2016, A Confession of Liberal Intolerance, Christian, conservative, conservative scholars, discrimination, gay in Mississippi in 1950, Marxist, May 7, Nicholas Kristof, oppression, Republican, South Sudan, trafficked kids, war victims
Nicholas Kristof’s May 7th Op-Ed, echoing similar articles lately floating through the ether, declares itself, “A Confession of Liberal Intolerance.”
He would have more aptly named it, “A way to stop feeling liberal guilt over having political disputes at the low, low cost of your humanitarian priorities.”
Kristof’s not wrong to say that there is such a thing as liberal intolerance, and that it’s a problem. After that, though, he says things like, “My Facebook followers have incredible compassion for war victims in South Sudan, for kids who have been trafficked, even for abused chickens, but no obvious empathy for conservative scholars facing discrimination.”
Kristof, who identifies as a liberal, clearly finds it helpful to echo the sentiments that are exactly the reason people roll their eyes when Christian conservatives complain of oppression. So I’ll try not to get very sarcastic. But I will note that victims of genocide, and child sex slaves, do not fall into the same category as college students and professors who get judged for reading Ayn Rand.
They just, fucking, don’t.
Similarly, conservative professors are not “virtually an endangered species”. A conservative professor in America is not “the equivalent of someone who was gay in Mississippi in 1950.” Conservative professors aren’t being rounded up in bars, taken to jail, and beaten bloody on Saturday nights for fun; aren’t being dragged to death behind cars; aren’t being forced by mental health professionals to take drugs or submit to therapies designed to make them stop being conservative; aren’t ignored by the medical community while a deadly virus contracted by a few turns steadily into a plague; aren’t, as children, thrown out of their houses and forced to live in the streets when their parents find out about their career plans.
They are being judged by liberal intellectuals as inferior thinkers, is what is happening.
It’s fucking, different.
Kristoff goes on to remark, “The scarcity of conservatives seems driven in part by discrimination. One peer-reviewed study found that one-third of social psychologists admitted that if choosing between two equally qualified job candidates, they would be inclined to discriminate against the more conservative candidate.”
Right, what you’re describing there is discrimination. But do you get that the discrimination is the scenario, itself, of having to hire one person? We judge some qualities as better than others. That is what is required when you have to make a choice. The question isn’t whether conservatives or people of color or women are being judged when we go into a job interview, because of course we are. The question is, on what basis are we being judged?
If the basis is, “she’s a woman”, or “he’s an Indian”, or “they liked Atlas Shrugged” – we all might agree, that’s wrong. If the basis is, “His decision-making process lends itself to irrational decisions” it is exactly appropriate to discriminate against him. A woman who tells you that her decision-making process is uncritical, literal acceptance of every injunction in the bible, and that she supports the death penalty for gay marriage as a result, is not equally qualified for a social psychologist’s role as someone lacking this worldview, regardless of other credentials.
You’re entitled to your opinion, but you’re not entitled to my opinion. The idea that you’re being victimized when others disdain your opinions is sheer irresponsibility. The valid concern that abhorrent opinions are often attributed stereotypically to Christian conservatives is isolated right out of the discussion when you hold that your ideology is above peer-review.
Kristof further ruminates that, “it’s easier to find a Marxist in some disciplines than a Republican.” For this to be a statement of significance, of course, relies on the assumption that there obviously should be more Republicans than Marxists in any discipline. Which is a far cry from the intellectual inclusiveness identified as necessary at the start of this piece.
The same tenor imbues the line about war victims in south Sudan. The implication being that it should be easier to empathize with a conservative American professor than with a Sudanese war survivor or a child prostitute. Which is exactly the fuck kind of attitude words like “diversity” are designed to address, you know? The kind that says the people like you are the people you should like. That you don’t have to identify as strongly with the pain of people who are different from you.
Arrogance is abrasive, even when it’s fun. And it’s not ok to stereotype or to ridicule others before hearing what they have to say. But the arrogance floating around liberal circles isn’t killing anyone and, objectively, does not matter as much as the kinds of prejudice that lead people to rape and murder and to ignore rape and murder. Let’s not, anymore, let actual human suffering take a backseat to anyone’s demands for popularity.