Notes from Underground


Open letter to liberals:

I'm still mad at cha



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Like many recovering idealists, I find myself growing ever more disillusioned with humanity as I grow older. And, indeed, no one has a greater capacity for dyspeptic bitterness than a man who, deep down, expects better of people even as experience constantly reminds him that he ought to know better. I don't mean to overstate the extent of my despondent cynicism, for there are many cases far worse than my own, but I use myself as an example in order to relate the essence of the paradox: the man with the harshest, bleakest, most pessimistic view of the future is also usually the one who, perhaps to his own shame, cannot wholly extinguish hope from his heart.

As a young teenager, I embraced a naive and mostly illiterate Marxism. That was easily shrugged off in young adulthood, only to be replaced by a less rigid but scarcely more reflective liberalism by the start of my college years. But prolonged exposure to campus political correctness ("PC" is a tiresome expression now; it was all the rage in the early '90s) soon cured me of any sympathy with the Left. It wasn't just that the tenets of liberal thought struck me as untenable the more I soberly considered them; more compelling than that, much more, was my distaste at being constantly monitored by a bunch of tyrannical ninnies and told what to say, feel, and think if I wanted to escape being branded a racist, sexist, homophobic thought-criminal. I became outraged and sickened when my eyes were opened to the way that heretics from "proper" thought were commonly harassed, hounded, slandered, and vilified. Although there were self-professed liberals who frowned on political correctness as an aberration or a betrayal of the "true" liberal essence, I found myself increasingly unable to make any distinction between liberalism in its contemporary state and a thuggish, patently Stalinist spirit of persecution that was the typical modus operandi of liberals once they obtained power.

Today, following the pattern set in my past and continuing the trajectory of my life's journey, I have become an apostate, not only from contemporary liberalism, but from contemporary conservatism as well — specifically from the species of conservatism pursued by President George W. Bush and his GOP minions. (And just as I'm indifferent to the claims that political correctness isn't true liberalism, I'm not interested in the oft-advanced argument that Bush and his followers aren't "true" conservatives. Though I certainly find the anti-Bush paleocons more appealing, it's purely a matter of taste which side you consider to be more "true" to conservative principles.) In our day of the specious "war on terror" I sometimes find myself quite unwittingly siding with liberals in foreign-policy debates, and alienated from reflexively patriotic armchair warriors beating the drums for more carnage in the Middle East.

In the midst of these circumstances, one would think that an ex-liberal such as myself might soften a bit toward the ideology he divorced because of irreconcilable differences nearly two decades ago. But that could only happen if liberalism itself had fundamentally changed, and it hasn't. As at least two recent developments make clear, liberalism is the same censorious, spiteful, hateful thing it has long been. It is, above all else, an ideology of utter hypocrisy, which claims to want freedom, but under which free speech is really valued only as long as the people who speak voice the "correct" opinions, and "choice" is celebrated only as long as the choice considered proper by liberals remains mandatory.

The first issue that revives my active disdain of the liberal creed is the recent efforts of some Democrats in Congress to bring back the so-called Fairness Doctrine. The demise of that doctrine, which while in effect mandated that if one side of an issue is discussed on a radio station the opposing view must be heard as well, permitted the rise of the talk-radio industry; the push to have the doctrine reinstated is a transparent effort on the part of liberals to shut down Rush and Co. — that is, to shut up liberals' perceived enemies. I myself have grown quite weary of Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, and most of the crew who rule the radio dial these days, but I have no sympathy with those who want to win a debate by changing the law in order to put dissenting voices out of business. But such patent illiberality is all too typical of contemporary liberalism.

Another controversy that resounds with me personally, as a Catholic, revolves around the recent Motu proprio (decree) of Benedict XVI, stating that any group of Catholics in any diocese anywhere in the world who want to have Mass celebrated in the traditional Tridentine rite ought to be accommodated. Before the Motu proprio was promulgated, the Tridentine Mass could be celebrated only if the bishop of a diocese gave permission for a particular priest to do so; that was known as the "Indult" Mass, which was often taken as more of an "Insult" by traditionalists, who were weary of the frequent abuses and overall cheesiness of the Novus Ordo Mass, the norm in Catholic practice since Vatican II.

To hear some querulous Catholic liberals respond to Benedict's generous decree, you would think that an Inquisition was imminent. At the very least you'd think that the Tridentine rite was being imposed upon everyone, and the Novus Ordo was being ripped away by force, but such is hardly the case. The Novus Ordo Mass will still be the norm in Catholic churches everywhere, but those (such as yours truly) who greatly prefer the traditional Latin Mass will — or at least should — now have greater opportunity to worship in the style that suits them. Who could possibly have a problem with such an arrangement? Liberals, that's who. Because once again we see that liberalism — which in its Catholic form generally means loving the Church's stand for the poor and marginalized and against war but chafing at her stand against abortion and contraception — isn't terribly liberal. Liberals want their way to be the only way available, and when they find that their way is only one of many options in the marketplace of ideas, they almost reflexively take steps to ensure that other ways are proscribed.

So, liberals — if there are any reading such a site as this — in case you were wondering, I'm sorry, but even though I think you're correct about Iraq, and about Scooter Libby, and about a few other things, I'm not open to reconciliation. To paraphrase the immortal words of the all-too-mortal urban poet Tupac Shakur: I'm still mad at cha. And until you stop being such totalitarian stooges out to control everything and everybody, I always will be. Peace out.

July 16, 2007

© 2007 WTM Enterprises. All rights reserved.

Mr. Nowicki's personal blog is Dyspeptic Myopic, at www.andynowicki.blogspot.com.

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