There’s a sort of sickness among most liberals, one which I would ideologically trace to the disastrous “political correctness” movement of the 90s. Namely: liberals almost seem to pride themselves on how spineless they are. Obviously, this isn’t how they see it, but this is the reality.
Basically, this is brought to my attention from time to time when I have someone say something along the lines of, “You’re a smart guy, so why do you lower yourself to the level of idiots?” This never carries much water with me, maybe because I don’t see myself as particularly bright (I guess I just appear that way when juxtaposed to such monumental stupidity). What I take away from this is usually the notion that liberals wish I would be more tolerant of intolerance.
There’s no single way of understanding this mentality, because these sort of ideas are endemic among liberals across a broad spectrum. Some are ivory tower liberals who see themselves as so much more civilized and advanced than the unwashed masses who squabble like children, using filthy sailor language. Others are genuinely sensitive types, the kinds of people who don’t want harsh insults to be a part of public discourse. Others are “evangaliberals,” out there trying to make persuasive and compelling arguments based on logic and a keen observation of reality in an attempt to win people over.
In the end, there are more reasons than I could ever fully understand, but in the end… it’s all just bullshit.
Let’s be honest, if someone denies something like global warming or the Holocaust, there is no dialogue that is going to correct that kind of intellectual ostrich; they’re going to stick their head in the sand and just ignore you. I think you would have more success trying to teach an ostrich to fly than trying to get a willfully ignorant person to think.
But let’s suppose you just have to try. Suppose you are compelled by some intangible need to make the world better. I can relate to that; I think it’s only natural for people who have simple needs like food and shelter taken care of to have a desire to influence the world at large. The problem is… most liberals don’t speak the language of fools, so even if they are driven to reach out to them, liberals tend to fail in utilizing the rhetoric of fools (or as I call it, “rhetardoric”) as distinct from the rhetoric that works on liberals.
In business, it is called “marketing.”
Liberals are the worst marketers I have ever seen. Liberals couldn’t sell cocaine to Charlie Sheen. They are completely and utterly useless at phrasing their argument in a way that will compel anyone to get on board, even if they found it appealing beforehand. Just look at a term like “global warming.” It sounds like some kind of comfy blanket that will keep the world cozy. Need an example of a good term for climate change? Try “natural terrorism” or “coastal loss.” You need to emphasize something bad in the name if you want people to oppose it.
Another major problem is that I don’t harbor the typical liberal arrogance. I’m very confident of the things I do know, and I have no problem with stating my opinion matter-of-factly, but I don’t think I’m all that bright. If anything, I’m very lucky, because I’ve been exposed to so much and I have had access to more advantages than the average person (though not quite enough to make me a Republican).
Most liberals have convinced themselves that if they never use words like “retard,” they’re doing a great deed. They see themselves as “above” name calling, even though ad hominem arguments have worked since the beginning of time. Fallacies work, that’s why you have to be taught what a fallacy is before you can understand why it’s a “bad argument.”
The problem is, fallacies are not bad arguments, they’re unfair arguments. They are unfair because they work, despite needing no truth behind the claim in order to seem appealing. What people really mean when discussing fallacies is: “It’s not fair that your name-calling is as successful as my evidence based argument.” Tough shit, kid. Life isn’t fair.
I take a more pragmatic approach when it comes to tactics. I base my own views on empirical evidence, but when it comes to presenting them publicly, I have no problem with using any means necessary to get my way. There is no shame in this; the shame is in failing to stand up for the truth out of some misplaced view regarding honor. Besides, no liberal is going to change their mind and stop being liberal just because I offended them, so it’s not like there is anything to lose besides the moral approval of a bunch of whiney PC Nazis.
Essentially, I see liberals who take this approach as unwilling to do what works in order to get their way, a fundamental betrayal of their core values. If you see yourself as above using language that might actually appeal to people you want to persuade, how much do you honestly care about your views? If someone tells me I’m making a stupid argument while I’m trying to reach stupid people… I take it as a compliment, because clearly I’ve done my job.
In other words, I don’t write this way because I’m stupid, I write like this because I assume stupid people are reading it. Let’s be frank here: if someone based their opinions on scientific research, observations from reality, or the feelings of others, they would already agree with me. Trying to use these reasons to appeal to people who disregard them is a useless endeavor. More liberals should consider lowering themselves to the level of the imbeciles (if that’s how you choose to see it), instead of lording their supposed intelligence over them in an empty show of self-aggrandizement.
You won’t get anywhere using GRE words and scientific studies with someone who does not value such things. When someone is only able spout right-wing platitudes, they more than likely lack the ability to recognize a decent argument (which is why they believe what they believe).
Ultimately, you may come to the conclusion (as I have) that you can’t fix stupid. The ability to change one’s own mind is a trait of intelligence, as it indicates an ability to adapt to new information. It indicates a lack of bias towards one’s own opinions and ultimately their own upbringing, education, and overall socialization. Idiots are incapable of improving because they willfully resist change. The best you can hope for with people like this is to provide yourself with a proper position from which to negotiate.
“Extremism” is a major obscenity in liberal circles. Liberals pride themselves on how moderate they are. The problem is, when liberals adopt moderation in expressing their views, extremists on the right are able to hijack every issue and frame the debate as between the right-wing extreme and the moderate middle. Then, liberals act shocked when the compromise falls invariably right of center.
Regardless of the issue at hand, you must always, always, always ask for more than you want. I cannot stress this enough: if you want the moon, demand the entire night sky. Then, if you end up with only the moon and some of the stars, you still have some leeway in future negotiations and you can afford to lose some ground before what you really care about is up for debate.
Liberals need to be extremists for what is true in order to counter those who are extremely false. In many ways, liberals have become extreme moderates, and it has made the right-wing extremely happy. The left has been declawed, and their ability to fight for their views has been replaced with a blind faith that if one is silently correct, everything will magically just work out and people will somehow spontaneously come to their senses due to the inevitability of progress.
The problem is, progress is not inevitable. It comes only through rigorous effort on the part of those who are aware against those who wander through life aimlessly fighting change at every turn.
Ultimately, it also comes down to an issue of censorship. If you feel that you cannot say what you really think, and if you expect others to mask their contempt for those who are actively working to make this world a worse place, you are not on the side of peaceful discourse, you are passively conservative and you are part of the problem, not part of the solution.