Nuggets of Wisdom

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Re: Tolerant Liberals

Recently, on social media, there’s been a blog post circulating called “Intolerant Liberals” by Medium blogger Tucker Fitzgerald. The entire screed was wrought with so many illogical fallacies, incorrect premises, and circular reasoning that it begged to be rebutted—and so here I am with a rebuttal!

The overall flaw with this diatribe was the author’s core assumption that everyone berating "liberals" for being intolerant are “conservatives.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. Many criticisms I've heard of liberals as of recent have actually come from other liberals: T.J. Kirk (The Amazing Atheist), Carl Benjamin (Sargon of Akkad), Phil Mason (Thunderf00t), and Dave Rubin (The Rubin Report). All of them are politically left-of-center, and they have called out their fellow "liberals" for being most illiberal. Even major left-wing politicians such as Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders have spoken out against the illiberal left. I doubt anyone would dare call Sanders—the most progressive politician in America!—a "conservative."

Funnily enough, the article starts off with the famous Isaac Asimov quote about America’s “cult of ignorance” and how one’s "knowledge" shouldn't be considered equal to another’s "ignorance.” I agree: the ignorance of illiberal liberals such as Fitzgerald is nowhere equal to the intelligence of those who actually know better!

Fitzgerald himself starts his essay by explaining how he was raised in an Evangelical conservative family before later converting to the "liberal" progressive that he is today. Interestingly enough, I’ve had a similar background, as I too was formerly an Evangelical conservative, but have since converted to being a political libertarian. The main difference, of course, is that libertarians are much more “liberal” than progressives. So it’s safe to say that Fitzgerald devolved in his political beliefs whereas I have evolved in my own.

Judging by this essay alone, it's hard to say that he even changed his worldview. He may no longer be an Evangelical Christian, but he has simply replaced one black-and-white fundamentalist worldview with another. Instead of believing that all evil in the world is derived from people being born into "original sin", he believes that the real problem is people being born into "white male privilege." That, of course, is a false equivalence: Catholics believe you can absolve yourself of "original sin," but white men, according to progressives, cannot absolve themselves of their "privilege"!

But enough about the author himself. Let’s actually tackle some of his incoherent ramblings:
The progressive liberal agenda isn’t about being nice. It’s about confronting evil, violence, trauma, and death. It’s about acknowledging the ways systemic power, systemic oppression, systemic evil, work in our world around us. I’m not fighting for diversity. I’m not fighting for tolerance. I’m fighting to overturn horrific systems of dehumanizing oppression.
You're against systematic oppression and power? Great. So you're in favor of overturning the state then? After all, the state has maintained a virtual monopoly on the use of force within society, and thus has been the prime source of most oppression such as war, censorship, and genocide.

Or are you someone who truly believes that the best way to stop oppression from the government is to simply vote the right people into government and reform it from the inside out? Judging by the tone of your piece, I take it you support the latter rather than the former.

"Yes, the problem with slavery wasn't it's existence, it was that we didn't have the right slave owners in power. If we only had nice slave owners that didn't whip and beat their slaves, then we would be rid of the oppression of slavery!"

But I digress.
Here’s a great example of a liberal relationship to diversity: when Ruth Bader Ginsburg was asked how many women on the Supreme Court would be enough, she answered “When there are nine.” In response to the collective gasp of every conservative on earth, she elaborated. “For most of the country’s history, there were nine and they were all men. Nobody thought that was strange.” 
Personally I’m not interested in a female president for the sake of “diversity.” Putting a woman in the white house in 2020 won’t mean that gender equality has arrived. We’ve had 43 presidents. It’s going to take 43 women serving as president before we even have a chance to reach parity.
So you're not interested in electing a female president for the sake of diversity, but you believe that we need to elect 43 female presidents and nine female Supreme Court justices for the sake of it? Can anyone else spot the double think here?!

I'm all in favor of electing a female president. The problem is that we haven't had the right one come around yet. (No, Clinton doesn't count!) Heck, I'd argue that the right MALE president hasn't come around.

But the ultimate question for "liberal" progressives has to be this: why do we NEED to have a female president? Because all previous presidents have been men? Fair enough! But then, we've never had a red-headed president with green eyes and freckles before, but no one argues that we needed one. What's the difference?

Ultimately, if men and women are equal—heck, if progressives are correct in their assertion that biological sex is simply a "social construct" and there ultimately are not differences between men and women—then what difference would a female president ultimately make? She'd essentially be the same as a male president. So what would we gain other than an arbitrary tally mark for the genders?

Again, don't get me wrong here. It would be nice to finally elect a female president. But it would also be nicer to have a president who actually respected Constitutional rights, non-foreign intervention, rule of law, and sound economic policies. One of those is a higher priority, or at least ought to be.
Let’s pause on this. I live in Seattle, Washington. A liberal city if there ever was one. Full of cheery whites with “Black Lives Matter” signs in their windows. But in Seattle, Washington, black residents make less money than white ones. 5% less, 10% less? No. The average black Seattlite’s income is less than half of the average white Seattleite’s income. 
Less than half. 
So, either there are unspoken forces at play that make it twice as hard for black people in Seattle to earn money, or black people are exactly half as intelligent and hard-working as white folks. Take your pick. But be honest about which one you’re choosing.
Well, why does it have to be narrowed down to only those two possibilities? What if there's a third unknown variable that we haven't considered or discovered yet? The world isn't that black-and-white. There's plenty of nuance. The problem is, most progressive "liberals" as yourself tend to eschew such nuance in favor of more simplistic answers such as "because racism!" or "because sexism!"

Moreover, if you're going to assert that the reason why blacks do not make the same as whites is "because racism!", you're essentially confusing "equality of opportunity" with "equality of outcome." You look at the outcome of a situation and assume that the "inequality" results from lack of equal opportunity, but fail to realize that equal opportunity does not necessarily lead to equal opportunity. Even on an even playing field, not everyone is going to make it across the finish line at the exact same time. Equal opportunity and outcome are not the same.
Furthermore, conservative Christians have allied themselves with racism, misogyny, homophobia, Islamophobia, mass incarceration, war crimes, death sentences, and gun culture. These Christians work actively to undermine scientific thinking. Anti-evolution, anti-global warming, anti-intellectual, and anti-factual. None of these line up with the values most universities share.

High-quality, grade-A, prime-cut, pure American bullshit!

These are nothing more than hasty generalizations that eschews any sense of nuance and severely lacks perspective.

The thing is, progressives have no right to declare the high ground when it comes to "fighting" injustices such as racism when progressivism was a by-product of the eugenics movement, with many progressive policies such as gun control, minimum wage, Social Security, and Planned Parenthood originally created to disenfranchise minorities.

Furthermore, progressives cannot claim moral high ground when it comes to science. Not when far too many progressives peddle anti-science beliefs that are anti-vaccination, anti-GMO, and anti-modern medicine. Not when left-wing fake news sites such as Salon and Alternet peddle misinformation about cell phones, WiFi, and even toothpaste. And not when the most progressive party, the Green Party, has homeopathy in their political platform, and their presidential candidate, Jill Stein, pushes conspiracy theories about WiFi.

And you want to talk about war crimes and mass incarceration? It was "progressive" president FDR who sent Japanese citizens to internment camps, it was "progressive" president Harry Truman who dropped the first atomic bombs, and it was another "progressive" president Bill Clinton whose 1994 crime bill led to America having the biggest prison population in the world.

Progressives do not have a moral high ground above conservatives. Never have. Never will.
Yes, it’s important to intellectual growth to have variety. It’s important that unpopular ideas get a hearing. It’s important for there to be debate, and changes of heart, and to allow sincere disagreements to continue to wrestle with one another for clarification. I have no interest in our universities being populated by people who think like me. But I do have an interest in them being populated with people who think.
"Oh, It's not that I'm against people who think like me. It's just that people who don't think like me just don't think period."

Oh really? Then you would be more than happy to have your political ideologies challenged. You would be more than happy to welcome academics into universities that challenged such beliefs.

And yet you don't. In your own words, you don't need to change your mind because you already know you are right. That makes you a fool.

To quote Bertrand Russell, "the whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wise people so full of doubts."
All world views are not inherently equal. Conservative thinking is, by definition, bent on conserving the status quo. It is often regressive. A shrinking, a backward movement, a return to previous points in cultural, political, and intellectual development.
There is nothing inherently wrong with the "status quo." There is nothing inherently correct about "progress." Nor is there any vice in "rolling back progress" when said "progress" has been pushing society in the wrong direction.

In the words of C.S. Lewis, “We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be...If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road, and in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man."

Take the War on Poverty—a "war" that has been just as "successful" as the War on Drugs and the War on Terrorism. Despite spending more than $40 trillion within the past half century, the War on Poverty has been a financial catastrophe that failed to actually lift anyone out of poverty. In fact, poverty was actually on a steep decline BEFORE the War on Poverty, but shortly stagnated AFTER. Coincidence? I think not.

Now, given the abject failure of these welfare and entitlement programs, the real "progressive" solution would be to roll them back in favor of a more effective solution such as a basic guaranteed income. Of course, progressives would rather double down on these failed policies, because doing the same thing twice and expecting different results ins't the definition of insanity, right?

I agree that not all worldviews are inherently equal. That is why I reject the progressive worldview of socialism on the grounds that there has never been an economically successful socialist country (and no, the Nordic countries don't count!)—and Venezuela is currently living proof of that! The only way anyone can call themselves a socialist is to ignore that reality.
Universities aren’t bereft of conservatives and Evangelicals because of a vast left-wing conspiracy. They’re bereft of those people because people committed to those world views so rarely have anything to offer to an open-minded, inquiring, growing community. Universities are lacking in conservatives and fundamentalist Christians because the amount of education that it takes to become a professor is likely to expose Evangelicals and conservatives to enough good ideas that they’re no longer fundamentalist or conservative. 
The fact that humanities departments are exceptionally lacking in conservatives and dogmatically religious people highlights this reality. Psychology, poetry, sociology, political science. People who have wrestled with the human condition, the human soul, literature and art, are the least likely to give credence to backwards ideas that are diminishing to human value and human dignity.
Isn't it interesting how "liberals" don't believe in meritocracy, and yet their answer as to why liberals like themselves control most major institution is meritocracy? Does anyone else see the double-think here?

So let me get straight: society is not perfect and the positions within it have not been obtained by merit alone, and yet the reason why academia is comprised of mostly "left-wing" academics is because of their own merits?

This is the contradiction of progressivism: the belief that there is no such thing as meritocracy, but that progressives are largely "superior" because of their own merits. There is no meritocracy, and yet there apparently is—for progressives at least! Again, anyone else seeing the doublethink?
When liberals storm the cities’ streets to protest, rally, and yes, riot, in response to a Trump election, conservatives cry foul. They cry double-standard. Liberals expect conservatives to accept election results they don’t like; why won’t the liberals accept election results that didn’t go in their favor? Why won’t the liberals be relativists, like we want them to be, and treat all outcomes as equally valid?
Because all political decisions aren’t equally right. Aren’t equally moral. Aren’t equally recognizing of human dignity and justice and freedom. Because liberals recognize that there are wrong and right decisions, because they parse good and evil, contrary to what my church taught me about them.
Again, bullshit!

High-quality, grade-A, prime-cut, pure American bullshit!

If the "liberal" protesters taking to the streets were truly protesting because of Trump's abuses of power, where have they been these past eight years when Obama was abusing that same power?

Where were they when Obama passed his own refugee ban? Where were they when Obama had innocent civilians killed in a hospital bombing? Where were they when Obama bombed more countries, launched more drones, deported more immigrants, and prosecuted more whistleblowers than his predecessors?

The fact is that Trump is where he is today with the power that he has because of the precedent set by the past two administrations—including Obama's. Obama gave him the power to target civilians for assassination without "clear evidence", imprison civilians indefinitely without "due process", and spy on them though mass surveillance with a wider size and scope than ever before.

Obama set the standard for Trump to follow, yet never during his eight years in office did his fellow progressives take to the streets in quite the same numbers to protest that breach of power. Face it: these protesters only have a problem with abuse of executive power when it's a Republican abusing that power! When it's a Democrat abusing that power? Silence.

Well, in that whole incoherent rambling, did Fitzgerald actually make anything resembling a point? Yes, he did:
I have some difficult news for everyone: Progressives aren’t interested in diversity. We aren’t interested in inclusion. We aren’t interested in tolerance. The progressives I know give exactly zero shits about those things. 
We have no interest in everyone getting treated the same. We have no interest in giving all ideas equal airtime. We have no interest in “tolerating” all beliefs. I don’t know where this fairy tale comes from, but it’s completely disconnected from every experience I’ve had with progressive liberal folks in my lifetime.
I'll give him this: at least he admitted that progressives don't really stand for the values that they claim to stand for.