Saturday, November 28, 2009

Prepare for a Coronary

A conservative wrote an op-ed piece with which I am in wholehearted agreement. No, I am not exaggerating, and no, this isn't one of those rare occasions when a conservative has temporarily defected and taken a left-wing position on an issue. Although I fall to the left on policy matters 99% of the time, that still does mean that - on one out of every hundred occasions - I will see myself nodding at the observations of someone who is right-of-center. This is one of those occasions.

Please read the article before looking at my addendum:

Because I agree with every comment made in this piece (and yes, every single one), I am only going to elaborate on the specific point which the author does not address, and which matters a great deal to me as a proud and passionate liberal:

Liberalism, for all of its complexity and nuance, ultimately boils down to a very simple opinion, one best articulated by Thomas Jefferson in 1776:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

When you combine that message with its various elaborations and manifestations, most notably those in the Bill of Rights (James Madison, 1789), the Bank Veto (Andrew Jackson, 1832), the Gettysburg Address (Abraham Lincoln, 1863), the Fourteen Points (Woodrow Wilson, 1918), the Economic Bill of Rights (Franklin Roosevelt, 1944), and the I Have A Dream speech (Martin Luther King, 1963), one gets a pretty comprehensive overview of what the liberal philosophy entails.

In our unending quest to create perfect social justice, liberals have become highly sensitive to the manner in which various forms of bigotry have undermined the freedom and quality of life for countless racial, religious, and sexual minorities. It is from our awareness of this problem, and our consequent desire to successfully address it, that political correctness was born.

Yet even though the instinct which gave birth to political correctness is commendable, it has at times manifested itself in a way that is not only socially unhealthy, but actually contradicts its fundamental objectives. If protecting the reputation of a given minority group means that we have to look away as members of that group violate the human rights of others, then are we not violating the most fundamental beliefs of liberalism? If we allow the fear of being labelled with the giant "b-word", bigot, to silence us when someone in a given minority group, as a result of one of the attributes of his or her group, violates the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" held by others, then are we not betraying our most important values in a manner only befitting abject cowards?

In my mind, there are two kinds of liberals: "cultural liberals", or those who believe in the left-wing ideology because they wish to identify with the specific larger movement it represents, and "philosophical liberals", or those who associate with the political left because they share the values of its greatest champions (Jefferson, Madison, Jackson, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, King) and wish to see the dreams of those men someday become one with reality. Because political correctness has become ingrained in the cultural movement that accompanies ideological liberalism, cultural liberals will frequently fight tooth and nail against any effort to roll back political correctness, since the preservation of the accouterments of the subculture with which they identify is far more important to them than the attainment of a social and moral ideal. Ideological liberals, on the other hand, will recognize that when undeniable facts merge with unavoidable wrongs, and lead you to a conclusion that is in perfect keeping with the liberal ideology but in contradiction with the cultural mores advocated by some members of the left, the best thing to do is the right thing to do - be a true liberal and fight for human rights.

In this situation, the evidence overwhelmingly points to Nidal Malik Hasan having been a Muslim terrorist who, based on his interpretation of the tenets of his faith, decided to murder fourteen people. The evidence also makes it painfully clear that the military missed many opportunities to bring him to justice due to its fear of being accused of bigotry. Therefore, the way to prevent future bloodshed such as this will be to create an environment in which ALL soldiers are forced to adhere to a strict code of personal conduct - and one in which any infraction, regardless of whether it treads on the sensitive nerves of political correctness, leads to severe consequences. Likewise, it is important for society as a whole to recognize that there is a middle ground between hating Muslims as a whole and feeling that any criticism of Islamic terrorists is out of bounds. Just as we do not hesitate to condemn the Christian right-wingers who bomb abortion clinics and the militant Zionists who oppress Palestinians, so too should we show no reluctance to vehemently denounce the Muslims who murder Americans and Israelis and Indians, or who brutally oppress women and homosexuals, or who impose drastic censorship laws and kill freedom of speech when it contradicts the tenets of their faith. To do otherwise is worse than hypocritical; it's un-liberal.

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