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Mugged by Mythology

Liberals believe the darnedest things.

Sep 12, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 48 • By JEFF BERGNER
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Myth #5: Ethnic minorities must be liberals. Why then must liberals detect nonexistent racism in the Tea Party? Because they speak for the people.They assume that, as groups which have suffered historical oppression, African Americans and other ethnic minorities simply must be liberals. Otherwise, the entire liberal narrative would be at risk. That’s why it is completely acceptable for liberals to vilify conservative blacks, whom they see as traitors to their group. Liberals feel free to attack these “Uncle Toms” personally, viciously, with the zeal of one rooting out apostasy. By the same token, liberals don’t actually have to do anything to merit the allegiance of minorities. Take a look at minority joblessness, inner city schools, and social breakdown (72 percent of African-American babies born out of wedlock): These are the fruits of many decades of liberal kindness at the federal, state, and local levels. But if more minorities succeeded, liberals would lose their reason for being.

Myth #6: Women are naturally liberals. Having suffered inequality, women too must be liberals, and conservative women must be traitors to their group. It’s quite all right to call them the ugliest names. Let’s be frank: In 2010 Republicans ran some pretty rough and ready, nontraditional candidates, both men and women. Who was singled out for special derision and condescension? Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Michele Bachmann, and of course Sarah Palin, who was not even running for anything. 

Myth #7: Liberals take the country forward and conservatives take it backward. Behind all these illusions lies a deeper notion: History is moving “forward,” and liberals are on the “right side of history.” But there is no intrinsic forward and backward in the historical process; there are only competing visions of America, none of which is guaranteed to succeed. If history is marching somewhere, we don’t know where. And at any given moment, the cold night of tyranny is just as possible as the clear day of enlightenment. Every step has to be won and defended on the basis of what best serves the interests of the American people. That’s why earlier generations believed that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. And, by the way, wouldn’t it be interesting to know where liberals find the metaphysical foundations on which to rest their notions of “forward” and “backward”? Liberal orthodoxy denies a God-given moral order to the universe. Its secular “progress” is nothing but the fantasy of long-dead German philosophers. 

Myth #8: Liberals have moved beyond old-fashioned religion. Speaking of religion, those who cling to it are going backwards. They do not operate in what Barack Obama has called the world of “facts and science and argument.” Liberals have resolved once and for all—in their own minds—the irresolvable claims of reason and revelation, and reason has won. Never-theless, in the real world, religion remains vital. That erstwhile paragon of the hard left, the former Soviet Union, failed to stamp out Christianity. The church is growing vigorously in China, despite Beijing’s every effort to repress and control it. The progressive liberal democracies of Europe are once again confronting the force of religious claims, this time of Islam. Liberals have not transcended religion; they are simply tone deaf to it. That’s why they fundamentally misunderstand Islam, closing their eyes to its teaching and practice in areas like marriage and women’s rights and freedom of conscience. This will not have good consequences.

Myth #9: Good intentions are enough for liberals. But accurately judging consequences is less important to liberals than moving forward. Liberal programs do not represent testable social-policy experiments to be judged by their results. They represent compassion, so their critics are heartless. Money spent on these programs cannot be wasted because they are investments in people. Liberals are to be judged by the purity of their intentions. 

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