Damian Penny talks about why he so dislikes the far left. He's right, of course, but I hope he recognizes that the same is true of the far right. I always have one of those it'd-be-funny-if-it-weren't-so-sad moments whenever I hear a Falwell type complain about how Christians in America are put upon, even oppressed. Never mind the fact that 85% of Americans identify themselves as Christian and each of the major Presidential candidates for the past I don't know how many elections have courted churchgoers and played up their own faith. Similarly, I can only chuckle when a David Horowitz goes on every news show on the dial to proclaim his victimhood when a few college newspapers refuse to print his ad about reparations for slavery. The man has his own magazine fer chrissakes, and he gets mileage by saying he's been muzzled. Gimme a break.
The problem here, and it's one that's found on both ends of the spectrum, is that the bigmouths and blowhards need to feel like they've been victimized. It validates their worldview when they're feeling put down by Big Gummint, or Secular Humanists, or The Patriarchy, or whatever. It's the same reason why a lot of advocacy groups become marginalized as they become successful, and a big part of the reason why the biggest enemy of these groups is often some of their own leading spokespeople - think feminists and Andrea Dworkin, blacks and Al Sharpton, the NRA and Wayne LaPierre.
Those of us who like to believe we inhabit the pragmatic center hate being tied to folks with nominally similar beliefs who live out on the fringes. I'm a liberal, but I am not Noam Chomsky, Ralph Nader, Alice Walker, Katha Pollit, or Gore Vidal. I'll listen to and respect your views a lot more if you'll respect mine by not lumping me with people like that. That's why I agreed with Jacob Wesiberg's oft-derided piece in Slate about the anti-war left. Yes, Weisberg missed the boat in defining the scope of the anti-war left, but the point I took from his column is still the same: If you want me to see what you're saying, starting with a strawman attack on my views is not going to help.
For my part, I promise not to lump my colleagues on the right side of the pragmatic center with fools like Ann Coulter, Jerry Falwell, Pat Buchanan, Dan Quayle, and Phyllis Schlafly. Deal?Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 16, 2002 to Other punditry | TrackBack