Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Liberal vs. Leftist Intolerance

If there's one common point of contention among most of my friends and family-whatever their political beliefs/faith/lifestyle-it's the frustration we all hold with what we call the liberal elite. Don't get me wrong. I'm fairly liberal in most of my politics. I believe in health care reform, am against the war and torture, try to stay out of people's bedrooms, advocate for labor rights, and intend to experiment with veganism at some point. However, I try to be open-minded toward others' beliefs (and, if I've acted elitist and arrogant, I humbly apologize). I know others who try to do likewise, regardless of their ideology. Unfortunately, this cannot be said for all who profess "liberalism."

These are the people who protest animal experimentation but condemn those who fight abortion. These are the people who claim to think for themselves, yet feel the need to condescend to those who practice faith. These are the people who will travel to the most impoverished countries in the world yet who act like the South and Midwest are the most oppressive, backwoods places, regardless of the intelligent people they know from these regions. They'll stand for women's rights, unless those rights include choices like having lots of children and staying home with them. They'll stand for the rights of the blue-collar worker, unless he wants to date their daughter. They'll disrespect the military, even if these same soldiers are the reasons for their freedom. Yes, I'm talking about these people.

They are a disgrace to the word liberal. Liberal derives from the word liberas, which means "free" in Latin. That's where we get the word liberty. It means being open to other viewpoints, even as you hold your own, understanding that life experiences, education, culture, and other factors impact people in different ways. It means being humble, understanding that no one is better or worse than you, and trying to understand where someone comes from. It means having the freedom to share your viewpoints, whether someone else assents or dissents. It does not mean shoving your lifestyle down someone's throat or treating them like scum because they do not subscribe to yours. It does not mean persecuting, insulting, or otherwise chaining people. It destroys freedom, therefore, it isn't liberal.

So, if you are one of these people, do us all a favor. Refer to yourself as a leftist, for that is a more accurate description. Please, do not use a word for freedom. You make people fear its ideas. Also, please keep your insensitive, nasty comments to yourself. And stop telling me I'm oppressed. Thank you.

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