I accept a challenge to criticize liberalism

My choice for president 

Readers have often mistaken me for a liberal because of my criticisms of conservatives, but I am neither the one nor the other, although I lean more toward the left. Recently, a reader who was offended by my criticism of conservatism challenged me to criticize liberalism. This is my response.

“When knowledge becomes rigid, it stops living.” --Anselm Kiefer

Liberals are of the same mindset in encouraging
open-mindedness, that they are in “honoring diversity,” i.e. the more the better. The danger of diversity is societal fragmentation and, in the worst case scenario, civil war; the danger of open-mindedness is the elimination of absolutes. I’ll give some examples from the fields of morality, history, science, and philosophy. In regard to morality, the denial of absolutes puts the basis for our values upon personal preference and social custom. For example, who are we in the West to say that the Moslem practice of mutilating the genitals of young females is wrong for all peoples in all places and at all times? Likewise, if we carry this view to its logical conclusion in the field of history, we must remain open to the possibility that the holocaust didn’t really happen, and, come to think of it, maybe the moon-landing didn’t either. In the realm of science, surely we wouldn’t be so rigid as to deny the possibility that the universe was created in six days, 6,000 years ago, by a male humanoid deity named Jehovah who was afterwards all tuckered-out and had to sleep-in on Saturday. Philosophically, we are forced to remain open to the possibility that Hume was right when he doubted the existence of cause and effect. Sure, this would mean that if someone gets hit by a bus, we can never know for sure that he wouldn’t lie splatted on the asphalt even if nothing had hit him, but isn’t keeping an open mind preferable to allowing our thoughts to become “rigid” and no longer “living”? 

The best I can say about the value that liberals place upon openness is that it’s a crock. No liberals are open-minded in regard to the examples given, and I would even go so far as to say that all human beings are closed-minded; liberals are just more hypocritical in this regard, and their minds are closed about different things.*

Liberalism is the parent of political correctness, a doctrine whereby anyone who has different values and opinions from yourself can be persecuted as a bigot. How can a person know beforehand that she’s about to fail the political correctness test? She can’t because political correctness is like religious gnosticism in that it requires esoteric knowledge known only to the initiated, and woe be to  anyone who is being given such a test by her employer because she might well be fired. This sometimes happened at the hospital where Peggy was worked. A nurse could expect to be put on probation for drug abuse, but there was no forgiveness for political incorrectness. Peggy
’s job was never at risk for the following, but I’ll give it as an example of how petty and unkind the politically correct often become. During a slow night in labor and delivery, Peggy tried telling her fellow nurses (all of whom were liberals) a few jokes:

“Has anyone here heard of the math teacher who was detained at the airport because she had a slide rule in her purse? She was thought to be a member of Al-Gebra.”

When a fellow nurse complained that the joke was ethnically insensitive, Peggy told another:

“What kind of flightless bird is completely gray? A melted penguin.”

Alas, when a second co-worker said that her friend of mixed race would be hurt by the joke, Peggy gave up trying to amuse her co-workers.

Some stores here have signs by the door proclaiming them a “Hate Free Zone.” When I asked myself how such stores might differ from less enlightened establishments,  all I could come up with was that shoppers would have to change out of their Klan robes before entering. I think the result of such signs is simply to announce the store owner’s imagined superiority over those who don’t tow the liberal line, their real message being: “Only the politically correct need enter here.”

Before leaving Mississippi for Oregon’s liberal Willamette Valley in 1986, I had never, to my knowledge, known an across-the-board liberal, and their frequent reaction to my Southern accent left me disabused of my delusion that they valued compassion, fairness, and intelligence. Many such people didn’t ask where I was from with friendly interest but with an inflection better suited to someone who smelled dog shit: “Where ARE you from!?” When informed, they would typically do two things. One was to ask “Where in Missouri?” (suggesting that they had never even been to the South), and the other was to tell me me how ignorant, vicious, provincial, and bigoted, white Southerners were, a characterization which apparently included me although we had only met minutes earlier. Given how dangerous such people thought I was, it struck me as a wonder that they had the audacity to speak so openly, but perhaps they were more courageous than I imagined.

After months of hearing my home state—and by implication myself—being trashed, I would sometimes ask such people if they had considered the possibility that they might be bigoted. They would assure me through clinched teeth that they weren’t bigoted, they were right. They could then in good conscience drive away with their “Honor Diversity” bumper stickers unblemished and their pride in their openness undiminished, while I reflected that, regardless of their stated values, people at either end of the political spectrum tend toward asininity. I seriously doubt that it is possible to agree with everything a given group believes without surrendering the willingness to think for oneself.

Many conservatives seem proud of their prejudices, whereas liberals had rather be skinned alive than admit to theirs. This is because they exist in opposition to what liberals claim to hold most dear, namely that all people are equal and deserving of respect. While it’s true that white loggers, white ranchers, white fat people, white Republicans, white evangelicals, white Southerners, white blue-collar workers, white people who live in trailer parks, and white people who are under-educated, are all fair game to the un-prejudiced, they would not regard their hatred as bigotry but as fact-based analysis. As with the people who thought they knew everything they needed to know about me based upon my accent, such liberals would argue that you’re only prejudiced if you’re wrong, and they aren’t wrong.

A few months ago—and upon learning where I was from—a Canadian reader wrote: “From Mississippi, are you? I have enough bigots in my life. Please don’t come near my blog again.” Another liberal reader was so incensed that I didn’t consider it obvious that the cop in the 2014 Ferguson, Missouri, shooting was motivated by racism, that she said she was too upset to talk about it. Like all good liberals, both of these readers prided themselves on their openness to other people’s views, but drew the line at views in opposition to their own even when, as with the Canadian reader, he didn
’t know what my views were.
Several years ago, residents of a rundown part of Eugene called The Whiteaker Neighborhood risked vandalism if they painted their houses, replaced a fence, or did some other home improvement project. This was because even the most humble efforts to make one’s abode attractive were said to discriminate against the poor by raising housing costs. It was a case of anti-gentrification taken to its logical conclusion. Just as some liberal heterosexual couples refuse to marry until all gays can marry, some liberal property owners refuse to repair their houses until all people have houses. Of course, this implies that they want to marry and repair their houses.

In the year 2000, two Wiccans who worked for the Eugene city government complained that Christmas trees were symbols of Christian oppression and violence, and they asked that such trees be prohibited on city property. Although the U.S. Supreme Court had declared in 1989 that Christmas trees are not symbols of Christianity (most atheists have them), Jim Johnson, Eugene’s city manager at the time, banned them from city offices in the interest of what he called “practicing diversity” (liberals often find it necessary to abolish diversity in order to encourage it). When firemen bitterly complained that their fire stations were their homes away from home, Johnson finally allowed them to have one small tree per station on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day only—if no one complained.

One of the most appalling incidents of academic liberal intolerance occurred in 2005 when Harvard president Lawrence Summers suggested during a speech that research be done in order to determine whether innate differences between men and women might partly explain why fewer women choose careers in science, engineering, and math. Nancy Hopkins, a biologist at M.I.T., walked out on Summers’ talk, saying that, had she stayed, “I would’ve either blacked-out or thrown-up.” When the Harvard faculty passed a “no confidence” vote against him, Summers resigned.

Fanatics are usually able to set the tenor for a given group because people had rather let them do it than to be attacked as traitors for speaking out. Partially for this reason, I have come to distrust all cause-oriented groups and to hate a great many of them. For example, when Bush Jr. invaded Iraq, I joined the local war protests, but when they became more pro-anarchistic than anti-war, I could no longer in good conscience support them. I have also lost liberal friends as I did recently over the Ferguson, Missouri, incident. It wasn’t enough that I agreed that blacks are getting a raw deal, my friend considered me a racist because I couldn’t agree with her that racism was responsible for that particular shooting. Nothing breeds fanaticism like religion, patriotism, partisanism, and political correctness. 

*Atheism is something about which both liberals and conservatives are closed-minded (liberals less so because they are less religious). Much of my antipathy toward my species comes from my knowledge that I am widely hated, not for what I do but for what I don't believe. I read recently of an atheist who, upon coming out to his family, was told by his sister that she had rather leave her children alone with a pedophile than with him because a pedophile could only harm their bodies; he could destroy their souls.