Britain’s Guardian newspaper is resolutely left-wing, but it will often stir up debate with contrary op-ed content. On Monday, it published a neck-snapping piece entitled “Why are liberals so rude to the right?” Its subtitle was “Too many people who lean left would rather crack nasty jokes than actually be liberal and listen to other views.”
Those of us who live in ZIP codes where few people agree with our conservative views can only say “Amen.” Given the contrarian nature of his views, it’s appropriate that the author of the piece is hiding his real identity under a pseudonym: Leften Right. It echoes themes from his new book, The Handbook for Closet Conservatives: How to Succeed in Today’s World.
The thesis of both his book and op-ed are simple. All too often the difference between left and right in what should be “polite circles” is quite sharply drawn. Conservatives think liberals have bad ideas and liberals think conservative are bad people. “It’s cool to be rude if you’re a liberal,” Leften Right concludes. Just ask Al Franken, a supposed comedian who became a U.S. senator after a career of ad hominem attacks on his adversaries. He received no pushback for entitling one of his books “Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot.” Rush at least apologized for his nasty crack about pro-choice activist Sandra Fluke being a “slut.”
In liberal-comic world no slur is too slimy, whether it’s old cracks about Reagan having Alzheimer’s his entire life or new ones about Sarah Palin being a “moosehead.” Comic Sandra Bernhard tweeted when Dick Cheney had a heart transplant last year that “they took his old one to a toxic waste site and they rejected it.” Roseanne Barr weighed in with “I agree we have the right to die as we choose — I just hope Cheney would exercise that right.”
This is not to say that conservatives haven’t made bad jokes about Barack Obama, but liberal comics have until lately given the president a notorious pass. They save their venom for hated figures on the right. Dave Letterman once had Bill O’Reilly on as a guest, largely to accuse him of dishing out crap. “Have you ever seen my show?” O’Reilly asked. “I wouldn’t stoop so low,” Letterman replied graciously, his audience howling.
Leften Right concludes liberals “have no shame.” A former advertising executive in New York, he can’t count how many dinner parties he has had to suffer through insults and gibes. Two examples:
We also had dinner with a couple who spent the evening trashing Rudy Giulliani, claiming that the former mayor of New York had nothing to do with turning the city around, even though he took office in a crime-ridden city and stepped down when it was safe. It would have happened anyhow, they said. As we said goodnight in the driveway, one said with a grin, “We like you even if you are Republicans.”
I once called up a friend before a trip down to Florida, and I told him I enjoyed driving and stopping at different places along the way, staying awhile to learn about the country outside of New York. “The red states,” he said disdainfully. “Those pickup truck people have a lot of common sense,” I said. Click. He had hung up the phone.
You’d hope that Leften Right’s call for civility would stir up some second thoughts among the Guardian’s leftist readers. Aside from a few outliers, the reaction in the comments section was all too predictable.
The whole point is that the Left bases its worldview and behaviors on facts, truth, empathy and generosity: the Right appeals to those who retreat into lunatic fantasy to justify their moronic, sadistic selfishness.
There are many so-called conservative views that I can respect. I realize that people who have grown up in other circumstances and who bring alternative experiences to bear may come to other conclusions about various things, including wealth distribution, guns versus butter, and so on. But today’s Tea Party does not have alternative credible views; it peddles an awful brew of mythology and ignorance, and I cannot respect it as if I thought it had a chance of being right.
Back to square one in the culture wars.