Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Liberals Love Losers

No, I'm not talking about the string of loser candidates the Democrats have offered for the presidency (since 1972: George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, and Al Gore).

I'm referring to the salient point made by Michael Medved in this column.

While conservatives obsess over distinctions of right and wrong, and insist that inevitable consequences must flow from good and bad behavior (see last week’s column), liberals focus on differences of another sort entirely.

The rhetoric of today’s left shows that they see society divided between the privileged and the powerless, the favored and the unfortunate, victors and victims.

Liberals feel an irresistible instinct to take sides with the less fortunate.

While the right wants to reward beneficial choices and discourage destructive directions, the left seeks to eliminate or reduce the impact of the disadvantages that result from bad decisions. In place of the conservative emphasis on accountability, the left proffers a gospel of indiscriminate compassion.

This leads directly, and inevitably, to the liberal passion to sanctify victimhood.

Liberals like to talk about "compassion," but, as Medved points out, they make no distinction between people who are downtrodden through no fault of their own and those whose problems are directly caused by their own actions.

For example, many liberals display enormous understanding for the terrorists who want all Americans (regardless of political affiliation) dead. They blame American foreign policy for behavior of 19 terrorists who flew airplanes into skyscrapers (that is, if they aren't blaming the Administration for 9/11). Both Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan compare the terrorists with the Minutemen of the Revolutionary War. Yet surely sympathizing with people who saw off the heads of civilians, commit suicide by blowing themselves up in public areas, and commit other atrocities aren't worthy of any sympathy, no matter what twisted view of American foreign policy one has.

The truth is, that in pursuit of compassion for the less fortunate, liberals have ended up embracing victims and causes that are unworthy of compassion. The distortions of treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay is another example of this.

But, as Medved points out, this compassion does not include one group that is probably more deserving than any other.
The persistent preference for the powerless and purportedly oppressed applies only imperfectly to explaining leftist support for legalized abortion. The unborn, after all, plausibly qualify as the ultimate underdogs: innocent, fragile, utterly helpless. Nevertheless, they’ve never lived outside the womb and so failed to achieve the status of aggrieved victims – suffering from racism, sexism, homophobia, economic oppression. Moreover, the mother seeking the abortion represents a far more visible victim—which helps explain the desperate determination by pro-abortion forces to stop legislation in Georgia and elsewhere that would require abortion providers to offer ultra-sound images of the baby in utero before the woman makes the final decision to terminate her pregnancy. In other words, they don’t want anyone or anything to compete with the stressed, unhappily pregnant mother for pity and sympathy.

Compassion and charity are wonderful qualities, but not every person claiming victimhood or every group deserves that compassion. It would be better if liberals learned a little discernment.