A review of a new book recapping 100 Years of the liberal magazine The New Republic, Insurrections of the Mind: 100 Years of Politics and Culture in America goes to something I’ve been trying to say regarding statements to the effect that Republicans in congress are more “extreme” than Democrats. Here are a couple quotes:
“Over the last 25 years, liberalism has lost its good name and its sway over politics,” reads a 2006 statement by TNR editors, with which [Foer] introduces outstanding essays of the 2000s. “But it’s liberalism’s loss of imagination that is most disheartening.” More disheartening, actually, is the preaching of hatred under the guise of liberalism. More disheartening still is Foer’s decision to highlight TNR essays from the previous decade that do just that as if they carry forward liberalism’s noblest traditions.
TNR’s promulgation of hatred of conservative people and ideas — and editor Foer’s showcasing of it in TNR’s 100th anniversary tribute to itself — represent intellectual and moral failure. Not insurrections of the free mind but posturing and preening of the partisan mind.
The trouble with The New Republic is not that it has become too liberal, but that it has not remained, in the more fundamental sense, liberal enough.
The point I’ve been trying to make is that the left is seeing an effect and calling it a cause.
If Republicans really are as extreme as the left says they are (and I don’t concede that point), then I argue that that extremism is an only-natural response to the actual extremism of the left, evidence of which is mountainous and includes not only the article quoted above, but also, for example, the extremist ramming-through of Obamacare “for our own good” and Harry Reid’s extremist one-man control of practically all of Congress (Senate AND House), described here, here, and here.
You can’t commit so much sacrilege (as Haidt describes here) for such a long time against the sacred values of America/Conservatism and then be surprised that there’s a reaction (and THEN blame the reactors!). If Democrats and liberalism had not gone so far off the rails then, I maintain, the “extremism” the left perceives among Republicans and conservatism never would have happened.
I’m a fan of singer/songwriter/performer Jack White. Sometimes a song can capture an idea quite well. Here’s one of his that illustrates what I think Haidt and others are doing when they claim Republicans and/or conservatives are “extreme,” (and by the way, doesn’t the first line about using a problem as an excuse for inventing a contraption sound a lot like another bon mot of liberalism, “never let a crisis go to waste”?)
“Effect And Cause”
I guess you have to have a problem
If you want to invent a contraption
first you cause a train wreck
And then you put me in traction
well first came an action
And then a reaction
But you can’t switch around
For your own satisfaction
Well you burnt my house down
Then got mad at my reaction
Well in every complicated situation
There’s a human relation
Making sense of it all
Take a whole lot of concentration
Well you can blame the baby
For her pregnant ma
And if there’s one of these unavoidable laws
It’s just that you can’t just take the effect and make it the cause
Well you can’t take the effect
And make it the cause
I didn’t rob a bank
because you made up the law
Blame me for robbing peter
Don’t you blame Paul
Can’t take the effect
And make it the cause
I ain’t the reason that you gave me
No reason to return your call
You built a house of cards
And got shocked when you saw them fall
Well I ain’t saying I’m innocent
In fact the reverse
But if your heading to the grave
you Don’t blame the hearse
You’re like a little girl yelling at her brother
Cause you lost his ball
You keep blaming me for what you did
And that ain’t all
The way you clean up the wreck
Is enough to give one pause
You seem to forget just how this song started
I’m reacting to you
because you left me broken hearted
See you just can’t just take the effect and make it the cause
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