24 October 2006

When did feelings become normative?

I have been sitting on this one for over a week, because I have not had the time, and it is so good.

From Peggy Noonan, and if your doubt her conclusions, read the whole peice here.

It is not only about rage and resentment, and how some have come to see them as virtues, as an emblem of rightness. I feel so much, therefore my views are correct and must prevail. It is about something so obvious it is almost embarrassing to state. Free speech means hearing things you like and agree with, and it means allowing others to speak whose views you do not like or agree with. This--listening to the other person with respect and forbearance, and with an acceptance of human diversity--is the price we pay for living in a great democracy. And it is a really low price for such a great thing.

We all know this, at least in the abstract. Why are so many forgetting it in the particular?

Let us be more pointed. Students, stars, media movers, academics: They are always saying they want debate, but they don't. They want their vision imposed. They want to win. And if the win doesn't come quickly, they'll rush the stage, curse you out, attempt to intimidate.

And they don't always recognize themselves to be bullying. So full of their righteousness are they that they have lost the ability to judge themselves and their manner.

And all this continues to come more from the left than the right in America.

Which is, at least in terms of timing, strange. The left in America--Democrats, liberals, Bush haters, skeptics of many sorts--seems to be poised for a significant electoral victory. Do they understand that if it comes it will be not because of Columbia, Streisand, O'Donnell, et al., but in spite of them?

What is most missing from the left in America is an element of grace--of civic grace, democratic grace, the kind that assumes disagreements are part of the fabric, but we can make the fabric hold together. The Democratic Party hasn't had enough of this kind of thing since Bobby Kennedy died. What also seems missing is the courage to ask a question. Conservatives these days are asking themselves very many questions, but I wonder if the left could tolerate asking itself even a few. Such as: Why are we producing so many adherents who defy the old liberal virtues of free and open inquiry, free and open speech? Why are we producing so many bullies?


'Nuff said.

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