Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Conservatives: Mind Your Manners

Via Andrew Sullivan: Sully has an interesting post about the differences between conservatives and liberals. He links to an article by Andrew Klavan about how conservatives view the world, and like Sully, I agree with Mr. Klavan-to a point. He notes:

The thing I like best about being a conservative is that I don’t have to lie. I don’t have to pretend that men and women are the same. I don’t have to declare that failed or oppressive cultures are as good as mine. I don’t have to say that everyone’s special or that the rich cause poverty or that all religions are a path to God. I don’t have to claim that a bad writer like Alice Walker is a good one or that a good writer like Toni Morrison is a great one. I don’t have to pretend that Islam means peace.

Okay, but then he drives off the conservative road:

This is leftism’s great strength: it’s all white lies. That’s its only advantage, as far as I can tell. None of its programs actually works, after all. From statism and income redistribution to liberalized criminal laws and multiculturalism, from its assault on religion to its redefinition of family, leftist policies have made the common life worse wherever they’re installed. But because it depends on—indeed is defined by—describing the human condition inaccurately, leftism is nothing if not polite. With its tortuous attempts to rename unpleasant facts out of existence—he’s not crippled, dear, he’s handicapped; it’s not a slum, it’s an inner city; it’s not surrender, it’s redeployment—leftism has outlived its own failure by hiding itself within the most labyrinthine construct of social delicacy since Victoria was queen. (Italics mine.)

Okay, that's a bit disturbing. The reason that I'm a conservative is that I perfer to see the world as is instead of trying to be politically correct. But I don't think that means that we have to be uncivil or just plain mean. Calling someone in a wheelchair "crippled," is not being conservative, it's being mean and demeaning. Listen, I can cring when people use "differently abled" for persons with disabilities, but I will not call someone "crippled." That's just plain tacky and not very Christian.

Sullivan has his own views on this:

Look: I understand the issue here. Political correctness is a new form of sanctimonious etiquette. I don't like it either. I'd probably end up as cranky as Mickey if I lived among the Hollywood left. In my time, I've argued for fundamental differences between men and women, aired "The Bell Curve," was a skeptic of the mythology around Matthew Shepard and generally rubbed many liberal nerves the wrong way. But the point of all this is to find reality, and to be open to be proven wrong as well. It is not to assert a new form of dogma. Nor is it a way to find excuses for cruelty, bad manners or bigotry. I see no conservative reason to refer to people with physical handicaps as "crippled"; I see no real distinction between a slum and an inner city (but I was and am for welfare reform); and I find the attempt to describe the excruciating problems in Iraq as a choice between "surrender" or "victory" to be little short of moronic.

He goes on to say that this sort of boorishness is hardly conservative:

This, moreover, is not conservatism. It is faux-conservatism. Shock-jock conservatism. Or conservatism calcified into an ideology that has become very difficult to disentangle from arrogance, ignorance or just plain old prejudice. The job of conservatives is to filter fact from ideology. And that includes filtering facts from the ideology that now passes among so many for conservatism itself.

Maybe conservatives "don't lie" but many of its leading figures are starting to be real jerks. Witness the rhetoric coming from the Ann Coulters of the world regarding gays and lesbians.

The funny thing is that many conservatives like to say how they defend the faith, but they tend to forget what the faith is all about. When Jesus was on earth, he practiced love. I don't think he would be calling the lame he encountered "crippled."

Like some on the Left, many on the Right have become so sure of themselves that they have forgotten humility and tolerance of others. If conservatives are to be a driving force in American life, they need to learn some manners. Being a jerk doesn't make you right, it just makes you a jerk.

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