Liberal Conservatism

I should begin this post by saying this might offend a number of people. As we’re coming to know each other through my writing, it’s important for you to realize I’m not afraid of offending you. Offense is an important part of having difficult conversations. If you or I were to go back in time and have a conversation with a slave-owner living in the early 19th century, we would offend that individual enormously by insinuating the institution of slavery was evil or unjust. The question I propose here, my dear reader, is what is more important to society: Truly liberal thinking (Liberal: Open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values), or avoiding giving offense? I would claim that the former does more for the advancement of society in general. In a liberal spirit, however, I cannot claim to know the truth until I have heard both sides of the argument. It very well could be that avoiding giving offense will soften the slave-holder to your influence over time, and give you the opportunity to speak to him in a more influential way later on. Both of these are valid opinions, and they should be considered alongside each other with no prejudice towards either of them. This is the spirit of liberal thinking and of liberalism in general. As the definition of “liberal” I gave previously states: Liberalism is an openness to new ideas and opinions. Thus, all sides of an argument or topic should be considered before moving forward if one claims to be liberally thinking. We have arrived at the point where I must introduce the meat of the topic for this post. It seems to me that in America we very rarely have the opportunity to experience true liberalism. America seems to be composed of several shades of conservative values. Some are called liberal values (a misnomer, I think) while others are called conservative ones. So, before we move ahead I think we should define conservatism.

Conservatism: holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion.

How can I claim that America’s liberals are, in fact, conservative in word and deed? Let me explain. A current struggle in the world today rages between Israel and Palestine. I won’t explain the details of the struggle here (you should research the topic if you’re curious). Most every liberal I encounter chooses to support the Palestinians in the struggle, claiming that Israel is an illegitimate, abusive, Zionist state that has pushed the Arab world to its breaking point. Certainly, this stance might appear to fit the definition of “liberal” as it is obviously at odds with America’s historical reverence for Israel. But, upon further examination that appearance breaks down. As I said, from the perspective of Palestinians, Israel is an illegitimate, abusive, Zionist state. I feel I must ask, however, is it at all surprising that Palestinians (a people who are raised with racism towards Jews engrained in their culture) have a negative view of Israel? To liberally think we must take their view into account, but we must also look at the perspective of history. Palestine, a British colonial mandate, belonged to Britain before Israel and its neighboring Arab state were founded in 1948. How, then, can Palestinians claim that Israel is an illegitimate state when the land it sits on was donated by its previous owner? Could it be that cultural racism in Arab states neighboring Israel could be the cause of their perceptions of Israeli evil? It’s up to you to decide. Sadly, it seems that if one were to support Israel over Palestine (or Darren Wilson over Mike Brown, or religious organizations over feminists, etc.) one would be ostracized by this “liberal” community. It seems to me that modern liberals have their minds made up. They’ve decided that it’s automatically racist to be proud of having white skin, and it’s sexist to be proud of being a man. No one can talk them out of these opinions, because these contentions have become conservative values for the liberal American. In America today we see people like Sam Harris being nearly booed off of a stage for criticizing the ethical stances of Islam while 17 people were beheaded in Saudi Arabia as punishment for apostasy a month before. All the while America is caught in a mire of ethical frustration and strife, inequality (of all kinds), and economic collapse. These are issues which require liberal thinking rather than conservative values that come in different colors. While America has enough money to solve world hunger and to give each and every one if its citizens a warm place to live, it is doomed to its path if it remains so poor in intellect.