Wednesday, November 10, 2004

From the Mail: Is the Left Intolerant?

Blar writes:

Bill,
A recent post of yours seems to endorse a comparison of the intolerance and closed-mindedness of "the left" with that of Stalin and the Nazis. Such rhetoric strikes me as overblown and not conducive to constructive dialogue. Is this the kind of message that you want to be spreading on your blog?

BV: Thanks for the note, Blar. I'm sure you noticed that the post in question reproduces an e-mail from John M. Sanchez. It goes without saying that my posting of e-mail does not constitute an endorsement of it in whole or in part. In this case, however, I am in broad agreement with Sanchez despite his perhaps overzealous comparisons with Hitler and Stalin. (You wouldn't want me to censor him, would you?)

The fact of the matter is that the Left is intolerant of its opponents, and especially its religious opponents. Leftists routinely characterize their opponents as fascists, racists, sexists, bigots, as theocrats, warmongers, homophobes, as anti-intellectual, stupid, and so on, despite the fact that very few leftists could provide reasonable definitions of these terms. But doesn't the Right do similar things? Sometimes, but it is nowhere near as vicious.

I used to be a Democrat, a despiser of Reagan, and generally a lot more liberal than I am now. But then I accepted a job where they needed someone to teach an introductory course in political philosophy. So I set metaphysics aside for a while and immersed myself in political philosophy. I started to think hard about social and political questions. To make a long story short, I came to the conclusion that the Right is right.

If I had my druthers, I'd just do metaphysics and philosophy of religion, but there is that political reality out there and it can really put the hurt on you if you are not careful. I value my philosopher's life and want to keep it going; keeping the Left in check is a necessary condition thereof.