Tuesday, April 24, 2007

 

Why I Stay Right

Novelist Andrew Klavan contrasts what it means to be a conservative and what passes today for progressivism in a fine essay up at City Journal, The Big White Lie. Klavan lays the groundwork for his thesis in his first paragraph:

The thing I like best about being a conservative is that I don’t have to lie. I don’t have to pretend that men and women are the same. I don’t have to declare that failed or oppressive cultures are as good as mine. I don’t have to say that everyone’s special or that the rich cause poverty or that all religions are a path to God. I don’t have to claim that a bad writer like Alice Walker is a good one or that a good writer like Toni Morrison is a great one. I don’t have to pretend that Islam means peace.

Klavan contrasts this bedrock value of the conservative ethos, with something very different a work in Leftist theology:

This is leftism’s great strength: it’s all white lies. That’s its only advantage, as far as I can tell. None of its programs actually works, after all. From statism and income redistribution to liberalized criminal laws and multiculturalism, from its assault on religion to its redefinition of family, leftist policies have made the common life worse wherever they’re installed. But because it depends on—indeed is defined by—describing the human condition inaccurately, leftism is nothing if not polite. With its tortuous attempts to rename unpleasant facts out of existence—he’s not crippled, dear, he’s handicapped; it’s not a slum, it’s an inner city; it’s not surrender, it’s redeployment—leftism has outlived its own failure by hiding itself within the most labyrinthine construct of social delicacy since Victoria was queen.

Leftists are the new ideological Puritans. Yet in one of life’s ironies, progressives are highly successful in characterizing conservatives as those who are ignorant, intolerant, closed-minded, and repressive. Klavan laments that public opprobrium weighs so heavily against those who would speak against liberal orthodoxy and political correctness, even to the point of silence. As a conservative living in Southern California, Klavan feels the intolerance and hostility of the Left first hand. He too-often violates the “Left’s increasingly elaborate sensitivities.”

LaShawn Barber amplifies Klavan’s remarks in a post Speak No Truth.

Barber knows the hostility of the Left firsthand as well, as a Conservative Christian blogger, who happens to be a female African-American. Though I’m sure she doesn’t like thinking about or categorizing people on the basis of race, she’s run afoul of some real racists -- those who expect or demand that she adopt racial or political litmus tests for her opinions.

Barber is a first rate intellect and essayist, who has obviously spent considerable reflection on matters of race and culture, politics and patriotism. She confesses religious faith. Hers is a serious voice, attentive to matters of real import, national security, and the survival of civilization. (No, really, she’s a must read.)

Barber extends Klavan’s thesis into issues of critical importance to all of us, as Americans:

As Klavan acknowledges, it is politically incorrect to tell the truth. To call abortion murder is to be an extremist who wants to send women back to the Victorian era. Personal responsibility, accountability, and a desire to speak out for and protect the unborn limit a woman’s “rights,” I guess. For anyone to say that out-of-control black crime and illegitimacy rates are destroying the black community and that the responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of those committing the crimes and having babies by different men is to be self-hating if you’re black and a racist if you’re white.

(snip)

As this country has become more racially and culturally diverse, telling the truth about racial and cultural differences has become off-limits. At the same time, liberals want to apply separate standards to these diverse groups based on those differences. For example, you can’t talk about personal responsibility in the context of underachievement among black students, or you’re a racist. Yet, so-called affirmative action — a government-mandated racial classification system — exists to compensate for those differences (and not to combat racism, as some people believe). But to be PC is to pretend racial disparities like underachievement or high crime rates are caused by white racism instead of by individuals and something lacking within the subculture itself, and to say otherwise is taboo.

Barber sees this willful self-deception at work within the context of the challenges for the black community. Generations of African-Americans have paid the highest price for the fallacies of Leftist Theology. Yet many of their prominent spokespeople (as in, foremost in the public eye) remain enthralled to the misguided doctrines that continue to enslave their constituents. Ideologues and demagogues like Sharpton and Jackson may find profit in maintaining the old dogmas, but it’s abundantly clear they too believe in what they peddle.

I suppose that’s always the way with the fervent among us. Especially so for those who have invested so much time, energy, ethic, self-respect and prestige in sustaining all those not so little white lies.

I think we could extend Klavan’s thesis into every avenue and byway of progressive ideology. After all, the “reality-based community” desperately seeks to sustain the undue influence and predominance of progressive ideals among the world’s elites and governments.

Surely we see this dynamic at work within the abortion debate, as Barber alludes. So called “pro-choice” supporters of reproductive rights intentionally (and violently) block out images and actual medical facts regarding the “medical procedures” they demand remain legal, with or without public support. Practicing abortionists are medical practitioners “devoted” to the medical care of their patients, rather than ideologues willing to sacrifice one life for the preferences or convenience of another. Those who consider “choosing” abortion as the solution for their “problem pregnancy” must never be confronted with the consequences of their behavior: in promiscuity, in saying no to birth control, in elevating personal convenience over the sanctity of human life, or surely not in the grisly realities of how an abortion is actually accomplished.

I hear the same dynamic at work in the fevered denouncements of globalism, free trade, and capitalism. I listened to an Indian commentator bemoaning some ill or another in India. He cataloged a litany of disaster in India, related to the appropriation of agricultural land, the demise of agrarian economy, and the flight of rural poor into urban concentrations. He described the rapaciousness of corporations and financial interests. He railed against major Western Corporations like Coca Cola, who exploited Third World populations. Not once did he mention the Indian Government or its actions, good or bad. He then made a comparison to the US, in which he said the same corporate interests had garnered huge agricultural subsidies and destroyed family farming in America.

This last made me laugh out loud.

Now I lament the passing of the American family farm as anyone – my uncle and his family had one, and I have fond memories. But to frame the US transition from an agricultural society to an industrial, and now, increasingly, a service economy as all about corporate greed is just, well, Marxist. And stupid, given that the increases in average standard of living associated with that transition are several orders of magnitude.

Just a guess, if you want to know what may be the actual sources of Indian problems, you might take a look at various aspects of socialist central planning and endemic corruption. Just as in the US, if you want to find fault with the abuse of agricultural subsidies, look first at those who benefited first, and most – and that would be the politicians with their hands out election time for contributions, rather than the corporate interests who figured out how to make money at their game.

Leftist Theology strives to shield rightful consequences, and impose unjustified others. Everyone’s a victim of something, unless that someone can somehow be found liable, and compelled to foot the bill for all manner of reparations or correction.

And of course, eventually there are too many victims and not enough perpetrators to pay the growing bills that come due. But that will always be for a later generation, when Leftist ideologues can find some other bogeyman to blame for the failures of their doctrines.

(Via Memeorandum.com, also noted by Scott Johnson at Powerline)

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