Lehrer, taking on the persona of a clueless liberal, once said, “I know there are people in the world that do not love their fellow human beings, and I hate people like that.”
There’s a lot of that sort of thing going around these days under the MultiCulti/PoMo/Diversity banner, of course. (All cultures should be honored and valued, except for the execrable culture of white male English-speaking middle-class Americans, a culture which fails to honor and value other cultures and which must therefore be extirpated if the planet is to survive. All discourses must be validated, and every point of view is legitmate, except for the viewpoint embodying the evil hegemonic phallocentric corporatist dead-white-European-male discourse we’re trying to purge from the university.)
But, I’m sorry to say, the same unintentional irony tends to infect ordinary liberal political chatter, in Blogspace and on campus. Brad DeLong is getting tired of it.
[Is the other side worse when it comes to demonization? Sure, but that’s not ironic. As someone (Lindsay Graham?) said about the outrage over Abu Ghraib, when you’re the good guys, you’re supposed to act like the good guys.]
Update: Matt Yglesias asks, “Is it okay if I’m universally intolerant of people who don’t share my point-of-view, or am I supposed to be nice to everyone?” To which I answer, “Yes, it’s okay, but then your fundamental principle must not be tolerance and niceness.”
Matt then asks the money question: “What’s the preferred solution here?” To which I say:
1. Being aware of your own tendency, and those of your allies, to demonize the opposition.
2. Being more skeptical of news that tends to confirm your presuppositions, and more credulous of news that tends to challenge them, than is comfortable.
3. Trying to imagine how the people whose actions you dislike can see those actions as justified.
4. Discounting somewhat, in figuring out how far you’re justified in going to make sure your side wins, your subjective certainty that you’re right. Given that means and procedures are immediate and easy to see, while outcomes are hard to see, this means giving more weight to means and procedures, and less to outcomes, than a simple decision analysis based on your current beliefs would justify.
5. And still, in spite of your carefully-cultivated doubts, fighting hard for what you believe in, because if the people capable of irony allow irony to demobilize them, the fanatics will win.
Second update Kevin Drum has some optimistic thoughts.