Sunday, July 25, 2010

Why Liberals Hate Conservatives

A few weeks ago Dennis Prager interviewed John Podhoretz about his recent editorial in New York Post the magazine concerning the dustup over JournoList, an email list in which some 400 left-of-center journalists emailed one another with advice in how to promote the leftist agenda in their reporting. One of the issues to emerge from some of the emails that have been disclosed is the visceral hatred felt by these leftist journalists for conservatives, most notably exemplified by an email by NPR producer Sarah Spitz in which she said she would "laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out" if she were to see conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh suffering a heart attack. In boasting that she would gleefully watch a man die in front of her eyes, Spitz seemed to shock even herself. “I never knew I had this much hate in me,” she wrote. “But he deserves it.”

Prager said these revelations made him append an idea he has repeated many times (and which I have written about myself on this blog), that goes this way:
conservatives think liberals are misguided, liberals think conservatives are bad.
To this he has added,
Many liberals--or at least leftists--hate conservatives, even to the point of wishing them dead.

So important did Prager find this that he spent a full 2 hours of his program exploring the issue and took many calls from listeners for their theories on why this might be the case. One caller struck me as particularly useful in that he had, prior to the 1980s, been an arch liberal, and confessed that he had passionately hated conservatives before experiencing an ideological conversion. Here's a transcript of part of the call:
PRAGER: When you hated us (conservatives), why did you hate us?
CALLER: I, as a liberal person, previously when I was liberal, believed in the inherent goodness of people, and I thought that the reason why people "went bad" so to speak was because society...
PRAGER: Right, right, poverty causes crime, that sort of thing.
CALLER: Well, yes that's part of it. Basically...
PRAGER: But again, what does that have to do with hating us? Let's say we just differ on that point.
CALLER: Okay, okay. So here's the reason. In believing that people were inherently good and that the world had gone bad in so many ways, I felt the answer was for good people to love other people, to love one another. And if we loved and supported one another, the inherent goodness that is in each one of us would, would expand and everything bad would become good and wonderful, and ultimately if we all did that we would live in a sort of paradise. Now conservatives, or I as a conservative now, believing in the flawed, imperfect, selfish nature of man, um, I support what conservatives generally support now which is making demands on people, and which liberals misinterpret as, as being mean to others and not supporting them in their goodness. So conservatives are doing the very opposite of what they should do if we want to live in a sort of paradise.

What this caller has elaborated from his personal experience is what Thomas Sowell so brilliantly explored in depth in his trio of books, Vision of the Anointed, A Conflict of Visions, and The Quest for Cosmic Justice. At the heart of this issue is a difference in worldview between liberals and conservatives, a different vision of human nature. Sowell named them the constrained vision--for the classic Judeo/Christian view of fallen humanity, constrained by the limitations of a flawed and sinful nature--and the unconstrained vision--for the liberal view of human nature as pure and perfectible and able to achieve utopia through reason and enlightened social engineering. Perhaps more than any other thing this difference in vision is the origin of what become political differences between people--and the resulting behavior they exhibit due to those views.

If one believes in the possibility of utopia through government, anyone who believes in limited government is not just a political opponent, not just an ideological dissident, he is a fiend, a kind of sadist who revels in the misery of others as long as his own interests are preserved.

For the conservative looking through the lens of the classic constrained vision, adherents of the unconstrained vision are objects of pity, amusement, possibly even disgust--but not hatred (with the exception of those leftists whose hatred of conservatives impels them to acts of malice, duplicity or violence.) I've often heard conservative friends express bewilderment at the strange ideas held by leftists--ideas, for instance, about human nature that seem so obviously contrary to reality. How can one believe in the perfectibility of human society, the trustworthiness of big government, or the feasibility of unilateral disarmament when every single historical example show them to be empty myths or producers of disaster?

Yet the arguments against conservatism tend not to be arguments at all, but rather vilification and impugnment of the character of the conservative; in other words ad hominem (to the man) attack. The examples are legion, from Howard Dean (former Democrat presidential candidate, and then speaking as head of the Democratic National Committee) saying, "we, in contradistinction to the Republicans, don't want children to go to bed hungry," to the most recent example of president Obama in a speech to union leaders saying, "what is it about working people that Republicans don't like?", all with the same underlying message: Republicans are bad--greedy, venal, oppressive, heartless. And all with the same countervailing psychological reward: making them feel compassionate, ennobled, and heroic. And the greatest irony is, believing so thoroughly their own imputation to conservatives of depraved motivations, they deem us haters (sexist, islamophobic, xenophobic, homophobic, intolerant, racist, or bigoted), while they absolve themselves of their own hatred because they judge their motivations pure. They consider their own feelings not hatred, but rather righteous indignation.

In his recent book Intellectuals and Society Thomas Sowell describes this tendency by leftists to "argue without arguments" with examples going back to the 18th century. Thomas Malthus, a proponent of the classic constrained vision, said of William Godwin, an early proponent of the unconstrained vision, "I cannot doubt the talents of such men as Godwin and Condorcet. I am unwilling to doubt their candor. "But when Godwin referred to Malthus, he called him "malignant," questioned "the humanity of the man," and said "I profess myself at a loss to conceive of what earth the man was made." And early in the 20th century Bertand Russel said,
If you address an audience of unselected men on the prevention of war, you are sure to come up against the middle-aged man who says, with a sneer: "Wars will never stop; it would be contrary to human nature." It is quite obvious that the man who says this delights in war, and would hate a world from which it had been eliminated. (emphasis mine)

In our own time consider how often leftists pundits attribute the motivation of hatred to anyone, for instance, who is opposed to governmental recognition of same-sex marriage, without ever once giving an example of the persons in questions saying they hate homosexuals. Thus the equation is: expressing a governmental policy, cultural normative, or philosophical view contrary to leftist orthodoxy = being a "hater." You don't agree that illegal immigrants should be given full citizenship rights? It's because you hate hispanic people. You don't believe that ever expanding welfare entitlements are good for the country? You hate poor people. You don't believe that all American children in public schools should be given free lunches at the expense of the taxpayer? You hate children. You don't think that women and racial minorities need government-enforced quotas in business hiring and preference in college admission? You are a misogynist and a racist. You disagree with reducing America's military budget? You are a warmonger. Finally, you are appalled at the direction that Barak Obama has taken this country in the less than 2 years he has been president, or simply disagree with his fiscal policies? It's because you are in reality filled with bigoted, white supremacist, spittle-flecked rage at the moral abomination, the against-the-natural-order-of things of a black man being president. How could it be anything else? They judge you a racist...and they hate you for it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is an extraordinarily stupid statement by Russel. That ought to be spread around. He disgraces himself.
Daniel K Day