My title is intentionally hyperbolic and provocative, but not without justification given the outrageously vile (e.g., Martin Bashir) and breathtakingly mindless (e.g., Melissa Harris Perry) commentary encountered at liberal media outlets such as MSNBC. Here is a measured formulation of my question: To what extent does liberal ideology militate against sanity and moral decency in those who imbibe it, people who otherwise are basically sane and decent?
A philosophy doctoral student at an Ivy League institution e-mails,
In a recent post, you wrote:
Can one be both a liberal and a decent and sane human being? Or is scumbaggery as it were inscribed into the very marrow of the contemporary liberal? Or perhaps it is more like this: once liberalism infects a person's mind, the decency that was there is flushed out.
Actually, I have struggled with relatives of these questions for some time, and honestly don't know what to think. Many of the people I rub shoulders with are liberal to the bone. But I know well enough to say they're genuinely nice people--and smart people (some, for instance, are brilliant philosophers). At the same time, I find most of the liberal claptrap so intellectually inane and morally repugnant that I have a genuinely hard time seeing how anyone--much less these seemingly smart and decent people--can believe it. I don't know how to reconcile the two observations. Surely you know at least one intelligent, morally decent liberal. How do you fit their existence into your ontology? Or do we have an argument from queerness motivating us to become liberal error theorists? Would such a creature--assuming they can exist--present a peer-disagreement scenario, or cause you to lower your credence in your own beliefs?
Why Do Conservatives Oppose ObamaCare?
Robert Paul Wolff has an answer for us. Ready? The bolding is Wolff's own and is twice-repeated:
Is Professor Wolff serious? I'm afraid he is. But given that the man is neither stupid nor the usual sort of left-wing moral scumbag, how could he be serious? What explains a view so plainly delusional? How account for an emotion-driven mere dismissal of the conservative position the arguments for which he will not examine? How is it that a professional philosopher, indeed a very good one, can engage in such puerile ad hominem psychologizing? Wolff himself provides an answer in a later post:
My knowledge of the beliefs and sentiments of those on the right is based entirely on things I have read or have seen on television. I have never had a conversation with a committed right-wing opponent of the Affordable Care Act, nor have I even, to the best of my knowledge, met one. You would be quite correct in inferring that I live in a left-wing bubble [called Chapel Hill -- before that, I lived in a left-wing bubble called Amherst, MA, and before that I lived in the right wing bubbles called Morningside Heights, Hyde Park, and Cambridge.] If this strikes you as disqualifying me from having an opinion, you are free to ignore the rest of this post.
Need I say more?