A Leftist tries to cope

There is a book review in the NYT of “Why I Turned Right: Leading Baby Boom Conservatives Chronicle Their Political Journeys”. For the reviewing task, the NYT picked Stephen Metcalf — well-known for vitriol — and so the review is predictably hostile and, as such, very lightweight. There is no attempt to engage what the writers say at all. He summarizes two of the essays in the book as: “Pig popsicle, bad; babies, good”!

The purpose of the review is not of course scholarship of any kind. It is meant simply to prop up threatened Leftist egos. And the threat that enrages the Left most of all is the way conservatives connect so easily with ordinary mainstream white Americans — something most vividly seen in the popularity of conservative talkshow hosts such as Rush Limbaugh. So how come? asks our reviewer. Is there some way Leftists can piss on that?

Our reviewer has the answer: Conservatives connect with the workers because conservatives were social failures at college who were marginalized and never got the girl: By experiencing failure conservatives learnt to understand others who are failures in life. The elitism and stereotyping of that explanation is breathtaking, of course. The claim that the ordinary mainstream white American feels a failure shows how little our Leftist reviewer knows about the people concerned. He has obviously lived most of his life in a little like-minded Manhattan social bubble. He seems quite unaware that most ordinary mainstream white Americans are hard-working people who find great joy in their families, their friends, their church, their hobbies and even often in their work. They do NOT consider themselves failures! They look at the “success” they see in places like Hollywood and are thankful for their own more wholesome lives.

I suspect that it is a dim awareness of that happiness which really makes Leftist elitists like Metcalf hate ordinary mainstream white Americans. He has to project feelings of failure onto them to boost his own feelings of superiority. Accepting that they may well be happier than him would be just too intolerable — though even that he would no doubt be able to dismiss temporarily with some contemptuous adjective such as “bovine”.

But all good lies have an element of truth in them and that conservatives often feel alienated and marginalized in their college days is no doubt true. I certainly did. I arrived at university having already read most of the Greek canon, from the miracle of Homer to the bright clarity of Plato, and already knowing such arcane things as what a Pindaric ode was. I met very few others as culturally grounded as that. Babblers like Sartre were what passed for sophistication and culture among most people I met and there were not even many of those — even though I attended a major university.

But the major reason why conservatives feel alienated at university is the lack of intellectual diversity there. American universities seem to think that a thing as superficial as skin color is the only important sort of diversity. The lockstep Leftism that characterizes most professors (at least in the Humanities) would alienate and marginalize any conservative, no matter how well-adjusted he might be.

Fortunately, however, academe is just one rather deviant bubble within the wider world and conservatives often do well outside it. I myself particularly enjoyed my time in the Army — where I reached the rank of Sergeant. Bitter elitists like Metcalf no doubt have in their heads a comforting stereotype of the army as a bunch of rockheads but reality is much more complex than that. The army in fact particularly values and rewards the all-round man (e.g. General Petraeus) and in my army unit I was far from alone in my liking for Bach and Palestrina.

That the real reason for the conservative communicative advantage might lie in the fact they do not inhabit the Left’s mental cloud-cuckoo land Metcalf cannot of course concede.

(For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.)

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