American Elephants

Why The Left Behaves The Way They Do by The Elephant's Child


John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address spoke of “a new American generation “tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace” that would pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”After a long bloody war, he was a pragmatist, recognizing that life is unfair and there is always inequity. After he was assassinated, his younger brothers devoted the rest of their lives to the cause of making empathy paramount over pragmatism.

By 2009, George Lakoff, a professor of linguistics at U.C.Berkeley wrote that “Empathy is at the heart of progressive thought. It is the capacity to put oneself in the shoes of others—not just individuals, but whole categories of people: one’s countrymen, those in other countries, other living beings, especially those who are in some way oppressed, threatened, or harmed. Empathy is the capacity to care, to feel what others feel, to understand what others feel, to understand what others are facing and what their lives are like. …Empathy is at the heart of real rationality, because it goes to the heart of our values, which are the basis of our sense of justice. (here, refer to the post on the meaning of justice)

The previous paragraphs come from William Voegeli’s The Pity Party  which has the delightful sub-head “A Mean-Spirited Diatribe Against Liberal Compassion” which I heartily recommend. All those times you wonder at some excrescence the Left has come up with, or the times you think “don’t they understand?” it is important to recognize that they look at the world through very different eyes. We are not speaking the same language.

Shelby Steele put it slightly differently, but with the same understanding. America suffered from the shame of its past of racism, and conquest and sexism. That became the new moral imperative and the left would redeem the nation.

The genius of the left in the ’60s was simply to perceive the new moral imperative, and then to identify itself with it. Thus the labor of redeeming the nation from its immoral past would fall on the left. This is how the left put itself in charge of America’s moral legitimacy. The left, not the right—not conservatism—would set the terms of this legitimacy and deliver America from shame to decency.

This bestowed enormous political and cultural power on the American left, and led to the greatest array of government-sponsored social programs in history—at an expense, by some estimates, of more than $22 trillion. But for the left to wield this power, there had to be a great menace to fight against—a tenacious menace that kept America uncertain of its legitimacy, afraid for its good name. …

Today’s left lacks worthy menaces to fight. It is driven to find a replacement for racism, some sweeping historical wrongdoing that morally empowers those who oppose it.

That’s the source of all the “social justice” and “affirmative action” and vast expensive programs to fix everything, and in the process make Democrats feel good about themselves. And of course give them a vast array of verbal and physical weapons to use against their opposition. In the present case, President Trump and all his minions. That’s why the Left is superior (because they care and you don’t). And why they feel free to call you racist and fascists. Steele’s essay can be found at the Hoover Institution’s ‘Defining Ideas’ if you don’t have a WSJ subscription.

We talk and write about the Constitution, our history, economics, the way that Capitalism has lifted millions out of poverty — they don’t care about that. They have the assigned task of redeeming Americans from their shameful past, and they don’t want any interference with their goal.

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