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August 29, 2010

Krauthammer: Fear and Loathing in Martha's Vineyard

You've probably read this, but it's darn good.

Liberalism under siege is an ugly sight indeed. Just yesterday it was all hope and change and returning power to the people. But the people have proved so disappointing. Their recalcitrance has, in only 19 months, turned the predicted 40-year liberal ascendancy (James Carville) into a full retreat. Ah, the people, the little people, the small-town people, the "bitter" people, as Barack Obama in an unguarded moment once memorably called them, clinging "to guns or religion or" -- this part is less remembered -- "antipathy toward people who aren't like them."

That's a polite way of saying: clinging to bigotry. And promiscuous charges of bigotry are precisely how our current rulers and their vast media auxiliary react to an obstreperous citizenry that insists on incorrect thinking.

-- Resistance to the vast expansion of government power, intrusiveness and debt, as represented by the Tea Party movement? Why, racist resentment toward a black president.

-- Disgust and alarm with the federal government's unwillingness to curb illegal immigration, as crystallized in the Arizona law? Nativism.

-- Opposition to the most radical redefinition of marriage in human history, as expressed in Proposition 8 in California? Homophobia.

-- Opposition to a 15-story Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero? Islamophobia.

Now we know why the country has become "ungovernable," last year's excuse for the Democrats' failure of governance: Who can possibly govern a nation of racist, nativist, homophobic Islamophobes?

Note what connects these issues. In every one, liberals have lost the argument in the court of public opinion. Majorities -- often lopsided majorities -- oppose President Obama's social-democratic agenda (e.g., the stimulus, Obamacare), support the Arizona law, oppose gay marriage and reject a mosque near Ground Zero.

What's a liberal to do? Pull out the bigotry charge, the trump that preempts debate and gives no credit to the seriousness and substance of the contrary argument.

James Taranto follows up by giving this intense loathing liberals feel for their fellow Americans, but somehow I don't think "Oikophobia" is going to stick.

He quotes Robert Reich making the typical "bitter, clingy" analysis of Americans -- we're all just reacting, animal-like, in fear -- and responds:

So if some Americans are afraid of people "who have what seem to be strange religions," it must be a totally irrational reaction to "economic insecurity." It couldn't possibly have anything to do with an act of mass murder committed in the name of the religion in question.

And Reich doesn't just fail to see the obvious. He dehumanizes his fellow Americans by treating their values, feelings and opinions as no more than reflexive reactions to material conditions. Americans in fact are a very tolerant people. Even in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, there was no serious backlash against Muslims. What makes them angry--what makes us angry--is the bigotry of the elites.

I've tried to get the RNC's attention -- I think an ad which featured members of the media calling Americans racist and ignorant, over and over again, for a full minute, followed by the text "You know who They're voting for" would be effective.

No one reacts well to hatred and condescension directed at them. Liberals get this when it comes to certain minorities. But when it comes to others -- us -- they strangely have no empathy whatsoever.


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posted by Ace at 10:37 AM

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