Saturday, November 29, 2008


Conservatism, when I hear the word I recoil. Images of fundamentalism, ethnocentrism, and dogmatism come to mind as I hear the word proudly trumpeted. Conservatism obsesses over ethnic and group identity. Everything is always us vs. them. Conservatives will never forget every little transgression against members of the group they associate with by members of another group. Their ideology always judges their group at its best and everyone else at their worst. In America it conflates the responsibility for 9/11 to all include Muslims and in the Middles East it conflates the responsibility for the Nackba to include all westerners. In every case they will be unable to see such events outside of an ethnocentric context.

Conservatives are fundamentalists. They feel threatened by the modern world and withdraw to an intellectually prehistoric existence. They retreat from everything new and unknown into a willfully ignorant mindset. They deny climate change, they cling to a narrow, and selective, interpretation of religion, they stage boycotts of stores who do not use "merry Christmas" in advertising, they listen to commentators and read books that tell them what they want to hear, and they remain absolute in the beliefs they want to hold. They have had to start their own version of Wikipedia because the factually based version was too threatening to their belief system. While liberals reformulate their beliefs to conform to reality, conservatives reformulate reality to conform to their beliefs. They believe what is comfortable to believe and are uninterested in anything that doesn't reinforce their preexisting viewpoints. In short they are almost impossible to reason with.

They are dogmatic. Their political beliefs are defined by words and symbols rather than ideas. Christian conservatives idolize Jesus, yet live a life antithetical to everything he taught about helping the poor, loving your enemies, and making peace. They exalt principles, character, freedom, and liberty, but they have only a vague idea of what these vague words mean. They are so attached to these words that they are more likely to be persuaded by a dictionary than by a logical argument. When Joe the Plumber was asked about his views on taxes, for example, he got defensive, called the interviewer names, and was unable to articulate any argument for his position other than "look up principles in the dictionary and you'll know what I mean."

The brand of conservatism preached by talk radio, right wing bloggers, and some religious figures is a morally bankrupt, intellectually deficient, and factually deprived outlook based more on circumstantial factors than any carefully thought out ideological beliefs, yet it is a dangerous political force that has been a major source of strife and hindrance of progress across the globe.


Bar Kochba said...

What happened to your other blog? Good to see that you follow mine.

YA, are you saying that liberals are never irrational? Like when they sputter and rave, insisting that Muslims murdering in the name of Islam based on Islamic texts has nothing to do with Islam? Or that a fetus has no right to exist and can be disposed of at will? Or that any discussion of homosexuality is bigoted? Or when Western norms and values are automatically racist while "cultural norms" such as female gender mutilation and honor killings are simply relative?

YA, this post smacks of intolerance and arrogance. Both liberals and conservatives have valid points on certain issues. Society needs to be innovative and change, yet it most conserve its traditional values and morals.

I don't consider myself conservative. I have no idea why you assume that I am conservative, as opposed to liberal, as opposed to libertarian, as opposed to middle-of-the-road moderate. These are simply labels that distract us from issues.

young_activist said...

It's always a good idea to read what your opponents have to say and you are the most articulate spokesmen for your cause. I can't say that what you have said has persuaded me, if anything it has repulsed me, but it has helped me to understand the way in which right wingers think.

Bar, I did not mention you in this post, it was you who assumed that this about you.

Secondly, I never said anything about liberals. Liberals are not as monolithic a group as conservatives. I would argue that liberalism is not even an ideology so much as a method of thought. Liberals disagree on virtually everything with each other. You are wrong to attribute all of beliefs to liberalism.

And on "Muslims murdering in the name of Islam based on Islamic text", that is not unique to Islam, there are bigots in every society and only bigots will conflate the actions of a few misguided individuals to include the entire society.

Bar Kochba said...

YA, I didn't assume that it was about myself. I'm not that arrogant.

I think that its very ignorant and obnoxious to claim that all conservatives are simply intolerant. It shows narrow-mindedness and intellectual intolerance, one that rivals anything conservatives supposedly do.

When I was talking about myself, I simply meant that I don't like to box myself in with labels. On some things, I'm very conservative, others I'm extremely liberal.

And I take offense to your statement about "there are crazies in every faith". Save it. Tell that Rabbi Gavriel and Rebbetzin Rivkah Holtzberg. Since 9/11 over 12 000 violent attacks have been carried out in the name of Islam. There are mainstream Muslim organization that condone this violence and supremacism. Condemnation is nowhere to be found. What happened in Mumbai, along with attacks in Jerusalem, New York, Bali or London all have one common denominator: Islam.

young_activist said...

Bar, conservatives are intolerant. Its a fact, it is a defining characteristic of conservatism. Show me a conservative that isn't intolerant.

I agree, labels confuse issues. They become excuses for people not to think, but many people apply labels to themselves, conservative is one such label and this is my view on the ideology that they ascribe to.

You talk about Islam, but do you know anything about Islam? You say no Muslims have condemned the attacks but that mainstream Muslim groups are supporting them, but you can't be that naive, can you? It takes courage to be open to information that challenges your worldview, and Bar, you have shown that, at least right now, you don't have that courage. You don't have the courage to open your eyes to the fact that Muslims have condemned the attack in large numbers and that mainstream Islam does not support actions like these. They are forbidden by the Koran and they are forbidden by the conscience of all decent people. Most Muslims have gone further in condemning these attacks than you and your fellow extremists have come in condemning a single crime committed by an Israeli against a Palestinian.

Contrary to what you believe there are intolerant extremists in every group. You talk about the hate Muslims have for everyone else, but, Bar, if you look at yourself you will find that there is just as much hate in your own heart. It is not what is different about Islam and the West that bring the two into conflict, it is what is the same, ethnocentric bigots who are unable to see things outside of an us vs. them context. Decent people across the world mourn the victims of the Mumbai attacks because they were innocent people tragically and brutally murdered. Bigots mourn them too, but they do not care that they were innocent or that their deaths were tragic, they have ignored and even celebrated the tragic deaths of many innocent people, they mourn the victims of the attacks because they were Indians, or Americans, or Jews, or Brits, or Hindus, and because they were killed by Muslims.

It is no different in other cultures. When an Israeli soldier kills Palestinian children decent people mourn because innocent children were killed. Bigots on one side mourn because Palestinians were killed and they were killed by Israelis. Bigots on the other side celebrate because Palestinians were killed and they were killed by Israelis. When a suicide bomber kills Israeli children decent people mourn because innocent children were killed. Bigots on one side mourn because Jews were killed and they were killed by Palestinians. Bigots on the other side celebrate because Jews were killed and they were killed by Palestinians. In this regard, Bar, you are no different from the extremists you so viciously despise.

Bar Kochba said...

Accusing conservatives of intolerance is simply moronic and is an attempt to shut down debate. A person may, for example, oppose gay marriage based on what they feel would be negative effects on society, based on arguments and reasoning, rather than homophobia.

I have no hate for Islam. However, it is quite apparent that violence and Islamic supremacism is quite mainstream in the Muslim community. For a community that quickly mobilized itself to march and riot over cartoons, their reaction to the attacks in Mumbai has been deafening. Even if they have condemned the attacks (please show me one condemnation by a mainstream US Muslim organization), has it ever matched the zealousness and passion with which they condemn any perceived slight against Islam?

You assert that such violence is against the Koran. However, the jihadists and their supporters base all of their claims on Islamic teachings. Violence jihad is an obligation according to all 4 traditional Islamic schools of jurisprudence. It has been a mainstay of Muslim history. If one picks up a Koran, a history book and a newspaper, one will see that Islam i son the violence path that Muhammad commanded for it.

You conflate Muslims with Islam. I do not hate Muslims. I know many Muslims who are kind decent people. That doesn't change the fact that traditional Islam teaches violence and hatred and that the community as a whole has done little to combat that. Not all Jews keep kosher, yet kashrut is an essential element of Judaism. There have been over 12 000 violent jihadist attacks since 9/11. This is unparalleled in any other religious group. Muslims are at war with Jews in Israel (and around the world), Buddhists in Thailand and China, Hindus in Kashmir and India, Christians in Africa, Europe, Chechnya, etc. None of these groups are at war with each other. How do you explain this?

When have I ever celebrated the death of an Arab? Show me an example before you spout your ignorance. No Jew celebrates when Arabs are killed and it is with a heavy heart that we fight. What Israeli attrocities against Arabs? There is no substance to such a claim. Civilians intentionally murdered by suicide bombers and innocents accidentally killed in self-defense because terrorists hid among them are not equivalent.