Liberal intolerance and the double standard, revisited

At a blog called Palousitics (I have no idea what that means) the entire text of my 2004 article at FrontPage Magazine, “How to Oppose Liberal Intolerance” has been reproduced. Because many key passages of the text have been bolded, this version of the article may help bring out its meanings in a new way and make it worth a re-read, especially as several entries at VFR today are on the subject of liberalism.

The main theme of the article is that when mainstream conservatives complain endlessly about the double standards imposed by liberalism, they are fundamentally mistaking what liberalism is. The double standard is not some excess or defect of liberalism, which liberals can be persuaded or shamed to fix; the double standard is inherent in liberalism, proceeding from the leftist project of treating unequals as though they were equal. Mainstream conservatives don’t want to focus on this aspect of liberalism, because they themselves share a modified version of the same egalitarian agenda..

Here’s a “conservative” version of the liberal double standard. Every time over the last few years when Condoleezza Rice would repeat her mantra that America, like Iraq, has had its troubles in reaching democracy, e.g., that for a long time women didn’t have the vote, or that for a long time blacks were discriminated against and still are, or that it took 13 years to get from the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution, she was treating the absence of the women’s franchise or the absence of genuinely national government under the Articles of Confederation as the moral equivalent of the catastrophically violent, primitive, and disunited state of Iraq. Why the double standard? Because, on one hand, her expectation was one of equality between the U.S. and Muslims, as stated by President Bush (“All people have the same longing in their hearts for democracy and are equally deserving of democracy”), but, on the other hand, the reality was that Muslims are vastly inferior to us in their capacity and desire for self-government. In order to cover up the Muslims’ actual inferiority to us with respect to the capacity for self-government and maintain the illusion of equality between unequals, Rice had to judge America by a far harsher standard than that by which she judged Iraq. The double standard (“we haven’t been perfect either”) placed Iraq on the same level as America, or rather it placed America on the same level as Iraq. Yet during all the years that Rice kept emitting these deeply false and insulting statements about America, all aimed at lowering America to the level of Iraq, I never once heard a mainstream conservative criticize her for it. Why? Because the mainstream conservatives shared the same egalitarian assumptions as Rice and Bush and had no desire to call attention to the real civilizational abyss between us and the Iraqis.

Of course, these same conservatives constantly condemn the left for its anti-American double standards, as that costs them nothing. However, whether the conservatives are attacking the left’s anti-American double standards, or going along with the Bushites’ anti-American double standards, the one thing they never do is look for the cause of the double standard—the leftist belief that unequals are equal.

- end of initial entry -

A reader writes:

I am Tom Forbes, the blogmeister at Palousitics who posted your old FrontPage article today. I want to tell that you I found it a revelatory call to arms.

I live in Pullman, Washington, a small university town where public debate tends to be dominated by liberal academics. I used your article to try and enlighten the non-university community on the mindset of the opposition that we as local conservatives face. I completely agree with you when you state that “Mainstream conservatives don’t want to focus on this aspect of liberalism, because they themselves share a modified version of the same egalitarian agenda…”

Washington State University here in Pullman was the scene last year of a confrontation between the WSU College Republicans and a liberal professor where the professor called one of the College Republicans a “white s**tbag.” The professor only received a minor reprimand.

I will add a link to your blog from mine and continue to follow your excellent discussions on liberalism.

By the way, “Palousitics” comes from a contraction of “Palouse,” the region in which Pullman is located, and “politics.”

Keep up the good work!

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 02, 2007 10:53 PM | Send

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