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Self-Righteousness on a Bumper Sticker

A slogan with so many layers of arrogance that it deserves a careful dissection.

by
Clayton E. Cramer

Bio

October 17, 2009 - 12:00 am
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The second level of arrogance in that bumper sticker is the implicit assertion: “I’m not prejudiced. Only you are.” I never cease to be amazed at how many liberals are convinced that they are free of human frailties and weaknesses — including prejudice. You want to see liberal prejudice? Let it drop that you attend church — and watch how rapidly the assumption gets made that you are poorly educated, think the Earth is 6,000 years old, believe that every species was created in its current form, and support mandatory prayer in public schools. One of my professors in California — an otherwise properly liberal feminist who went to grad school when “female professor” was still something of a novelty — made the mistake of letting it drop in casual conversation with colleagues that she had started attending church. She soon found that admitting such a weird behavior was a source of amusement and even some razzing.

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), who compared Republican proposals for health care reform to the Holocaust? Look, we disagree about the best way to accomplish a noble goal — getting everyone insured — but this assumption that only Democrats care about suffering is so incredibly blind in its arrogance that I can’t even be angry at him. Mostly, I feel sorry for Grayson that he has been paying so little attention to alternative proposals.

I guess the ultimate expression of this liberal self-righteousness comes from Garrison Keillor, the host of NPR’s Prairie Home Companion. After the 2004 election, he proposed that “born-again Christians” should lose the right to vote. His latest exercise in self-righteousness is the following statement: “Republicans should be cut out of the health care system entirely and simply provided with aspirin and hand sanitizer. Thirty-two percent of the population identifies with the GOP, and if we cut off health care to them, we could probably pay off the deficit in short order.” I mean, if we don’t agree with him on exactly how to reform health care, then we deserve to die. I’m reminded of the Nazis’ T4 program, which was a bit more active in its methods, but motivated by the same certitude and with the same goal: mass extermination of those not fit to live.

I remember a time when I found the tone of Rev. Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority just a bit too self-righteous. But compared to what liberalism has become in the last few years, Falwell doesn’t seem half so bad.

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Clayton E. Cramer teaches history at the College of Western Idaho. His most recent book is My Brother Ron: A Personal and Social History of the Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill (2012). He is raising capital for a feature film about the Oberlin Rescue of 1858.
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