Monday, November 20, 2006

The Insufficiency of Truth – More than any other, the most bedeviling trait of progressives is the appearance that they are ahistorical. As discussed previously, liberals seem to have no appreciation for historical developments, particularly as they pertain to examining events that have occurred over decades or centuries, as their orientation seems to be confined to the here and now. Their disdain for history is of a piece with their discomfort with anything resembling objective fact. The mutuality of these dislikes should not surprise, as the Left seems to have declared itself an enemy of both history and truth, being as truth and history are both poor expedients to the goals of progressives. The Left eschews definitive, dispassionately ascertainable facts and instead clings to impassioned recitation of their shibboleths.

Progressives seem especially hostile to societal truths. As Geoffrey R. Stone, a University of Chicago law professor put it recently, “[l]iberals believe individuals should doubt their own truths and consider fairly and open-mindedly the truths of others.”
The question left unanswered by liberals is why certain truths are so disposable such that they have to be challenged in the first place, especially those that came by the great efforts of many societies down through the millenia. If a set of beliefs illuminates the dark places in our lives, why then should we question them, or - as the Left so devoutly wishes - abandon them outright? (The Left seems to view "truth" as a ubiquitous and easily obtained commodity, much like dandelions in a backyard.) If anything, we should cherish our truths, and hold tightly to them.

In truth, the Left only wants us to question certain truths, and prefers that other “truths” remain unchallenged. The Left never questions the intrinsic value of quota-based affirmative action, the benefit to society of abortion on-demand with no restrictions, or the veracity of the benefits of embryonic stem cell research. But as it pertains to the intrinsic benefits of civility, decency and restraint, those truths are to be challenged, even disparaged, unceasingly.

Liberals also tend to become incensed when objective fact does not support their beliefs. This accounts for the particularly bitter nature of today’s liberal politics. Simply put, the truth has not been kind to liberalism. Over the past two decades much of the intellectual heft that provided muscle and sinew to liberal policies has been stripped away by reality or overwhelmed by history, leaving the skeleton of leftist canon and knee-jerk reaction to withstand conservative challenge. For example, how is it that Harry Belafonte can travel all the way to Venezuela, as he did in January of 2006, and call President George W. Bush, “the greatest terrorist in the world?” Ever the performer, he encored by railing against America’s homeland security efforts in a speech in New York two weeks later, opining that, “We’ve come to this dark time in which the new Gestapo of Homeland Security lurks here, where citizens are having their rights suspended.”

Mr. Belafonte’s behavior evidences nothing short of derangement from the truth. Even if Mr. Belafonte is no fan of George Bush, he should freely acknowledge that the President is far from an Osama bin Laden in either behavior or aspiration. (Besides, what is the sense in a black leftist of considerable wealth going to a country where citizens of African descent live in squalor compared to the rest of the population, all to denigrate America, where blacks live in relative comfort?)

And as for Bush leading a “Gestapo,” how would Mr. Belafonte rank the President compared to, let's say, North Korea’s Kim Jong-il, who has 250,000 people imprisoned in “reeducation camps?” How would Bush compare with Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, whose campaign of ethnic and religious terror has led to the deaths of 400,000 civilians in Darfur? And where would Bush end up on Mr. Belafonte’s dictator’s scale vis-à-vis Zimbabwe’s Mugabe, Libya’s al-Quaddafi or Cuba’s Castro? For his part, Mr. Belafonte, along with Howard Dean, Ted Kennedy and Cindy Sheehan, has been left to fume about how to “take back their country,” neglecting the fact that they were the ones who left it long ago, preferring instead to reside above it as citizens of the world.

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