20 May 2015

Why Liberals Treat Islam as a Sacred Cow

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Robert Tracinski, in The Federalist, points to the changes in the course of the last century in the ideology of Progressivism to explain why lefties refuse to recognize the aggression and intolerance inherent in Islam.

The left seeks to gain moral authority, not from what they are for, but from what they are against. If you look at the history of the left, you find that they have frequently changed their favorite causes and their vision of the ideal society, often in ways that are wildly contradictory. But the one thing that remains constant is what they oppose.

The left used to present themselves as hyper-industrial and super-technological. In H.G. Wells’s The Shape of Things to Come, the ideal future society was going to be ruled by a technological elite of airplane pilots, while the Soviets projected a grandiose vision of industrial giantism, with huge hydroelectric dams, steel mills, railroads, and chunky Bakelite telephones. Then the left flipped, and now they’re anti-industrial and their central crusades are to shut down power plants and to eat locally grown organic kale. You can frequently catch them making this flip in mid-conversation, as with an acquaintance I was talking to recently who expressed his concern for the plight of the poor under capitalism—and then a few minutes later, after I argued that hundreds of millions of people across the world have been lifted out of poverty by capitalism, he told me that Western affluence is overrated and destroys the environment. Everyone on the right has, at some point, had a conversation exactly like this, and it is maddening.

Or: if you go back and look at early 20th-century Progressivism, you will find it shot through with racism of the pseudo-scientific sort—Progressive icon Woodrow Wilson introduced segregation in the federal government—along with schemes for eugenics and a generally uncomplimentary view of homosexuals. Yet today’s Progressives claim the opposite position on these issues as one of their central virtues. Or: the left will champion insults to Christianity as so essential to free speech that they must be funded by the government—then regard insults to Islam as so inflammatory that they must be banned as “fighting words.”

So everything changes, but one thing stays the same. Capitalism is bad, the West is bad, America is vicious and corrupt and needs to be fundamentally transformed. Transformed into what? That’s always vague and subject to change without notice, and ultimately it doesn’t matter.

The left is fundamentally reactionary. It is a reaction against capitalism and against America. The left are defined by what they are against, or more accurately who they hate. So they are drawn to sympathy toward Islam because it is not-us: non-Western, non-American, neither Christian nor a product of the Enlightenment. And I guess that’s what the two ideologies have in common: they are both reactions against the supposed evils of the West. Which explains why leftists tend to find themselves uncomfortable and look for excuses to retreat when they are called upon to defend the West against this rival group of reactionaries.

Read the whole thing.


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