Sunday, March 30, 2008

An “Appeal to Liberals”


I really shouldn’t waste my time (or yours) dipping into the fetid pool of stupidity known as “Teh Blogging Tories” but occasionally the temptation is simply too hard to resist.

Attempt to follow the “logic” of addlepated geezer Frank Hilliard at the umpteenth reincarnation of his blog “Mesopotamia West” if you can. According to Frank, the best way for evangelical Blogging Tories to “appeal to Liberals” is to first point out that they’re not in fact “liberals” at all because classical liberals are actually conservatives. After making note of this stupendously obvious, yet wholly irrelevant semantic paradox, Frank then believes it’s important to point out to the sadly misguided folk who regard themselves as Liberals that they’re actually “following a Progressive, statist, communitarian policy agenda” and that “…in truth, real liberals are Conservatives, while faux liberals are Progressives.” Well indeed, perhaps they are. The irony however is that at one time, the beliefs Frank apparently holds in such obvious contempt were strongly adhered to by certain quite influential factions of the Conservative Party, at least amongst those who didn’t subscribe to the “classical liberal” or the “neo-liberal” philosophy that became especially fashionable in the 1980s. So, to sum up the premise of this bizarre “appeal” it requires that one accept that present day Liberals are actually progressive conservatives for the most part and the “New Conservatives” are in fact liberals of one sort or another. There, aren’t you glad that confusing little mess has been neatly sorted out now?

As usual, the real hilarity comes when Frank sets forth his rhetorical arguments attempting to demonstrate why “Only Conservatives are likely to defend the freedom of individual choice.” And what’s his first example of how “Liberals are ready, willing and anxious to get you -- or force you -- to follow their wishes”? Why, it’s yesterday’s “Earth Hour” of course. Perhaps I missed something because I don’t recall there being anything especially “political” about it, or participation in that event being mandatory or even coercive in any way at all. To the contrary, it was entirely voluntary and, if anything, it was all about getting across the message that we have the power as individuals to make responsible energy choices that can benefit the environment. So Frank’s not off to a great start with this one.

Onward. Frank has a second argument aimed at Progressives who “desire to find or create a perfect world with happy, carefree, pacific people.” I’m not sure who these imaginary utopians are — I certainly don’t know any — but for the sake of Frank’s argument, let’s pretend these wooly-headed dopes exist. Frank suggests one criticize the methods employed by these imaginary utopians in pursuit of their “perfect world” which consist of “a combination of a) persuasion and b) coercion.” The example used to illustrate these nefarious, anti-freedom efforts by the imaginary utopian “Progressives” are the draconian regulations prohibiting smoking. Hmmm. Well, here’s another curious choice, but then in a past version of his blog Frank was also an adamant proponent of the rights of drunk drivers, so go figure… Speaking as an inveterate smoker, I’ve got no problem with these regulations. Oh sure, they’re a little annoying now and again, but it’s a pretty indefensible, unhealthy habit in the first place, so not an especially good ground to fight a pitched battle over individual rights on in my opinion. That doesn’t deter Frank however, who contends that smoking is a “natural impulse” (wrong — it’s an addiction and there’s nothing “natural” about it although it could be argued that some people may be more predisposed to such behaviours than others) and then, by leaps and bounds he proceeds to blame “Progressives” for the Prohibition of alcohol in the United States, and the discredited theory of eugenics that played a role in the Holocaust. This of course is based on a very dubious reading of history as proponents of both these movements were by no means exclusively “Progressives” at all. Moreover, Frank quite conveniently overlooks altogether the “War on Drugs” and the continuing prohibition against marijuana which is largely a “conservative” position for the most part these days. It seems that “Conservatives” most certainly aren’t too interested in “defend[ing] the freedom of individual choice” in that particular case.

Frank’s third argument also involves another strawman, this time based on the notion that Progressives are committed to “breeding out aggressive and thrill-seeking and self-centered impulses in humans” supposedly in order create a “heaven on earth.” Frank argues that such a “breeding program” would inhibit our expansion into the solar system… Well, maybe it would, but seeing as no such dystopian “social engineering” like this exists outside the fictional imaginings of Ayn Rand and other fantasists, or is even remotely desired by mainstream “Progressives” such as people who belong to the Liberal Party, it’s a pretty absurd concern.

Where Frank comes up with these kooky ideas is beyond me, but maybe we’re given some insight into the source of his dementia when he waxes poetic about the basis of his faith in God. “I look down the valley at the puffy white clouds scudding along, and I get a sense that this all means something, that it is a whole thing, complete.” Then follows some inane prattling about the matter of free choice, at which point Frank concludes: “That is classic liberalism; that is the Conservative Party of Canada; that is why your friends and associates need, like Saul on the road to Damascus, to see the light.” Ah yes, the “New Conservatives” as divine revelation. What perfect idiocy.

As an occasional Liberal, this “appeal” is certainly compelling, but most definitely not in the way Frank wants it to be. If anything, this is sums up a few of the reasons why I could never, ever support the “New Conservatives” — nor, it should be noted, would I want to be associated with a party that’s apparently crawling with raving lunatics like Frank.

Update: In a bizarre conspiracy of fate (or some calamitous form of serendipity), yesterday, our old friend Red Canuck also coincidentally stumbled into the tenebrous realm of Frank Hilliard’s kooky bedlam (aka “Mesopotamia West”) to briefly explore some of his creepier delusions: “I’ve worked for women, I’ve married women, I enjoy the company of women. OK, ladies, I’m your guy.” Yikes! Well, needless to say, given the decrepit, witless individual in question, I’m with RC on this one — get me a barge pole… Stat!