Harry Reid and the end of liberal thought

Dennis Prager
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Posted: May 23, 2006 12:07 AM
The highest-ranking Democrat in America, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, described the Senate bill making English the national language of the American people as "racist." And the New York Times editorial page labeled the bill "xenophobic."

Welcome to the thoughtless world of contemporary liberalism. Beginning in the 1960s, liberalism, once the home of many deep thinkers, began to substitute feeling for thought and descended into superficiality.

One-word put-downs of opponents' ideas and motives were substituted for thoughtful rebuttal. Though liberals regard themselves as intellectual -- their views, after all, are those of nearly all university professors -- liberal thought has almost died. Instead of feeling the need to thoughtfully consider an idea, most liberal minds today work on automatic. One-word reactions to most issues are the liberal norm.

This is easy to demonstrate.

Here is a list of terms liberals apply to virtually every idea or action with which they differ:

Racist
Sexist
Homophobic
Islamophobic
Imperialist
Bigoted
Intolerant

And here is the list of one-word descriptions of what liberals are for:

Peace
Fairness
Tolerance
The poor
The disenfranchised
The environment

These two lists serve contemporary liberals in at least three ways.

First, they attack the motives of non-liberals and thereby morally dismiss the non-liberal person.

Second, these words make it easy to be a liberal -- essentially all one needs to do is to memorize this brief list and apply the right term to any idea or policy. That is one reason young people are more likely to be liberal -- they have not had the time or inclination to think issues through, but they know they oppose racism, imperialism and bigotry, and that they are for peace, tolerance and the environment.

Third, they make the liberal feel good about himself -- by opposing conservative ideas and policies, he is automatically opposing racism, bigotry, imperialism, etc.

Examples could fill a book.

Harry Reid, as noted above, supplied a classic one. Instead of grappling with the enormously significant question of how to maintain American identity and values with tens of millions of non-Americans coming into America, the Democratic leader and others on the Left simply label attempts to keep English as a unifying language as "racist."

Another classic example of liberal non-thought was the reaction to former Harvard University President Lawrence Summers' mere question about whether the female and male brains were wired differently. Again, instead of grappling with the issue, Harvard and other liberals merely dismissed Summers as "sexist."

A third example is the use of the term "racist" to end debate about race-based affirmative action or even to describe a Capitol police officer who stops a black congresswoman who has no ID badge.

"Phobic" is the current one-word favorite among liberal dismissals of ideological opponents. It combines instant moral dismissal with instant psychological analysis. If you do not support society redefining marriage to include members of the same sex you are "homophobic" -- and further thought is unnecessary. If you articulate a concern about the moral state of Islam today, you are "Islamophobic" -- and again further thought is unnecessary. And if you seek to retain English as America's unifying language, you are not only racist, you are, as the New York Times editorial describes you, "xenophobic" and "Latinophobic," the latest phobia uncovered by the Left.

There is a steep price paid for the liberal one-wording of complex ideas -- the decline of liberal thought. But with more and more Americans graduating college and therefore taught the liberal list of one-word reactions instead of critical thinking, many liberals do not see any pressing need to think through issues. They therefore do not believe they have paid any price at all.

But American society is paying a steep price. Every car that has a bumper sticker declaring "War is not the answer" powerfully testifies to the intellectual decline of the well educated and to the devolution of "liberal thought" into an oxymoron.