Why Liberalism is so Illiberal

Have liberals been getting less liberal? Or are they merely letting their true colors show, now that the culture wars seem to be going their way?

That’s the question Damon Linker recently broached at The Week, as part of his ongoing effort to persuade liberals to be more tolerant. Linker doesn’t understand why progressive secularists have become so hostile to even the mildest and most benign forms of religious expression. Once, perhaps, liberals could credibly claim that they merely wanted to open a space within American society to live as they wished, unmolested by the Christian right. Recent attacks on religious activity cannot plausibly be seen in this light.

Linker himself focuses on two recent episodes: Brian Palmer’s recent condemnation of missionary doctors (who undeniably help the sick, but have religious motivations for doing so), and recent efforts to revoke accreditation for Gordon College, in light of a “life and conduct” statement forbidding “homosexual practice” (together with fornication and other forms of sexual immorality) on campus.

Linker is right to see both of these as reprehensible examples of liberal intolerance. People who participate in heroic missions of mercy ought to be lauded and admired. There is no reason to be “uncomfortable” about the fact that they are often motivated by religious convictions. Palmer’s expressed wish that missionary doctors (who are, by his own admission, the only people doing much good in many infected areas) would keep their God-talk to themselves just looks like an ugly prejudice. Are the sick complaining? Then why should Palmer care?

Events at Gordon College are in line with a number of other recent initiatives to punish and ostracize those who retain a traditional understanding of marriage and of sexual morality. We’ve seen the boycott of Chick-fil-A, the firing of Brandon Eich, and lawsuits brought against multiple businesses that refuse to participate in same-sex weddings or union ceremonies. Now this last week, we have seen efforts to intimidate Houston pastors into acquiescing to the LGBT agenda. Also, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, local authorities are attempting to strong-arm believing Christians into officiating same-sex ceremonies over and against their religious objections.

In short, the progressive agenda is advancing, and becoming ever more brazen in its methods. Noting this, Linker is attempting to call his fellow liberals back to a more moderate and tolerant perspective:

What happened to a liberalism of skepticism, modesty, humility, and openness to conflicting notions of the highest good? What happened to a liberalism of pluralism that recognizes that when people are allowed to search for truth in freedom, they are liable to seek and find it in a multitude of values, beliefs, and traditions? What happened to a liberalism that sees this diversity as one of the finest flowers of a free society rather than a threat to the liberal democratic order?

He admits that he doesn’t know the answer, but asks for acknowledgement that “something in the liberal mind has changed,” and that it’s time to return to what he regards as the best of liberalism. Tolerance, restraint and respect for pluralism are among the values Linker would like to reinstate.

Far be it from me to deter anyone who might persuade illiberal liberals to change their ways. I wish Linker luck in his effort to persuade his fellow travelers to be more genuinely broad-minded. But is he really right to suppose that his version of liberalism is truer and more authentically liberal than the aggressive, intolerant version that we’re seeing today? Or is secularism by nature a parricide, ultimately seeking to annihilate the Judeo-Christian culture that begat it?

There’s plenty of reason to believe the latter. The totalitarian tendencies of liberalism have been documented too many times to count, but more recent popularizers include them: Jonah Goldberg and Charles Kesler. James Poulous has offered some compelling analysis as to why progressives (along with, somewhat ironically, many of the more libertine libertarians) must continue along the path of intolerant hyper-regulation, demanding more and more intimate control of the lives of ordinary citizens. Yuval Levin has recently written a thoughtful essay detailing some of the reasons why an autonomy-oriented liberalism seems to be growing more brittle and less attuned to true human good.

These arguments cannot be adequately summarized here, but I recommend them to anyone who wishes to gain more perspective on the increasing intolerance of the progressive movement. For present purposes I will just say that these more thoughtful critics of progressivism seem to understand something that Linker clearly doesn’t: when human beings try to build societies on a too-thin understanding of human nature, they become successively less willing to live with one another. Over time, they lose the ability to navigate serious disagreements among themselves. This trend is becoming increasingly obvious in our ever-more-polarized America.

Traditional sensibilities and mores generally aren’t eradicated overnight. For that reason, progressive reformers can sometimes be better than their ideals as they draw on cultural “reserves” that their ancestors laid down over the course of centuries. To one raised in a traditional culture it might just seem that human sensibilities “naturally” discern the wrongness of wanton violence, sexual depravity or other extreme forms of misconduct. Shedding the baggage of restrictive ethical theories in favor of thinner, more permissive ones might seem in the short term to foster tolerance, freedom and mutual respect—all the values, in other words, that Linker associates with liberalism.

Over time, however, the unacknowledged reserves of tradition become depleted. Having rejected the philosophical foundations that made Western civilization possible, we find ourselves standing on thin ideological ice when depravities our grandparents would have rejected in horror (though often without articulating precisely why) are proposed as good and legitimate patterns of life. Before long, it becomes uncomfortable for progressives to live in the shadow of the thick Western traditions from which they have alienated themselves. Even when their compatriots are discreet and civil, their implicit judgment feels oppressive, especially once the evil fruits of the libertine path become more obvious. The reminder of what has been lost becomes unbearable. Destroying the remaining vestiges starts to seem like a necessary step on the path to a true autonomous paradise.

Real pluralistic tolerance (of the sort Linker claims to value) must be rooted in a deep understanding of why integrity is essential to human thriving. And that, of course, requires a robust understanding of what human thriving really means. If Linker really yearns to recover a rich and tolerant form of liberty, he may need to return to the Theocons whose company he once spurned.

Rachel Lu


Rachel Lu, a Catholic convert, teaches philosophy at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota where she lives with her husband and four boys. Dr. Lu earned her Ph.D. in philosophy at Cornell University. Follow her on Twitter at rclu.

  • lifeknight

    Very intellectual explanation of illiberalism! I had to have the second cup of coffee to digest its meaning! Excellent Professor Lu!
    Would Animal Farm exhibit this circle?

    • DE-173

      Animal Farm, 1984, Brave New World and the lesser know Shore of Women by Pamela Sargent. The latter is being previewed in Houston, Texas to give you an idea of how a fascist sapparchy works.

    • St JD George

      How totally apropos, yet totally ironic at the same time. Who knew old George’s prophesy would turn out to be a mirror looking into the future to where we are headed today. Who would have thunk nearly 70 years ago?

      • DE-173

        And yet Eric remained a socialist.. couldn’t quite grasp that.
        Prophecy or Blueprint, you decide.

        • St JD George

          He was a writer after all, maybe he had to keep up credentials to stay chums with his pals.

    • Tamsin

      Actually, the better framework would be the standard question, where are we now? In 1984? Or Brave New World?

      The Federalist article is heavy going, but worth the read to see how and why James Poulos coins the term “pink police state”. From the article,

      [We now have] a robust regulatory state that pursues health and safety at the expense of liberty in the context of a culture that demands robust interpersonal freedom. Rather than stamping out hedonistic pursuits and pleasure-centered living, 1984 style, the new statism creates a “safe” space for their “healthy” experience. Yet, rather than expanding the project limitlessly, Brave New World style, so as to make all pleasure official, the new statism tacitly acknowledges that our most potent appetites can never be fully domesticated, even with all the tools of force, surveillance, and coercion at the government’s disposal.

      A coercive state apparatus to ensure sexual autonomy. Yay.

      • Trazymarch

        At least we aren’t in “Pre-persons” by Phillip K. Dick…. Not yet.

  • Paul Primavera

    Pope Leo XIII explained it in this way in Paragraphs 15 and 16 of his Encyclical issued in June, 1888:

    What naturalists or rationalists aim at in philosophy, that the supporters of liberalism, carrying out the principles laid down by naturalism, are attempting in the domain of morality and politics. The fundamental doctrine of rationalism is the supremacy of the human reason, which, refusing due submission to the divine and eternal reason, proclaims its own independence, and constitutes itself the supreme principle and source and judge of truth. Hence, these followers of liberalism deny the existence of any divine authority to which obedience is due, and proclaim that every man is the law to himself; from which arises that ethical system which they style independent morality, and which, under the guise of liberty, exonerates man from any obedience to the commands of God, and substitutes a boundless license. The end of all this it is not difficult to foresee, especially when society is in question. For, when once man is firmly persuaded that he is subject to no one, it follows that the efficient cause of the unity of civil society is not to be sought in any principle external to man, or superior to him, but simply in the free will of individuals; that the authority in the State comes from the people only; and that, just as every man’s individual reason is his only rule of life, so the collective reason of the community should be the supreme guide in the management of all public affairs. Hence the doctrine of the supremacy of the greater number, and that all right and all duty reside in the majority. But, from what has been said, it is clear that all this is in contradiction to
    reason. To refuse any bond of union between man and civil society, on the one hand, and God the Creator and consequently the supreme Law-giver, on the other, is plainly repugnant to the nature, not only of man, but of all created things; for, of necessity, all effects must in some proper way be connected with their cause; and it belongs to the perfection of every nature to contain itself within that sphere and grade which the order of nature has assigned to it, namely, that the lower should be subject and obedient to the higher.

    Moreover, besides this, a doctrine of such character is most hurtful both to individuals and to the State. For, once ascribe to human reason the only authority to decide what is true and what is good, and the real distinction between good and evil is destroyed; honor and dishonor differ not in their nature, but in the opinion and judgment of each one; pleasure is the measure of what is lawful; and, given a code of morality which can have little or no power to restrain or quiet the unruly propensities of man, a way is naturally opened to universal corruption. With reference also to public affairs: authority is severed from the true and natural principle whence it derives all its efficacy for the common good; and the law determining what it is right to do and avoid doing is at the mercy of a majority. Now, this is simply a road leading straight to tyranny. The empire of God over man and civil society once repudiated, it follows that religion, as a public institution, can
    have no claim to exist, and that everything that belongs to religion will be treated with complete indifference. Furthermore, with ambitious designs on sovereignty, tumult and sedition will be common amongst the people; and when duty and conscience cease to appeal to them, there will be nothing to hold them back but force, which of itself alone is powerless to keep their covetousness in check. Of this we have almost daily evidence in the conflict with socialists and members of other seditious societies, who labor unceasingly to bring about revolution. It is for those, then, who are capable of forming a just estimate of things to decide whether such doctrines promote that true liberty which alone is worthy of man, or rather, pervert and destroy it.

  • St JD George

    On know Rachel, must we continue this dialog. Actually, we must. I just finished writing a reply in the Contradictions article. I suspect most find a distaste for discussing politics in Crisis, however, that said, as long as we are in this world until we leave we know that politics and religion really really are not totally inseparable. Further, it’s time we grow a spine, shake off our timidity and recognize that we collectively are failing in spreading the word of Christ. Not to be hard, but the consequences are laid bare in front of us offending our sensibilities. We have an administration who is hostile to people of Christian faith, there is no sugar coating it, and it’s time we recognize (for those that haven’t). In some fairness, he/they were elected (even if under some false pretenses) so really little more than a reflection of our society/culture. There was a time when we at least were protected under the 1st amendment, but those rights are slowly being trampled on by those who are using the mantra of civil rights to force tolerance of immoral behavior. That being said, I believe liberalism is a mental disorder and I pray a cure is found.

  • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

    The most educated and most powerful people in the most powerful nation in the world now live¯as they wish. We are bohemians, limited only be the bourgeois disciplines of health, fashion, and economic competition that operate across the surfaces of our lives. “Barbarism,” Rieff reminds us, “is not some primitive technology and naïve cosmologies, but a sophisticated cutting off o fthe inhibiting authority of the past.”
    -R.R. Reno on Philip Rieff

    • Kalpurrnia

      Living by the maxim, “MY will be done,”

      • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

        Actually, no. “My WHIM be done.”

    • jacobhalo

      We are not the most educated in the world. We are listed 14th in the world in education.

      • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

        Read it more carefully, only ‘most powerful nation’ is applied to the U.S. Most educated refers to within the U.S. and not the world.

  • DE-173

    Seems like Mr. Skinner has deployed Common Wh*re at Springfield Elementary School, where Master Simpson attends.

  • Tamsin

    Why are our liberals so certain that our civilizational morality emerged spontaneously, possibly from a pile of rags in a corner, and will only get better and better, as they think of new ways to hurry it along towards more perfect individual freedom in which the government will pick up the tab?

    I appreciate the arguments put forward by libertarians, which are slowing the march of liberals (really the Left) through our institutions, but young libertarians are particularly unclear on that last point about who pays and how. Thus we end up with a pink police state.

    To sum: liberals want the benefits of all Ten Commandments, just without the first three, and voting on the last seven.

    • DE-173

      “young libertarians are particularly unclear”

      I rather enjoy the reaction I get when I ask them who called libertarians “hippies of the right” and said she “despised” them.

      “Atlas Shrugged” seems to make a rather large thud when dropped in disbelief.

  • St JD George

    I’ll admit this is a little off topic, but I was reading about Asia Bibi’s plight in Pakistan and reflecting again on tolerance including those who embrace the religion of peace solely because it is a counter to and out of a hatred for Christianity without any depth of understanding. Be thankful that we still can today yet have dialog in a forum like Crisis without fear of persecution from our government. I can’t imagine a day when that would not be the case, but then again, there’s a lot of things today that I couldn’t have imagined either. I think we should pray for her, her family, and the thousands like her who are the martyr’s for our collective faith today.


    • DE-173

      “Be thankful that we still can today yet have dialog in a forum like Crisis without fear of persecution from our government.”

      By the way, before going to RS, google “601 Redigestion Error” or “Banned by Redstate” . You’ll see that the miscreant frat boys that run RS really belong running the Delta pledge committee.

      • St JD George

        I know, you’ve shared your views about Eric on RS before. I like to peruse multiple sites and still find interesting articles on there from time to time. 601 is the new 404?

        • DE-173

          Two quibbles: These aren’t my views, but a rather long and well documented record of their behavior; second, I didn’t say don’t go, I just said check their inglorious record. I don’t bother; but that’s a prudential decision.

          Character and maturity count, and Dougie and Greggie have some deficiencies. I despise fascism, whatever the party of the practicioner.

          You decide.

          • St JD George

            I’m afraid if I found fault in every corner I’d be limited to only reading the Bible and Crisis … and maybe I’d be in a better frame of mind not focused on the ever escalating insanity which reminds me of Al Bore’s hockey stick. Agree, that was a disturbing act though and thanks for sharing as I didn’t know that back-story.

            • DE-173

              As always, your mileage may vary. I find better alternatives without the moral ambiguity.

              If I’m going to excoriate Cardinal Kasper; Eric and Moe aren’t above criticism for hypocrisy.

              • St JD George

                I agree on that and happy to call a spade a spade.

  • cestusdei

    No one is more illiberal then a modern liberal.

  • Gerjen

    I am a little skeptical when people talk about “Judeo-Christian” values. From my limited experience and understanding of Judaism, it seems that it is essentially anti-Christian. And perhaps there is something in Christianity that is anti-Jewish in a sense, if Jewishness can be defined, at least in its “modern” incarnation as rejecting Jesus as the Christ. Certainly, Jesus had some harsh words for the scribes and the Pharisees, who, let’s face it, are the progenitors of Judaism to some extent. And I can recall some harsh words from St. John as well warning about “the blasphemy of those who claim to be Jews and are not” and St. Paul calling them “enemies of the gospel.” I have not read the Talmud but from what little I know of it, it seems to me that Jews and Christians have very different values (especially on the most important things such as Christ), even though one could say that we are both monotheist and we share a belief in the old prophets. I would like to take a closer look at the Talmud, it would be a fruitful exercise.

    • St JD George

      I’ve used it in the broadest sense to acknowledge that not all who came to America were devout, and ours being a melting pot were largely Judeo-Christianity, with plenty of “none of the above” mixed in. All your points are well recognized of course. I used to buttress my point that I have never heard anyone describe America as a Muslim nation until you know who conducted an obscure interview with a French journalist recently. It got my attention.

    • “…if Jewishness can be defined, at least in its “modern” incarnation as rejecting Jesus as the Christ”

      That is a bigger deal to Christians than it is to Jews. For Jews, there’s a messiah job description, don’t see peace on earth etc., therefore not the messiah, continue with God’s mission. For Christians, Jesus is the mission, so the Jewish refusal to swerve can be a problem. It depends on whether you see it all as the same road, or an opposed road. I see it as the same road, myself, but YMMV.

      In point of fact, differences over God’s forgiveness are theologically deeper than the question of Jesus’ status, though they are related to Jesus’ teachings.

      As for Jews being anti-Christian, some are. What Jews are beginning to realize is that most of these people are effectively anti-Jewish as well: pogromists and capos at their core, whose real argument is with God. The fact that Judaism is a nation as well as a religion forces demographic decay and generational transmission loss to be the method of excommunication so far, but it’s real. Daniel “Sultan Knish” Greenfield is the best explainer of all this.

      The Talmud would be interesting to any here. Think of a blog made up of entries promoted from the comments section over a couple thousand years. Including arguments 🙂

      • DE-173

        The Talmud would be interesting to any here.

        My understanding is that the Talmud contains some truly foul language, especially with regard to Jesus Christ, so unless you can attest otherwise; you probably won’t many to consider it “interesting”.

        • What part of “blog made up of entries promoted from the comments section over a couple thousand years” was unclear?

          Try to imagine pulling the same trick using all of Christianity, including its frequent warring periods where one sect or another was being persecuted. Ain’t gonna be Marquis of Queensbury, but would give you a lot of debate points and historical/cultural context to think about.

          • DE-173

            Try to imagine pulling the same trick using all of Christianity, including its frequent warring periods where one sect or another was being persecuted.

            Sorry, but I’m not reading something that describes being boiled in semen.

            I don’t accept anti-semitism; and I’m not accepting Christophobia.

            • “Sorry, but I’m not reading something that describes being boiled in semen.”

              Or worse. But I enjoyed Dante.

              “Do you think “Mein Kampf” is something you’d find “interesting” or just repellant?”

              Both. Given its popularity in Muslim parts of Western cities, and the Middle East, I’d almost call Mein Kampf mandatory reading because its mentality must be faced in the present. And not just from Muslims; the Left becomes more openly fascist each day.

              But it didn’t enlighten the way ongoing sets of snapshots can, if they have a larger context. I knew Naziism and its history from such readings and more, and could define it – but I didn’t really understand it until I read a book called “How Money Dies,” with all kinds of articles and snapshots of German daily life (Ernest Hemmigway wrote for the Toronto Star?!?). Then, with the context already there from previous learning, I got it.

              I understood how this could have happened, and it made sense to me. That didn’t mean I liked it. It meant I could see its path, not just its result.

              Religious debates are also a path, and also in a context of time and circumstance and beliefs. Learning to do them justice, remember what is read, and argue about them well is the *real* secret of the Talmud. Though there is wisdom to be found on the pages, just as you read the comments section here for occasional gems. Or trolls. Opinions will differ on just who is who, sometimes.

              • DE-173

                The phrase I cite is not enlighted debate, it is merely invidious and offensive polemics.

                I have no interest to delve further into it, unless there emerges a group of Talmudic militants I need to understand, otherwise I have no desire to sully my mind with that form of pornography.

                • You have already sullied your mind. Fine, stick to the form you prefer.

              • Secundius

                @ Joe Katzman.

                Apparently the GOP Congress is more interested in reading “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. You Ponzi for the RICH.

                • Except most members of Congress don’t read. Note: that isn’t a joke, it’s a description that admits of a few exceptions.

                  Ultimately, our current problem of a Political Class alliance of the top and bottom against the middle will take more than 1 book to solve. Aristotle could tell us what happens next if we don’t fix that. Or, we can just look at Latin America, with its poverty amid plenty, dictators, and death squads.

                  • Secundius

                    @ Joe Katzman.

                    IS IT…

  • St JD George

    Anybody need some good news, even if fleeting? Read the wisdom of this federal judge in of all places Puerto Rico. Ultimate Irony, he was A Carter appointee who takes the oath of office seriously.

    • DE-173

      Carter was largely a buffoon, but he got a few things right. The Staggers Act was one such thing. Of course that came AFTER decades of ruinous federal lnvolvement on the high iron; something Washington didn’t understand until it created Conrail and tried to run it according to its own rules.

      • St JD George

        His stature elevated a notch off the bottom peg when I heard him criticize the anointed one a few weeks ago for failure to recognize threat of IS sooner and act. That was first shock, second shock was that he didn’t walk it back like many are prone to do with obfuscation like “taken out of context” or “I didn’t express myself eloquently”.

  • AcceptingReality

    No, liberals have not become less liberal. This is who they have always been. Linker was just looking through rose colored glasses. He has finally noticed what he previously failed to detect. The truth is that, things like orthodoxy, traditional morality and objective truth tend to invalidate liberalism and liberals themselves. Their intolerance toward those who believe in such things is a defense mechanism. In their minds it’s justified because they are liberals and they know best. It’s a form of self-worship.

    • St JD George

      I just had an interesting thought for debate. Maybe liberals are practicing a form of Taqiyya. Lying in wait, befriending those around whom they disdain but are forced to share society with, all the while plotting the take over cultural institutions and government to advance their statist religion until such time they are in power and can unleash their control through dependency, unsustainable immigration and debt while using the tolerance police to consolidate and hold on to power. Maybe that’s a stretch.

      • The Messenger

        No, that’s not stretch. This is Antonia Gramsci’s ideology, he was an Italian Marxist and a one-time Italian Communist leader :

        “For Gramsci, hegemonic dominance ultimately relied on a “consented” coercion, and in a “crisis of authority” the “masks of consent” slip away, revealing the fist of force.” – Read Wikipedia

        To Crisis writers: You need to write articles on this Gramsci guy and compare it to the Liberal tactics in this country. WE NEED TO EXPOSE THE LIBERALS!

        • St JD George

          The only “original thought” in my diatribe was making the analogy with Taqiyya. Good point about reminding of Gramsci, he is often overlooked but every bit as instrumental in this struggle for the ages.

        • DE-173

          Sounds like Alinsky with marinara.

          • St JD George

            Oh great, I’ll never think of marinara sauce the same again. Thanks.

      • AcceptingReality

        St. JD George, been there done that, haven’t they? Nice riff, though. Glad to be of service!

    • The Messenger

      Good analysis! You need to start your own blog!

    • jacobhalo

      Liberals are the most intolerant. In may colleges, professors and students boo conservative speakers and won’t let them speak. Now, in Texas pastors are being taken to court for preaching what the liberals don’t want to hear.

  • Tamsin

    Levin’s article at First Things is tremendous. Thanks for the pointer.

    To be capable of freedom… we need more than the liberation of the individual from coercion. We need a certain sort of moral formation.

    And this is why I stand with a conservative approach to liberty, as Levin describes it:

    [Property rights] impose meaningful limits on the power of the state, which is uniquely positioned to constrain our liberty.

    This conservative idea of liberty, then, is … more concerned with letting every individual do what he wishes with what he has—provided he does not take from others. This is an ethic of protection rather than provision.

    As a parent, I need to be free from coercion by the state, in this case a sly redefinition of marriage through the judiciary, to be able to form my child morally and not in the morals of the Left.

    I don’t buy the rest of Levin’s “equally bad” valuation of both progressive and conservative approaches to liberty.

  • ColdStanding

    The presence, within Western societies, of the two camps called either liberal or conservative, points not to a conflict between the two camps, but to conflict with a seldom recognized third party which does not advertise its predilections and is most expert at affecting a neutral and lowly mien.

    I speak of middle managers and busy-bodies.

    Liberals and conservatives both engage in double-down behavior searching for the correct degree of reaction that will defeat the encountered irritant action in society. The mistake is in identifying the source of the irritant action as located in what appears to be the opposing camp. This is why behavior becomes more and more extreme. Everyone recognizes that there is an irritant. Few recognize what the irritation is and the wrong reaction is proffered.

    The genius of the middle position is to get the two extremes to fight each other, while the middle makes a tidy sum on the action.

    Therefore, it is futile to attempt to restore some sense of order in human affairs while the wrong remedy (listing the faults of others) is applied to the wrong illness (naming either liberals or conservatives as deranged, which they are, however). Don’t get me wrong, the pushing to the extremes of liberal or conservative program is a maladaptive behavior, but it is properly called an indisposition and not a pathology.

    The pathology is in the middle. The middle position is where the problem is. Satan eats out the core and leaves the outside to rot.

    Stop eating shiny rotten apples and everyone will start feeling a lot better.

  • David Naas

    Alas, I have a friend of over 40 years sanding who has bought into the progressivist ideology. He thinks the dust up in Houston is not a case of government overreach but of combatting all-powerful homophobic bigots. Of course, right-wind ideologists are little better. Political ideology being foremost has even tainted the Church, so that eternal issues are judged on whether they fit passing political fancies. (Rather than judging the politics on whether it meets standards of eternal value.)

    • St JD George

      “When a man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything.”

      • DE-173

        Including that anything like mere men or governments can be god.

  • St JD George

    Rachel, I never got the humor in the Simpson’s and was rather surprised when I lived in Europe at how popular the show was … at least, in the manifestation of young people wearing the character likenesses on their T-Shirts anyway. When I see it though I can’t help but think about the liberal dumb down of our education standards until one day it will be shown in the classroom for critical study of culture. Now I wait for somebody to tell me it already is.

  • TomD

    It is leftism that is illiberal. It is leftism – a particularly individualistic and selective form of libertarianism from the Left – that has become dominant in much political and cultural discourse and policy today.

    I find it sad and tragic that the word “liberal” has become a pejorative, especially when we are usually talking about leftism. A classic liberal would champion the notion of liberty tempered by virtue; a leftist mocks the idea.

    • HigherCalling

      A Catholic would champion the notion of liberty tempered by the *Fullness* of virtue and Truth. Leftists mock the idea of Truth. They hijack the virtues they find most appealing, isolate them from the whole, redefine them to suit their goals, elevate them to dangerous levels, and abandon the rest. There are dozens of definitions of Liberalism, all related in some way to the explicit and prideful rejection of legitimate moral and doctrinal authority. Read this little book for the correct definition:


  • Tony

    The Pelvic Left has committed itself to the Unnatural in a wide variety of ways; the hatred of boys and men that feminists have long evinced is just one item in a long list. Even the post-Christian “progressives” in the line of John Dewey were deeply suspicious of such natural institutions as the family. So this is not new. And the only way you can repress Nature is by sheer force. Stalin, phone home. Damon Linker doesn’t see it, because he himself has rejected the entire tradition of the Natural Law, breaking with First Things over the very social issues that are the nerve center of the Left. He was a useful fool. Now he finds that the “Liberals” are not about freedom. But the true Left never was. Read some Dostoyevsky, will you, Mr. Linker?

  • Ford Oxaal

    In junior high school we were taught that political extremes are really part of a circle — and a vicious circle at that. Both extreme conservatism and extreme liberalism meet at totalitarianism. Then you go back to anarchy and repeat the idiocy. Trapped on this wheel, society chases its tail throughout history in a pigheaded and bloody frenzy. Extreme liberalism is intolerance for intolerance. Extreme conservatism is intolerance for tolerance. To exit the wheel of stupid, the adults of society needs to do its job and figure out what is to be tolerated and what is not to be tolerated. But there are too few adults in America. So instead of talking about how to be good parents and build happy homes so as to pass the flame of civilization forward, we talk about how to best rationalize perverted pleasures and enshrine them in a mockery of law. The end is all so boorishly predictable.

  • Liberals announce future legislation promoting gay rights – progress to come!

    The Evolution of the Gay Mantra….

    1970’s “Live and let live.”

    1980’s “Tolerance! Tolerance!”

    1990’s “Don’t shove your values down my throat!”

    2000’s “We expect you to change your lives to honor our lifestyle; we have no tolerance for your beliefs. We’re going to shove our values down your throat.”

    2010’s “…and if that doesn’t work, we’re going to get the government to bully you into submission.”

    2013 It’s fine if you have beliefs as long as you keep them to yourselves – in other words, you’d better violate your conscience always or else

    2016 Discrimination against all social conservatives is now legal – because they’re just bigots and deserve it

    2017 Hiring any social conservative to a higher education or K-12
    institution is illegal since it violates diversity for gays

    2018 Social conservative businesses must be forced to close down because they are like Jim Crow

    2019 Special ghetto areas implemented where social conservatives
    are allowed to live – they can still tell each other their beliefs since
    we greatly respect freedom of speech as laid out in the 1st Amendment

    2020 – Children of social conservatives must be taken away from them because what happens if one develops a homosexuality problem and the parents do not think it is normal? Child abuse is unacceptable in our progressive and diverse society

  • Cap America

    I think the saddest thing in all this is the situation in academia, where liberals have shucked the notion of a noble pursuit of truth, in favor of simply being intellectual party hacks.

    In other words, much, much, much of the professoriate actively views itself as a liberal proselytizing force, and feels this is a great, good thing to do and to be.

    Of course, past liberal academics would abhor being understood as partisan propagandists.

    I contributed just $20 to my small, private, liberal arts college alma mater the other day. Why pay more?

    • DE-173

      And there’s anothing thing. Why should anybody be asked (relentlessly) to contribute to a vendor whose products you never consume?

      When I’m done paying for my car, the manufacturer doesn’t come back and ask us to contribute to a capital campaign for their newest factory, do they? No and we’d laugh if they did.

      Yet the post-secondary educational-government complex has managed to convince us that somehow they are exempt from the ordinary rules of commerce.

      They can’t possibly be expected to provide a product that is affordable to their consumers; they need to be subsidized, directly and indirectly and they get to charge their customers different amounts (in the rest of the world, this is known as price discrimination).

      That tthe customers must be required to buy things (political indoctrination) they do not want (also known as “block booking”)

      Why? Because they are allowed to organize as a charity under Sec. 501(c)(3), and spread the lie that “non-profit” is actually a business model, rather than a misnomer. The truth is that the educational-government complex is run a small group of administrators and professors. I submit that if you only providing minimal and perfunctory teaching, and you have tenure, and voting rights in your department on your faculty senate, you are no longer and employee-you have a form of restricted ownership that masquerades as employment.

      Here’s what decades of cultural, legal and economic privilege gives you.


      This is the next “bubble”.

      • Tony

        From someone in the Belly of the Beast, who is now in his 30th year of taking a salary from higher education: You are absolutely right.

        The higher education regime violates every principle of plain dealing. The colleges in effect enjoy a cartel. They are the turnpike keepers for jobs, most of which have nothing to do with the “education” that the colleges provide. They set nominal prices that they do not intend to charge, so as to give “scholarships” that are nothing other than the difference between the nominal price and the money they determine they can squeeze from the customer. They demand the customer’s financial information in order to determine what they can squeeze. They collude with the government to hang heavy debt upon their customers…

  • Phil

    Rachel, I think much of the answer is that we now have people who are one more generation removed from a the Christian roots of their family. The left loves to pretend that the Christian (and, ultimately, Catholic) roots of our society doesn’t matter these days, that the privileges we have can just materialize from wealth and modern technology. Remember the famous theory that China would liberalized if we just opened up their economy that the elites loved to trot out? It clearly illustrates a lack of understanding of where our society and rights originated.

    Further, you might note that the left loves to try to put band aids on societies ills, crime, poverty, violence, but rarely can recognize the root causes and even more rarely chooses to address them. When was the last time you heard a “liberal” propose measures to strengthen marriage rather than to make it easier to dissolve (or to alter/abolish it altogether). Yet it’s scientifically provable that fatherless families are huge causes of society’s ills. The alternative is recognizing that God’s rules as understood by Catholics can be the root of a beautiful, truly liberal society.

    This whole process is accelerated by the media, and is now further accelerated by an egalitarian media. If one person says that Christianity is the cause of all ill, it takes less time to disseminate the notion. The good news is in the gospels, but we apparently have to live in this crazy society for while before the fullness of time comes around.