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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 #10: No logical arguments need be made against conservatives. For liberals there are never two legitimate sides in a debate. There are only forward and backward, good intentions and bad intentions. It is not necessary to argue the merits of an issue with someone who is pointing backward; it is enough to locate that person as pointing backward. To do so is to make the case and prove the case. The result is predictable: The essence of liberal argument is ad hominem attack. Liberals do not confront arguments directly, any more than they confront religious claims directly; they go behind conservative arguments to vilify the messenger. If you disagree with liberal policy you are a xenophobe, a homophobe, an Islamophobe, a racist, an extremist, or lately a “terrorist.” As the president has said, you are too scared to think straight. Instead of answering your arguments, liberals aim to shut you up with snarky TV entertainment shows. 

A hundred years ago, the philosopher George Santayana cut to the core of this mentality. In his commentary on Goethe’s Faust, Santayana wrote of the modern liberal that “his ultimate satisfaction in his work is not founded on any good done, but on a passionate willfulness. He calls the thing he wants for others good, because he wants to bestow it on them, not because they naturally want it for themselves. Incapable of sympathy, he has a momentary pleasure in policy.” Just perfect. What this willful liberal does not admit is that decent, intelligent people who understand their own interests and understand liberal policies can still reject them.

Jeff Bergner has served in the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. He is coauthor (with Lisa Spiller) of Branding the Candidate, about political campaigns.

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