In contrast, as Al Franken has so peerlessly documented, the sulphurous figures behind the conservatives suffer not at all when their minions fib, deceive and prevaricate. It's possible that their hooves get a little less shiny when conservatives tell the truth, though.
A brief glance at my blog might make someone deem me to be a conservative, since I've so often attacked one species of liberal, what I've called the "ultraliberal," as I defined the type here.
I identify myself as a liberal, but I distance myself from all those who let liberal ideology do their thinking for them. I consider such people to be “ultraliberals.” Their responses to any sustained argument invariably comes down to quoting chapter-and-verse of whatever manifesto they favor. This rote response renders them common kin with their supposed enemies, the “ultraconservatives.”
The truth as I see it is that liberals-- even the "ultra" subspecies-- deserve to be held to a more rigorous standard than the conservatives, given that many liberals have frequently aligned themselves with what they deem "hard facts." There are potential disadvantages to the fetishization of perceived facts, as I've argued in THE DEAD ALIVE HAND OF THE PAST, and that's why my version of liberalism isn't entirely defined by facts. However, if one is going to claim to base one's ethos in recorded fact, then one should stick with that, and not ground one's philosophy in statements that "ought to be true"-- which should be the exclusive domain of the conservatives. That's why I've so often taken issue with online critics who have demonstrated various levels of liberal tendency: Gary Groth, Julian Darius, Kelly Thompson, Heidi McDonald, and of course the always doubtable Noah Bertlatsky.
I can remember being much more of a hardcore liberal in high school, though I'd like to think I never descended to the low level of the ultraliberal. As "proof" of this assertion-- though it's a proof that's unverifiable by anyone else-- I find myself turning to my memory of the 1968 television special, "Black History: Lost, Stolen or Strayed," voiced by noted black celebrity Bill Cosby and written by noted white celebrity Andy Rooney.
I saw the special not on television but shown to my high-school class, probably somewhere between 1970 and 1972. I was righteously offended by the many sins laid at the door of White America, not least being the way black people were made to act like fools for the pleasure of white audiences. (On a side-note, one of the black comedians of Old Hollywood, Stepin Fetchit, was offended at this characterization of his work, and attempted, unsuccessfully, to sue the production.) Yet, though I validated the basic thrust of the special, I was shocked that the script included a major distortion of factual history, as follows:
Now if you tell the history of slavery right, you got a big problem on your hands. The slave traders didn't take some savage out of Africa; he took a human being-- sold him, like an animal, separated him from his family. America invented the cruelest slavery in the history of the world-- because it broke up black families.
I was far from a history expert in those days, but I was incredulous that a respected celebrity would voice such an absurdity. Didn't Cosby and Rooney know that slavery went back to the Greeks and Romans, and existed in some form in most if not all human societies? Upon reviewing Rooney's wording, I see now that he tried to play games with the word "invented" by implying that the American version of this practice was somehow worse than any other version. Yet, if Rooney's sole criterion was that American slavery was evil because it broke up families, what was his conception of the way slavery worked in the ancient world? Did he have the idea that ancient Romans or slightly less ancient Arabs would take someone a slave for a little while, and then let them go tripping merrily back to their families? Or did Cosby and Rooney seriously mean to suggest that breaking up black families via the taking of slaves was somehow worse than breaking up the families of other races?
What annoyed me most about this stupid rhetoric was not only that it flew in the face of known facts, but also that it was so unnecessary. The rest of the special threw the cold light of reason upon long established practices of racial discrimination in American culture, and even though I might not validate every single thing Cosby and Rooney pointed out, they had a preponderance of evidence to prove their points.
I see the same rhetorical excesses today in most of the writers I mentioned above. They aren't content in proving that problems of racism and sexism exist. To gain the greatest rhetorical advantage, they think that they must show that racism and sexism are implicated in every facet of American society. This is the argument Noah Berlatsky presents in the quote given here, when he alleges that a given genre of comic books is not "open" to black experiences. None of his ruminations have anything to do with making a fact-based determination of a particular genre, assuming that one could do so in the first place. Rhetoric is simply a club being used to pound on something the author thinks to be objectionable-- so objectionable that it's OK to lie about it.
Because I've scanned, but not read, one of the current HU pieces, I anticipate I'll be seeing a lot of crappy rhetoric that have already put many angels into their premature graves.