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May 28, 2008

How Come Conservatives Don't Also Feel Liberal White Guilt?

So asked Ron Rosenbaum in a goofy essay praising liberal white guilt, and Jonah Goldberg responds.

I think Rosenbaum stumbles on what may be the biggest problem with the whole liberal guilt business. I'm not sure we're really talking about guilt, at least not as we commonly understand it. Note how Rosenbaum basically puts all the blame on people other than him, i.e. not liberals.


There's a lot going on here emotionally, but I don't think "guilt" comes close to capturing the most interesting parts of it. I believe liberal or white guilt is often used as a pose, a political strategy, to proclaim that non-liberal whites should agree with liberals, particularly on racial issues. The motivating passion behind this nonsense isn't "I feel bad" so much as "you people should feel bad." And, you — you mean, bad, retrograde conservatives — should translate that enlightened self-hatred and guilt into doing what we morally numinous liberals say you should do. In short, if you really felt guilty, you'd be a liberal. And if you don't feel guilty, you aren't one.

He notes that liberals don't in fact feel any guilt about the numerous political tragedies liberals are directly responsible for. Their "guilt" is of a curious outwardly-directed sort.

Liberals want credit for ruthless self-criticism, but in fact almost all of their searing critiques of the "self' turn out to be risible attacks on others. It hardly needs to be pointed out again at this point that when liberals "bravely" ask what America has done to so anger certain parts of the world, what they're really asking is not what they themselves might have done, but what other Americans -- those bitterly clinging to God and guns -- have done.

It's a dishonest and passive-aggressive method of indulging in base name-calling and blame-throwing while posturing as highmindedly critiquing themselves. If only.

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posted by Ace at 11:51 AM

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