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  • The Divisive Left

    Posted by Shannon Love on April 26th, 2010 (All posts by )

    Every leftist today seems to honestly believe that they seek an equitable society in which all people of all persuasions live together in peace. When asked, they will proudly point out all the rhetoric they spout about inclusion and harmony. They will say that proves they bring people together.

    In reality, the implicit assumptions behind leftists’ rhetoric foster suspicion, paranoia and outright hatred between Americans. Every time they open their mouths or touch a keyboard, leftists sow discord and hostility in American society and divide neighbor from neighbor.

    Leftists induce everyone to see themselves as personally continually under threat from their fellow citizens. They induce everyone to believe that everyone else in society will cheat them or otherwise treat them unfairly. They induce everyone to think of themselves as individuals and groups constantly under siege and attack by virtually everyone else in America.

    For an example of this one need look no further than the President’s own rhetoric. Every time he speaks about almost any issue, he pushes the implicit view that one group of Americans is cheating or attacking another group and that only people like himself can save them.

    Take for example this recent statement [h/t Instapundit]:

    “This year, the stakes are higher than ever,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks provided by Democratic officials. “It will be up to each of you to make sure that young people, African Americans, Latinos and women who powered our victory in 2008 stand together once again.

    Obama is saying that the listed groups depend on Obama to get a fair deal in America. The “stakes” that are higher is the protection of the state against the dishonest and threatening actions of other Americans.

    For women to support Obama because they are women, they must view non-women as a threat. They must mistrust men and believe they need Obama in charge of the violent power of the state so that he can protect them from the dangerous men.

    For African-Americans to support Obama because they are African-Americans, they must view non-African Americans as a threat. They must believe that they cannot trust non-African Americans to the point that they need Obama in charge of the violent power of the state so that he can protect them from the dangerous non-African Americans.

    For Latino-Americans to support Obama because they are Latino-Americans, they must view non-Latino Americans as a problem. They must believe that they cannot trust non-Latino Americans to the point that they need Obama in charge of the violent power of the state so that he can protect them from the dangerous non-Latino Americans.

    And on down the list. Every speech on domestic policy that the President gives paints one group of Americas as evil and tells everyone else they need the government, headed by Obama, to protect them from their evil neighbors.

    By shear process of elimination, the most dangerous Americans, the ones everyone else needs Obama’s government to protect them from, must be middle to upper-middle class white people who work in business and especially those who own businesses large and small…

    … which is the demographic at the heart of the Tea Party.

    The apparent sincere belief by many on the left that the wide spread Tea Party members are evil, violent people springs precisely from decades of indoctrination in which leftists are progressively trained to view their fellow Americans as evil, dangerous people from whom the benevolent state must protect them. They are especially trained to view white business people as evil. When they see a collection of white, small-to-medium-sized business-owners/self-employed, they automatically see a group of evil and dangerous people. They can’t help it. This is all they’ve been taught and all they say to each other.

    This is much worse than smearing people out of cynical manipulation. They really do believe that people in the Tea Party are the monsters.

    Bismarck said that war was the heart of the state. It’s more accurate to say that the suspicion, mistrust, fear, anger and hatred that drive entire peoples to war are the real heart of the state. All government action is grounded in violence, and to justify using government violence against others, the people must believe those others to be a threat. For the state to thrive, people must fear and hate others.

    Fostering hate and fear is what leftists have been doing for the last 50 years. But whereas the traditional war monger casts foreigners as a threat, leftists tell people it is their neighbors that are the threat. In the long run, that is much worse.

    Leftists haven’t yet driven themselves into such a delusional frenzy that they will resort to violence but that has historically been the end point of this kind of politics.

    Far from healing divisions and creating a more cohesive and inclusive society, Obama and his cohorts are infecting us with suspicion, paranoia and hatred of one another. How long can we survive as a people when the majority of Americas believe that all other Americans are out to get them?

    We need to start calling leftists out on this matter and make them and others aware of how hateful and divisive they are. We need to point out the implicit paranoia and hatred contained in almost every left wing speech. We need to remind them that it is they and not non-leftists who say that one group of Americans is a threat to other Americans.

    We need to remind leftists that childhood is over and that is it time for them to stop living in their fantasies, and to look at the real implications of what they say and the real consequences of the actions that spring from their rhetoric.

     

    34 Responses to “The Divisive Left”

    1. david foster Says:

      The Assistant Village Idiot observed that Democratic candidates tend to say, “I’ll fight for you,” whereas Republican candidates tend to say, “I’ll work for you.”

    2. Ginny Says:

      Well when it gets to the point that a white footballer is considered racist because he is, of course, a white footballer, then we have reached a level of idiocy I’m not sure we can return from (or, perhaps, the shark has been jumped so much in the last year or so that we can return from that strange world).

    3. Sgt. Mom Says:

      I’ve scored a small victory over casual denigration of the ‘other’ on Open Salon over the weekend – a writer who did a lovely essay on Norman Rockwell entirely ruined it for me by using the t-word, in the second paragraph. I commented that I could get no farther in reading it than that word – and over the weekend, his daughter apparently explained to him precisely how offensive he had been. He did a very contrite apology on the blog and by private message, first thing this AM. I actually am a little reassured as to the utility of calling out people who use that word. Most usually, it gets so ugly that one just wants to walk away, silently resolving to never have anything to do with that blogger again.

    4. tyouth Says:

      Excellent post SL.

    5. tehag Says:

      There is no white in the rainbow.

    6. Michael Kennedy Says:

      I was chatting with a secretary in the medical school several years ago. I had known her for years and she is a cheery competent person. We had never talked politics but on this particular day, the name of Dick Cheney came up. She said, with a serious tone, “He is the devil !” I looked at her to see if it was a joke but she was quite serious. It made me sad to think that this cheery woman whom I had known casually for ten years could be hiding that hate inside.

      I suppose I could have asked her why she believes that but I don’t think it is of any use to ask these people why they believe this stuff. It has a lot to do with religion when it gets to that stage of emotion. She seems to have a happy marriage and has kids. What in the world would cause such a person to react that way ?

    7. tehag Says:

      Obama’s one, great insight, inherited from his father’s dreams of governing Kenya, was that the USA can be governed by the same methods as an African Republic. First Chicago, then D.C. We have nothing to fear until he orders the machetes.

    8. Jonathan Says:

      It has a lot to do with religion when it gets to that stage of emotion.

      Is it emotion, or is it merely the repetition of talking points as a way to show group allegiance? Or is it something else?

      I think we’ve all met many people who are like this. I agree that there’s no point in engaging them in discussion. They usually haven’t responded well when I tried.

      OTOH, once in a while I meet a thoughtful leftist who enjoys principled debate, and it’s often a pleasure to argue with such people. But they are rare.

    9. Billy Hollis Says:

      “We need to start calling leftists out on this matter and make them and others aware of how hateful and divisive they are.”

      I don’t really see much point in that for true leftists. They simply deny that they are divisive, and then turn around accuse you of being the divisive one because you won’t go along with their grand plans.

      They can deny any aspect of reality required to maintain their faith in collectivism; this one is actually easier than many others.

    10. M. Report Says:

      The Divisive Left

      When the money goes away, and all the
      Protected Groups lose their subsidies,
      will they blame the Left or the Right ?

      a Circulation of Elites, indeed. :)

    11. Shannon Love Says:

      Billy Hollis,

      I think if you repeat the accusation often enough they will feel compelled to respond to it. More importantly, it will make bystanders and fence sitters think. To often, the leftists get to control how others perceive them. Calling them to account undermines their narrative.

    12. Anonymous Says:

      “Obama’s one, great insight, inherited from his father’s dreams of governing Kenya, was that the USA can be governed by the same methods as an African Republic. First Chicago, then D.C.”

      No, it can’t — I think that’s the entire lesson of the last 14 months or so. Americans won’t stand for it. It will end soon enough.

    13. arabella Says:

      The sad thing is, my liberal friends are generous and kind-hearted people and when I discuss a particular point with them, often they agree with me. But they believe what they read and hear and don’t read or listen to anything but the MSM. Maybe I’m naive but I don’t think their political motives are to control others.

    14. Ginny Says:

      Yes, they hate – and call others the “haters.” The whole thing would be pathetic if it didn’t engender the world you describe.

      The left has to “feel” intensely and “hate” intensely because if they pause and engage in thoughtful conversation they must face some difficult truths: the policies they believe in have destroyed the family -especially the poor family – in America; turned farming communities that were breadbaskets into places that need to import food; made people unhappy by making them dependent and weak instead of self-reliant and strong. Socially, economically and morally their policies hurt the very people they say (and think) they want to help. If they can feel intensely enough they won’t have to think.

      A free market in economics and an open one in ideas may occasionally seem (be) coarsening (free speech filled with expletives and porn, the tough if exhilerating rise and fall of businesses). Arguing with the left doesn’t always make us completely easy, either – but I think we face the price and are willing to pay it. I can remember the sinking feeling when I lost a big job or the machines were down and I didn’t know how we’d make it that month – but I also remember feeling exhilerated with the challenge. Self-reliance is a big deal – so is personal responsibility. The nation Obama envisions is a dependent one, a fearful one, a deadened one.

    15. Jonathan Says:

      Perhaps the essence of leftist politics is sentimentality, which could be defined as the willful ignorance of costs.

    16. Pervy Grin Says:

      The sad thing is, my liberal friends are generous and kind-hearted people
      Your liberal friends are better than mine. Most liberals I know are very generous with other people’s money, but certainly don’t want to pay higher taxes themselves. They claim to be for “the little guy” or “the poor” but will stiff a minimum-wage worker on a tip any chance they get. I do believe that most liberals claim to love humanity but actually hate people. They have complete contempt for the lesser beings they claim to want to help and whose votes they need to keep power, which is what it’s really all about.

    17. stan Says:

      Imagine an election campaign without Democrats slandering. Hard to imagine. In fact, since I’m only in my fifties, I’m not old enough to remember a time when slander was not fundamental to the Democrats’ campaign. Other than pointing a finger at the GOP and saying “racist, sexist, homophobic, hate-filled, mean-spirited, exploiters of workers and the environment”, there’s not much left.

    18. Kerry Says:

      The single charge the left cannot make: “Those people want to kill babies in the womb, we don’t!” Is this not the main division?

    19. Jim Jinkins Says:

      Quote
      I don’t really see much point in that for true leftists. They simply deny that they are divisive, and then turn around accuse you of being the divisive one because you won’t go along with their grand plans.

      Depending on where and when a leftist makes hateful, divisive remarks, I can be useful to call them out. This is not not to communicate with the leftist. It is to influence bystanders.

    20. Shannon Love Says:

      Kerry,

      The single charge the left cannot make: “Those people want to kill babies in the womb, we don’t!” Is this not the main division?

      Only for people who are single issue voters on abortion. I’m moderately “pro-choice” but I’m not a leftist. Neither are all people who lean left on many issues pro-choice. The Catholic Church for example, has significantly left-of-center economic views but is strongly pro-life.

    21. Ra8secs Says:

      Great article!

      Since liberals can’t make coherent or logical arguments and defenses for their stealing from and controlling of others, they resort to the divisiveness you describe. Their derisive arguments are mostly projections of their own behavior. It’s a cult of victimology, with an elite priesthood enjoying luxury and maintaining not a flock of dependent sheep, but packs of snarling competing dogs hungry for the scraps and crumbs they dispense.

      Eventually, if we let the slide continue, they’ll run out of farmers and producers. Without enough makers who may consider this this “great sucking sound” a sort of buying off of the mentally and morally incompetent, the takers will have little left to take. Then the violent scrambling will begin.

    22. historian Says:

      The left doesn’t have a monopoly on being divisive; and in some ways all political movements that aim to be more than sectarian or single-issue pressure groups will need to employ some kind of “us vs. them” thinking to maintain their coherence (even a big tent still closes off people on the outside). But you are certainly correct to point out the degree to which the left has gotten divisive rhetoric down to a science while indulging in an almost astonishing lack of self-awareness about it.

      There are really two issues: the extent to which the left is unwilling or unable to think of people as individuals rather than as group-members, and the basically childlike or primitive quality of its sense of causation. If people are group-members rather than individuals, then they’re forced to see other groups as threats to their interests or at least to their group-identities, rather than as potential “recruits” to their cause. And if you can only adopt “magical” thinking about causation–i.e., some mysterious and malign outside entity–then you’re always going to be looking for scapegoats rather than patiently studying the structural or institutional incentives for problematic outcomes. Because conservatives and market liberals have the thankless (but adult) task of doing the latter, we’re at a disadvantage when arguing with emotional leftists. Which is why so many of us have sadly given up!

    23. Michael Kennedy Says:

      OTOH, once in a while I meet a thoughtful leftist who enjoys principled debate, and it’s often a pleasure to argue with such people. But they are rare.

      There is a blog, Washington Monthly, that was run for a while by a blogger named Kevin Drum. Kevin is a thoughtful leftist and he used to be open to debate. He is also honest. Back before the CBS fiasco with Bush’s TANG record, Kevin did some research on rumors he had picked up about Bush having been AWOL. He concluded that there was nothing there. A few months later CBS came out with their disastrous “expose.”

      Kevin moved on a year or two ago to Mother Jones and the blog at Washington Monthly was taken over by two pretty hard left bloggers. One then left and it is now run by Steve Benen. When Kevin was still there, toward the end of his time, I noted that my comments started to be deleted, often after there were several replies, often nasty but that was kind of the pattern. I complained to Kevin and he replied that he no longer had control of that.

      A few months ago, during the health care debate, I was banned. Several of the other commenters had gone to my blog where I have a lengthy discussion of the French health care system, which I think could be a model for reform here. They could not understand why, if I supported the French system, I was opposed to Obamacare. I tried to explain and about then I was banned. The exchange was pretty objective, at least on my side, but these people do not understand economics or even decision theory. They could not understand a system that requires the patient to pay first, allows the doctor to charge what he/she chooses as long as he/she posts the charges in the office, and then reimburses the patient at a fixed rate. They did not get why that differs from first dollar coverage with rationing. Some of them became quite angry about why I could support one system that has universal coverage and not another that promised the same. The details were of no interest.

      In the middle of that discussion, I was banned.

      I drew two conclusions from that experience. You cannot debate with the left because most of them do not understand how things work. How many leftist auto mechanics do you think there are ? They don’t understand economics but they also don’t understand why people do the things they do. The response to those doing the “wrong” thing is often force.

      Second, those in control, even of a blog, do not want disagreement among the ranks.

    24. raw Says:

      There is as much hate in the article as it preaches against. The constant use of labels pits “us” against “them” by insisting that everyone fits into a tidy little package where everything’s either black or white. There’s a lot of grey area (a.k.a. middle-ground) that most people subscribe to that gets ignored because of some pre-conceived notion. The author is spiraling towards another dark ages & needs to take the blinders off to see reality.

    25. Micha Elyi Says:

      Someone who fears the free market is someone who takes comfort in a slave market.

    26. Shannon Love Says:

      Raw,

      The constant use of labels pits “us” against “them” by insisting that everyone fits into a tidy little package where everything’s either black or white.

      Yes, well I apparently made the mistake of assuming that all my readers would recognize that some generalization have to made in 1,000 word blog post. Apparently, in your case, I was wrong and you need to have every minute nuance spelled out for you. Someday I will right a book crammed full of qualifications and you can read it and be happy.

      There’s a lot of grey area (a.k.a. middle-ground) that most people subscribe to that gets ignored because of some pre-conceived notion

      Such as the leftists’ pre-convieved notion that anyone who disagrees with them is (1) stupid (2) evil or (3) both. Leftists are very casuall about accusing non-leftists of the incredibly evil motivation. For example, it is an article of faith among the 20% most left that the previous President of the United States hijacked the entire national security apparatus of the country and murdered hundreds of thousands of people just to make a few bucks for his cronies. You don’t get much more evil than that.

      There is as much hate in the article as it preaches against… The author is spiraling towards another dark ages & needs to take the blinders off to see reality.

      This is great textbook example of what I am talking about. I am person who is filled with hate and I am “spiraling towards another dark ages” merely because I pointed out how hate filled leftists are. I refused to participate in leftists veneration of themselves so I am the one who is hate filled.

      Let me guess. You don’t think you’re comments are hateful at all, do you? You think it’s perfectly objectively obvious that I am a stupid, evil person who should be grateful that someone like you with a superior moral and intellectual insight deigns to take his time to set me on the proper path.

    27. Dwight Says:

      If the implication here is that the righties are somehow less divisive than the lefties, then I can’t agree. Since before Obama actually did anything, righties were cutting him and his followers to pieces, or trying to. I’d love to think that there are some good guys, open and accepting, around and about, but you’ll find damned few on either the left or the right. Each side drags out the same predictable stuff about how the other side is full of villains and scoundrels, and they are both about equally right.

    28. Shannon Love Says:

      Dwight,

      The right and left might be equally snippy when it comes to attacking politicians but I was talking about the way in which the left fosters divisions within the people.

      The left is advancing a model of American in which we are all divided into competing groups who are continuously cheating and threatening all the other groups. The left tells you that you need to government to protect you from your neighbors.

      The right, by contrast says that you can trust the vast majority of other Americans to treat you fairly and that you don’t need the government to protect you from your neighbors.

      A good example of this is gun control. The left tells you that you can’t trust other citizens with guns and that if they have guns, they will attack you with the guns or otherwise put you endanger. The left says that the state needs to take all the guns away from your neighbors and that you should wholly rely on the government for protection. The right by contrast says that you can trust the vast majority of your neighbors will wisely own and use lethal weapons and that you are safer if your trustworthy neighbors have guns because your neighbors will help protect you.

      This pattern repeats itself across virtually every major policy debate. The left says you have to mistrust and fear other Americans and therefore need to the protection of the state while the right says you can trust other Americans and don’t need protection of the state. Most leftwing rhetoric focuses on protecting the individual from the actions of other individuals. Most rightwing political rhetoric focuses on protecting the individual from the power of the state.

      These are radically different visions of relationships between people in America.

      Contrary to their own mythology, it is the left that is divisive and who is sowing bigotry instead of the right. The left desperately needs people to feel isolated and threatened in order to win elections.

    29. Bruce Raymond Wright Says:

      According to many of the Liberals or progressives that I know, we can all enjoy peace and harmony,just as soon as I make the following changes;1) Melt down all of my guns, swords and knives.
      2) Give up my SUV and cars. 3)Stop all of my capitalistic endeavors.
      4) Stop eating meat. 5)Set my dog free. 6)Welcome all “undocumented workers” into my country and provide them with welfare and health care. 7)Give up all belief in preserving the constitution and the rule of law. 8)Agree with and embrace their Marxist policies.
      9) Convert to the only acceptable religion;Islam. 10) Support all forms of abortion under any scenario. 11) Believe with all my heart that Obama is a brilliant,accomplished man who will bring peace and equality to all the people of the world.
      Until such time as I make these changes,they will consider me to be a misguided Neanderthal who because of my selfish and mean spirited ways is a racist, bigot and intellectually challenged fellow. Of course,they will still buy my books, attend my retreats and symposiums. It seems that my knowledge of business,how to grow then to exit them in the wisest and most tax effective ways is irresistible to anyone wanting to pocket every dime they can. Such desire transcends political boundaries,religion and all the rest of my perceived failings.By Bruce Raymond Wright

    30. Ryan Says:

      For “There is no white in teh rainbow”. . .

      There is no black there either, far as I can see.

    31. Brett_McS Says:

      Great post, as always, from SL. How much of the left’s divisiveness arises because they don’t understand the principles of trade; because they think one man’s gain must always equal another’s loss? If that were the case divisiveness in favour of certain approved groups would make a certain amount of sense.

    32. Shannon Love Says:

      Brett_McS,

      How much of the left’s divisiveness arises because they don’t understand the principles of trade; because they think one man’s gain must always equal another’s loss

      That is quite definitely a big part of it. Leftist do have a zero sum view of life. That is why they believe that rich people are inherently evil. A rich person must have reduced the standard of living of a lot of people to make their money.

      Ever since the 1930s the American left has drifted into the crypto-fascist vision of the world as a social darwinistic struggle of group against group. It’s very common now for those on the far-left to advance the idea that there is no objective reality and that all information simply represents the stories that one group creates to justify it benefiting at the expense of others. This dovetails with a zero sum view of the world.

      I think the most powerful reason why left think this way is that they are ego identified with the state. Like people in Europe in 30’s they see the state as the hub around which everything else in life, from the personal to public, from birth to death evolves. The life blood of the of the state is fear. To feed the state, they must create fear.

    33. Brett_McS Says:

      Yes, it wouldn’t be far from wrong to say that all the real human evil in the world comes from ‘ego identification’ with an idea that, as a purely practical matter, doesn’t work.

      It’s the refusal to let go that does the damage: The whole world must be ‘reformed’ to prove that A is not A.

    34. Money Boy Says:

      Arguing with a liberal is like peeling an onion or talking with a drunk in a bar.

      Peel an onion and at the core you’ll find nothing.

      Talk with a drunk in a bar and, as the conversation gets deeper and he/she gets in deeper, they’ll raise their voice. The more the conversation continues, the more frustrated they become as their lack of depth and intelligence are exposed. Finally they’ll raise a hand to you.

      The only hope that this “middle age man” has is that perhaps America has finally elected a President who is so far removed from the “true north” of what the majority of the country wants that the bounce back will be profound, overwhelming, and long-lasting.