Who is pulling the levers of opinion?

Chad Felix Greene, writing for TheFederalist website, says “the stigma against my conservative politics is worse than the stigma of being gay.” That’s the headline. It’s worth reprinting here some of his thoughts. “Why would a person choose a life where they will be hated, judged, and rejected by society?”

“This was one of the first arguments I learned to defend myself against in arguments about my sexuality. In the late 1990’s, it was perceived as a powerful call to the humanity of those who opposed gay rights under the notion that it was merely a lifestyle choice. The idea was that if we could appeal to others’ sense of compassion for our social plight, perhaps they could understand the effects of their intolerance. I often fantasized about breaking through the walls of prejudice and somehow speaking to the heart of someone who did not yet realize I was just a person like them.”

He says it was easier to do that with his homosexuality than with conservative politics. To be a conservative means to be forced to choose when to speak and when to remain silent, since offending someone on the left, even mildly or by accident, is a social battle you may not be able to win. Even to bring up the subject is to invite taunting and disdain from the very people we attempt, in vain, to reach out to. While I always hoped that I could break through to a person who saw me as a sinner, I find today that it is impossible to even hold a conversation with someone who sees me as a bigot. Our concerns are mocked and our moments of frustration are viewed as weakness. We find no compassion from our adversaries. In fact, we see them champion silencing us permanently. I never truly experienced hate until I came out as a conservative.”

A similar perspective was presented by law professor F. H. Buckley, writing for the NY Post: “My walks with my dog take me to a quiet off-street, with middle-class houses made expensive because they’re inside the Beltway. Two of the homes feature ‘No Hate Here’ signs. What’s up with that, you might wonder. This is a peaceful, upscale, decidedly un-diverse neighborhood. There’s nothing to suggest that anyone is a racist or bigot. Someone came up with the label “virtue signaling” to describe the psychological impulse behind these signs. The idea is that people who put them up want to tell you how noble they are. But that doesn’t sound right. Virtue-signalers aren’t in any way in doubt about their own virtue. What they really want to do is signal how depraved others are. It’s about vice signaling, not virtue signaling.

“A couple of people on the block are Trump supporters. Those signs are likely meant for them. There’s no interaction between the two groups, and the signs are meant to keep it that way. Vice signaling is a defense mechanism, meant to displace liberal guilt.  There was a moment, shortly after the 2016 election, when liberals realized that ordinary Americans had turned against them, and that they had reason to do so. Allied to the teachers unions, the liberals had permitted our schools to descend to Third World standards. They supported an immigration system that imported economic immobility. They welcomed a regulatory morass that gave elites jobs but that placed a stumbling block in the path of those who sought to get ahead.

Liberals saw all that — and then they forgot it. Rather than blame themselves, it was much easier to transfer the guilt to conservatives. That’s how vice signaling became the language of liberal politics. When the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, there were no great protests from social conservatives. What is curious, however, is how social liberals turned on a dime to take up transgender rights. After their victory, they immediately took up the cause of a tiny number of Americans, the better to blame their opponents. In the permanent cultural wars against conservatives, there’s always one more river to cross.

If you have read even a few posts on my blog, and if they are correct, the lynch mob should be coming for me any day. My blog has some followers, and I’ve experienced a tiny bit of minor disagreement, though mostly it is “likes”. Perhaps the reasons my experience is so different than Mr. Greene’s, are that I don’t have a wide or well known platform, and blogs have more freedom of expression by their nature than other forms of media, or perhaps my arguments are so cogent that I’ve scared off the opposition. Whatever the reason, Mr. Greene comes off to me as whining, though I will concede he’s probably right.

That brings up an important question: Who cares? President Trump is more outrageous than me, but somehow he got elected President. He is endlessly bombarded with slurs, threats, pure vitriol on national television and news media. He still does what he does. I dislike his tweetstorms, but on balance I favor most of his actual policies. He is living proof that you can get worthwhile stuff done if you don’t heed the “nattering nabobs of negativism”, an expression coined by William Safire but frequently attributed to Spiro Agnew. Then there’s Rush Limbaugh. It takes courage to refuse to back down. I don’t fear the critics. Teddy Roosevelt is famous for saying this, and living it: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”  AFTER ALL, CRITICISM IS HARDLY “DUST, SWEAT AND BLOOD!’

Author: iamcurmudgeon

When I began this blog, I was a 70 year old man, with a young mind and a body trying to recover from a stroke, and my purpose for this whole blog thing is to provoke thinking, to ridicule reflex reaction, and provide a legacy to my children.

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