The Corner

The New Face of Liberal Hypocrisy

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, liberal hypocrisy manifested itself most acutely in their practical choices about minorities, for instance sending their own kids to exclusive private schools while supporting forced busing for middle-class families of lesser means. This was best memorialized in Phil Ochs’s classic folk tune, “Love Me, I’m a Liberal” —

. . . and I love Puerto Ricans and negroes,

As long as they don’t move next door!

So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal.

Ah, the people of old Mississippi

Should all hang their heads in shame.

Now I can’t understand how their minds work,

What’s the matter — don’t they watch Les Crane?

But if you ask me to bus my children,

I hope the cops take down your name.

So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal.

This hasn’t changed, of course: Rich liberals still send their kids to exclusive private schools while steadfastly opposing school choice for low-income minorities. But the new face of liberal hypocrisy is environmental, Al Gore’s private plane trips and energy-hogging mansions being well-known examples.

Elizabeth Rosenthal offers a splendid piece on the subject in the Sunday New York Times entitled “Green Development? Not in My (Liberal) Backyard.” She notes how widespread is liberal opposition to wind-power projects, bike lanes, and other things green that they want the rest of us to embrace. Rosenthal seems a little befuddled by it all:

Policymakers in the United States have been repeatedly frustrated by constituents who profess to worry about the climate and count themselves as environmentalists, but prove unwilling to adjust their lifestyles or change their behavior in any significant way. In Europe, bike lanes crisscross cities, wind turbines appear in counties with high-priced country homes and plants that make green energy from waste are situated in even the wealthiest neighborhoods. So what is going on here?

One difference is that the U.S. allows environmentalists to block or slow up anything with a lawsuit. Europe and Canada don’t tolerate this. By one recent count, there are at least 70 proposed wind-power projects being held up by environmental lawsuits. Meanwhile, there are multiple lawsuits blocking several solar-power projects in the California desert, one of the few places where solar power might — perhaps — make some sense. And Al Gore wonders why people don’t take him seriously?

Steven F. Hayward — Stephen F. Hayward is a senior resident scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of a two-volume political history, The Age of Reagan.

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