Going back in time a bit… Tulane University, early 90s. I was a Theatre and English dual major, which meant I spent a lot of time hanging around with an even higher percentage of left-wingers than one might find anywhere else on campus. There was this guy by the name of Mike1, who at some point decided he wanted to be my buddy. He was a decent enough guy, and who doesn’t like having friends –right? So we hung out from time to time, especially before and after a creative writing class we shared.
At one point, a girl in said class wrote a piece of creative journalism, specifically an editorial-style piece on some political subject or another. Without even remembering the specific topic, there are two things about the piece that stand out in my mind: it was politically quite left-of-center, and the argument was well-reasoned out and strongly written. This is memorable because in my mind these two things did not (and don’t today) coincide nearly often enough.
The way this class worked was that when it was our day to read something to the class, we would make copies for everyone, and they would read along and write comments and such on it. At the end the writer would get all the copies back with the comments. On my copy of her essay I wrote a few notes here and there, and at the top of the front page I wrote something along the lines of, “I’m a conservative, and I liked this a lot.”
As the copies were being handed back down the line, Mike saw mine (with comment) on the top of the stack.
The conversation with Mike after class — no exaggeration — went something like this:
Mike: “Are you really a conservative???”
Mike (this is an exact quote): “I used to think you were a pretty cool guy. I at least thought you were a decent human being.”
He never spoke to me again.
The guy had known me for about two or three years at that point. He liked hanging out with me. He thought I was a “pretty cool guy”. A single word of self-description, devoid of any further discussion of opinions or specifics, (and in a context that at least suggested that I was reasonably open-minded about left-wing thought), was enough for me to descend in his estimate from “cool guy” to not even “a decent human being”.
A similar incident occurred shortly after college when a co-worker quit her job rather than work closely with somebody who had “voted against Clinton”. Again with the very short no-further-discussion-necessary conversation, this time at the tail end of a workday. The next day I came in and she had quit because she “just couldn’t work here anymore”, according to my boss, who then proceeded to ask if I could do her job. I could.
You’ll have to excuse me if I’m a bit skeptical of the leftist claim to “open mindedness”. In the time since I have seen no end to examples of liberals who compose the most closed-minded group imaginable when faced with disagreement. It’s inherent in the methodology of attacking the messenger any time you don’t want to argue the message. If you oppose racial preferences you’re racist. If you oppose abortion you’re sexist. It’s the politics of shut-the-hell-up and la-la-la-i’m-not-listening.
You even see it within their own ranks. Liberals love to gloat and point any time there is disagreement and debate within the Republican establishment; They also have an tendency to throw to the wolves any of their own who publicly questions the party line. In all of this, they miss the point that within an open society, debate is a healthy thing. Case and point: Saddam Hussein got 100% of the “vote” the last time their was an election under his rule. Does anybody truly think that was because not one Iraqi wanted to see him gone?
They are aware of this argument, of course, and essentially try to use it every time they claim their relentless America-is-evil drumbeat is actually patriotic dissent. Newsflash: debating how to win is healthy; doing somersaults every time there is a setback is not. As the tagline says: It’s all about where you draw the line.
I’ve been reading blogs for several years now, and in that time, I have kept an eye out for a left-wing blog that actually has a sense of intellectual honesty. By that, I refer to a willingness to concede that the other side might be right in a debate — a willingness to use debate as a means to genuinely seek the “true” answer, as opposed to simply trying to “beat the other guy”. Recently, I had thought I might have found one.
In recent weeks one of the writers on that blog had posted multiple times on the whole Duke University/ lacrosse team/ rape case. She wrote multiple posts basically framed on the assumption that of course the team members did it — because why would the victim lie? — and her rather substantial audience took the bait and ran with it in comments, with only the occasional moderating voice from me and a few others.
As events have transpired, it is appearing more and more that the “victim” was in fact lying, and that the accusations were false. As I saw some of this come out, I took a small leap of faith and wrote a short email to the blogger. A smug reply, a longer response from me, and a final response from the blogger brought me to the sadly inevitable conclusion that this particular writer has no interest in the truth, and is perfectly happy to sit in her echo chamber and recirculate what ever she chooses to believe among the faithful. I’ll leave this one to your judgement — the entirely of the exchange follows:
On 6/12/06, Stephen Rider wrote:
As you have written extensive posts accusing the Duke Lacrosse team of rape, do you have any plans to comment on the fact that the prosecution is crumbling and it all appears to be a false rap?
On Jun 12, 2006, at 1:23 PM, Amanda Marcotte wrote:
I’ve accused no one. But thanks anyway!
On 6/12/06, at 2:26 PM, Stephen Rider wrote:
That is only true if you split hairs pretty finely. You have certainly written multiple posts based on the assumption that they did rape her (though I did see one instance where you actually admitted a “remote” chance that the accuser is lying), and in at least one post you flatly refer to the accused as “the rapists”.
“That might be because the rapists were making jokes… to the victim…”
<link to post>
You also repeatedly refer to various people defending the accused as “rape apologists”.
Do you not think that the new information all but exonerating the accused merits at least a *mention* — especially in light of the hundreds of reader comments to your posts that clearly assume, along with you, that they’re guilty of a horrifying crime?
Seriously, I’ve actually been looking for left-wing blog that had a sense of intellectual honesty. I’m sorry to see that <web site> isn’t it.
There’s no shame in making a human mistake, but there is in refusing to admit you might have made one.
“But thanks anyway!”
On June 12, 2006, at 3:31 PM, Amanda Marcotte wrote:
Yep, a woman of few words. Or brain cells, apparently. I do admit to one small logical error in my last email: when I said “That is only true if you split hairs pretty finely” I was incorrect. If you call somebody a rapist, that is an accusation, and therefore there are no hairs to split in this case2. The accusation is clearly made, and dismissively denied. I do see the possibility that she responded without actually having read past the first sentence, in which case a generous reading of the exchange could account her disingenuousness to mere stupidity rather than dishonesty; but mostly this looks like a good example of the old joke: “Don’t let a lttle thing like facts get in the way of a good argument.”
However you want to slice it, it is yet another shining example of the mentality that drives Democratic politics in recent years. The saddest part is that even if they don’t regain power any time soon (which I think will be the case), it is bad for the country anyways, as competition in politics is the only thing that keeps them even remotely honest. The Republicans are better — I would say much better — but with this as competition, that’s not saying a lot.
This country desperately needs some honest Democrats.
Update: I should mention that this post was more-or-less inspired by Jeff’s latest opus
. Jeff is, notably, an extremely honest man — though he seems to fear that people dislike him for it.
Update: Further comment here.
: Mike’s last name has been removed at his request. He emails: “I’m a pretty middle of the road guy these days, regardless of my college political views….”
2: Though, Clinton-like, this particular leftwit appears perfectly comfortable doing so anyways.