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The Blindness of the Liberals-- With a Case in Point (Tom Friedman)

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A larger view of the crisis in America

This Bushite regime is not the problem. It's only the symptom --albeit a most dangerous and urgent symptom-- of a much larger moral crisis in America. Our society has polarized around morality, leaving each side of the divide with its own moral blind spot and, through those blind spots, evil has been able to advance in the whole cultural system.

The conservatives have lost the ability to see the difference between good and evil-- and as a result they've given power to evil forces that have fooled them with a false righteousness. The liberals, in recent decades, have become blind to how real and important that difference between good and evil is- and as a result they have. first, countenanced the spilling into American culture of a corrosive moral anarchy and, second, have stood by --with the innocence of fools--while evil forces have risen to power on the right.

Some groundwork for understanding evil

On these pages, I've lately ventured a couple of pieces of this larger picture in which two blind spots --different, but also two sides of the same coin-- have opened the door to the rise of dark and destructive forces. Recently, I made the observation that this Bushite regime shares a pattern with other evil rulers --that they seem to destroy what they say they love--and I've promised to come back to this subject to offer an explanation of the meaning of that striking pattern.

This piece can be found here at

And a few days before that, I wrote about the need for liberals to be able to deal with opponents not only with the tools of bridge-building but also with those of battle-waging.

That piece appears here at

Before I return with my solution to that puzzle of the rulers who destroy what they say they love, I'd like to lay a little additional groundwork.

And one place to start is to look at bit more at the blind spot of the liberals. The reason, after all, that the liberals have tended to think that it's always right to deal with oppoonents by building bridges is that they believe it is enlightened always to see in one's opponent someone to whose goodwill one can successfully appeal. In other words, their way of dealing with opponents in an unvaryingly "nice" way is a function of a basic naivete about the realities of evil in the human realm. Not every opponent can be reached by an appeal to his "good will," as Gandhi himself eventually noted with regret (in the case of Hitler).

To understand why evil behaves as it does, it is necessary first to recognize that evil is part of the human reality we confront.

The liberal naivete exemplified

How slow American liberals have been, however, to pick up the sulphurous scent of the elephant in the American room-- that evil forces have taken over our country.

In the presidential debates of 2004, the standard-bearer of American liberalism (and indeed of all Americans who recognized that this Bushite regime needed to be driven from power) declared that George W. Bush was of course a good man, but simply had different ideas about to achieve for America the worthy goals we all share. And then, not long after the election, the former leader of the America's liberal party, and former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, said virtually the same thing, while Bush I and Bush II stood with him on the platform at the dedication of Clinton's new presidential library. He, too, explcitly assumed --and declared to all America-- the basically benign nature of the current ruler of this country.

Once one concedes that point, however, the debate has essentially been lost. The most important truth of our times has effectively been sealed in the closet. And the elephant has again been left, unremarked, to keep stinking up the room.

Did you ever think that perhaps there was some good reason that the American people have had anxiety about entrusting America's national security, in a world containing bad guys, to post-sixties liberals?

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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
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