Sunday, September 14, 2008

Judith Warner: Typical Liberal Elitist?

I came across this critique of a New York Times blogger named Judith Warner. I'd never heard of her before and decided to check out her blog and read a few of her postings. Her writing seems very disjointed but I stuck with it.

Her September 4th posting seems very passive-aggressive, somewhat akin to the now infamous hate piece of CBC "journalist", Heather Mallick.

Her tone seemed to change dramatically in her September 11th posting. At least I *think* it did. Read at face value, it sounded like she came to a McCain-Palin rally mostly to mock Republicans but perhaps walked away with a bit more humility. In the process she offered up some gems that might baffle even Woody Allen's therapist:

We talked about the moral vacuity of modern parenting. “I see extreme spoiling, self-absorption,” she said. “Constant bringing the kids up to love themselves without reflecting on how they affect others.” We talked about the disastrous lack of respect that children now show adults and institutions, and about the ways this lack of respect translates into a very ugly sort of lack of decorum and a lack of basic manners: “This 10-year-old, my daughter’s friend, she comes over and throws down a magazine with John McCain on the cover. ‘Here’s friggin John McCain,’ she says. ‘Let’s see what lies he’s going to tell now.’” She continued: “These 10-year-olds think they’re better than me. That they don’t have to say hello. That they think I’m beneath them.”

"You go girl", I was thinking, in so many words, until the talk turned back to politics: “So often these kids that are so incredibly full of themselves, I find their parents are Democrats. The Democrats, they hate ‘us,’ the United States, but they love ‘me,’ that is, themselves,” she said.

I heard a lot more talk that day about the need for respect – and about arrogance and selfishness and about Democrats and liberals who think way too highly of themselves.

Is this news to anyone? Is there any adult in North America who doesn't think many children are overindulged these days? Was this the first time Judith Warner had ever heard such things? Was it also the first time she had ever heard that most average people think extreme liberals are arrogant and selfish?

She eventually continued on with this:

No, it wasn’t funny, my morning with the hockey and the soccer moms, the homeschooling moms and the book club moms, the joyful moms who brought their children to see history in the making and spun them on the lawn, dancing, when music played. It was sobering. It was serious. It was an education.
Once again, taken at face value, it sounds like this is the first time she had ever encountered such women. How is that possible? Is this a crystal clear example of the great political divide in North America today?

She continues:

“Palin Power” isn’t just about making hockey moms feel important. It’s not just about giving abortion rights opponents their due. It’s also, in obscure ways, about making yearnings come true — deep, inchoate desires about respect and service, hierarchy and family that have somehow been successfully projected onto the figure of this unlikely woman and have stuck.

For those of us who can’t tap into those yearnings, it seems the Palin faithful are blind – to the contradictions between her stated positions and the truth of the policies she espouses, to the contradictions between her ideology and their interests.
Remove the "Palin" bits and a puzzle floats to the surface: Why can't Warner "tap into" yearnings like respect, service, hierarchy, and family? Are these things really unimportant to most liberals?

Furthermore, how can anyone accept this as true - "it seems the Palin faithful are blind – to the contradictions between her stated positions and the truth of the policies she espouses" - and support Barack Obama without being a complete hypocrite?

She concludes her posting with this:

[Jonathan Haidt, a moral psychologist], has conducted research in which liberals and conservatives were asked to project themselves into the minds of their opponents and answer questions about their moral reasoning. Conservatives, he said, prove quite adept at thinking like liberals, but liberals are consistently incapable of understanding the conservative point of view. “Liberals feel contempt for the conservative moral view, and that is very, very angering. Republicans are good at exploiting that anger,” he told me in a phone interview.

Perhaps that’s why the conservatives can so successfully get under liberals’ skin. And why liberals need to start working harder at breaking through the empathy barrier.

Ms. Warner, let the truth set you free!

Be sure to check out the comments to her posting. The first few are priceless.

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