Item: How to Become an Accidental Conservative
In an excerpt from his new book, SPIEGEL editor Jan Fleischhauer describes his childhood in a typical West German liberal family, with parents who wouldn't let him eat oranges because they were grown in countries ruled by dictators, and his coming out as a late conservative.And at the American Thinker, we have a Letter of Amends from a Recovering Liberal in Berkeley, by "Robin of Berkeley", a psychotherapist:
I am part of a generation in Germany that knows no other reality than the dominance of the left. Everyone was a liberal where I grew up.
The way we were supposed to feel about conservatives was obvious. They were either deeply reactionary, because they refused to accept progress, or dangerously narrow-minded. In other words, they were either despicable or pitiful characters.
Go to any theater, museum or open-air concert, and you'll quickly realize that ideas beyond the mindscape of the left are unwelcome there. A contemporary play that doesn't critically settle scores with the market economy? Unthinkable. An artist who, until George W. Bush left the White House, could associate anything with America other than Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and the Washington's refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol? Out of the question. Rock concerts against the left? A joke.
The left has won, across the board, and has become the happy medium. When we search for a definition of what left means, we can draw on an impressive array of theories. Leftism is a worldview, as well as a way of explaining the world and how everything is interconnected. Most of all, however, it is a feeling. A person who lives a leftist life is living with the appealing awareness of being in the right, in fact, being right all the time. In Germany, leftists are never truly called upon to justify their views. In fact, their views have become the dominant views, not within the population, which stubbornly adheres to its prejudices, but among those who set the tone and in circles where they prefer to congregate.
Members of this social class are critical of the market economy, and yet are unable to specify an alternative. In their view, the current economic crisis is a gift from God, because it provides perfect fodder for all kinds of prejudices and practically eliminates the need for argument. All it takes is to mention words like "Deutsche Bank" or "Wall Street" in any discussion in which someone has dared to voice a cautious objection, and everyone standing around will quickly nod their heads in agreement, causing the troublemaker to withdraw, while mumbling apologies. In secret, however, they hope that this crisis of capitalism will not progress too far, because their own prosperity depends on capitalism and because, for the past 150 years, no one has been able to demonstrate that a comfortable retirement was not [im]possible under good old Karl Marx.
I missed the connection at some point. I don't know when it happened. There wasn't a specific day or incident that turned me off to the left. I cannot even claim that I consciously distanced myself. It just happened. Suddenly I no longer found it amusing to listen to constant jokes about the physiognomy of (former Chancellor Helmut) Kohl. I realized that I was relieved when my sons converted the puppet theater my father-in-law and I had built for them into a parking garage. When the discussion turned to the uselessness of marriage and family, I was the one who was secretly rooting for every married couple, hoping it would last as long as possible. Once, at a party, I even dared to put in a good word for nuclear energy during a conversation about climate change. It immediately put a damper on the evening.
I have since learned to go on the offensive with my conservatism. In fact, sometimes I even have the courage to address prejudices head-on. We recently invited a couple we have known for a long time, but with whom we had fallen somewhat out of touch, over to our house. He became a law professor at a university in eastern Germany not too long ago, and she promotes golf courses. The conversation quickly turned to the last Michael Moore film, and our friend suddenly claimed that the film could not be shown throughout the entire Midwest of the United States. He made it sound as if Moore were some French auteur filmmaker who was finally holding up a mirror to the Americans, which they couldn't abide.
I had a pretty clear idea of how the conversation would continue, and I knew that I would be upset with myself afterwards, once again, because I hadn't challenged him decisively enough. "To make it brief, because we'll get to this point anyway," I heard myself saying: "No, I don't believe that the CIA was behind the Sept. 11 attacks, and yes, we liked living in America." He was quiet, we drank our tea, and the two said their goodbyes before long. I was shocked by what I had said, but also a little proud of myself.
Dear friends, family, loved ones, conservatives, Republicans, libertarians, my brother in law, Sam, and my cousin Joe: I am sorry and you were right.Much like the revelation of the editor of Spiegel, Robin of Berkeley's transformation began with a realization that leftism was not interested in reasoned debate, but in social coercion, and that it was logically incoherent:
These are not easy words for anyone to utter, much less a leftist from Berkeley, or a recovering leftist, that is. Even though I've been in recovery for 14 months, 2 weeks, and 3 days, leftists are always right in your face, in an I-hate-you-if-you-disagree sort of way. Hence, this letter of amends to all the people I've lectured, scolded, ranted and raved at, and otherwise annoyed during my 30 plus years of "progressive" politics.
How did I go from a rabid, sanctimonious liberal whom you steadfastly avoided at family gatherings to a fan of Limbaugh, Hannity, and Savage? Recovery encourages us to share our story, so here's mine:Robin of Berkeley follows up with How to Deprogram a Liberal, well worth a read! We see the similar thread of indoctrination:
In February of 2008, I saw a new client, a bright and sensitive young woman who came in looking like she just escaped a war zone. In some ways she had; she had innocently shared with others at her job that she voted for Hillary rather than Obama. Immediately she was being targeted for abuse that put her in fear for not only her job, but her life.
We both suddenly became aware that something had grown really dark in the Democratic Party. I started hearing about many other incidents where loyal Democrats were being physically and emotionally threatened for supporting Hillary. A woman in Berkeley had her front window broken because it displayed a poster of Hillary. Randi Rhodes, an Air America talk show leftist, called Hillary a f______ witch. (Rhodes was recently promoted to a national talk radio show, illustrating another disturbing trend: the deafening silence about what Rush Limbaugh has dubbed the new "thug-ocracy.)
An acquaintance had her car broken into, and the only item stolen was a NoObama bumper sticker. A South Park episode featured an episode where a nuclear weapon was being aimed at Hillary's genitals. My local greeting card store sold very flattering cards about Obama, insulting ones about Hillary, and a Hillary "nutcracker." When I complained, the young male manager literally laughed in my face.
Things went from bad to worse when Sarah Palin entered the scene. When Geraldine Ferraro ran for Vice President, there was no debasement of her character, no sexual threats. But with Palin, a full scale "wilding" ensued that chillingly reminded me of the random sexual attacks on women by gangs of men in New York. She was called every vile name in the book by both male and female liberals.
Actress Sarah Bernhardt hoped a gang of black males would rape her. When Palin's church was torched with children inside, the press was missing in action (somehow I imagine the press would have been all over this if Obama's church were torched). Not only was the misogyny disgusting, but the classism was abhorrent. The Democrats, by ridiculing Palin's voice and her education, were acting like arrogant snobs. The party had changed, I had changed, and the differences looked irreconcilable.
The final straw for me was when a close friend flew into a rage at me when she learned I wasn't supporting Obama. The political became personal when she began impugning my character. Worse yet, she tried to intimidate me into changing my mind by threatening to dump me.
Suddenly a light went on. The peace and love and flower power of the old left was dead and gone (if it even existed to begin with except in my imagination). The Democrats had morphed into a power hungry Thought Police, and I was done with them. My new motto in life: don't PC on me.
I wasn't just your garden variety liberal who voted Democrat and that was about it. I was a true believer. A zealot. Like many leftists who had abandoned Judeo-Christian religion, I worshipped at the altar of liberalism. For instance, I never missed watching the Democratic National Convention. I watched every speech, with tissue box handy. (What kind of a freak was I anyway?) The Democratic Party symbolized hope, love, compassion, promise, everything that was good and holy in the world. I gave money, my time, my heart, my soul. I cried with joy when Democrats won; I was distraught when they lost.Robin sees the light:
I was programmed from birth to be a devout liberal. My dad, a hard working first generation Russian Jew, would lecture me on a regular basis, "The Democrats are the party of the little people. The Republicans are the party of the rich guy." He would also get a little weepy when he watched the DNC (so that must be where I got it from). One of our rare moments of bonding was reading the newspapers together on opposite ends of the couch, interrupting each other with stories about the bad Republicans and the heroic Democrats.
To my disbelief, the more I listened and read, the more these folks made sense. For instance, at first I couldn't understand why so many conservatives expressed concern about morality issues, like gay marriage. Berkeley is Lesbian Central, and I know many good hearted gay people. But the more I learned, the more I started getting the larger picture; that conservatives were not necessarily impugning the character of gay people, but they were alarmed at the breakdown of traditional values. If the basic structure of society goes, e.g., traditional marriage, religion, patriotism, common language, what remains? If everything becomes fluid, what is there to hold onto? Without any moral structure and traditions, a society descends into anarchy and mob rule, as it is clearly doing today.In an even juicier item, the despicable far-left "cartoonist" Ted Rall (see this link for some examples of his "wit") is now "disillusioned" with Obama -- not that Rall has become rational and seen the reason behind conservative positions, but that he at least now knows that Obama is a charlatan. Indeed, Rall calls Obama a "monster"!
As I educated myself, I started thinking and rethinking. I'd wake up in the middle of the night with the sudden realization that deeply held beliefs made no sense. Take the anti war stance of the left. Noble and sanctimonious and all that. But how easy it is to sit back and preach peace when you have an army defending you; to rail against the U.S. when you are protected by free speech laws; to demonize Israel, when you've never lived through the murderous pogroms of Tsarist Russia or the Holocaust. How hypocritical to lambast Big Business while you are making money from their stocks in your mutual fund portfolio (that is, until Obama took over). And how ludicrous to admire Chavez, Castro and all things socialist, when the closest experience you've had to standing on a bread line is queuing up for goat cheese/arugula pizza at Whole Foods.
And this love affair with Radical Islam -- what's up with that? I had previously thought of Islam as a quaint, folksy religion. But when I started actually reading about it, especially Dr. Phyllis Chesler's illuminating books and web site, I realized extremist Muslims were advocating some seriously scary stuff, like destroying Israel and the West. I had been oblivious of the horrendous treatment of women: the honor killings, beheadings, genital mutilation. It now seemed like the height of naivety, if not masochism, to embrace with open arms people who want to kill you. While as a liberal I was socialized to believe everyone was good, all cultures were the same, and We Are The World, We Are The Children, I began to understand that evil exists. The emergence of evil always offers warnings signs, and we ignore them at our peril.
We expected broken promises. But the gap between the soaring expectations that accompanied Barack Obama’s inauguration and his wretched performance is the broadest such chasm in recent historical memory. This guy makes Bill Clinton look like a paragon of integrity and follow-through. …Belmont provides more insight to Rall's disillusion:
Obama is useless. Worse than that, he’s dangerous. Which is why, if he has any patriotism left after the thousands of meetings he has sat through with corporate contributors, blood-sucking lobbyists and corrupt politicians, he ought to step down now — before he drags us further into the abyss.
Then we learn a piece of information which almost explains it all. Mr. Rall has been laid off. Editor and Publisher reports:Oh, the schadenfreude...but before we get too deep in it, Belmont Club warns:
“I’ve been laid off,” reads the headline on the blog of cartoonist Ted Rall, president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. Rall, an editorial cartoonist for Universal Press Syndicate, has served as editor of acquisitions and development at United Media for the past two years. “My job was finding new talent — comic strip artists, columnists and writers of puzzles — to syndicate to newspapers,” Rall writes on his blog. “Considering the circumstances, I enjoyed remarkable success. … I am proud of what I accomplished.”
Transterrestrial Musings delivers a kick to Rall while he’s down. “It’s actually a sign of how good the economy has been for the last several years that a talentless hack like him could make a living in it.” Meaning that Rall had a job under George W. Bush and he ain’t got one now. Personally I think that the assumption that one was a function of the other is at the core of Rall’s disillusion. Perhaps the phrase “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you,” is a phrase that Mr. Rall misunderstood by taking it at face value. In the coming days, in areas ranging from the economy to foreign affairs to national security, how many people will confess themselves to being as they say, the last to know?
But its sobering to realize that every proof that Rall was wrong to support Obama will necessarily be another increment of public pain; job loss, fear or uncertainty. In a way keeping Ted Rall company is like being on a dinosaur island with someone who took you there believing it was a petting zoo. As the rustling in the bushes comes closer and hearing him loudly complain that nobody told him that t-rexes were meat eaters, you want to laugh; indeed it might almost be worth it even if in the end you know that the joke is on you.Indeed. But otherwise, people would never learn, having things so good.
The blog The Other McCain quips, If Obama's lost Ted Rall, he's lost un-America
It is my firm belief that Reagan's background as an ex-Democrat, a labor union leader, and indeed something of a commie dupe, accounted for his tremendous courage and clarity as a conservative leader. He not only knew what ideas he was opposing, but he had some insight into the sentiments and character of the people he opposed.Even Joe Biden is mocking Obama -- the delivery of this ad-lib quip (see link for video) doesn't sound at all "good natured":
I've described the Democratic Party as the Evil Coalition of Liars and Fools. Reagan had been one of those fools, and he possessed a very canny understanding of the liars who had misled him into believing in that progressive mirage.
Progressives are utopians, and it is important to remember that Thomas More coined the word "utopia" from Greek roots, so that the meaning of the word is, "nowhere."
The progressive is marching down the road to nowhere, seeking an objective that does not actually exist and can never exist. The progressive claims to cherish liberty and equality, yet supports a policy agenda that, if fully implemented, would annihilate liberty and render the great bulk of men the servants of a political elite.
Claiming to be humanitarian idealists, progressives in fact have succumbed to a form of malignant narcissism that compels them to pursue their vision -- The Vision of the Anointed, as Thomas Sowell so brilliantly described it -- because it reinforces their presumptions of moral and intellectual superiority.
[N]ot content to leave without a jaunty ad lib, Biden noted that heavy winds were gusting through the ceremonies. One of his two teleprompters had toppled over. Alluding to the jokes of Obama’s reliance on the speech-facilitators, Biden added, “What I am going to tell the president when I tell him his teleprompter is broken? What will he do then?”