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As I watch the news and read articles on Medium and other sources of reference, I receive a very large dose of the so-called Liberal point of view. I disagree with most of it. This has struck me as strange since, for practically all of my life I have considered myself a Liberal also. Therefore, without resorting to either jargon-based or pedantic terminology: Woke. Binary. Libertarian. Etc), I have decided to ask myself (and maybe you too) the question: What is a Liberal? Am I still one? Have I changed or have the rules changed?
One of the things essential for any discussion (I say this as an international English teacher with students in many countries) is that we come up with an acceptable ‘working definition’ of what we are trying to discuss. Meaningful dialogue is impossible, I have found, if the people having the talk cannot agree on terms. For example, apparently simple words such as “beauty”, “freedom”, “happiness” and “art”, which people toss around all the time, in fact prove very elusive when we try to nail them down.
Moreover, that being true, we really run into problems when we attempt to explain what is meant by such terms as “racism”, “sexism”, “feminism”, socialism”, and even “democracy.” Sometimes it almost seems that there are as many definitions as there are people.
So once more, without going “text book” on you, I will try to define what I mean when I use the term “liberal”. Two words immediately spring to mind: “compassion” and “open-mindedness.” To that, you could add, significantly, “tolerance.” The Classic Liberal, therefore, is someone who was not born with “his mind made up”. He/she is open to new experiences without bringing a predetermined or judgmental attitude to that fresh experience.
My feeling in the past was that conservatives or “right-wingers” usually lacked such compassion and open-mindedness. They tended to be either elitists who, while patting themselves on the back for their own good fortune (because many of them were rich) looked down on those weaker or less fortunate than themselves, or else they were simply angry, ignorant, vicious people (the racist southern “redneck” of the past comes to mind), who seethed with hate and basically could not see beyond the gas stations where they often seemed to sit and kill time.
Not that it is wrong or bad to “conserve” what has long worked well, but the word itself seems to imply a repudiation of epiphany-visions, new frontiers, and “out of the box” thinking and innovation. Just to use what I suppose is a trite example on the world stage, for years and years, the miserable fuddy-duddies that ran college football (who of course had hidden agendas — there is ALWAYS a hidden agenda) would not allow a play-off or championship game, and so the nation was annually deprived of a true national champion. I used to listen to all the arguments they tried to make and every one of them was STUPID. Now we have a play-off and championship game and, despite the inevitable bickering about this and that, most people who are football fans are much happier.
The curmudgeons who fought it tooth and nail for years were all, guess what, CONSERVATIVES. That was one reason I called myself a Liberal. But there were many other far more important reasons.
You know what I used to say to myself? I would say, “What if aliens from another galaxy suddenly arrived on earth and got out of their space ships? What would happen? And I figured that the Liberals would be glad to see them and eager to communicate and cooperate. The right-wingers would want to kill them on sight…
My education (or rather the analysis I made based on my education) showed me that guys like Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy had the right idea. Even presidential candidates who failed to win, such as Adlai Stevenson and Hubert Humphrey, were essentially good guys whose world vision was akin to my own. The despicable Joseph McCarthy and the equally loathsome Richard Nixon were people to shun, even despise. Of course it didn’t break down strictly along party lines. Eisenhower was a legitimate hero and good man. Lyndon Johnson was ultimately awful. Reagan was never my cup of tea but Americans loved him…etc… Personally I think that Bill Clinton was a great president. Americans never had it so good as while he was in office. George W. fucked it all up. Clinton was liberal, Bush a Conservative.
So on that evidence, I definitely qualify as a Liberal, correct?
I passionately supported the Civil Rights Movement (damned near got killed because of it) and I have NEVER had anything against people who have a different sexual orientation. Moreover, it never would have occurred to me to think that women should not have the same rights as men, fair treatment, etc., because I took for granted. I would have got straight in the face of anyone who dared to say that women were inferior or ought know their place. I believe that I was a Feminist before they ever invented the term.
Again I ask: on THAT evidence, I DEFINITELY qualify as a LIBERAL, RIGHT???
I spent my life butting heads with idiots who wanted to deny other people their freedom and their rights.
So what in the world has happened? Have I lost my mind? Well, no (I just banged my head against the wall to make sure that my mind is still there, and it is). Nope, and I haven’t yet become senile either.
Again we should go back and examine the terminology. Liberal (in the traditional or classical sense) vs Left Wing. The CONTEMPORARY Left Wing is what I am referring to. In my opinion, we are speaking of two different animals. Today’s Left Wing (I am tempted to use the word ‘radical’ but I won’t because it is too emotionally-charged) are BY NO MEANS Liberal.
I think it started with Political Correctness. The use of euphemism to soften certain harsh realities is more than reasonable and acceptable. That is why I would say to you, “I understand that your Uncle Fred passed away recently” instead of “I hear your Uncle died.” Or, yipes ! — “kicked the bucket”, “snuffed it”, and so on. It is why we say “Sorry to hear you had to put Molly (your beloved dog) to sleep.” NOT “So I hear you euthanized your dog.”
It is why we refer to someone as being “elderly”” or “getting on a bit” instead just “old”. “Overweight” instead of “fat”. “Plain” instead of “ugly”. I GET IT. But it becomes preposterous when we have to call a “disabled” person (no fucking legs) “differently-abled”, or a certifiably retarded person as “mentally challenged.” Or a short person, “vertically challenged.” Or Ruduolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer “nasally-challenged”.
If you want to call the chairman the “chairperson” or (for Christ’s sake) just the “chair” — “Please log the fact that the chair tabled the meeting.” — OK, OK. But it becomes really silly when we have to say “server” instead of “waiter” or “waitress”, “flight attendant” instead of “steward/stewardess”, and when we can have only “challenges” but never “problems.” Or when Eskimos become Inuits, Gypsies become Romans, and “Oriental” is a bad word. It is ridiculous when it’s OK to refer to the Dallas Cowboys or the Notre Dame “FIGHTING Irish”, but a terrible insult if we call a team the Washington “Redskins.” (The idea, after all, is to make a football team seem ferocious and heroic, hence “Redskins” is a COMPLIMENT. If it were otherwise, we would have teams like the “The Denver Daisies” and the “Pittsburgh Pussies”.)
I have found that the best way to test a concept is to take it to its logical extreme. If at that point it becomes absurd, then we need to rethink a few things. So let’s do that. Let’s change the name of the city of Manchester to Personchester. Or Humanchester. Let’s say that a guy didn’t fall into a “manhole”, rather he fell into a “humanhole” . Or a “gender-free hole.” You like that? Hey, I’m all for it. Write it up.
Political Correctness, which is a staple of Left Wing thinking, robs us all, not only of our sense of humor but of spontaneity. These days, it seems you can’t say ANYTHING without some bastard getting offended.
In law, the prosecutor has to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The key word here is “reasonable”. So let’s examine sexism in the office. In Russia, where I spent many years, if you tell a woman she looks beautiful (or even nice) she is HAPPY. She takes it as a compliment which is exactly how it is meant 99% of the time. In America if you say that she might call the Thought Police and you may lose your job. (And please don’t remind me of how primitive Russia can be. I KNOW that. I lived there.)
REASONABLE. Obviously, you don’t walk in and say, “Hey hotcakes, how about bit of grind and grunt during your coffee break?” Obviously. But in America if you say, “Your hair looks nice today, did you have it styled recently?”, the answer you might get is the following: “This a a work place, not a meat market. You are not here to judge my appearance.”
Sheeesh. Who wants to live and work in an atmosphere like that? In an environment where you always have to be on your guard? There is a difference between offensive disrespect and a harmless, well-meaning compliment. But the angry Left Wing have obliterated that distinction.
The sad fact is that many Feminists are no longer really concerned with liberation. Instead, they have become vicious and vindictive. The worst of them are simply nasty, unpleasant people who have forfeited any sympathy they might otherwise have received from an ordinary individual (without an agenda) like me. I am not a complete idiot. I know the difference between right and wrong. I can not speak for other men, but I know that my heart is, and has always been, in the right place. I am not out to HURT anybody. But if they choose to get offended over nothing, I see it as THEIR problem.
The same goes for race. I can not begin to explain the degree to which my life, my education, even my soul, has been positively influenced by black people. But I am sick and tired of being put down as racist simply because I am white. And I refuse to accept every excuse that black people make when they screw up, trying to shift the blame to me and what I represent to them. I reject utterly the fallacious notion that because I am white I am by institutional definition a racist. That is specious, sophomoric bullshit and I won’t have it. If they want to turn me INTO a racist, then they can keep on with that insidious, self-serving malarkey.
University students. These are NOT liberals. They are Left Wing fascist fanatics who refuse to listen to anyone with a different point of view from the ones they have ingrained in their immature skulls. They do not think; they do not know HOW to think. They are untutored oafs who stand and chant a kind of brain-dead catechism. The overwhelming majority of them cannot string two thoughts together in a coherent way; they have no real education regarding governments and societies as they have evolved through the centuries, and their level of sophistication does not go beyond Facebook. And yet, they would pontificate to the world.
These are the kinds of fools who think that slavery was all about mean white people kidnapping (and torturing) innocent black people. It never occurs to them to study the subject and learn that for centuries and centuries slavery was practiced the world over and USUALLY by people of the same color. They do not apparently know that in America even some black people owned slaves! Is that an apology for Slavery or an attempt to get white people off the hook for the horrible things they did in the American south? FUCK NO! But, boys and girls, it is HISTORY. Study it sometime. You might learn something.
And if you are not convinced by what I have stated about the slavery issue, then just think for a moment about the Roman Empire. If you asked most Americans about the Roman Empire, they right away would conjure up images of Christians being mauled and devoured by tigers (not enough tigers, alas) and some fat slob (Nero) pouring wine over everybody’s head while the whole whorehouse goes up in flames. Nothing could possibly be more misleading when you consider the longevity of the Romans and their incredible achievements. Even its period of increasingly precipitous decline lasted longer than the USA has even been on the map. But with the subject of slavery, all you get is Mandingo and Quentin Tarantino, and with the Romans it’s a combination of Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston (yes, the IRA guy) and Humpty Dumpty (as Nero). History. And American college students don’t know it any better than Abdul the Manhattan taxi driver, maybe not as well.
When I was young, college and university campuses were very special places where vigorous young minds were exploring the world and the universe with the ardor of a child opening presents on Christmas morning. The world was an open frontier with strong winds blowing fresh IDEAS all about them from all directions.
Now university campuses are fortresses not frontiers, and if you don’t go along with the party line you are racist, sexist, homophobic — you fill in the blanks.
Finally, if all this is not enough to turn your stomach, we have the American media. OK, there are and have always been great journalists. Likewise, slime-ball hacks. They co-exist, although I can remember a time in America before the National Enquirer first came out, which I will discuss in a moment. As for the Enquirer, my grandmother loved it. I should have known something was up when I saw that their center-spread (tabloid-style) liked to depict things like terrible road accidents, replete with dead, bloody bodies strewn along the highway. My favorite was the one which showed a guy in Africa who, in defiance of the rules, got out of his car — while his family watched from inside the vehicle — to film lions he saw in the distance. Unfortunately, he didn’t notice the lion standing right behind him. So the series of photos displayed him kneeling with his camera, then the lion in back of him, then the lion actually airborne, and, last but not least, the lion ripping him to shreds while his family, aghast, helplessly looked on.
The term we now use for this is “sensationalism”, and the American media has a terminal case of it. I often ask my students when we come to the media section of our books, “If you saw two newspapers and the headline on one read ‘Church Raffle Raises Money for Orphanage’ and the other blared ‘Lunatic Hacks Off Heads In Front of Metro’ — which one would you buy?” Of course, they hem and haw, until I say, “Look I already know the answer.”
The media knows the answer too, and so they feed the lowest aspects of human nature a plate of meat large enough to have satisfied that lion I was talking about. But hell, that’s show business.
The problem gets serious when you see that the big press in America is controlled by the Left Wing. Say what you want about Trump. Personally, I like mavericks who tell the establishment and the PC-ers to go to hell, but I can understand why he is not everyone’s flavor of the month. However, the Left Wing American media has smeared this guy from the start. Just as they have been doing to Kavanaugh. Double standards and hypocrisy abound, and the media piranhas are shameless. But in the old days, men such as David Brinkley and Eric Sevareid, liberal through and through, were always true professionals, as were moderates such as Chet Huntley, Roger Mudd and the magnificent Walter Cronkite. Anyone who saw Cronkite as he wept while telling the nation that JFK had been assassinated knew they were seeing the real-deal and not some disgusting skit born of slick choreography. And if you want to throw a great woman into the mix, think of Connie Chung. Those were journalists worthy of their jobs. Not like now.
Nowadays, these charlatans know that they will rise if they are “controversial” — and they have no morals whatsoever in that pursuit. They drink the blood of their subjects.
Have you ever noticed that in the headlines, nobody simply “SAYS” anything anymore. It is always “so-and-so RIPS so-and-so.” Or “SLAMS”. Or “LASHES OUT”. Contemporary media types have reduced words with specific meanings, such as “legend”, “icon”, and “guru” to the point that they have been rendered meaningless. Now please try to get this straight, guys:: Robin Hood is a legend. King Arthur is a legend. Even Jesus Christ could be considered a legend— why? Because almost nothing is known about his life, or really (brace yourselves) if he ever actually existed as an historical person. Legend. The current coach of the Philadelphia Eagles is NOT a LEGEND !!!
Except in the American media. There, Madonna and Lady Gaga are legends.. And it is this same Left Wing media, with its agenda, its hyperbole, and its endless appetite for the salacious — which makes intelligent and reasonable discussion on any political issue virtually impossible.
America is now a nation in which calm, dispassionate, honest dialogue is increasingly rare. Everybody is screaming at everybody. The nut-cases on the extreme right (the Nazis, KKK-types, Gay-bashers, etc.) are pretty easy to single out. But the LEFT WINGERS — ahhhhh! They claim to be so much better than that. They are the ones for HUMAN RIGHTS! They are the Good Guys!!
And you know what? It turns out that they are no better than anyone else. Just more sanctimonious. More Holier Than Thou. And just as full of dirty tricks and bad intentions. That’s what I despise: the double standards and the hypocrisy.
I have spoken like a plain little person, which is what I am. No one special, just a voice. But it is, I dearly hope, a civilized voice. I have a PhD too, and if I wanted to cloak my thoughts in a bunch of abstruse or trendy verbal dung, I could do it. Heaven knows I faked my way through academia doing precisely that.
No, I am speaking like Joe Blow with an open mind. I am LIBERAL
Not LEFT WING.