Monday, December 18, 2017

How the Left Became So Intolerant

When most people think of intolerance, they imagine a racist taunting a black person. Or they think of the white supremacist who killed a demonstrator in Charlottesville, Virginia.

It seldom occurs to them that intolerance comes in all political shapes and sizes.

A protester storming a stage and refusing to let someone speak is intolerant. So, too, are campus speech codes that restrict freedom of expression. A city official threatening to fine a pastor for declining to marry a gay couple is every bit as intolerant as a right-winger wanting to punish gays with sodomy laws.

There is a word that describes this mentality. It is “illiberal.” For centuries, we have associated the word “liberal” with open-mindedness. Liberals were people who were supposed to be tolerant and fair and who wanted to give all sides a hearing. They cared about everyone, not just their own kind.

By contrast, illiberal people were hardheaded in their opinions and judgmental about others’ behaviors, hoping to control what other people thought and said and to cut off debate. In extreme cases, they would even use violence to maintain political power and exclude certain kinds of people from having a say in their government.

Sadly, the kind of liberalism we used to know is fast disappearing from America. While the intolerance of the far right is well known, its manifestations on the far left are less known and often not fully acknowledged.

All too often, people who call themselves progressive liberals are at the forefront of movements to shut down debates on college campuses and to restrict freedom of speech. They are eager to cut corners, bend the Constitution, make up laws through questionable court rulings, and generally abuse the rules and the Constitution in order to get their way.

They establish “zero tolerance” regimes in schools where young boys are suspended for nibbling breakfast pastries into the shape of a gun. They are supposedly great haters of bigotry but sometimes speak of Christians in the most bigoted manner imaginable, as if Christians were no better than fascists.

American liberals are, in short, becoming increasingly illiberal. They are surrendering to the temptations of the closed mind.

We must be careful about what this means. There are hard (sometimes very hard) and soft forms of illiberalism that exist regardless of their ideological (left-right) variations.

The hard forms are totalitarian or authoritarian. They rely on the threat of force in some measure to maintain power, and they are invariably anti-democratic and anti-liberal. Think of communism, fascism, and all the various hybrids of authoritarian regimes, from Putin’s Russia to Islamist states that support terrorism.

Soft forms of illiberalism, on the other hand, are not totalitarian or violent. Outwardly they may observe the limits constitutional democracies place on the arbitrary use of power, but there is a suspicion that liberal democracies are not fully legitimate.

On the other side of the political spectrum, leftists often judge liberal democracies as economically and socially unjust because they are capitalist. Since most liberal democracies still allow conservatives to have a voice in the democratic process, leftists find them wanting, and in some cases condemn them outright as inherently oppressive (of racial and sexual minorities, for example), precisely because conservatives still have a voice.

Hard forms of illiberalism certainly exist in America today. On the right they are manifest in the form of hard-core racists and white supremacists, and on the left as communists, anarchists, or any leftist radical who openly threatens violence.

But soft illiberalism is present as well, and in America today it is pervasive.

Historically, a progressive liberal was someone who imbibed the intellectual nectars of both progressivism and classical liberalism.

The progressive tradition is easily recognizable. It is the legacy of prominent progressives from the turn of the 20th century such as Herbert Croly, John Dewey, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and others.

The classical liberal tradition is less well known, and as a result our understanding of it is murkier.

Classical liberalism is a set of ideas about individual liberty and constitutional government inherited from the moderate Enlightenment.

In America those ideas influenced the Revolution and the founding of the Republic. In Europe they were taken up in the 19th century by such liberals as Benjamin Constant, David Ricardo, Alexis de Tocqueville, François Guizot, and John Stuart Mill.

Although originally swimming in the same intellectual stream, American progressives and classical liberals started parting company in the late 19th century.

Progressives initially clung to freedom of expression and the right to dissent from the original liberalism, but under the influence of socialism and social democracy they gradually moved leftward. Today they largely hold classic liberalism—especially as manifested in small-government conservatism and libertarianism—in contempt.

Thus, what we call a “liberal” today is not historically a liberal at all but a progressive social democrat, someone who clings to the old liberal notion of individual liberty when it is convenient (as in supporting abortion or decrying the “national security” state), but who more often finds individual liberties and freedom of conscience to be barriers to building the progressive welfare state.

To untangle this confusing web of intellectual history, we need a more accurate historical rendering of what “progressive liberals” actually are. If they are not really liberals, then what are they?

As this volume will explore in more depth, they are postmodern leftists. A postmodernist is someone who believes that ethics are completely and utterly relative, and that human knowledge is, quite simply, whatever the individual, society, or political powers say it is.

When mixed with radical egalitarianism, postmodernism produces the agenda of the radical cultural left—namely, sexual and identity politics and radical multiculturalism. These causes have largely taken over the progressive liberal agenda and given the Democratic Party most of its energy and ideas.

The illiberal values inherent in these causes have been imported from neo-Marxism, radical feminism, critical race theory, sexual revolutionary politics, and other theories and movements imbued with the postmodern critique.

Combined with the dreams of the old social democratic-socialist left, of either dismantling or radically containing capitalism, the culture of the postmodern left today is a very potent force in politics.


Germany cuts its migration to 200,000

Germany has cut its migrant intake to less than 200,000 - a big drop from the 890,000 in 2015 when asylum-seekers from Syria and Afghanistan flooded in.
Deutsche Presse AgenturDecember 17, 20171:22pm

Germany expects to welcome less than 200,000 new migrants this year, the country's interior minister says.

"At the end of November we were around 173,000 and I calculate for the whole year we will be under 200,000 migrants," German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

The number in 2016 was around 280,000, while a year earlier the number of migrants sat at 890,000, as especially asylum-seekers from Syria and Afghanistan flooded into the country.

The drop in the number of migrants is likely due to the sealing off the so-called Balkan route for asylum seekers from the east, as well as the European Union's refugee deal with Turkey. Maritime efforts to stop migrants reaching Europe from northern Africa in boats have also been intensified.

German authorities have also recently introduced new financial incentives to encourage asylum-seekers to return to their countries of origin.


PBS's Costa Wrongly Suggests Segregationist George Wallace Was a Republican

Some liberal journalists just can't get the notion out of their minds that George Wallace was a Republican, even though the former segregationist governor of Alabama was a lifelong Democrat. On Friday's Washington Week on PBS, host Robert Costa -- also a Washington Post reporter -- suggested that Wallace was a part of the Republican party's "past" as he recalled that some black voters in Alabama are worried about the direction the GOP is taking. Costa:

"I spoke to a lot of African-American voters when I was down there, Jeff, and they said that they're worried that the Republican Party -- broadly speaking -- is turning back to its past. They cited the former governor of Alabama, George Wallace, a segregationist, and they say, in Roy Moore -- sometimes even in President Trump -- they hear echoes of a past that makes them uncomfortable."

Not one of the four panel members jumped in to correct the suggestion that Wallace was ever a Republican as CNN's Jeff Zeleny, CBS's Nancy Cordes, NBC's Kristen Welker, and Vice News's Shawna Thomas got their turns to speak. Cordes suggested that the RNC would be hurt by their decision to fund Roy Moore as she vaguely claimed he had made racist comments the week before the special election. Cordes:

"And I do think that the fact that the RNC decided at the end to get back into this race and back Roy Moore is a decision that is going to haunt them because -- had they not done that -- people could have said, "Well, this is the President popping off and he's impulsive -- of course he couldn't resist backing Roy Moore, but the party doesn't believe in someone like Roy Moore who has espoused racist views as recently as last week of the race." But because the RNC did get back in and support him financially, it's much more difficult for Republicans to make that case."


Furious outpouring of Leftist hate during an Australian election campaign

The debasing of our national political debate continues, the ABC is complicit and the Bennelong by-election has proved to be a case study of how this plays out. Labor’s so-called star candidate, Kristina Keneally, has embraced a now familiar tactic of the left: claiming victimhood while spouting vicious and baseless attacks on her opponents. Her willing accomplice has been Bill Shorten [Australian Leftist leader].

Along the way, national ­cohesion has been undermined as imaginary racist backlashes have been drummed up for political ­effect, tensions in our relationship with China have been inflamed, and the bar has been lowered yet again for the standards of our ­national political discourse. The damage will be bad enough if, as expected, Liberal backbencher John Alex­ander is returned by ­voters today. But ­imagine if ­Keneally wins — ­imagine the ­implications if this sort of shameless and reckless mudslinging is proven to be successful.

Many commentators and ­players lament the incontestable decline of public debate but most — presumably in the interests of demonstrating their even-­handedness — tend to address it with a pox-on-both-their-houses denunciation. Putting the lunatic fringes on the right and left to one side, it is the hateful rhetoric of the ­mainstream left that is most corrosive on politics. Transgressions by any people from any party should ­always be called out but, perhaps largely because of its ­preoccupation with identity politics, it is the mainstream left that engages in the most bilious and ­destructive attacks.

On Tuesday the Opposition Leader stood in the Sydney suburb of Ryde, in Bennelong, with Keneally and said this: “I think the Chinese community in Bennelong would be ­unimpressed by the constant, rampant China-phobia from Malcolm Turnbull — let’s call it as it is.” Shorten accused the Prime Minister and his government of racism without citing a word they had ­uttered to justify his claim.

“They will pay any price and make any slur or smear because they’re worried by Kristina Keneally and what happens in the by-election of Bennelong.” The alternative prime minister went on to say “Labor welcomes” all Australians whe­ther by birth or by choice, in a sin­ister inference that the govern­ment didn’t.

The following day they were at it again. “What we see from Malcolm Turnbull every single day is an assertion that our Chinese Australians, the people of Chinese ­descent or Chinese who are here studying or working on temporary visas, are people to be suspicious of,” Keneally said with Shorten by her side. “That is what Malcolm Turnbull’s doing.” Again, there was not a single shred of evidence proffered.

“We know that they’re getting tired by Malcolm Turnbull’s ­assertion that Asian Australians are not fully fledged members of Team Australia. You know, the last time we heard this rhetoric was from Pauline Hanson and One Nation 20 years ago and people think that we were all well ­behind it, but Malcolm Turnbull is reviving it.”

We all understand the tantalising prospect this by-election holds for Labor — the chance to force the Coalition into minority government — and with such high stakes we expect tough campaigning. Some may complain about how the Liberals have focused on Keneally’s past as the titular head of what transpired to be a corrupt and chaotic NSW Labor government. But it has been no more than scrutiny of her record. (Turnbull erred when he said she ­appointed Eddie Obeid to cabinet — she never did. Rather, Obeid and his acolytes thrust her into the leadership and she recalled Ian Macdonald to cabinet.)

We know Shorten was knocked off balance by the controversy over senator Sam Dastyari’s personal payments from a Chinese benefactor while spruiking Chinese foreign policy and tipping off his benefactor to the possibility of surveillance by intelligence agencies. Dastyari’s forced resignation during the Bennelong campaign showed how his double-dealing had hurt Labor and exposed the lack of action by Shorten. So Labor’s “China-phobic” attacks on the Coalition were a transparent attempt to deflect the heat.

All voters could see what was going on. Yet surely most of us were surprised that when placed under this sort of pressure by the obvious misdeeds of their own colleague, the knee-jerk reaction of Shorten and Keneally was to make the most vile accusation against Turnbull. Short of behaving in a racist fashion, seeking to dishonestly tar someone as racist has to be about as reprehensible as you can get. Turnbull was right to point out his own granddaughter was a Chinese Australian.

Given the vital foreign policy ­issues at the heart of the Dastyari scandal — no less than the ­allegiance of our politicians to this nation — it is extraordinary also that Labor would seek to play politics in a way that would recklessly imperil our bilateral relationship as well as risk stirring up resentment within the Australian Chinese community.

Beijing reacted with fiery rhetoric and diplomatic representations. It is hard to ­fathom whether Labor aped Beijing’s inflammatory words or vice versa, but the line that Australia’s public warnings on foreign interference were motivated by Sino-phobic ­racism was similar from China and Labor. Whether this reaction was cooked up in Beijing or Sussex Street, or both, it was appalling and should never have passed Shorten or Keneally’s lips.

The Opposition Leader might have done better to say he had learned the lessons from Dastyari’s diplomatic two-step and taken steps to ensure it would never happen again. He might then be taken ­seriously on the challenge confronting both sides of politics over accepting Chinese donations too willingly and perhaps having been too unquestioning about allies and former colleagues profiting as ­lobbyists for Chinese interests.

It should go without saying that our national interest takes precedence over that of any other ­nation and that the focus is on China only because of its economic weight, strategic posture, ­intense lobbying activity and the Dastyari disaster. Race has precisely nothing to do with it.

Still, it has become common for the aggressive left — particularly when losing policy debates on border protection or indigenous ­affairs — to use the slur of racism to silence or intimidate anyone who disagrees with it. In its world of identity politics and virtue signalling, political views are ­indistinguishable from individual iden­tity, so anyone holding an ­opposing view becomes a worthy target for character assassination.

It is a depressing descent from political debate into personal abuse. Sadly it is facilitated, if not encouraged, by much of the media debate. On ABC television news this week a reporter told us “both sides” were “playing the race card” in Bennelong. Say what?! Labor played the race card, as evidenced above, and the Liberals defended themselves. And just this week we saw the ABC continue to promote people who spew hate at their ideological enemies (yes, this invariably means leftists attacking people on the right of centre).

Sami Shah is a Pakistani-Australian comedian given a plum ABC radio job in Melbourne. “Does Peter Dutton wake up every morning with a hard-on for abusing refugees?” is the sort of thing he tweets. “It’s not Peter Dutton’s fault. His grandfather was an asshole,” is another in his Twitter feed that is peppered with all the standard anti-American and anti-Israeli fare. The ABC also has promoted Benjamin Law despite — or perhaps because of — his tweeting about how he would like to “hate-f..k” politicians ­opposed to same-sex marriage.

If this is the hate and abuse that wins promotion at the public broadcaster — if this is the invective that is deliberately amplified through publicly funded platforms — what hope do we have of ­improving the national debate, let alone our political outcomes?


Footnote:  The Leftist candidate lost.


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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