Part 4—Can the problem really be us: Can it possibly be that the problem is actually us?
For decades, we liberals have rolled our eyes at the ditto-heads, then at those we insult as “tea-baggers.” Can it possibly be the case that the problem is also us?
Plainly, yes—the problem is also us. We’re dumb and tribal and filled with loathing and pretty much nobody likes us.
We’re dumb and tribal and filled with expansive self-regard. For these reasons, nobody likes us. We can’t think why anyone should.
How dumb can we be in the liberal world? Consider the wisdom which just keeps streaming from the new Salon.
Last week, before the killings in Paris, Joan Walsh had a hernia because Chris Christie roots for the Dallas Cowboys. She even said that this troubling conduct was “frankly un-American.”
How dumb do you have to be to say that? You have to be amazingly dumb, or maybe just blindingly tribal. That said, Walsh is one of our tribe's “intellectual leaders”—and after Paris, the new Salon offered us wisdom like this:
TAYLOR (1/8/15): Hashtag activism—even the #WeAreAllCharlieHebdo campaign underway on Twitter—won’t do. To avert more deaths, we have to stand up in real—and sometimes risky—ways to noxious ideologies masquerading as salvific faiths. Pundits need to overcome their fear of being labeled “politically incorrect” and speak their minds. Politicians must come clean with their electorates and state, simply, “With Islam, we have a problem.” Better still, “We have a problem with religion. Let’s figure out how we are going to deal with it.”For the record, we have no religious or cosmological beliefs. But good God!
Few are doing this now, but one group is—the topless protest movement Femen. By email I reached the leader of Femen in France, Inna Shevchenko, a frequent subject of Charlie Hebdo’s (admiring) coverage, who knew and was friends with the slain, including Charb, the cartoonist who was also the magazine’s director. Femen has won notoriety for its bare-breasted protests against Islam, including this one, and countless bold demarches against Catholicism there and elsewhere.
The idea that politicians can “figure out how we are going to deal with religion” is a form of massive delusion. The notion that we should engage in “bare-breasted protests against Islam” is criminally insane as a form of political advice.
For many years, we liberals amused ourselves by laughing at the dumbness and gullibility of The Others. It’s long past time when we have to admit that the problem is also us—has been for a long time.
For how many years has the problem been us? Consider a painful letter to the editor of the Washington Post.
The letter appeared on January 3. It was one of three letters which pushed back, from a liberal perspective, against a Robert Samuelson column.
Samuelson’s column had been pretty silly. But the highlighted statement stands as a tribute to three or four decades of liberal sloth and incompetence:
LETTER TO THE WASHINGTON POST (1/3/15): Robert J. Samuelson stated that two-thirds of the federal budget went toward "payments to individuals." This covers Social Security recipients and Medicare beneficiaries. My wife and I paid Social Security taxes from every paycheck our entire working lives. We pay a Medicare premium every month for health insurance. This is money paid into a system by and for all, including the "middle class," for programs to set money aside for our retirements and the purchase of health insurance.Good lord! The federal government hasn’t “squandered” this gentleman’s Social Security taxes in any normal sense of the term.
The fact that the federal government may have squandered the money is not the fault of the middle class but of government's ineptitude.
We are only reaping the benefits that we paid for.
But so what? Plutocrats spent several decades inserting this thought into the heads of American voters, liberal and conservative alike.
“The money isn’t there—we’ve already spent it,” voters were told again and again. All that was left of their tax payments was “a set of worthless IOUs,” they were repeatedly told.
Lazy, shiftless, inept and uncaring, our “liberal” intellectual leaders never addressed these carefully crafted misdirections. For that reason, these deceptive claims drove several decades of our political discourse.
Even today, liberal voters repeat these points, even after this propaganda campaign has largely been abandoned on the right. Has any political tribe ever been as useless and helpless as us?
Increasingly, the problem is us! Let’s recall the painful place where we started our current series.
We started our current series after reading a New York Times editorial about “the needs of black students.” One night before the editorial appeared, we had watched the bumptious Tavis Smiley pretend to discuss public schools.
It would be hard to invent an emptier speech than the one Smiley delivered on C-Span that night. The next morning, the Times’ ruminations about black students was just as empty and sad.
No, Missouri! It’s extremely unlikely that “the needs of black students” will be advanced in any serious way by the ACLU law suit the Times was praising—a law suit designed to heighten the number of blacks on the Ferguson-Florissant school board.
The fact that the Times doesn’t know that—the fact that the Times was willing to posture and boast and mislead readers in the ways it did in that editorial—is a sad example of the way the problem is us.
Is this the best we the liberals can do? Again and again, the answer seems clear: Yes! It actually is!
Starting tomorrow, we’ll look again at the way we liberals refuse to care about the needs of black, Hispanic and low-income students. To read ahead, just click this.
We liberals walked away from black students a very long time ago. Our disinterest in such kids is manifest. It's matched by our ignorance of their needs, by our refusal to discuss their apparent improved performance.
Can we talk? We liberals are an ungodly mess. Our astonishing tribal pride keeps us from noting this obvious fact, which we could change from within if we weren’t discussing Christie’s love for the Dallas Cowboys while advocating bare-breasted protests of Islam.
We’re lazy and dumb and nobody likes us! Maybe someone should organize some bare-breasted protests of us!
The death of irony: Bare-breasted protests of Islam! To prove that irony really has died, the editors of the new Salon crafted this headline for the piece which made that absurd suggestion:
We must stop deferring to religion: Laughable absurdities must be laughed at
That was the headline on the piece prescribing those bare-breasted protests!
Should we start by laughing at the absurdities which keep emanating from us? If we head down that long, winding road, the problem may, to some small extent, at long last cease to be us.