Thursday, February 19, 2004

Don't Forget About the Other Crazies

About two weeks ago I started thinking that the right had finally gone too far, that we'd finally reached a tipping point. The Bush administration and the Republican leadership are just so unbelievably terrible that it's become rather hard for me to believe that they can win unless something really weird happens. Or the Democrats really screw up. (Note: that, of course, would not be an instance of something weird happening.) I mean you can only be so incompetent, irresponsible, and mendacious before even the American electorate starts to notice, right?

Now, I'm afraid that I may have given the impression on this blog that I'm a serious liberal in the contemporary sense of the term. I do consider myself a liberal, but lots of people don't consider me one. I own a firearm, for example, and think that most sane people should probably do likewise. I'm pretty hawkish about using military force to defend human rights. I'm torn about affirmative action. I'm in favor of the death penalty in principle, and in certain cases in practice. (E.g. I think that both Saddam and Milosevic deserve to die.) In many ways, I'm basically a libertarian who happens to have been born without an undying faith in the free market.

In other ways, I'm a neurotic centrist. So, as soon as I started thinking that our chances of getting rid of the evil Bush administration were pretty good, I started worrying about a leftist backlash. See, I have this pet theory that one thing that stoked the fires of the right wing during the '90's was the failure of liberals to speak out with sufficient force against the excesses of the crackpot left--located, dare I say, primarily in academia. And, in general, I think that liberals are more tolerant of left-wing crazies than they are of right-wing crazies. This might seem natural, since it might seem that liberals are doctrinally closer to left-wing crazies than they are to the right-wing variety. I've never thought that this was correct, however. The nuts of the left and of the right have always seemed equally distant, doctrinally speaking, from liberals to me. The more egregious examples of campus speech codes seem to me to be every bit as idiotic and alarming as efforts to put the Ten Commandments in courtrooms.

I mean, if you want to read about some nut cases--and I mean real, certifiable nut cases--nut cases that make even Rush Limbaugh seem sane by comparison--read Dinesh D'Souza's Illiberal Education. And academic far lefties have said things to me that were so crazy they made Peggy Noonan sound like Kevin Phillips. I wish it weren't so, yet it is.

So, anyway, as soon as I start thinking that Bush may very well be toast, I start thinking about the possibility of a re-emergence of a prominent, nutty left. But then I thought...nah, I'm just being neurotic........and then, via Andrew Sullivan, a man who seems to be committed to bringing unhappiness into my life....THIS...

Yes, yes, it's only ten people. But it's not the only instance I've seen of late...I'm just too tired and lazy to link to others right now. Trust me. And no, I'm not freaking out about this. Yes, I realize that the dangers associated with wacky lefties in America pale in comparison to the dangers associated with BushCo... But that doesn't mean they're not kooky, and it just irritates the Hell out of me. And, don't forget my fascinatin' hypothesis: the real danger these folks pose is that they provide the right--which IS powerful and often dangerous--with a handy caricature of liberals.

Especially when liberals decline to call a kook a kook.


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