Sunday, April 15, 2007


Why Moonbats Need to be More, not Less, Consistently Liberal in order to Succeed Politically

While when looking back on what liberals actually have said on the matter it seems that they spoke in as lawyerly of a way as Clinton or the supposedly "plain spoken" Bush speak so that it turns out that they never did quite say what we've thought they've said, the apparent response of some in feminist left-blogostan to the Duke rape case makes very clear a key weakness of moon-bat liberalism: too many moonbats have specific failures of empathy that hurt our cause.

In large part, the moonbat position is the big-P Pragmatic one, even as we get painted by many as being doctrinaire, well, moonbats. Our positions on many issues boil down to "you can go very far in many problems simply by being empathetic": if you identify with where people are coming from and why they act the way they do (rather than chalking it up to some meaningless, non-constructive, abstract notion of human behavior as "sinful" or "rational"), you can figure out how to solve many a problem in terms of how to create environments where people can behave morally, ethically, survive without fear and in safety, peace and prosperity. The importance of empathy is emphasized by thinkers as disparate as Jesus and Sun-tzu.

And yet, while the moonbat position is generally based on the power of empathy, when it comes to certain categories of people, too many of us suddenly loose that skill. Too many of us refuse to empathize with the privileged, with religious people, with Zionists and various other categories. And when we liberals, who are so good at being empathetic with everyone, suddenly refuse to empathize with someone who is a white, middle-class male, is it any wonder that people begin to think we hate white-middle class males? People who, even if they stand to benefit from liberal programs, consider themselves to be white-middle class males and hence won't vote for Democrats because they feel we hate them?

And yet, in the Duke rape case, we saw liberals who pointedly refused to even allow themselves to consider that just because someone is white, male and privileged doesn't mean that they are automatically guilty -- the presumption of innocence no more stops because your social class is privileged than it stops because you, out of desperation, have done not so legal things in the past. Yet, too many liberals seem to empathize with one side and not the other. I already hear the cries from liberals, "but conservatives empathize with the privileged and not the un-privileged". Indeed they do, even if they themselves are un-privileged -- but, outside of realizing this empathy with the privileged is itself a powerful reactionary political force, what conservatives think is no more relevant to how we liberals should think than what Jesse Jackson or rap stars might have said about Jews or women is to the justification of Imus' firing. Two wrongs don't make a right , as the old saying -- supported by liberals in the context of opposing vengeance -- goes.

And this isn't just the Duke rape case. When we liberals, who are so good at being empathetic with everyone, suddenly refuse to empathize with religious people, is it any wonder why religious people might think us to hate religion? We might not agree with what would be theocrats want, but at least in order to respond effectively to their point of view, we must first understand why it is they feel they have a right to offend with their public displays of religiosity even as they feel they have a right not to be offended. And, when we liberals, who are so good at being empathetic with everyone, suddenly refuse to even admit that Zionist arguments are reasonable, is it any wonder why Zionists might wonder why the double-standard of empathy (and the underlying assumption that Jews are privileged rather than historically oppressed) exists and start thinking we moonbats are anti-Semitic?

Empathy is a strength of liberalism, even empathy toward enemies -- far from being a position that indicates our weakness, it is a position that exudes strength and strategy. "Know thy enemy" is a fundamental rule of warfare. Part of the GOP's success in divide-and-conquer politics is that they view politics as warfare and thus make sure to know us, their perceived enemies to exploit our weaknesses. Interestingly, they pointedly refuse to do this in our so-called war on terrorism, which, to this liberal, says something about their goals (as much as the empathy-blind-spots of many liberals no doubt say to conservatives): do they really want to win the war on terror? E.g. during the Cold War, liberal established foreign policies which conservatives, well, conserved, emphasized knowing our enemy, whence Sovietology. Yet so-called conservatives, un-interested in actually winning the war on terrorism and very much interested in demagoguing it, encourage populist know-nothingness to the point where know-nothing-ism is considered serious strategy while serious strategy is considered pie-in-the-sky moonbattery.

Yet we moonbats fail to be consistent in this moonbattery in such a way as to indicate to the inside the beltway crowd, if only them (who have more power than we'd like), that we don't care about winning elections. Do we really make any effort to "know our enemy"? No -- when it comes to certain groups we somehow deem privileged, we shut off our empathy to the point where we can't even address the system which privileges such groups and do something constructive to help others. Too many of us come off as being "reverse-prejudiced" when we should be, to parody a famous but problematic Christian saying, "hating the patriarchy but loving the patriarchs". If we are perceived as being so against privilege to the point of not even caring about those Archie Bunkers who cling to what little privilege they have, even those whom our policies might help will say "liberals hate me, so why should I vote for them?".
So when people say we moonbats have just gone too moonbatty ... we need to realize that isn't our problem. Our problem is not that we are too lefty to make electoral headway, but that we fail to be consistent in our moonbattery and whence alienate those toward whom our consistency fails. We shouldn't, e.g., embrace the patriarchy: but we must have some empathy for those who support it if we want to make headway in convincing them to stop embracing it. We cannot close ourselves off and have double standards -- that's what we moonbats rail against, so it becomes all the more painful and wrong when we do it ourselves and all the more powerful when we cast out our vengeant desires for reversals of fortune and be consistent in our moonbattery rather than trying appease moderates by being wishy-washy as the punditocracy claims we should be.

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