Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Your devil has no clothes

Jerry Stratton, September 22, 2014

The devil in politics

Othering was making the rounds of blogs I read a while back, and it got me to thinking about the different nature of the devils of the left and of conservatives. I just finished P. J. O’Rourke’s Parliament of Whores. In it, O’Rourke quotes Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer, which led me to add that to my want list. I found it recently in one of the local Half-Price Books.

Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.

At the risk of internalizing the othering of our politicians and writing my most partisan blog post yet, while conservatives have their own devils created for them, the left creates devils where they wouldn’t otherwise exist.

Not only would no one on the left consider Alaska’s former Governor Sarah Palin an evil worth stalking at her home and on her Facebook page—to the point of wishing death upon her children—if she hadn’t been turned into a devil, many would look up to her as a moderate Republican maverick in the style of John McCain, fighting against the Republican establishment. The snow devil that the left hates and the politician that Palin was are very different creatures. She had to be turned into a devil fictionally.

The devils of the right, instead, are so because of their policy differences. They are mostly not even devils: I have not seen anyone wish that President Obama’s children had been killed1. It’s their policies that make them into opponents and they would still be opposed even without any othering by mass movement leaders. Even if there were no Ace of Spades HQ continually ranting about the bad policies of President Obama, I would still be looking at his actions since taking office and thinking, this guy is making really bad decisions that are really hurting people in America and the world. The only change, if there were no conservative blogosphere, is that I’d be wondering why nobody else saw it.

It’s not Barack Obama that conservatives hate. It’s what he’s doing to our economy, to our freedoms, and to world relations. In a sense, leftists despise politicians but love the government made up of politicians, whereas conservatives dislike government but think individual politicians are fine.

You look at the othering of Ted Cruz, or Sarah Palin, and I really don’t think the left would care one bit about them if it weren’t for the hate machine. Palin especially is an odd target for the left. She really seems to have been a moderate as governor of Alaska, working with the left and the reform right in the Alaskan legislature. Without the hate machine, it’s easy to look at her actions, such as recommending that Alaska give up its bridge money in favor of another state that needed the money more, as something good in politics that the left would praise.

But she threatened the election of Barack Obama and had to be otherized. The left made personal attacks against Palin, lying about things as basic as her biology. Her child was not her own; she banned books; she failed geography; she had no fashion sense and paid too much for clothes.

Conservatives—including Palin—made policy attacks against then-Senator Obama. They made predictions about what Obama would do based on what he had already done and not done and what he promised to do. Those predictions—a lengthened economic downturn, health care turmoil, the further rise of cronyism, and a foreign policy nightmare—came true. Whether or not you support those policies, conservatives can reasonably think they were right about the results. Their opposition was policy-based: increased cronyism was predicted from increased government power over a huge sector of the economy, health care turmoil due to the propensity of government monopolies to fail and government regulations to mess up what they’re trying to solve, lengthened economic downturn due to furthering the policies that conservatives believe caused the downturn, and the expected result of a foreign policy based on trying to make people like us rather than a Reagan-like hard line against tyrants and support of Democracy.

To take one of the devils of the right, on the other hand, Ted Kennedy drove a woman into the water and left her to suffocate to death. I’m striving to think of anyone idolized by conservatives as much as Ted Kennedy is idolized by the left, after doing something that evil. And wondering how high the hatred would go if George Bush had done what Ted Kennedy did.

Take, as another example, the Koch brothers vs. George Soros. Soros is a hundred percent left; you will have to search very hard to find any conservative policies he supports2, if he’s supported any. It’s easy to find Koch donations to organizations run by and for Democrats (Democratic Governors Association); it’s easy to find statements by the Koch brothers in favor of leftist policies such as gay marriage, defense cuts, and withdrawal from the Middle East; and against corporate subsidies, and cronyism.3

George Soros is almost as much of a bogeyman to conservatives as the Koch brothers are to the left. Almost, because it is the rare conservative protest that gives a damn about Soros on their signs and in their slogans. But the Koch brothers are such devils to the left that the left even complains when they make such innocuous donations as donations to hospitals.

I recently ran across a Netanyahu quote about disarmament in the Middle East.

The truth is that if Israel were to put down its arms there would be no more Israel. If the Arabs were to put down their arms there would be no more war. — Benjamin Netanyahu (Knesset speech)

This is one of those things that everyone knows is true, but is unwilling to admit, because it doesn’t help solve the violence in the Middle-East. Israel is unwilling to cease to exist, and the Arabs and Palestinians are unwilling to let it exist. This means that, even though it’s true, it doesn’t help find a solution. Yet, pretending that Palestinians will accept a living Israel is also not going to help find a solution. Unless, secretly, international politicians support the dissolution of Israel.

In a very real sense, the right today is what would happen if conservatives disarmed and the left did not. Conservatives evoke policy arguments; the left evokes emotional, unreasoning hatred. And hatred seems to be winning.

December 2, 2015: Mom didn’t leave the left, it left her

I’ve been doing some travel over the holidays, and I was a little surprised to hear one very left long-time family friend say that my mom is getting more conservative as she gets older. It is supposedly a given that when you are young, you are on the left because you still idolize being taken care of, and as you enter the workforce and family responsibilities you become more conservative because you learn that every resource given had to be earned through work by someone else. But I haven’t really noticed my mom’s political stances changing.

What I have noticed is the left becoming more and more intolerant of religion and forcing people more and more to have political stands where once they were content to merely have personal stands.

My mom rarely if ever mentioned abortion until the eighties or possibly even the nineties. She was always religious and I suspect always considered abortion wrong as a personal choice. But until the left decided that abortion was a right that must be paid for with people’s taxes, I couldn’t have said. There was no religious need to be publicly and politically anti-abortion. She could still vote Democrat while not having an abortion herself. Even after abortions skyrocketed and became part of the general Democratic position, the left still tolerated people who were personally anti-abortion and against public-funding and public-encouragement of abortion.

Today, however, that is no longer true. If you are a woman against abortion today, you are not only engaged in a war on women that puts you beyond the pale of the left, but you are not a true woman yourself.

That makes it difficult for a woman-whose positions haven’t changed—to continue to identify as on the left. It’s hard to identify with the left when the left is telling you that you are not who you are.

Even if you fully support keeping abortions legal, you are engaged in a war on women if you merely want to require parental notification when a minor wants to have the surgery.

This didn’t used to even exist to be against.

It isn’t just that positions have become more extreme, sliding some people out, but that some things that didn’t even need to be positions before, people are now forced to take a stand on by the left. This is even more obvious with the more recent, and sudden, shift on the left to just wanting to leave gays and lesbians free to marry, to forcing everyone to jettison their religious beliefs and take part in gay marriage. My mom never cared one bit whether gays get married. But she does care that she might have been forced to take part back when she did catering on the side.

October 17, 2014: Evil and religion in the modern media

Over at the Ace of Spades HQ, Ace writes about the media’s partisanship:

I’ve been saying this for a while: The press claims to be nonpartisan and to only be interested in “good stories,” no matter which party they might damage.

They can’t really make these claims in the age of Twitter. Because their reading list—the Twitter accounts they follow daily—is public information.

You’d think these guys would at least try to “make it look good” by adding in a few of the more credible, less strident twitter accounts of right-leaning writers. But no—no one bothers even to follow University of Tennessee Law School Professor Glenn Reynolds.

They don’t follow conservative ideas because conservatives are evil. When you are part of a movement, you don’t look for balance. You look for allies and enemies. Since the media is progressive, conservatives are their enemies. They are the devil, and you don’t look to the devil for reason and truth. Any compromise between good and evil is evil. Any compromise between the truth and a lie is itself a lie.

And when you are part of a movement, any alternative views are lies.

I recently read Samuel G. Freedman’s Letters to a Young Journalist. In it, he decries the loss of alternative views in the media—and also decries the existence of alternative views on the right. Despite having somewhat conservative views himself, he must, to be accepted as a journalist, share the same views as his colleagues.

Ace continues, pointing out that while members of the press don’t follow even moderate conservatives,

On the other hand, many follow the over-the-top hard-left rantings of Jay Rosen of NYU University, a media critic who frequently declares that the media must drop even the pretense of impartiality and embrace a resolutely left-liberal advocacy position, because there is no “balance” possible between Truth and Lies.

Now, Rosen is, in fact, partially correct. There is no balance between truth and lie. Facts themselves are not a compromise. But he’s also wrong: you don’t know which is fact and which is not without putting both in the scales and measuring them. To think you can know the truth without measurement is to have a religion.

As a journalist or a scientist you only get to choose which is truth and which is false after you have sifted the evidence. Only priests get to decide truth by recourse to a higher cause. Only priests—and liars.

October 1, 2014: Remember this when the New York Times criticizes conservatives

According to Peter Baker at the New York Times, if you criticize a person’s politics, you really want them murdered. No joke:

President Obama must be touched by all the concern Republicans are showing him these days. As Congress examines security breaches at the White House, even opposition lawmakers who have spent the last six years fighting his every initiative have expressed deep worry for his security.

“The American people want to know: Is the president safe?” Representative Darrell Issa of California, the Republican committee chairman who has made it his mission to investigate all sorts of Obama administration missteps, solemnly intoned as he opened a hearing into the lapses on Tuesday.

Yet it would not be all that surprising if Mr. Obama were a little wary of all the professed sympathy.

Baker himself made a living criticizing President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Does this mean he would have no concerns about assassination attempts against them? Was his book criticizing the Bush administration really attempted murder?

There’s a joke about the left that if you want to know what they’re thinking, watch what they claim about conservatives. Baker’s article really does seem to come from an assumption about political criticism that he—and the New York Times—must personally hold, or it wouldn’t make any sense.

The New York Times daily criticizes conservative politicians. Does this mean they want conservatives dead? Does this mean they want to weaken law enforcement protection of conservative presidents? Their snide remarks about how conservative critics can’t really be concerned about the safety of a leftist President say, yes.

  1. I’d be hard-pressed to remember their names without googling.

  2. Outside of his business decisions, perhaps.

  3. Though with the health care takeover, the various solar energy debacles, and the General Motors restructuring it’s easy to make the argument that cronyism is now something the left supports.

  1. <- Tough cheese
  2. Always get tape ->