The Corner

A Reason for Liberal Hate? No Diversity

Over at Ricochet, Paul Rahe writes “How Hatred Became a Liberal Value.” His piece is well worth a read (I particularly liked his reminders of liberal calls for “civility” and the “hate is not a family value” bumper stickers so popular a decade or so ago), but I’ve got my own idea: no diversity. The heartland of American leftism is less intellectually diverse than any large conservative community in the United States. The entire cities of New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. are less politically diverse than your average Evangelical megachurch.

Don’t believe me? In 2008, McCain/Palin won 73 percent of the Evangelical/born-again vote. By contrast, San Francisco gave Obama/Biden 84 percent of its votes. All the boroughs of New York City (except Staten Island) went for Obama by wider margins than 73 percent, with Manhattan giving Obama 85 percent of its votes. There were similar numbers for Philadelphia and Washington D.C. In other words, these major American cultural centers are less diverse than churches entirely filled with self-selecting populations of Bible-believing Christians. Leftists have greater group solidarity than Christians.

In 1999, Cass Sunstein wrote an article in the Harvard Law Review entitled “The Law of Group Polarization.” Its thesis was simple:

In a striking empirical regularity, deliberation tends to move groups, and the individuals who compose them, toward a more extreme point in the direction indicated by their own predeliberation judgments. For example, people who are opposed to the minimum wage are likely, after talking to each other, to be still more opposed; people who tend to support gun control are likely, after discussion, to support gun control with considerable enthusiasm; people who believe that global warming is a serious problem are likely, after discussion, to insist on severe measures to prevent global warming. This general phenomenon — group polarization – has many implications for economic, political, and legal institutions. It helps to explain extremism, “radicalization,” cultural shifts, and the behavior of political parties and religious organizations; it is closely connected to current concerns about the consequences of the Internet; it also helps account for feuds, ethnic antagonism, and tribalism.

It is a truism of American life that unless a conservative turns off all technology, grabs a gun and a dog, and heads for the hills, he will be exposed to an avalanche of liberal thought and ideas — in education, television, movies, and the Internet. Liberals, by contrast, can and often do live lives isolated from conservative thought, and their ignorance of our ideas is starting to show.

I was first exposed to liberal ignorance of conservatism way back in 1991. I was a new law student and had just walked out of a class with my ears still ringing from the boos, hisses, and jeers at my conservative arguments. A classmate came up to me and said, “I wish they’d let you speak. I’d never heard anything like what you were saying and wanted to hear more.”

I was shocked. I was merely making a standard conservative argument — breaking no new ideological ground. “You’ve never heard an argument like that? Where did you go to college?”


Some liberal once told me: “Ignorance breeds hate.” I couldn’t agree more.


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