Monday, January 20, 2014

How Far We've Come

When I was in high school in a suburb of Philadelphia in the early '60s there was a working class ethnic neighborhood not far from mine into which a black couple named Baker wished to move. The neighborhood, named Delmar Village, was all-white and there was a great deal of turmoil generated by residents who wanted to keep it that way. The mob smashed the windows of the Baker home and attacked police. Mounted state police were called in to quell the disturbances that lasted for at least a week and which at the time were called a race riot by the media.

The black family believed they had a constitutional right to live wherever they wished and could afford. Presumably, they wanted their children to have the same opportunities that white children of similar economic means had. The white residents, or many of them, felt that regardless of what the constitution says about equality under the law, the black family had no place in that neighborhood. They didn't belong there by virtue of their skin color.

Martin Luther King Day is a good time to reflect on that awful episode and lament the bigotry that leads one American to tell another that he has no place in a neighborhood simply because of his race. But even though this event happened fifty years ago last August and September, and even though we've come a long way in many respects since those years, that kind of bigotry is still around today, not just among the lower socio-economic classes of both whites and blacks, but at the highest levels of the liberal-progressive movement in this country.

As a case in point consider the statement last Friday by the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, who said this about conservatives:
"Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are."
In other words, people who believe that we should protect the weakest among us by protecting their right to life, and people who believe that the second amendment of the Constitution allows them to defend themselves and their families are extremists and have no place among the good people of the state of New York.

It's not clear what Mr. Cuomo means by being "anti-gay," but if he's referring to people who oppose gay marriage then he's saying that those who hold a view of marriage that almost everyone held up until the day before yesterday are extremists and also have no place among tolerant New Yorkers.

This is what Jonah Goldberg calls "liberal fascism." It's the sort of bigotry that says to people "We don't want your kind here. You have no place in our neighborhood, not because you don't look like us, but because you don't think like us." It's the kind of bigotry in which one American tells other Americans that, regardless of what the Constitution says, their opinions are so odious that liberals don't want them living in even the same state as they live in.

Cuomo's statement is ironic on several levels. It's ironic because liberals like to appear in public clothed in the theoretical raiment of tolerance and diversity, but in practice, they're intolerant of anyone who disagrees with them, and their openness to diversity only applies to things like skin color, gender identity, and sexual preference. Ideological diversity is unwelcome.

It's ironic because the governor is proposing to exile from the state probably 50% or more of its citizens for the crime of embracing both traditional views of marriage and constitutional freedoms.

It's ironic because the governor refers to conservatives as holding extreme views, but which is more extreme, to protect unborn children or to kill them at a rate of a million annually? Which is more extreme, to honor a provision of a constitution which has governed this country for two centuries or to seek to abrogate it? Which is more extreme, to hold to a view of marriage that has thousands of years of tradition behind it or to revise and probably end it for the sake of a notion of equality that was unheard of just a a few decades ago?

The governor's statement is also ironic because it's symptomatic of exactly the sort of thinking that led not only to the riot in Delmar Village in 1963, but also to the Japanese internment camps during WWII, and to the expulsion of Indians from Georgia and elsewhere in the 19th century, all of which liberals rightly deplore.

The tactic of the liberal fascists is to cover their own extremism in octopus ink while hurling the allegation at anyone with whom they have a political disagreement. I suppose it works with the uninformed, the gullible, and those who wish to be gulled, but I think we'd do well to recall the words of Martin Luther King who longed for the day when his children (and ours) would be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin (or on which side of the ideological divide they reside).