rather low-hanging fruit on the “progressive” tree. But that doesn’t mean we need to let the boot of his miserable neck, either.