12 November 2004

Red state thinking

For readers' convenience, I've created an index of the Kevin letters so you can see the full progress of the dialogue

Mark A.R. Kleiman is about a millimeter away from being the next contribution to my blogroll's bloat. He has a very insightful post about why the left rubs a lot of Americans the wrong way. It includes this gem ...

Not treating people badly because of their race, for example, is a moral principle; everyone knows that. And liberals insisted, pretty successfully, on imposing it on the rest of the population. The fact that the imposition was so successful that the principle of racial tolerance has now diffused itself widely didn't make it any less of an imposition, and many white Southerners who no longer hate black people still hate liberals for messing with their way of life, or learned to hate liberals from their unreconstructed parents and older friends.

... which explains the very disturbing maps which show that Bush won the states that had slavery 150 years ago. (For extra credit, see what Digby has to say on that subject.)

Kleiman goes on to say some very insightful stuff about gun control that every lefty should read. Check it out.

Then, for extra credit, go see Brad DeLong waxing snarky about the intellectual implications of Kleiman's prescription.


Kevin said...

I see the logic in this post and I think that on the face that it makes perfect sense, except the fallacious comparison of the "red" states to the "slave" states, which is another issue.

I think that many people would agree that although John Kerry's positions were logical, the path was the problem. I believe that people need to take responsibility for their actions, government programs simply do not work. If I spill coffee on myself or am fat, whose fault is that. It is my own. Not anyone elses.

I think that by taking a select issue of say evolution and painting a broad stroke across a section of the country, you are doing yourself an intellectual disservice. Evolution has advocates and detractors in every state in the union. I think that you will find that this was not a issue in the election. I think that you would be better served to explore the real issues and why 51% of Americans did not agree with the candidate.

Take economics, Senator Kerry's position was to tax the rich. Sounds reasonable to us poor people; but as we look into what rich entails and the problems, it doesn't seem to reasonable. If a "rich" person makes $200,000 anually, then I might be close to that. I'm not going to vote for that.

I think that it is the pinnacle of arrogance to claim moral superiority in the area of slavery. The north used people in their factories to produced goods. Those people were practically owned by the factory owners. They could not leave their jobs, they were in debt. As my Economics professor used to say, "A slave is a slave, is a slave." And that includes a slave to the state, who finds only hope in a badly run government program. What is more moral to actually call your slaves slaves or to give them the false hope that they are free?

The best motivation comes from within not from outside.


TheWayOfTheGun said...

I have to confess to committing a slashdotism here by shooting from the hip. I'm responding directly to your post before having read the piece you are quoting.

Having said that, Kleiman succumbs to the same fallacy of those who oppose gay rights. The other side always talks about gays wanting special rights. You and I know the answer to that by heart: gay people don't want *special* rights, they just want to have the same rights as everybody else.

The snippet you quoted attempts the same sort of flim-flam on segregation. Liberals didn't impose equality on the segregationists-- we stopped them from imposing segregation on black people. This isn't just semantics. Racists are allowed to hate whomever they please, but they are not allowed to codify that hatred into the law.

Now that I think about it, this may go to the heart of a very big schism. Conservatives are fond of talking about gay marriage somehow eroding their own marriages. How does a relationship between two strangers have any impact on my life as a straight man? Gay people can do whatever they want and it has no effect whatsoever on my bedroom unless I choose to pay $29.95/month to watch them. The choice is mine, and I could just as easily choose to look the other way.

We keep hearing that many on the right feel that we on the left at war with Christianity. Conservative Christians are free to believe and practice in whatever manner they choose, we just don't want it imposed on the rest of us.

As hyperbolic as it sounds, imposition of one's religious beliefs on others is fundamentally unamerican. This nation was founded by people fleeing religious oppression. Those people worked hard to ensure that they would have religious freedom in their new country. To engage in religious oppression now is to betray the very values which make us great.

Now where is my credit card?


Jonathan Korman said...


It's good to see you again; forgive me dropping out of our dialogue for a bit, but I've been preoccupied enough that I've not been able to give your posts the careful thought they demand. I'd like to follow up on your comment to this post in an original post in the next few days.


I'm sure that you're not surprised that I agree with what you say --- and as you guessed, a look at the context of Kleiman's post would clarify the distinction you missed. Kleiman was talking not in terms of rights-based political claims but about the perception that liberals are eager to impose their moral values on others through legislation. Racial equality is one such moral value. That it is correct is not the point; that liberals are enthusiastic about imposing it though legislation is the point.

Do take a look at his whole post. His comments about the liberal preoccupatiom with gun control reflecting a cultural value, rather than a moral value or effective policy, I think will strike a chord for you.

Jonathan Korman said...

Kevin, I've answered your comments in a blog post.

Anonymous said...

Check this out, Jonathan, if you have not already.

November 3, 2004

By Michael Lerner (veteran cultural analyst)
Tikkun Magazine

I found it very enlightening.