by Timothy Lane 11/1/13
Many years ago, I noticed a pattern among liberal letter-writers to FOSFAX: They could behave very reasonably until something happened – such as the 1994 election results – that caused them to become unhinged. They would rave against conservatives and make that most absurd arguments rather than face up to the truth. Eventually, in considering one such letter, I came up with a concept that I referred to as “virulent liberalism”, which I gradually refined over the next few years.
The basic idea is that most ideological liberals are heavily motivated by an extreme, unreasoning fear of what conservatives would do if they had the power. It’s encouraged by what I call Inner Party liberals, who routinely compare Republicans to Nazis and engage in extreme hyperbole. To Charles Rangel, tax-cutters were the “new Klan”; to John Lewis, “They’re coming for our children, they’re coming for our old people.” Outer Party liberals believe this, and so you see people who worried that Newt Gingrich would put them in a concentration camp if he became Speaker of the House. The fact that he had no power to do so even if he wanted was lost on such people. The fact that when the Republicans finally did have the power they feared they didn’t do what the panicky people expected was equally irrelevant.
At the time I referred tot his fear as paranoia, and in some cases (MSNBC comes to mind; I sometimes refer to it as PSNBC with the PS standing for Paranoid Schizophrenia) this no doubt is true. But more recently I have come to refer to this as dextrophobia. (Okay, I admit I have sesquipedalian tendencies. Hey, I started reading Buckley in my mid-teens.) In any case, the way I see it is that most liberals are latent virulent liberals due to this dextrophobia, and when the prospect of actually facing conservative and/or Republican control (such people are generally incapable of telling the difference between the two, since this would require actually paying attention to both) arrives, they panic. This leads to their natural hatred of the Right to become very obvious, and it also means that doing Whatever It Takes to stop the Right is right and necessary, exacerbating their natural tendency to place tribal loyalty to The Cause above objective ethical standards.
Like any good theory, this can be tested by observation and/or experiment. I have noticed this continuing pattern among a few letter-writers – one (who was NOT the original inspiration for the theory) reacted irrationally to the Bush presidency but then eased up a bit after 2006 and especially 2008 – only to go into full rant mode after 2010. (One conservative letter-writer to a fanzine edited by a friend noticed that he actually ignores other people’s comments on issues such as global warming, instead responding on the basis of his stereotype of conservative views.) We can see this elsewhere, as when people wonder why such formerly reasonable liberals as Julian Bond and Bill Moyers became insanely hate-filled after 2000. (The same pattern can be seen with Chris Matthews.)
Note that there can be, and no doubt are, virulent liberals as well. I remember reading a book by Hugh Hewitt which came very close to this. Certainly most of us here have as much concern about what the Obamacrats will do as liberals have over what Republicans might do, the difference being that Obama really has acted as we expected. But it does bring home a lesson to us as to how not to behave. We as conservatives must never sacrifice integrity and ethics to politics, as our liberal adversaries do.