Liberals and Their Uppity Enemies
Why do liberals hate Sarah Palin? She has made far fewer gaffes than has Joe Biden, whose verbal mishaps have often been racist in nature. Is dropping your g’s worse than saying "corpse-men"? She does not believe that Canadians speak Canadian in the way the president thinks Austrians speak Austrian. Her life story is inspirational -- working mom, without inherited privilege or capital, a successful pre-2008 tenure as an Alaska politician.
I think the animus -- as opposed to just disagreement with her views -- derives in part from the fact that she is vivacious and attractive in a fresh Sally Field sort of way, unlike the cheek-boned refinement of an Audrey Hepburn or Jackie Onassis. Or is it because her diction, syntax, and grammar (especially the use of the passive voice) resonate slightly lower middle-class America? She is what white grandees with real white privilege castigate as a beneficiary of white privilege that she never really had.
Much of the dislike is also because she is upbeat and unapologetic. She thinks America is a rare, good place and far better than the alternative. She is blunt about her values and politics, and does not seem to be skeptical, cynical, or ambivalent. Her "oh gosh" world is one of undisguised belief; she does not roll her eyes in David Letterman boredom. Nor does Palin adopt the Clinton on spec bite-the-lip, feel-your-pain anguish, clear evidence of the costs of feeling moral ambiguity.
To the degree she has any facial artifice, it is more likely a wink (but not in Jon Stewart fashion that you and she share private superiority over the yokels) than a John Kerry long face or the pained stutter of Barack Obama as his vast mind works so fast that his only too human lips cannot catch up.
In other words, to the liberal, who as Atlas carries the burdens of the world on his shoulders, she is one-dimensional, without nuance, and one of the clueless class in need of some pity -- unless she dares rise up on her hind legs and walk with her betters. Palin so exasperates liberals that they are reduced to very illiberal, very aristocratic disdain for the way she dresses, the places she lives, and the sort of children she has raised. Middle-class white conservative Christian moms from Alaska are not what liberals mean when they talk of diversity. Palin is simply too uppity in liberal eyes.
Why do liberals despise Rush Limbaugh more so than, say, conservatives hate Bill Maher or Chris Matthews? Yes, he is vastly more successful and influential, and does them, as the president so frequently whines, a lot of political damage. Of course, the Left hates the fact that Limbaugh went from middle-class to a billionaire, and without the proper educational credentials and anguish along the way to contextualize his wealth. (Keeping millions of listeners entertained for three hours, 250 days a year, is supposedly easy; in contrast, teaching a graduate seminar fifteen times a semester on your dissertation is an ordeal, full of deep thinking and contemplative heavy lifting.)
Talk radio is the antithesis of NPR -- loud rather than soft; throaty rather than nasal; commercial-full rather than ad free, its ideology sustained by the market not the public purse. But mostly Limbaugh not so much says as simply takes for granted things that liberals find outrageous, such as assuming capitalism creates more wealth for everyone without qualifying such second-nature assertions. In the world of Limbaugh the U.S. is the freest, richest, best country in the world and there is no reason to hide that fact, much less to feel guilty about it. Does Limbaugh have any self-doubt? Does he wonder who in the past and present has suffered for his privilege? Does he not grasp the moral compromises that his country so often makes? Perhaps he does, but in a world where the good does not have to be perfect, and 51% is better than 49%, Limbaugh lets others worry about footnoting, tweaking, and nuancing his diatribes. His one-dimensional self-assurance drives liberals crazy. He too is uppity, without a shred of recognition that others far more sensitive, educated, and aware deserve his megaphone.
Liberals hate entire countries too, especially Israel. Why? Is it because unlike its neighbors it follows the rule of law? Is Israel too fair to gays and women? When liberals visit the Middle East do they prefer to go to Jordanian dentists in a pinch or to stay in a Palestinian hotel?
Liberals hate Israel because like a Palin or Limbaugh, it seems too self-assured. Does not Jerusalem care that Harvard or Oxford professors despise it? Cannot it do the calculus of seven million versus the 300 million who hate it in the Middle East? Apparently not.
One thing that liberals cannot stand is its purported lack of self-awareness. Of course, Israel knows why and how the world spurns it, but liberals believe that Israelis either aren’t aware of such pariah status, or, just as bad, they don’t seem to suffer for such knowledge.
Like Sarah Palin, Israeli just keeps going, without much worry why and how liberals have contempt for it. It is confident that it must be doing something right to have created such prosperity and stability in a sea of self-inflicted misery.
For liberals, Israel is sort of like conservative blacks and thus likewise is too uppity, especially given that it does not play the perpetual victim of the past but has confidently moved on. Liberals are willing to pity a contrite and victimized Israel, but not to admire its confidence and independence.
Liberals sure hate the Koch brothers. At first glance, this too baffles. It is not the money per se. After all, they idolize George Soros, who predates the Kochs in subsidizing political causes. The Google bunch outsource and offshore money. Steve Jobs didn’t give much to charities. Soros is far more brazen in his partisan giving, and unlike the Kochs is a financial speculator who was tried and convicted abroad.
The Kochs still make things and are involved in everything from oil refining to manufacturing to agriculture. To the liberal, it is not fair that a conservative should have such mega wealth and the power it brings. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, and others understand the complexities and responsibilities of wealth. The rub is that unlike Gates, the Kochs are boosters of the very institutions that helped make them rich. And like Palin, the Kochs have pretensions, in their case of giving to the fine arts and humanities, as if they think they are something more than they are. Yes, they are uppity as well.
Then there is Clarence Thomas. Liberals despise him too. He is not as fair-skinned as Barrack Obama, Eric Holder, or Valerie Jarrett. Nor is his accent free from a resonant Southern twang. He talks the same to every audience, without, to paraphrase Harry Reid, Obama’s inclination to change cadences and intonation to fit the particular political constitutency. He would never say Tal-eee-ban or Pok-eee-stan. Thomas to liberals is also uppity: he fails to appreciate just how much abuse that liberals have incurred to institutionalize affirmative action, to help people of color, to celebrate diversity. And what does Thomas do as thanks? For a liberal, Thomas takes hard-won liberal goodies, but does not acknowledge his debt to liberals for their sacrifices. He is a free thinker who makes no apologies for his past or present. Moreover, he is a far better representative of the black American experience of the late 20th century than, say, is the Hawaii prep-schooled, choom-ganger Barry Dunham, son of a white PhD and rather odious Kenyan hustler, whom we now know in his final and most successful reincarnation as Barack Obama.
Finally, liberals really hate Fox News. It trumps the audience of MSNBC and CNN combined and then some. Envy of its success accounts for a lot of the ire. So does its vast array of blond bombshells. For condescending liberals, they are supposed to be empty-headed bimbos, spouting Roger Ailes’ right-wing pabulum. But most are highly intelligent and go head-to-head debating left-wing JDs, MDs, and PhDs, with equal or often superior intelligence and often with comparable degrees. They smile rather than scold like an Elizabeth Warren or Barbara Boxer. They don’t drift off to La-La Land as the intellectually challenged Nancy Pelosi does.
So they too are uppity. How can they dare to analyze America each night without reading the New York Review of Books, the New Yorker, or the TLS? Does not America get their con -- how they entrap the mindless couch potato with golden tresses as these Sirens sing songs of hate and selfishness to run us onto the shoals?
Bill O’Reilly keeps hawking his co-authored books as if they were Pulitzer Prize-winning Doris Kearns Goodwin tomes, and no one says a word, as he floods American with shtick history! Sean Hannity was a bartender, and he dares to fancy himself a Charlie Rose or George Stephanopoulos.
Yes, Fox is really uppity, slashing and burning its way to riches and power, without a shred of homage to the grandfatherly style of Walter Cronkite or the pained liberal face of Dan Rather, or the energized Brian Williams outraged again by yet another dastardly right-wing ploy. To paraphrase the furor of the Obama administration: Fox really believes they are a news agency.
How uppity is that?
(Artwork created using a modified Shutterstock.com image.)