Commentators on our country explain our blue-red division in many ways -- liberal-conservative; secular-religious; North-South; coasts-heartland; singles-married with children.
I propose one more explanation: the easily offended-the not so easily offended.
With the acknowledgment that there are many individual exceptions, a major defining characteristic of modern-day liberalism is the ease with which liberals take offense personally and/or on behalf of others.
Liberals regularly portray as offended women, African Americans, Jews, American Indians, gays and every other group liberals declare a minority, i.e., any group that votes Democrat -- no group that votes Republican, such as Mormons, Cuban Americans and Vietnamese Americans, is considered a "minority." All other groups are constantly warned that almost anything they say that is not patronizing of those groups is offensive (and therefore subject to litigation).
Having given thousands of lectures across the country and on all seven continents (yes, Antarctica, too) over the past 30 years, I can vouch for the personal-offense element. I am continually astounded at how often members of the audience (usually liberal women) will say they are offended by something I said, when what they really mean is that they don't agree with me.
It is most unlikely that conservative men or women speak that way -- saying, "I am offended" -- when they hear liberal speakers.
For one thing, conservatives are so used to being labeled as stupid, bigoted, ignorant, racist, homophobic, sexist, insensitive and intolerant that it is almost impossible to offend them. Moreover, the culture does not allow them to feel offended, since they are not an officially designated minority.
For another, liberal positions are far more emotion-based than reason-based.
To cite but one of many examples, take the widely held liberal slogan "War is not the answer." It is pure irrationality. War has ended more evil than anything the left has ever thought of. In the last 60 years alone, it ended Nazism and the Holocaust; it saved half of Korea from genocide; it kept Israel from national extinction and a second Holocaust; it saved Finland from becoming a Stalinist totalitarian state; and according to most of the people who put "War is not the answer" stickers on their bumpers, it saved Bosnian Muslims from ethnic cleansing.
The list of irrational, feelings-based liberal positions is almost as long as the list of contemporary liberal positions. The relevant point here is that people who take positions based on feelings will of necessity take disagreement more personally and feel offended more often than others.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”
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