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August 04, 2014

"Ten Reasons Why I Am No Longer a Leftist"

Sharply observed, well-reasoned, and beautifully exposited: the author has the Left's number. Some highlights:

Reading this anecdote, I felt that I was confronting the signature essence of my social life among leftists. We rushed to cast everyone in one of three roles: victim, victimizer, or champion of the oppressed. We lived our lives in a constant state of outraged indignation. . . . Yes, there is a time and a place when it is absolutely necessary for a person to cultivate awareness of his own pain, or of others' pain. Doctors instruct patients to do this -- "Locate the pain exactly; calculate where the pain falls on a scale of one to ten; assess whether the pain is sharp, dull, fleeting, or constant." But doctors do this for a reason. They want the patient to heal, and to move beyond the pain. In the left, I found a desire to be in pain constantly    

The left's selective outrage convinced me that much canonical, left-wing feminism is not so much support for women, as it is a protest against Western, heterosexual men. It's an "I hate" phenomenon, rather than an "I love" phenomenon.

We focused so hard on our good intentions. Before our deployment overseas, Peace Corps vetted us for our idealism and "tolerance," not for our competence or accomplishments. We all wanted to save the world. What depressingly little we did accomplish was often erased with the next drought, landslide, or insurrection. Peace Corps did not focus on the "small beginnings" necessary to accomplish its grandiose goals. Schools rarely ran, girls and low caste children did not attend, and widespread corruption guaranteed that all students received passing grades. Those students who did learn had no jobs where they could apply their skills, and if they rose above their station, the hereditary big men would sabotage them. Thanks to cultural relativism, we were forbidden to object to rampant sexism or the caste system. "Only intolerant oppressors judge others' cultures."

Leftists felt that we jilted them at the altar. Leftists turned on us. This isn't just ancient history. In 2004, What's the Matter with Kansas? spent eighteen weeks on the bestseller lists. The premise of the book: working people are too stupid to know what's good for them, and so they vote conservative when they should be voting left. In England, the book was titled, What's the Matter with America? . . . Leftists freely label poor whites as "redneck," "white trash," "trailer trash," and "hillbilly." At the same time that leftists toss around these racist and classist slurs, they are so sanctimonious they forbid anyone to pronounce the N word when reading Mark Twain aloud. President Bill Clinton's advisor James Carville succinctly summed up leftist contempt for poor whites in his memorable quote, "Drag a hundred-dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you'll find."

It astounds me now to reflect on it, but never, in all my years of leftist activism, did I ever hear anyone articulate accurately the position of anyone to our right. 

I live in Paterson. I teach its young. My students are hogtied by ignorance. I find myself speaking to young people born in the U.S. in a truncated pidgin I would use with a train station chai wallah in Calcutta. Many of my students lack awareness of a lot more than vocabulary. They don't know about believing in themselves, or stick-to-itiveness. They don't realize that the people who exercise power over them have faced and overcome obstacles. I know they don't know these things because they tell me. One student confessed that when she realized that one of her teachers had overcome setbacks it changed her own life. My students do know -- because they have been taught this -- that America is run by all-powerful racists who will never let them win. 

I could say as much about a truly frightening phenomenon, left-wing anti-Semitism, but I'll leave the topic to others better qualified. I can say that when I first encountered it, at a PLO fundraising party in Marin County, I felt as if I had time-traveled to pre-war Berlin. I needed to leave the left, I realized, when I decided that I wanted to spRnd time with people building, cultivating, and establishing, something that they loved.

Related: "On Why Conservative Women Are Sexier".

Women of the right will not tolerate sexism; but nor do they have that tendency of some left-wing women always to play the victim of sexism. They have a robust, get-on-with-it attitude to life that makes them less prone to the neurotic, whiney, oh-poor-me melodrama that has infected so much thinking of left-leaning feminists.

Further related: Stephen L. Carter, "Liberals Make 'Profit' a Dirty Word" and George Leef, "When You Harm Those You Mean To Help, You Should Immediately Stop".

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Michael Greenspan

This matches my experience: "[N]ever, in all my years of leftist activism, did I ever hear anyone articulate accurately the position of anyone to our right. In fact, I did not even know those positions when I was a leftist." One leftist of my acquaintance is smart and knowledgeable enough to state conservative views fairly, but I doubt he could bring himself to do so.

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