The Man Who Was Asking For It

There is a genuinely uncomfortable pettiness to much of liberalism, an habitual crossing of the line that suggests progressive politics is, frequently, a fundamentally vindictive enterprise. It is fashionable these days, of course, to adopt a “both-sides-do-it” attitude when it comes to criticisms of political ideology. But you simply do not see the level of spite on the Right as you do on the Left; or, rather, while there are surely plenty of nasty and hateful conservatives, such things are overwhelmingly discouraged and condemned by the nominal leaders of popular conservative thought. The same is not true for liberalism, the standard-bearers and authority figures of which are often the nastiest and most malefic of the bunch.

It is easy enough to produce examples aplenty. Consider Bill Maher publicly berating Sarah Palin’s child as “retarded,” for instance, or Dave Letterman joking about a baseball player banging her 14-year-old daughter and then issuing an admitted phony apology about it. Sarah Palin, of course, inspires no small amount of genuinely shocking vitriol from the Left. But the direction of liberalism’s cruel and juvenile anger is not limited merely towards successful conservative women; consider the more recent matter of the GOP baseball shooting, where in the wake of the tragedy liberal darling George Takei tweeted:

I am not quite sure what “the universe” is supposed to mean in this context; it seems to be the word people use to refer to God when for whatever reason they don’t want to actually say the word God. But never mind that. Consider the circumstances surrounding this tweet: at the time of its composition, Steve Scalise was still in very serious condition; he was likely undergoing surgery at the very same time that George Takei was accusing him of being “bigoted” and “homophobic.” A man was very possibly lying at death’s door, a victim of a homicidal maniac who shot him while he was playing baseball with his friends, and George Takei’s impulse is to smear him for his politics and chortle about an idiotic manufactured identity politics incongruity. It bears repeating: George Takei actually typed this, and he actually tweeted it, and then it was retweeted almost twenty thousand times by thousands upon thousands of delighted fans, all while Steve Scalise was struggling to survive.

It is, of course, possible to imagine a conservative—somebody, somewhere—writing such trash from the other side. What is far more difficult to imagine is a highly prominent and celebrated conservative writing such trash and being lauded and rewarded for it. Imagine if some outspoken, unapologetically progressive politician was gunned down, ended up fighting for her life in a hospital, and a conservative celebrity took to social media to say, “Well, gee, isn’t it funny, this hateful and bigoted liberal was saved by a straight white conservative Christian male, har-de-har-har, the universe is incredible isn’t it?” Imagine the armageddon that would result. Now ask yourself why George Takei was able to avoid such a fallout.

Perhaps we have simply gotten used to this kind of hate; we have come to expect it from the Left and are thus not liable to get all worked up over it. Maybe. But it is still something of a mystery. Steve Scalise, thank goodness, looks to be pulling through. The same cannot be said of American progressivism, which is mired in this kind of enmity and shows no signs of recovering.

9 comments

  1. David

    It is tempting to give a short answer of: Alex Jones (7.5 million listeners) & Donald Trump. But that is, as you said, just an example of “both sides do it.”

    Judging by comments since I’ve begun following your blog Daniel, it seems that I am your only reader willing to play the part of representing the left against which you so often like to lodge complaints. I do find it unfortunate that people so often look for something outside of themselves to blame but it is a common aspect of human nature. We look out at the world, at times do not like what we see & then we look to find someone to blame. Blaming ourselves doesn’t feel right because we know how much we want to do good in the world. So it must be someone else’s fault.

    In regards to “the left,” if it seems as if they are angrier than those on “the right,” here are some possible reasons why. Let’s not discuss the possible duplicity or hypocrisy of leadership, that exists in too large an extent on both sides. I will provide examples if you like but too many of the examples are unpleasant & I do not wish to become offensive.

    so, the anger on the left may stem in many regards from the fact that “the left” purports to represent (at least many of) those in society who are marginalized or in some way dispossessed. As marginalized individuals, they are often understandably angry at the treatment they believe they have received at the hands of “the establishment.” Folks on “the right” are often successful people in varying degrees who have less cause to be angry. Their anger (as exhibited by the likes of Alex Jones) tends to be directed due to the perception that the “dispossessed” on the left, with the assistance of the left leaning folks in government, are going to take away their earnings in the form of taxation & give it over to folks who are not willing to earn it for themselves.

    P.S. I appreciated your recent post in The Federalist. I’ll avoid a discussion here about the difficulties faced by those who choose public service as a law enforcement officer but with power comes responsibility.

    • Daniel Payne

      Alex Jones is not a conservative; he’s a self-described libertarian. He has also described himself as a “paleoconservative,” which overlaps in some ways with mainstream conservatism, but in any event he has categorically, explicitly rejected the “conservative” label.

      And if Donald Trump is your idea of a “conservative,” you have honestly got to get out more.

      • David

        Admittedly, I can think of a great number of other adjectives that might more appropriately apply to Trump.

        I can recall a conversation I once had with my sister-in-law who considers herself a religious conservative. I observed to her that Christian theocracies over the last 2000 years have not been especially peaceful or benevolent towards the governed populations. Many were also widely known to exhibit high levels of corruption. In response she stated: “those weren’t really Christian.” I thought it a very convenient if disingenuous device for deflecting criticism by claiming, essentially, if the culprits were only pure enough the outcomes would be as I claim they should be. I do not doubt that Karl Marx would make the same claim if confronted with the horrors of communism as practiced in most of the 20th century (admittedly, the communist party in Kerala, India is more appropriately socialist).

        I have observed time & again how folks who claim ideological purity (of whatever ilk) persistently hold that “if only” we could enact political reforms that were as ideologically pure as I am then all the world’s problems would be resolved. Sorry, you don’t get that luxury. The left (in recent history) got saddled with the Clintons & Obama. You folks on the right have got to carry the burden of George W & Trump.

        • Daniel Payne

          This is a nonsense, meaningless response, David. Honestly.

          To quote William F. Buckley, Jr.: I don’t know what you’re talking about, and I don’t think you do, either.

          • David

            Well, I’m glad you are at least familiar with Mr. Buckley. I do not find conservatives these days who are of nearly his caliber & was starting to worry that erudite discussion had gone out of fashion for the “right” as you complain in regards to the “left”. However, why you have difficulty understanding my comment is perhaps more a matter of choice than anything else. Perhaps I should quit using analogy?

            Let me try to be more blunt. When you get to select who you define as the “us” (in your case representatives of conservative ideology) & the “them” (representatives of liberal ideology) then it will always be easy to appear superior. It is like having a wrestling match between two tribes & you get to select the athletes for both your tribe & the opposing tribe. You choose Andre the Giant to represent your tribe & Pauly Shore to represent your opponent. I frankly don’t understand why this is a difficult concept.

            It is quite simple really, if you insist on picking my “standard bearer” – George Takei??? I mean, I’m a fan of the old Star Trek but it was Roddenberry I admired more than any of the actors. If we need to select a celebrity as liberal standard bearer how about someone like a Rod Serling? Anyway, if you pick mine, I get to pick yours from the available candidates. Perhaps Steve Bannon would have been the better choice?

            If ideological purity is the standard, then Mr. Takei would hardly be the choice. However, as I indicated above, ideologues may get to deride reality but they should never be given the opportunity to try and impose their reality on others. That is what produced modern Iran.

          • Daniel Payne

            David, If you’re going to pick standard-bearers for the conservative movement, then maybe next time try to not pick (a) a guy who has literally abjured the “conservative” label, and (b) a guy who ran on a platform repudiating most of what the conservative movement has stood for over the last few decades.

            I mean, seriously. Good grief.

            Arguing with you is like arguing with a mildly erudite but largely clueless seventh-grader. I am very much reminded of why I stopped engaging with you, and I’m herewith resolved to do it again. But thanks for reading.

          • David

            But Daniel, would you prefer I select Todd (pregnancy doesn’t result from rape) Akin perhaps? Rick (the American Revolution took place in the 16th Century) Perry might be another choice.

            You are doing the exact same thing you accuse me of doing in your selection of Mr. Takei to represent the left. By what standard do you select a minor celebrity as representative of the left? Why not cite Paul Krugman, Fareed Zakaria or James Fallows? If you prefer a celebrity, try Jon Stewart or Steven Colbert? No, of course you don’t select someone of their caliber. That wouldn’t serve your purpose, which is to heap ridicule upon those who think differently than yourself, apparently so that you, & those who think like you, can congratulate yourselves for being superior to those dumb lefties. As is not surprising for someone of your youth, you seem to persist in thinking that your world view is the only correct one. That you have “the Truth” & the only reason that everyone else doesn’t agree with you is that they are either dishonest, delusional or (your choice for today) clueless.

            I’ll give you a simple lesson in wisdom before we part ways. Wisdom & intelligence often do not coincide because the belief that you know something renders it impossible to learn. (Matthew 18:3 or Matthew 19:24 which says essentially the same thing) There is a very good reason why it has always been understood that wisdom (where it exists) tends to increase with age. That is because, for those who do acquire some wisdom with age, one comes to realize that, however intelligent you might be, there is so much more that you can never know. That people often have very good reasons for why they behave as they do but the reasons are usually based on emotion rather than logic (even when they obfuscate it with the verbiage of logic). Their emotional states arise from the various experiences of their lives & the dominate experiences are often the ones that occurred when they were very young & developing their assumptions regarding the world. Your assumptions define your reality. By their very nature, you do not normally realize that you are even making those varied assumptions because in your mind – “that’s just the way the world works.” Wisdom comes from a relentless pursuit of truth, no matter where it leads. Before you can pursue truth, you must pursue humility.

          • Daniel Payne

            David, I’m happy to criticize all of those people as representative of the Left; for example, I have lambasted Paul Krugman at length for his batty wild-eyed conspiracy theories and girlish political histrionics. I mean, I literally wrote a piece entitled, “Paul Krugman Illustrates The Damaged Political Psyches Of The Left.”

            Do yourself a favor and run a quick Google search next time before whining about the “caliber” of idiot leftists I’ve lambasted in the past. Best of luck.

  2. David

    But realistically, I don’t know that Takei’s comments should really be considered hateful – he did not in any way suggest that Scalise deserved to be shot. He was only suggesting the irony of the convergence.

    As far as the use of “universe” in place of “God,” that is a device I have observed (& occasionally used myself) as a way of avoiding the attributes associated with various religious conceptions of God. Many who believe in a monotheistic or trinitarian “God” have a very specific set of attributes associated with their conception of “God.” In a sense, the use of the term universe in place of god is a way of acknowledging that there is some form of pervasive intelligence guiding things w/o associating with a particular religion. After all, how is it possible for the finite to truly understand the infinite? (that is of course rhetorical & does not seek a response)