Friday, October 13, 2006
The Problem That Besets Us
Mainstream liberals are always very concerned about threats to free speech on the part of government, and we should of course always be alert to such threats. Too many liberals, though, fail to understand that free speech can also be destroyed by violent intimidation exercised by private parties. The climate of intimidation brought about by Hitler's Brownshirts during the time of the Weimar Republic was effective in suppressing effective action by people of other political persuasions and paving the way for the Nazi takeover of Germany.End update.
Gina posted an excerpt from a Peggy Noonan column at Dr. M's:
Students, stars, media movers, academics: They are always saying they want debate, but they don't. They want their vision imposed. They want to win. And if the win doesn't come quickly, they'll rush the stage, curse you out, attempt to intimidate.I think this sums up my concerns with the direction of our society. A big portion of the left is possessed by self-righteousness, even as it wails about the perils of religious self-righteousness. It is less a matter of differing cultural or political views than a matter of whether those holding views are prepared to allow other people to go their own way. There are always elements on the right that would like to go the same way too. They seem to be less predominant at the moment, but the only thing that has always stopped these idiots are the solid masses who are willing to let other people go their way. I worry that these solid masses no longer get much of a political voice.
And they don't always recognize themselves to be bullying. So full of their righteousness are they that they have lost the ability to judge themselves and their manner.
If we lose that voice, how are we really different than the Islamicists? They want to make everyone else live according to their views. You can't douse a fire by throwing kerosene on the flames, and if all our society can talk about is kerosene, we are going to lose the war of words. That would leave us doomed to fighting a very real war on many fronts.
And you can't run a country without a basically objectively oriented political debate. (See the Kag Report's discussion of political fundamentals today.) Instead, we are seeing the worse excesses of relatively widespread paranoia, and in the vacuum our political controls are dying on the vine. Examples:
Wuzzadem has a hilarious sendup of the reaction to the news that South Park is taking on 9/11 truthers.
A DU thread discusses with vast suspicion the reports that Lidle's passport was found.
Florida Cracker reviews the news that FEMA is paying grants for puppet shows and gardening.
The Pondering American wrote of his worries about the violation of an unwritten social contract in the wake of the Foley scandal.
SC&A is so afraid we don't understand how we got here and where we're going that he posts pictures. I'm just hoping that the world doesn't get separated into various ideological wings dominated by similarly rigid pictures. The Anchoress, bless her stubborn, faithful heart, writes a glorious case explicating the basic religious value of leaving life to work out its own purposes, because yes, each one of us is not greater than the whole.
Democracy is pragmatic and non-totalitarian. Democracy does not dictate an outcome, but only the rules of the game. If you want to live under a democracy, you have to renounce your right to be king. As Noonan writes, it's a good deal. A very good deal. Perhaps the people in the western democracies have forgotten just how wonderful a deal we were born with; perhaps we need to remember and reflect on what we have inherited and resolve to preserve it.
Links to this post: