Calling the kettle 'black'

Posted: Apr 23, 2003 12:00 AM

 We've heard a lot of bellyaching from liberals in the past few months about the "unfair" questioning of their patriotism. Aside from the merits of the charge, it occurs to me that liberals are finally getting a taste of their own medicine.

 Don't get me wrong. I'm not childishly invoking "turnabout is fair play" or "what is good for the goose is good for the gander." But the Left's hypocrisy is quite pronounced here.

 For as long as I can remember, I've witnessed the Left's assertions of moral superiority. They've forever labeled conservatives as reactionaries and themselves as progressives; they've smugly contrasted their compassion with our heartlessness, their egalitarianism with our racism. Their attacks have been categorical and based on our beliefs more than our actions, saying, in effect, that conservatives, by virtue of their conservatism , are morally inferior creatures.

 In those cases where conservatives have arguably impugned the patriotism of certain liberals -- such as the Hollywood types -- they have done so on a case-specific basis. They haven't impugned liberals across the board just because large pockets of liberals have uttered indefensibly shrill and often pathetically conspiratorial criticisms of America's motives and policies during wartime.

 For purposes of discussion, though, let's concede that conservatives have categorically attacked liberals' patriotism. So what's the big deal? Well, I suppose they would say that to dispute one's patriotism is to assail one's character. How terribly unfair to doubt one's patriotism because he has different views on how America, which he claims to love as much as you do, ought to conduct itself.

 But isn't this precisely what liberals have always done: impugned conservatives' decency as human beings merely because of their beliefs? And they are still at it today, which is why I find it remarkable they've shown such thin skin over alleged attacks on their patriotism.

 Just think how often liberals have implied conservatives are racists because they favor tax cuts and oppose the welfare state and affirmative action. Remember the Democratic ads saying that every vote for a Republican is a vote for another black church to burn? How about the charge that Republicans wanted to starve school children?

 Would you prefer more recent examples? See the New York Times' April 19 editorial, "The War at Home," where the editors say:

  • Republican ideologues see "massive tax cuts" as "both a reward to the well-heeled, and a key to starving the government of money that might be spent on programs like health care or housing." (Translation: Republicans love the rich so much they favor tax cuts to rob money from the government -- to liberals, it's the government's money -- and they hate the poor so much they want to reduce the size of government just to harm them.)

  • "Conservatives once viewed deficits as the height of bad fiscal policy. Now they embrace them. There is no danger that a government swimming in red ink will come up with new programs to protect the environment, to extend health care for the poor or provide affordable housing to the homeless." (Translation: Conservatives, though instinctively inclined against deficit spending, now support it because by showing the government is over budget they'll have an excuse not to transfer wealth to the poor, for whom they have contempt.)

  • "No matter how much the president says he wants to improve education," the deficit is "an all-purpose excuse to avoid helping public school districts overcome crippling cuts imposed by local governments that are teetering on insolvency." (Translation: Bush is a heartless deceiver. He doesn't care about education.)

  • "Another part of the president's domestic battle plan" is "turning the federal courts into places unfriendly to environmentalists, civil rights advocates, corporate whistle-blowers and anyone else who attempts to do battle against the interests of big business." (Translation: President Bush and Republicans love big corporations, presumably even those who are the Democrats' major contributors, and oppose clean air and water, civil rights and the heroic underdogs who challenge corporate corruption.)

 In every case, the implication is that Republicans and conservatives, by virtue of their conservatism , are not just wrong-headed on policy, but mean-spirited and evil people. So next time liberals cry foul over supposed attacks on their patriotism, perhaps we should remind them of their endless assaults on the decency of conservatives across the board simply because of what they believe.