Before I get to the main meat of my "opinionating," I would like to state up-front that I took to heart many of the comments made on the discussion thread of my first foray onto Writer Beat. My first post is available here: http://writerbeat.com/articles/19887-What-Does-Liberty-Mean-to-a-Leftist- (I'm sorry for not rendering this as a hyperlink. For some reason, every time I tried to make it a hyperlink the underlying URL inserted an extra "/articles" in the string...so the URL tried to take you to http://writerbeat.com/articles/articles/19887-What-Does-Liberty-Mean-to-a-Leftist-. Weird.)
I’m proud to say that politically, I am firmly on the Right. But so what? That statement, in and of itself, has only a limited meaning. It’s a label, sure. But labels can only convey so much information.
I know many Left-leaning individuals. Some of them are in my family in fact. If you wish to know more about my background, feel free to visit my “About Me” page on my personal website. No, I don’t earn money for hits to my website; I’m not trolling you to generate income. The page is there if you wish to read it. It matters very little to me if you do or don’t. https://www.justanotherdoug.com/about-me.html
For now, (in case you don’t want to visit my “About Me” page) I’ll simply say that I once worked at the University of Virginia. I worked at UVa for about 10 years before my cratering health forced me into an early retirement. I’ve also had association with several local animal care/animal shelter organizations. Because “Big Academia” and animal rescue organizations tend to be populated by Left-leaning individuals, I have had a great many opportunities to come to know—and come to love—a great many Left-leaning folk.
But enough of the preliminaries. Let’s get to the meat of the matter, shall we?
If I may, I’d like to start by returning to the concept of labels. Please bear with me: I promise this will tie in to the title of my piece shortly.
As many of the commenters on my first WB post stated, there are some significant and profound disadvantages to harping on “Leftists” and “Righties.” Chiefly, the way such terms can exacerbate the differences between us carbon-based life forms known as American Citizens. For my part, I simply do not want to exacerbate the differences we have from one another. In fact, I firmly and passionately believe that we Americans—we humans—have far, far, far more in common than we do that separates us.
I use labels only as guideposts. On any journey, you are served by knowing your destination, certainly. But also knowing your point of origin. On the journey that Left-leaning individuals and Right-leaning individuals both seek in our efforts to find common ground, is it not beneficial to know our respective starting points? Is it not helpful to define where we each are, to know which direction we each must travel to come together?
I think it is. So, in what I wrote/posted several months ago, and what you’ll find here today, please understand that I do not seek to divide. If I use labels, it’s only because I use them as road signs. I do not seek to divide.
Challenge, yes. Implore, certainly. Stimulate contemplation, guilty as charged.
But not to divide. Not to offend. At least, not to offend on a personal level. In the arena of ideas, I think it’s best to leave our personal egos at the gate. The ideas may be the target of an attack. And often rightly so. But we must guard against attacking each other in an ad hominem fashion. We’re adults; this ain’t high school.
And another thing: if we’re going to base our political policies on who is the most offended, then I think we’ve taken a wrong turn. I’m offended by a great many things that Left-leaning individuals believe, espouse, and work to implement. But so what? My feelings are in many ways irrelevant. The more effective tactic is to advance a better and more robust thought or idea, not lament how offended I am about some Left-wing ideological talking point.
I’ll now shift gears. Yesterday I joined-in on the Disqus comment thread to a commentary published on American Thinker. The title of the commentary was “David Horowitz Explains the Ruling Ideas of the Left.” I post under the screen name “TwoShoes.”
In response to a question I posed on the discussion thread, one person replied: “The left considers itself morally superior to you - that's what drives them.”
Right up front I will confess that this is the “vibe” I get from many Left-leaning individuals too. That is, in my (anecdotal) personal experience the overwhelming majority of Left-leaning individuals with whom I have attempted a discussion display the following indulgence: they merely appropriate the moral high ground without taking the time or the effort to explain why they have a legitimate claim on such ground.
With many of these individuals I have plaintively, pleadingly asked, “Why are you right, and I am wrong? How do you know that you are right?” I’ve gone as far as saying, “Maybe I am wrong. Maybe conservative ideology is wrong, unwholesome, destructive, and just plain bad. But why? Why is Leftist/Progressive/Collectivist ideology superior? Where’s the evidence that socialism/communism/collectivism is the superior paradigm? Why is your claim on the moral high ground legitimate, and my claim on that same moral high ground empty, false, or just plain bankrupt?”
To this day, I have not received a thoughtful answer. (I still hope to receive one, though.)
Instead, the overwhelming majority—but not all—of Left-leaning individuals with whom I’ve interacted simply see themselves as morally superior—period. End of discussion; there is simply no debate. They are Good; they are Beautiful; they are Noble. And because I had the temerity to challenge their cherished and chosen Collectivist narratives, I was characterized and castigated as Bad, Ugly, and ignobly Deplorable.
(If you don’t believe me, I invite you to go to my Disqus user’s home page and read the volcanic venom vomited upon me by many Left-leaning individuals simply because I ask them penetrating questions. Again, my screen name is TwoShoes. Not that I particularly care about the bile dumped on me. I mean, if I couldn’t take the heat, I wouldn’t join-in on the Disqus threads. Or post my thoughts here on Writer Beat for that matter.)
For the sake of argument, let’s go with the premise that Collectivism is the superior paradigm. I remain puzzled, however, by something. If Collectivism were truly Good, Beautiful, and Noble, the evidence would be manifestly obvious all over the world. Instead, what we see is the abject and abominable suffering that Collectivism has caused and continues to cause in such places as North Korea, Cuba, and more recently Venezuela.
Perhaps Left-leaning individuals are correct to operate under the rubric of moral superiority. Okay, fine. But from where does this moral superiority come? What is the legitimate source of the superiority? What is the underlying and foundational underpinnings to support it? If it comes from Man, then how is it that we can rightly condemn a Hitler, a Stalin, or a Castro? Each of them—and each tyrant of their ilk—operates under the moral superiority that they are Right (as in correct) and their opponents/enemies are wrong.
In short, from where I sit, the moral superiority displayed by Left-leaning individuals simply cannot come from factual evidence. At least not when you examine the totality of facts available, rather than a carefully selected limited subset of facts. So, again, from where does this sense of moral superiority come. From what, exactly, is it derived?
It’s been my experience that many Left-leaning individuals are incredibly sincere in their belief that Collectivism is the superior paradigm. But, if I may be so bold, they are sincerely wrong. One look at Venezuela's recent history ought be enough to demonstrate that.
In closing, I freely admit that I could be wrong to write that previous paragraph. So, if I am wrong, please do me the courtesy of demonstrating how I am wrong. Thomas Jefferson once stated, “Error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.” If I operate under an error of opinion here in what I’ve written today, please show me in a substantive way. Prove to me that I am wrong; demonstrate that I my interpretation of facts is incorrect—and I will heartily thank you for your corrections. I honestly want my ideas and assertions challenged so that if any of them are exposed as faulty or weak, I may replace the defective opinions and interpretations with more robust and accurate ones.
But if all you have to offer is snark, bile, or vomit, then please do me the courtesy of exercising some self-restraint and please do remain silent. I can handle the heat of volcanic blow back; I’ve got my “big-boy” pants on. But that doesn’t mean I particularly enjoy suffering the venom-tipped slings and arrows of another ad hominem attack.
Thank you for taking the time to read my piece here today. I really do appreciate it. Grace and Peace to you all.
© 2018 Douglas D. Goode. All rights not previously surrendered are retained by the author.