I applaud Greg, Rich, Tom, John R., and any other left of center readers that come here to FA- it doesn’t bother me if they’re here trolling or engaging in honest debate; whether they’re pushing their political agenda without a desire to listen and understand the perspective and perception of those on the other side of the aisle; or if they are here to genuinely engage in dialogue and civilly break lances in an exchange of ideas.
When commenting at HuffPo, NYTimes, Daily Kos, and any number of other liberal sites where I can leave behind my droppings, I often encounter low information voters from the liberal spectrum and rabid partisans who conveniently offer such predictable tropes as: “That’s what happens when you get your information from Faux. Try reading a real news source” (forget the fact that I am on a liberal newsrag commenting on a liberal article I just read; or that I just provided a link to my source of information that is anything but Fox). “Try reading a book”. “Read history!” “Quit listening to Rush!” (My total amount of listening to Rush might amount to 2 minutes worth of soundclips). I’m automatically labeled a teabagger even though I’ve never identified as a member of any Tea Party movement (a number of organizations have cropped up incorporating the name, with varying agendas). Caricaturized with so many predictable talking points and anti-conservative memes applied. I have no doubt FA’s liberal visitors have received their fair share of derision and dismissive mockery to their positions by those on my side of the political aisle. I bear witness to it. I see elsewhere when my allies can be just as nasty and vitriolic; just as condescending as those on the left who lack the self-awareness to see that they are the very thing that they accuse those on the right of being.
The night of the 1st Republican debate for 2016, I came home and clicked onto FB. I saw a friend who had posted to his wall a thread mocking the debate, comparing it to an SNL skit. Friends of his (some mutual) chimed in their amen chorus approval. An echo chamber of liberal smugness, oversaturated with an affliction of superiority complex.
Yes, conservatives must be women-hating, bible-thumping, gun-toting, narrow-minded, anti-science, anti-gay, racist, rich, war-mongering, xenophobic, family-values hypocrites. I apparently was an anomaly to my liberal friends and not your typical, stereotypical conservative they only know in caricature.
Because conservatives are generally opposed to abortion, they must hate women.
Because they perceive that our cultural history and identity is rooted in 90% Christian tradition and lament its eradication and intolerance for public expression for the last few decades, they must not believe in having a secular government but advocate for a theocracy.
Because they are skeptical of global warming alarmism, they are anti-science.
Because they believe in exercising a muscular foreign policy influence, they are war-mongering interventionists. (Forget for a moment the Ron Paul-wing of the libertarian-side of the Party).
Because they don’t believe in redefining the institution of marriage, they are hateful homophobes.
Because they think the government is doing too much, they are anti-government.
Because they are opposed to a number of welfare legislation, they must be against the poor and non-charitable.
Because they don’t rail against income inequality, conservatives only shill for rich corporations.
Because they want to get illegal immigration under control, they are anti-immigrant and racist.
Because they perceive the dangers and threat of radical Islam, they are Islamophobic and scaremongering.
And it goes on and on. So much time is wasted demonizing and dismissing the other side without bothering to listen to each individual on the merits of his own arguments. We end up setting up and shooting down strawmen, ascribing positions that the person we’re arguing with never stated; we attack the messenger/news source rather than addressing the actual contents. It’s a form of intellectual laziness and incuriosity; a smug belief that we already know what the other side thinks and will say.
Of course, there are some of us who do live up to the caricature- you know who you are! 😉
Gerard Alexander, in an opinion piece in the NYTimes, writes an article that perfectly encapsulates everything I found wrong and detestable about Jon Stewart. While my FB friends post their laments and love affair of Jon Stewart’s departure, I post the following to my own wall:
Many liberals, but not conservatives, believe there is an important asymmetry in American politics. These liberals believe that people on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum are fundamentally different. Specifically, they believe that liberals are much more open to change than conservatives, more tolerant of differences, more motivated by the public good and, maybe most of all, smarter and better informed.
The evidence for these beliefs is not good. Liberals turn out to be just as prone to their own forms of intolerance, ignorance and bias. But the beliefs are comforting to many. They give their bearers a sense of intellectual and even moral superiority. And they affect behavior. They inform the condescension and self-righteousness with which liberals often treat conservatives. They explain why many liberals have greeted Tea Partiers and other grass-roots conservatives with outsize alarm. They explain why liberals fixate on figures such as Sarah Palin and Todd Akin, who represent the worst that many liberals are prepared to see in conservatives. These liberals often end up sounding like Jon Lovitz, on “Saturday Night Live,” impersonating Michael Dukakis in 1988, gesturing toward the Republican and saying “I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy!” This sense of superiority is hardly the only cause of our polarized public discourse, but it sure doesn’t help.
And Mr. Stewart, who signed off from “The Daily Show” on Thursday, was more qualified than anybody to puncture this particular pretension. He trained his liberal-leaning audience to mock hypocrisy, incoherence and stupidity, and could have nudged them to see the planks in their own eyes, too. Instead, he cultivated their intellectual smugness by personifying it.
I don’t mean the know-it-all persona he adopted on the air. That’s normal for a host. If anything, he was unusually self-deprecating for his line of work. And I don’t mean that Mr. Stewart thought all progressives were perfect. When some self-styled smart liberals didn’t vaccinate their children, he cracked: “They’re not ignorant. They practice a mindful stupidity.” But there was no doubt where he tilted politically. Conservatives were his main target when George W. Bush was president, and also when Barack Obama took office.
His claims to be objective fell flat. For instance, Mr. Stewart denied being in President Obama’s corner by re-airing a clip in which he had made fun of the Obamacare website’s rollout, as if that was the same as questioning Obamacare itself. That was par for Mr. Stewart’s course, mocking liberals’ tactics and implementation but not their underlying assumptions or ideas.
He could have made the liberals in his audience more open to dialogue across the great left/right divide by asking them to examine themselves more carefully and to admit that both ideological camps contain fools. Instead, he was a cultural entrepreneur who provided those viewers with the validation they wanted.
After all those years, the comedian turned liberal standard-bearer still didn’t really comprehend the conservatives on the other side of the divide. Worse, he didn’t help his liberal viewers better understand themselves.
The whole piece is worth reading. Don’t forget to share it with your Jon Stewart-loving liberal friends.