Thursday, February 24, 2005

Do Not Fall Silent

There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance--that principle is contempt prior to investigation.
--Herbert Spencer

Twice in the last several months, people have replied to e-mails I sent them to tell me to remove them from my mailing list. These were not people I did not know. Both of them had, at one time, considered me a friend. And then I showed my true colors—I’m a liberal. Now these people want nothing to do with me. I have become a social leper.

This is not an isolated incident. Conservatives all over are guarding their minds against liberal ideas. The Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) has created a “Hall of Dishonor” where they enshrine the worst, most abusive professors at Texas A&M University. The abuse? Disagreeing with YCT, and having the cheek to admit it.
Stewart Nusbaumer calls this phenomenon the “politics of the closed mind,” a very fitting name. If conservatives were to have a mantra, it might be something like this: There is no viewpoint but THE Viewpoint, and George Bush is His prophet. Subscribing to any other opinion makes one an infidel of the highest order.

Worse yet, they frown upon the very act of exposing university students to divergent viewpoints. This makes one wonder what exactly the point of a university education could be. The name of the institution—university—implies the presence of a broad range of ideas, but today’s conservatives have a bizarre tendency to hostility whenever they meet anyone who disagrees with them. Sadly, this tenacious refusal to countenance any idea outside the realm of conservatism stands in direct opposition to the whole purpose of a university education, which ought to broaden one’s mind.

The conservatives have heard that liberals think them narrow minded, and they take it as a compliment. They see nothing unusual about refusing to acknowledge the validity of any idea they or their conservative sages did not conceive. Sadly, their sages are angry, vengeful people whose ethical standards align with Machiavelli. Think Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter.

These luminaries of the political world are oddly immune to the idea that truth is a somewhat less than subjective phenomenon. Truth, they would have the public believe, consists of saying whatever it takes to get the job done. The end justifies the means. It is only torture if it causes organ failure. It is abusive to voice one’s opinions when they do not agree with mine.

While conservatives practice intellectual dishonesty with abandon, liberals must never allow themselves to forget that while the front man may be a dullard, many of his accomplices are demonically brilliant. Perhaps the best example might be Ann Coulter’s bestseller, Treason. In this book, she posits that liberals are a traitorous lot who attack the United States at every opportunity. She calls them traitors and claims that they have committed treason, hence her title.

Likely most liberals saw this speech as figurative, thought Henny Penny was predicting the imminent fall of the sky, and went on about their business. She did not really mean that liberals are guilty of treason. Oh yes she did! Note carefully that treason is a capital offence, of which all liberals stand accused.
The legislature has fallen asleep, largely because the liberals there will not spend political capital on anything except keeping their seats. They seem to reason that if they butt heads with the conservatives, their agendas will never see the light of day. They confirmed, as the country’s chief diplomat, a woman who argues with her questioners rather than give a straight answer about anything. Civil liberties erode daily under the aegis of “security,” and liberal lawmakers assent to the laws that destroy these very liberties that the founders crossed an ocean and fought a war to get.

About seventy years ago, a right-wing ideologue rose to power in a western country. He hated communists with a passion. He lied to his people to make them believe they were in danger. He lied to other world leaders in furtherance of his designs. He was not a particularly intelligent man, and his command of the language was weak. He wrote a book that was passed around like scripture, although no one was really sure what it was about. He did not smoke or drink. Regardless, he convinced a nation to follow him, and those who saw through him spoke weakly, or not at all. After a time, it became dangerous to speak out against government policies, and those who knew remained silent. That silence cost the world—and six million Jews—dearly.
© 2005

2 comments:

  1. Greetings
    I like your article, however you are generalizing people by saying conservatives are angry etc, I watched a television program couple of months ago where a group of people (they were Catholics) walking peacefully to protest against abortion, There were many people reacting, angry, swearing, yelling at them.

    My point is you can’t generalize people :)
    Sincerely
    Alper

    ReplyDelete
  2. The comment above came to me via e-mail. I have posted it in its entirety.

    Alper,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to write. I think you may have a very good point, in that all conservatives are not necessarily angry. There is a limit to my human vision.

    Americans seem to have lost the ability to discuss issues, and have gone to personal attacks on those who disagree with them. (How's that for a generalization?) Perhaps I am inadvertently contributing to the problem.

    Next week, the Handbasket focuses on the love I (and many other liberals) have for my country, and how it expresses itself. Perhaps it will take me out of the attack dog category.

    ReplyDelete

About Me

I love my country, that is why I criticize its absurdities; I love my freedom, that is why I do it publicly.