Several weeks ago, one of my readers posted a link to an article that attempted to empirically prove that Islam is a dangerous religion. While I reject the article’s conclusion, a part of it did resonate with me.
Do you ever read something and a light goes off in your head and you say “wow, that’s me!” The author, David Steinberg (not the comedian), specifies what he believes to be the dividing point between classical liberals and contemporary liberals:
Liberalism withholds judgment until finding an answer bulletproofed by logic and reason, and this practice is nothing less than the bedrock of the first world.
I am of course referring to classical liberalism, now tragically mistitled conservatism. The half-philosophy known as the Left co-opted that most precious word, liberty, then stopped reading at “withholds judgment.”
He goes on to say:
Technically, the Left preaches that the most enlightened human behavior is to withhold judgment in favor of first concluding a thorough self-examination. But that self-examination process — the perfecting of America and the West prior to judging another culture — can never conclude. There will always be a poor decision, a misguided decision, or a failed policy enacted by democratically elected officials. A Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam.
Our country is run by a marketplace of ideas. Some will win support and be proven right and some will win support and be proven wrong. Representatives will be voted in and out, the future will always remain unknown, and our leaders will continually take risks with our direction. So withholding judgment in favor of a thorough self-examination becomes a fraud, a half-measure. It becomes a permanently withheld judgment, which is no approach at all. Just a worthless, subjective, illogical philosophy of government, a perennial invocation of “this sentence is false,” to the point that a definable Leftist international policy does not, in fact, exist.
Yes folks, I saw myself so clearly in that analysis. My point of view has always been to look to oneself for fault before blaming others. I had to chuckle at how Mr. Steinberg had so accurately nailed one aspect of the modern American liberal. What’s more, it gave me insight into why I (and my fellow liberals) enrage conservatives. It is as much frustration as it is rage. I see it in the comments section of this blog all the time. Readers who give me credit for having at least half a brain, cannot fathom how I come to the conclusions that I do.
What conservatives, and Mr. Steinberg, fail to see is how the other extreme is just as dangerous if not more so. When you begin from the premise that you are unquestionably “right” and therefore the fault must lie with the “other”, there is no room for discussion, for compromise, for empathy or for anything remotely resembling “relationship”. The only logical conclusion is for the right party to defeat the wrong party. The consequence of this philosophy is that all conflicts must be resolved by confrontation. All enemies must either be ignored (like “lazy welfare mothers” in the inner city) or vanquished, like the regimes of Iran and North Korea. No room for conversation. Right is right, wrong is wrong and that’s that.
This difference between extreme conservative thought and extreme liberal thought is irreconcilable. The extreme conservative refuses self examination and the extreme liberal gets so bogged down in it as to become ineffective.
While I think the bulk of Mr. Steinberg’s article is a justification for anti-Muslim bigotry, I must give him credit for holding a mirror up to me on my more extreme days and helping me understand why I frustrate the crap out of my conservative readers.