Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Head and Heart

From Just Opinions:
I believe the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were the right thing to do, and that the successful elections in those countries vindicate the policy, and are a great historic breakthrough.

I believe that an unfettered free market and global free trade are the surest ways to fight poverty.


I support Israel.

I believe that the mainstream media and academia are biased, far to the left of the American people.

I believe the United Nations is a hopelessly corrupt thugocracy protective association.

I believe that affirmative action does more harm than good.

Although I have been a liberal, indeed a far-left radical all of my life, when I look at what’s happening dispassionately and rationally, I can’t help coming to these conclusions. There’s no getting around it. I have become a conservative. And yet, much as I agree with, respect, and even admire quite a few conservative pundits and politicians, including George W. Bush, I am uncomfortable with many of my bed fellows. The reason I am uncomfortable is because I detect a distinct lack of heart over here on the political right. And not only heart, but something more indefinable, a lack of art and joy and Dionysian abandon, a lack of imagination.

A couple of examples. I admire David Horowitz. His autobiography, Radical Son, is one of my favorite books. I peruse his web site, frontpagemag.com, on a regular basis. I even wrote an article for it, and I am grateful for the important work he does. I just wish he would marry or befriend somebody with taste. Frontpagemag.com, and his new web site, discoverthenetwork.com, are two of the ugliest sites on the web. The medium message they convey is uncultured, fanatical, narrowly focused, and anti-art.

Another site I check regularly is James Taranto’s Best of the Web. He is clever, witty, and on the right side of current history, but all too often his brittle humor is at the expense of the poor and the powerless, as in this post of his:

The Wolf’s Meow
From a USA Today story on a prison-abuse case:

Margaret Winter, the ACLU’s lead attorney in the case, said the findings by Moriarty’s office reflect an attempt to “whitewash” Johnson’s claims.

Winter said that because of Johnson’s sexual orientation and his inability to defend himself, he should not have been put into the general population section of the James Allred Unit, a 3,500-bed facility near Wichita Falls that is known as one of Texas' roughest prisons. In that environment, she said, Johnson was like “catnip to a pack of wolves.”

It’s a queer sort of wolf that’s interested in catnip, is it not?

When I read something like this I can’t help imagining myself in this man’s place, the horror of it, which I am sure is beyond anything Mr. Taranto has had the misfortune to experience.

I could give many more examples. I realize that conservatives hate being called uncompassionate just because they don’t believe in simplistic, socialistic, wealth redistributing solutions to society’s problems, and it is a bad rap in that sense. Nevertheless I think that there is substance to the charge. There is a coldness and lack of empathy in the ease with which the poor, the homeless, those without health insurance, the unemployed and poorly employed, the inner-city ghetto residents, the addicted, illegal immigrants, are dismissed and left to the vagaries of the free market and the justice system.


The American people are not nearly so polarized as the politicians we are forced to choose among. We want the best of both worlds. We want real compassionate conservatism and real clear-thinking liberalism.

1 comment:

Rutilia said...

What is the thing with the UN? A thugocracy? If it is, it acts entirely in the interests of the U.S.

And state-level decisions on abortion legality? I cannot imagine an intelligent argument for this.

You know, with all of us who have taken a dramatic shift in our perspective in the last three years or so, we have to watch ourselves carefully to see that we're not just becoming the other side of the pendulum swing from the people who drive us crazy. I know this happened to me, and I think I've got my perspective back now. But people like Melanie Philips, and this guy are still swinging wide, I think.