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Works and Days

The Politics of Liberals Bashing Obama

August 10th, 2011 - 7:11 pm

Then there was a similar young blogger, one Conor Friedersdorf, whose books and articles I have also not read, but who continued with the Journolist-like talking points. He makes a silly charge that I am a “chicken-little conservative” in the following way:

Victor Davis Hanson, oblivious to majority opinion, thinks we’ve lost the capacity for upset. “Such urban violence was of course a constant in 19th and 20th century Europe and America,” he writes, “but now it is deeply embedded within modern sociology and no longer seen quite as criminality.”

…You’ve heard of hawks and doves. These are Chicken Little Conservatives. Every week, as headlines filter in from around the globe, they take the most disturbing as an occasion to strut around with ruffled feathers and cluck that the sky is falling.

Well, I think this week is not quite like “every week” — the crash and death of our best soldiers in Afghanistan, the stock-market dive, the Standard and Poor’s downgrade, the serial burning and looting in London, the disturbing rash of flash mobbing in some of our major cities — and so one might with good cause think things are awry. Yet as readers know, I have mostly written not to lose heart: America is not in decline (a choice, not a fate) and, compared to our competitors, we are uniquely positioned, with the proper guidance, to reassume global leadership and regain national prosperity. It is the Left, and in particular the president himself, who is legitimately associated with “leading from behind,” a “post-American” world, and seeing America as exceptional only to the degree that all countries see themselves as such. But again, I stand by what I wrote. What Friedersdorf does not do, as Mr. Adomanis does not, is to challenge the argument (always preferring the ad hominem “chicken little” or “eternal wretchedness” in lieu of logical rebuttal): While we have always had urban rioting and social unrest in Western societies, more recently the reaction to these accustomed outbursts is somewhat different. We really are much more likely to embed our diagnoses within sociology and psychology, preferring to concede that looting, torching, and random violence can be more expressions of legitimate discontent or understandable oppression that demand introspection from society rather than from the perpetrator.

One can calibrate that confusion in the initial British hesitation to consider using water cannons and various excuses for the violence (but, as I predicted, that hesitation passed when the violence seemed to threaten more of the haunts of upper-middle class, see below), or Mayor Nutter’s initial suggestion of enlisting rappers, soon to be superseded and drowned out by press accounts of stern lectures on traditional morality.

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