Heterodox Liberal Thinkers: Please Stop Throwing Us Conservatives Under the Bus

By Charles Love

For a long time, the battle lines of our current culture war were clearly partisan. As identity politics took hold and went from a political tactic to the hegemonic liberal view, fighting against the idea that race and gender should be part of every calculation was something the right-of-center largely did alone. But recently, a growing number of liberal and centrist thinkers are coming forward to denounce this view of American life, and as a black conservative, it's heartening to see. Many like me have grown weary at the progressive obsession with race, putatively on our behalf, and we welcome these new fellow warriors. It's undeniably encouraging to see left-leaning people beginning to speak out against a radical movement tearing at the fabric of America and seeking to divide us.

But as these heterodox liberals begin to find their voices, I want to urge them to resist a tendency I've been noticing that I think harms our mutual cause. It's the tendency to find a conservative to throw under the bus while making their case. And it undermines the crucial work of their criticism.

Here's how it usual happens: A liberal challenging a radical argument they disagree with will first offer up a rebuke of a conservative who actually agrees with them on the issue but who is cast as an ideological opponent. "Just because I don't agree with radical Leftists on this doesn't mean I'm a deplorable like this guy," they seem to be saying. "I'm a good liberal like you."

You saw this at work in the much-discussed Harper's letter last summer, which in opposing the illiberal Left made a point of calling out the Right in even harsher terms as a foil. "The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy. But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion—which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting," read the letter.

Of course, it's understandable why these thinkers use this approach. When it looks like you're siding with your political adversary, you have to make it clear that you are not "one of them." If you want to point out a flaw on the Left, you must first make the point that you are not some evil conservative. As Jodi Shaw, the courageous woman at the center of a Smith College discrimination suit, told me in a recent interview, "Pointing out that I'm a liberal is like the price of admission to the conversation."

But there are several problems with this approach. It weakens your argument if you cannot articulate your concerns without bringing up a scapegoat to attack, and it limits your audience. Most of the people who use this approach are liberals and it's apparent they are speaking to other liberals. But if the goal is truly to improve the union, it cannot be good to ostracize people who share your view on the topic. (And truth be told, the more extreme liberals will not support you regardless of your points about the other side.)

Liberals seeking to push back against cancel culture and a moral panic around race are crucial at this moment. But what they're doing when they scapegoat the conservatives who got there long before they did is further strengthening the very powers and pressures they are trying to oppose. In other words, saying the equivalent of "Don't cancel me, I'm not with him" is just feeding the flames of the cancel culture mob which, more often than not, is made up of liberals.

Take Persuasion, a publication I truly respect, as I do all the liberals who have gotten caught in this trap. Persuasion, a truly excellent new publication that emerged from the ashes of the last eighteen months, describes itself as "the community for those who believe that a free society is worth fighting for." In The Perils of 180ism, Yascha Mounk, Persuasion's founder, opens by discussing an old Colbert Report skit on "Truthiness." Mounk had recently re-watched the skit and "realized that it could now describe a much broader cross-section of the ideological spectrum than he originally intended. Yes, it did and still does describe much of conservative America," writes Mounk. "But there are also plenty of slogans that my own friends and colleagues on the left parrot, even though they do (or should) know that they are misleading."

Like the other examples in this genre, Mounk's words read as a not-so-subtle rebuke of the Right, the foil he is using to show how terrible the Left has become: "The Right is obviously wrong and now we've become like them" is the implication. Mounk admitted as much in his piece: "Let me be abundantly clear," he wrote. "I do not believe that the two sides in America's great political fight are morally equivalent."

I have no doubt that Mounk and other heterodox writers have the best intent for the country. But following every attack on a leftist idea with, "Don't get me wrong, conservatives are worse!" or constantly dredging up former President Trump's misdeeds cannot be the path to unity or a reversal of our decline.

Those adopting this approach will likely argue that it is necessary to point out the flaws of both sides to remain objective and not come off as condoning bad behavior. Unfortunately, it often comes off as an attack on a large portion of the population, negating much of the positive intent of the argument.

It also creates a binary of us vs. them that does not reflect the views most Americans have on these complicated topics. While the goal is unity and inclusion, the approach leaves the majority of Americans despondent about both sides, which will lead to apathy rather than encouragement.

Perhaps if we move beyond the both sides approach, and stop calling those we disagree with adversaries, we can build that free society we have been striving for since our founding.

[Charles Love is the executive director of Seeking Educational Excellence, host of The Charles Love Show, and the author of the upcoming book Race Crazy: BLM, 1619, and the Progressive Racism Movement.]

No Comments


Recent

Archive

 2021

Categories

Tags

#race riot 1619 project 1776 1964 90 million ACT Abolitionists Afghanistan African Americans Afrocentric Al Sharpton Alabama Alaska Amazon American Flag American Hero American History American Voters American racism America Amy Coney Barrett Apple Asians Attorney General Keith Ellison Attorney General Letitia James Authenticity BLM Banks Barack Obama Behavior Bible Big government Bill of rights Black Americans Black Codes Black History Black Leader Black Lives Matter Black Millionaires Black Wall Street Black achievement Black community Black families Matter Black kids Black people Black racist Black towns Black underclass Black voter suppression Black vote Blacks Black Breonna Taylo Bureau of Justice Statistics CARES Act CBS CEO Elon Musk CNN CRT California Capitalism Capitol Building Carbon emissions Catholic Cato Institute Character Charleston Charter schools Chicago Chinese Christianity Christian City government Civil Rights Act of 1964 Civil Rights Civil War Climate Change Coal Coca-cola College Board data Color Communism Condoleezza Rice Congressional Black Caucus Congressional Budget Office Congress Conservatives Conservative Conspiracy Theories Cops Counyrt Covid-19 Create a crowd Crime Cuban people Cuba DNA DNC DOJ David Boaz Decline Delta airlines Democrat party Democratic Party Democratic socialism Democrats Democrat Derek Chauvin Developer Dick Gregory Diversity Documentary Donald Trump Dr. Anthony Fauci Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Earth Day Earth Edgewater's mayor Edgewater\'s mayor Election integrity Equality Equity Eskimo FDA Facebook Fake News Farmers Fascism Fascist Fathers Federal Government Female Film Fire Fighters Food For the People Act Foundation Founding Fathers Frederick Douglass Free Market Freedm Freedom's Journal Insitute Freedom's Journal Magazine Freedoms Journal Institute Freedoms Journal Magazine Freedom Free Gangs Gasoline Gaza Strip George Floyd George W. Bush Georgia German Global Warming Goverment Governor Cuomo Governors Grades Great Society Greek mythology Guns Gwen Berry HBCUs Hamas Hard work Harriet Tubman Hatred Heritage Foundation High School Hillary Clinton Historically Black Colleges and Universities History Hitler Hollywood House Republican leadership House Housing Hugo Chavez Human Race Hypocrisy IMDb Ibram X. Kendi Identity politics Inclusion Independence Day Inventors Israel Jeff Bezos Jesus Christ Jews Jim Crow Jimmy Carter Joe biden John Cena John F. Kennedy John Kass John Lewis Voting Right Advancement Act John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act John McWhorter Jokes July 4th Jury Verdict Justice K-12 Kamala Harris Karl Marx Katrina Kingmaker Klu Klux Klan LAw LGBTQ LIverals Lab Larry Elder Latinos Latinx Law enforcement Lawsuits Legacy of Slavery Liberal progressives Liberals Liberal Libertarian Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson Lyft MLB MLK MSNBC Mainstream media Male Markets Marxists Marxist Mattel Maxine Waters Media Men Metaphore Michael Brown Middle East policy Military Minneapolis police department Morality Muslim N95 NAACP NAN NCAA NEA Nancy Pelosi National Urban League Nazi Neck Holds Neutrality New Jersey Noam Chomsky Normal Normandy North Carolina Nuclear OPEC Obergefell v. Hodges Oklahoma Olympic trial Olympics Opportunity Oracle Oscars PPolice Palestinians Pandemic Parental choice Pastor Patrisse Cullors Personal freedom Platform Power plant President Donald Trump President Joe Biden President Obama Press Principles Private companies Progressive Progress Race Card Race Racial hatred Racism in America Rand Paul Raphael Warnock Reform Rep. Liz Cheney Rep. Maxine Waters Republican Party Republicans Republican Rich Right to Vote Riots Robert F. Kennedy Robin DiAngelo Rockerfeller Roe vs Wade Rule of Law Russians Russia SAT SEC SJW Scandinavia School Choice Scientists Sen. Bernie Sanders Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer Sexual Harrassment Shawshank redemption Slavery Slaves Slave Social Justice South Carolina Southern states Soviet Union Spacex Speaker Nancy Pelosi Speech Stacey Abrams Steve Crowder Steve Jobs Stock market Students Suffering Supporters Supremacist Supreme court Sweden Taliban Taxpayers Teachers' Union Tesla The Left The Reverend The Rich The West Thomas Jennings Thomas Sowell Tom Wolf Toymakers Trade workers Truth vs Lies Truth Tulsa 1921 Turnout Twitter US Constitution Uber Uncle Tom Underground Railroad United States flag Unity Vaccine Venezuela Vice President Kamala Harris Victims Victomhood Vietnam Voter ID Votes Voting Rights Act Voting law Voting WGN WHO WWII WWI Walter Williams Warner Bros. Television Group Washington D.C. Water front Weakness Wealth creation Wealth White House White People White Supremacist White Supremacy White cops White-Savior Whites White Woke Racism Woke Women WoodsonCenter Work Worldview Wuhan YouTube abnormal academia academics access activists advancement advantage adversary affirmative action alcoholic anarchy angry anti-corruption anti-semitic anti-trans antifa antiracists apartments arrested arrest assumptions athlete attacks authority bad decisions battle biology boycott bureaucrats burglaries business owners business cancel cukture cancer charity cheating chief executive city council civility civilization climte college colorblind colored comedian community compassion competition compliance conservative women contempt conviction corporate welfare corrupt politicians cost courage coverage criminal justice criminal crisis critical race theory culture war culture dad death penality debate delusion democracy dictatorship differential poverty discrimination diveristy driveway economic freedom economic recovery economics economist economy education election reform elections election emotions empathy employees employee employer employment enemies energy entrance exams entrepreneurs equal results ethnicity ethnic evidence executive orders fact-checkers faith leader false narrative farms first amendment force gender confusion gender genocide governance government control green new deal greenhouse gases groups guilty gun control gun violence handouts hate speech helpless blacks heroine hero high-school curriculum homeless homicide human beings hyperbole immigration impeachment individuals inequality inflation information infrastructure inheritance inner-city innovation instruction insurrection interview investments jobs kids king labor lawlessness liberty lies life in prison loans lock downs major league baseball mandates manslaughter masks microaggression minimum wage misdemeanor misinformation mission mixed-race couples mob violence monarchy money monument moral superiority murder name callling national anthem national debt neopronouns obfuscation officers one race oppressed opt out parents patents paycheck payouts people of color people piplines podium ceremony poineers police brutality police policy political exploitation politicians politics polling poverty power president prison private schools progressives pronouns prosperity protest public health public investment public policy public schools purpose qualified immunity race and culture racial inequalities racism racist nation racist white cops racist radiation radical administration ratings reactor reforms regulations reparations resisting arrest respect restaurant retirement riot role model rules for thee and not for me scholar school second amendment self-reliance sexism sexuality shootings shoplifting skin color snow social distancing social media social security socialism society spending sports standards state run states stereotypes subjectivism subsidizing college subsidy systemic racism tactic tax breaks taxation taxes taxpayer teenagers terrorist the poor theft totalitarianism transgender woman transgender trial tribalism triillions tuition unemployment unfair vaccination vaccine cards victim culture victimology violence violent crime virology voluntary wages war welfare white privilege women in history