Thomas Lifson at American Thinker reflects on Juan Williams and the ideological journey he might be beginning as a result of his NPR firing.
A great deal of this is familiar to me; political change, especially from left to right, is one of the themes of this blog, and the reason I started writing it in the first place. As a changer himself (boy, there are a lot of us), Lifson has some cogent thoughts to add. He also coins a phrase I hadn’t heard before, but which I think is especially apt: the liberal trance.
Juan Williams has been delivered the sort of shock which can cause him to reevaluate the lifelong assumptions of a comfortable liberal. Last night, guest-hosting “The O’Reilly Factor,” he admitted that his assumption that the left was the home of open-mindedness had been wrong.
Having made the journey from liberalism to full-throated conservatism myself, I recognize the importance of this particular revelation. It is the key to opening a mind to rethinking other assumptions about politics. It breaks the trance, so to speak, which keeps many otherwise thoughtful, intelligent, caring people enmeshed in the delusions of modern American liberalism. To these liberals, membership in the cadre of caring, enlightened, public-spirited Americans defines what it means to be a good and responsible member of the civic community.
The overwhelming focus on caricaturing and demonizing conservatives as racist ignoramuses is based on a pragmatic understanding of the importance of maintaining this trance. Because liberal ideas manifestly fail when implemented, the liberal trance is the only way to maintain the allegiance of intelligent liberals to the cause. This is why academia, media, and other liberal hotbeds are so intolerant of conservatives. They fear that real and prolonged exposure to the vibrancy and humanity of modern American conservatism will bleed away the most thoughtful liberals from the cause.
Fascinating stuff. But I disagree with Lifson on that last point; I don’t think they fear it at all. They can barely even conceive of it, and their contempt for those apostates who manage to stop dancing in the liberal circle is very real and not feigned. They don’t consider them the most thoughtful ones; they consider them the most evil ones.
Also, I had a very different experience than Williams in terms of this type of disillusionment. I had gone through most of my transition over a period of about two years, in privacy—through reading and thinking and not discussing it with much of anyone. It was only later that I thought to voice any of my ideas to friends, and the angry and intolerant reaction of many profoundly shocked me. But that wasn’t the beginning for me; it was near the end of the transition—the poisoned icing on the cake, as it were.
[HAT TIP: commenter “kcom.”]