Modern Liberalism

    Liberals, Voltaire might have said today, will defend to the death your right to agree with them. The free exchange of opinions and ideas that explores all sides of a controversy is simply not on the table. Some ideas are simply unacceptable in public discourse – not the salacious, the obscene, the tawdry, the hedonistic or the glorification of promiscuity, but rather the expression of any idea that causes offense to one of the liberal elites favored groups.

    The latest example is NPR’s firing of analyst Juan Williams for articulating what most sane people feel: a certain nervousness or anxiety when they see passengers in Muslim garb on an airplane. This “feeling” does not deprive anyone of constitutional or legal right but is a natural reaction to the most potent and irrefutable formula of our day: while not all Muslims are terrorists, all terrorists are Muslims. Every attempt to blow up an airliner in recent memory, every suicide bomber, and every bomb in a marketplace, etc., has Muslim roots. That is the painful reality of the world in which we live, and we ignore it at our peril. That peril is exacerbated when the acknowledgment of people’s justifiable fears is stifled, because it allows the enemy to gather strength and resources, and grow in fearlessness. It also eventuates in the insanity of our times when 75-year-olds named Agnes are subject to the same or more scrutiny at airports than 25-year-olds named Ahmed.

     This liberal repression, though, has a long and shameless history. In the early 1980’s already, the late Jeanne Kirkpatrick (UN Ambassador) was shouted down on campuses and not allowed to speak.  Ditto Henry Kissinger. This, by now, is the common fate of many conservative or pro-Israel speakers on campuses that glorify the”liberal arts” and “academic freedom.” Israel’s US Ambassador Michael Oren’s near-inability to address college students at UC-Irvine earlier this year is another example – but examples abound, and there is nary a well-known conservative who has not had that experience. There are many colleges where conservative student groups are denied funding and/or campus space for their activities. It is as if in the constellation of ideas to which young people should be exposed, the more conservative, traditional and revered the ideas, the more terrifying is their exposure to young minds. How shameful. How repressive. How illiberal.

      Ben Gurion University of the Negev typifies this hypocrisy. A professor of ethics who opined in the classroom that homosexuals with children could not parent as well as heterosexuals was fired for expressing ideas that are “beyond the pale and unacceptable in a classroom,” the words of the Provost who fired him. Yet, the chairman of the Political Science Department, Neve Gordon, is allowed to travel around the world calling for an academic boycott of Israel (presumably including himself) and for the delegitimization of Israel and to assign in class – for credit and as part of coursework – participation in demonstrations against the IDF and the occupation, and he is protected on grounds of “academic freedom.” How selective.

     Similarly, Fox News is vilified in the establishment press as a conservative, even reactionary network, when in fact all it does is provide the conservative viewpoint with at least equal time to the liberal one. That was a dramatic change in the presentation of news and opinion that predominated in the networks since television’s origins. Commentators were mostly liberal, reflecting the 80% of journalists who define themselves as liberals. Another case in point: Newsweek was recently able to write a three-page article in support of homosexuals in the military without even once mentioning the other side – how open homosexuals could affect unit cohesion, et al. To Newsweek, there is no other side. (Update: I cancelled Newsweek in August, and yet – like a vampire that can’t be put down – it keeps being delivered to me every week. I sense that is one way dying media organs maintain their circulation numbers – refuse to accept non-renewals and just keep mailing it out. Help !)

     In this corrupt atmosphere, it pays to be one of the favored, protected groups, if indeed it matters at all. One must be liberal, a black liberal, a Muslim, or a homosexual to qualify for special treatment. Conservatives, Christians and Jews need not apply. The great economist and thinker Walter Williams recently pointed out the double standard. Mainstream liberal cartoonists routinely used racist imagery and language to portray blacks who served in high positions in the Bush White House. Condoleezza Rice in one cartoon (Ted Rall) called herself Bush’s “House Nigga,” and another (Doonesbury) had Bush referring to her as “brown sugar.” Clarence Thomas was portrayed as Justice Scalia’s lawn jockey (Don Wright). Such depictions or characterizations are unimaginable when dealing with Obama or any black liberal, but these insults were glossed over by the liberal media, if they were mentioned at all. No one stopped carrying these cartoons – as opposed to last week’s Washington Post that nixed a “Where’s Muhammed?” cartoon from one of its regulars on grounds of “insensitivity.” How courageous.

      The kerfuffle over Bill O’Reilly’s pointing out the obvious – “Muslims killed us on 9/11” – is just another example of politically correct insanity. “Muslims” didn’t kill us ? People who happened, coincidentally, to be “Muslim”? But the organizers themselves admitted they did it to promote Islam in the world, which requires the defeat and/or humiliation of the “Great Satan,” America. The perpetrators killed, proudly, in the name of Islam, so who are we fooling ? Must we hide behind the fig leaf that one must always say “not all….?” But not all Germans killed Jews in the Holocaust, not all Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, not all Southern whites owned slaves in the antebellum South (only 2% did !),  not all of any ethnic group ever did anything – but yet we use the shorthand form because it is accurate.

      Liberals have created a new right that is applied very selectively, i.e., only to their favored classes: the right not to take offense. Apparently, the truth cannot be uttered about Muslim terror, because some Muslims may take offense; homosexuals have to be coddled and the definition of marriage changed because they may take offense. Free speech has to be curtailed, because someone might take offense – although never a Christian, a Jew, a white or a conservative. They have no right to be offended, or to complain about it. More bizarrely, we have descended to a level where certain groups reserve the right to use certain words when referring to each other – blacks and homosexuals revel in this – but outsiders may not use the same words. I was once admonished for using the term “yekke” (an endearing reference to German Jews) in a speech because I am not a descendant of German Jews, and therefore my use of the term, I was told, stung. I was informed –  the first and only time I have heard such a sentiment –  that only yekkes can refer to each other as yekkes.

     But those issues are minor compared to the threat to liberty posed by the self-proclaimed arbiters of acceptable speech. Even more egregious, NPR (like PBS) is a taxpayer-supported network, very peculiar in an era when there are thousands of media outlets available and when government budgets are stretched past the breaking point. Why doesn’t government get out of the media business altogether ? NPR and PBS have long been protected and nurtured by its acolytes in government – liberal propagandists paid for by our tax dollars.

      NPR and PBS should lose their taxpayer funding immediately. They should compete in the marketplace of ideas and entertainment like everyone else. People should be able to speak openly about their concerns and about the issues of the day, with common sense and decency their only guides and without any fear of retribution from illiberal elitists. And common sense and decency should govern our relationships and attitudes with individuals and groups, in order to advance morality and justice and conquer tyranny and evil.

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15 responses to “Modern Liberalism

  1. It is demonstrably false to suggest that Fox News provides equal time to liberal and conservative viewpoints. 6 hours of their schedule are devoted to conservative opinion journalism (Beck, Hannity, O’Reilly are all repeated) 0 hours are devoted to liberals. You can suggest that that’s somehow justified by the slant of the rest of the media or by the market, but the idea that Fox makes any effort to somehow keep itself balanced is just not true.

  2. All the shows you reference (except Beck which is not a pure news show) always feature a balanced discussion – a panel – pro and con any particular issue. Sure, the hosts have opinions, but both conservative and liberal viewpoints are aired and analyzed. That makes for interesting television (or as interesting as television can ever get), and that’s what makes it stand out in the commercial marketplace. And it probably accounts for their success.

  3. I was not able to find the list of Hannity’s recent guests, but for the sake of a representative sample, the last 7 transcripts Fox News has put on the website for Hannity feature the following conversations:

    10/11 Karl Rove responding to allegations that foreign money was being funneled by Republican special interests.
    10/14 John Kasich, Republican candidate for Governor of Ohio criticizing the stimulus
    10/15 Stephen Mannsfield, author of The Faith and Values of Sarah Palin, talking about the faith and values of Sarah Palin. (He thinks they’re excellent)
    10/18 Stanley Kurtz, author of “Radical-in-Chief, Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism” discusses that book. (He does not think Barack Obama’s faith and values are excellent)
    10/19 Rand Paul, Republican candidate for Senate from Kentucky responding to an ad that attacked his faith
    10/20 Jim DeMint, Republican Senator from South Carolina
    10/21 Former Bush Press Secretary Dana Perino and Bob Beckel, who was Walter Mondale’s campaign manager talking about Juan Williams. Beckel agrees with Hannity, saying he will not contribute to NPR this year in tribute to Williams.

    Again, this isn’t everyone who appeared on Hannity (I think), and while I don’t watch either with regularity, I imagine O’Reilly is a little bit better in terms of at least having guests who disagree with him. But what seems like a fair sample of recent interviews on Fox News included exactly one liberal and zero people who disagree with Sean Hannity on any issue that was discussed. None of the conversations featured anything close to a balanced discussion. It would be ok to suggest that somehow this is balanced out by the rest of the media, but it is certainly not balanced by itself and suggesting otherwise is just wrong.

    • I am not even a irregular viewer of Hannity – but check the panels (the Great American Panel) for balance, and bear in mind that many liberal politicians – the cowardly among them, for sure – refuse to appear on his and some other Fox programs. Your list mentions one conservative per day on one show, and ignores that there are other guests on that day’s show. It proves nothing.

      • As I said above, the list I gave was not a sample I created or cherry-picked, but is the entire list of interviews from Hannity that the Fox News website has transcribed and made available online. I have no reason to believe it is not representative of the guests on the show, and I can think of no possible reason it would not be.

        In any event, if nothing else, what the list shows is that on at least eight occasions over the last two weeks, Hannity has allowed a conservative viewpoint (or more accurately, a viewpoint of Sean Hannity) to appear on his show without any liberal opposition. By definition, a non-Hannity viewpoint never appears on unopposed Hannity. Furthermore, there is no show on Fox News on which a liberal viewpoint appears unopposed.

        That Hannity occasionally also has panel discussions does not mitigate the one-sidedness of the rest of his program, nor does the fact that it is easier for his bookers to get conservatives guests to agree to appear on his show so that they can agree about how right they are, than it is to find liberals who would like to be attacked by him justify Fox News referring to their network as Fair and Balanced when in fact it is objectively not. As far as I am concerned, bias is acceptable. Deliberate deceit about that bias is not.

  4. Rabbi,

    Regarding some issues, there simply is no “other side”. Do you get upset that no network or publication trumpets the platform of the American Nazi party? No – because they are beyond the pale of what’s acceptable in mainstream media/thought. The only question is where is the line drawn.

    In my view, your support for the continued oppression of gay people (the reasons you gave to continue DADT – “how open homosexuals could affect unit cohesion, et al” – What the heck is that?) is beyond the pale of what should be acceptable.

    • Explanation: in the military, unit cohesion requires that there be no extraneous dynamic that colors the interactions between the soldiers, especially sexual tension. That is why men and women usually do not share the same barracks or bathe together, and cannot even lawfully fraternize. To place in that environment men who are sexually attracted to other men shatters the cohesion and adds an element of discomfort to a situation when the bonding between the parties is literally a matter of life and death.
      We recognize the consequences of opposite-sex attraction; that is why health clubs have separate changing rooms for men and women. If the same dynamic will openly exist regarding same-sex attractions, undoubtedly it will have a deleterious effect on all interactions. Or some might start re-thinking the health club policy. In this case, the less we know about people’s private lives, the better. Actually, in every case that is so.

      • Rabbi –

        The same argument was made 50 years ago, that Black soldiers would distract from “unit cohesion”. Aside from the fact that it’s simply not true (e.g. see the Israeli military, where openly gay soldiers serve alongside their brothers in arms – when was the last time you heard of a problem in Israeli military unit cohesion due to the presence of gay soldiers?), even if it was true, it would still be wrong, and civil rights should trump a (maybe made-up) “unit cohesion”, and will lead to greater rights for all.

      • Jenny: The race argument is a canard, and a weak reed on which to hang your arguments. Never conflate innate characteristics with behavior; they are two separate facets of human life. It is only the decadence of society that is foisting on us the anti-Torah conclusion that certain behavior is uncontrollable, and as unchangeable as skin color and sex.
        And on what do you base your arguments that the IDF suffers from no dysfunction because of the presence of open homosexuals ? Maybe it does ? As it is, the IDF has different units composed of like-minded people that serve together, and do not necessarily interact with other units. That benefits operational efficiency and unit cohesion. For example, I have personally heard from senior commanders (generals and Lt. Colonels) that the presence of women in (even limited) combat roles does and has impaired both the army’s efficiency and unit cohesion. Male soldiers are naturally more protective of females, and that adds a greater burden to their tasks.
        So, who says there is no effect on the unit ? Maybe there is ? Certainly, the last major combat operation of the IDF in which the enemy fought back (Lebanon, 2006) did not go particularly well. Obviously, I’m not blaming the failures in Lebanon on either women or homosexual soldiers; I’m only suggesting that we should not be so blithe and dismiss the unintended consequences of these extraneous factors.

  5. As a local columnist up here noted: Juan Williams was fired for suggesting Muslims are violent. In London, Ontario, Canada Mark Steyn’s booking of a municipal speaking venue was cancelled by City Hall because of fear of a violent response… from Muslims. Well what is it? If it’s wrong to call them violent because they’re not, why are you cancelling Steyn for fear of violence?
    You cannot reason with such people. They have their conclusions pre-determined before they even begin to discuss issues.

  6. ” Every attempt to blow up an airliner in recent memory, every suicide bomber, and every bomb in a marketplace, etc., has Muslim roots. ”

    Your memory is apparently extremely short-lived. Tim McVeigh, Ted Kruszynski, and Bruce Ivins, to name three, were non-Muslim terrorists. The 9/11 terrorists didn’t wear traditional Muslim garb, and Juan Williams was fired from a commercial position, not censored. There’s a difference. Our media has long since been bought and sold by advertisers, and anyone who says anything that might cause said advertisers to bolt will be quickly sacrificed.

    • I’d missed that point in the original post, and I guess it depends how far back you go to describe “recent memory,” but considering how infrequent airplane bombings are by my count groups that have brought down planes within my lifetime (and I’m not 30) include: North Koreans, Sikhs, Colombian drug cartels and Sri Lankan Tamil separatists (twice). Angry white guys only miss the cut because the Unabomber’s one attempt at blowing up a plane was in 1979 and the guy who killed everyone on PSA Flight 1771 brought down the plane by shooting the pilots, and not by using a bomb.

    • The examples you cite are so exceptional as to make my case: because of Timothy McVeigh, we fear entering federal buildings ? Because of Kaczynski (get his name right), we fear hobos who live in the woods, and the mail ? And who is Bruce Ivins ? Our lives have been transformed since the advent of PLO terror in the late 60’s, culminating in today’s encroachment on our personal freedoms. And your examples are old: the 1990’s.
      Williams was fired from a “commercial position” ? NPR is supported by the government and corporations, not traditional advertising. And not a single corporation stepped forward and said they would pull their sponsorship if he wasn’t fired, nor did the president of NPR make such a claim. So owhy would you ? Get the government out of the broadcast business completely.

      • All examples of terrorism are exceptional. The overwhelming majority of passengers who boarded airplanes at Logan Airport on 9/11/2001 landed safely, as does virtually every single person who finds themselves on an airplane with a Muslim. There is never a rational reason to be afraid of any passenger based solely on their looks, dress or religious persuasion. I can think of no reason why white military looking people walking into federal buildings scare you any less than Muslim men walking around airports do, considering that the odds of either being a terrorist is microscopically small.

        If Williams understood that, but was nonetheless recognizing that he was still afraid, that would be one thing, but that’s not what he was doing. I don’t think he should have lost his job for it, but encouraging those among us who believe that that belief is rational or that “every suicide bomber… has Muslim roots” is simply not a positive contribution to public discourse.

        P.S. Bruce Ivins sent the anthrax letters. Why do I think you’d know that if his name was something a little more Mohammadian?

      • Bruce Ivins was never charged with the crime, and was accused after he died. How convenient.
        And, of course, you continue to miss the broader point. The individuals you mention had no government/nation/society/religion/people either supporting, backing up, or encouraging their activities. They were sole actors.
        The Muslims in question are part of a large network of supporters, defenders, rationalizers, aiders and abetters – that finds sanctuary in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Gaza – that also has its sleeper agents and useful idiots scattered across the Western world. If even 10% of Muslims are supporters of terror (once we articulate the usual meme about “most Muslims are good people”) that means 150,000,000 people are terrorists or supporters of terror.
        That’s a lot of people. And you worry about Ted Kaczynski ? You are not being intellectually honest.