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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Liberals vs. Conservatives

From James Taranto's Best of the Web yesterday:
Writing in the Jerusalem Post, Jonathan Rosenblum of Jewish Media Resources ponders the careers of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice-designate Sam Alito, and in the process makes an excellent point about Ivy League conservatives and liberals:
Because of their minority status it is far more difficult for conservative students to entertain the illusion that all smart people think like them. They are exposed to many obviously bright young men and women whose opinions on almost every issue vary radically from their own. . . .

Being forced to recognize that there are different points of view helps make bright young conservatives such good debaters. They learn early on the limited persuasiveness of shouting at someone with whom they disagree, "You're an idiot." Of necessity they have to develop the ability to cast their arguments in ways that appeal to those starting from very different premises. . . .

Liberals can be wonderful people, and boon companions, but they often have a hard time dealing with people of opposing views--especially when they cannot dismiss them out of hand as idiots. Too often they have spent their entire adult lives surrounded almost entirely by those who think just like them, and it comes naturally to dismiss those of other views as intellectually or morally challenged.
This is true beyond the Ivy League, as we noted just after the 2004 election. With liberalism the dominant ideology in the news and entertainment media, it is virtually inescapable to any American who doesn't go to great lengths to insulate himself from it. Big-city liberals, by contrast, can easily filter out conservative ideas, and thus need contend only with their own prejudices. Thus conservatives are smarter than liberals--not necessarily in terms of native intelligence, but of understanding the world around them.
I have to say this rings quite true to me. Speaking to people from all over has led me to conclude that most people just aren't all that knowledgeable about so many issues, and that's primarily because they get most of their information from typical news sources and the like. It's amazing to see the views that are shaped by this reliance on their evening news or daily newspaper. Too often, a person's understanding of certain concepts - whether economics, medicine, or whatever - are shaped not by studying it, but by what they hear in a 3-minute news clip. What people seem to forget is that news media is all too often trying to bring viewers or readers that special "scoop" - which often translates into finding the exceptions, rather than the norm. Typical life doesn't garner high ratings; shocking viewers does.

Ironically, liberals are actually shooting themselves in the foot with their dominant hold on media and universities. Most of what they say is correct, albeit slanted to serve what they feel is the proper viewpoint. But because so much of what is taught or seen is so slanted, people tend to be shocked when they encounter the situations themselves. If you'd send a video camera to the middle of Baghdad, I think most people would be surprised to see what's going on there. The same applies to Israel; the same applies to numbers on economics and taxes. It is incredible to see people's shocked reactions to clips from Gaza that aren't on the news, and it is almost embarrassing to see how little people know about taxes or Social Security. (Did you know that tax revenues are up since Bush cut them? Do you understand why that is the case?!) As each of these alternative viewpoints are brought to the public's attention, they start to doubt more and more of what they've been led to believe.

That's my take - your thoughts?

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18 comments:

  1. I'd have thought of a snappy argument back, but really, I'll just leave it with:

    You're an idiot.


    Wow, that really does ease my liberal mind.

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  2. Of course, in the Orthodox Jewish world, it's us liberals who're frequently in the minority...

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  3. Robbie - Huh?

    Steg - Granted. Though online, the reverse is true.

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  4. Hahaha - sorry to upset you - I was making a bad joke... (since according to the article all the liberals can do is write people off as idiots.)

    Guess that one failed.

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  5. Wasn't upset, just confused...

    But that's actually not what it was saying at all. It was pointing out that liberals are more likely to encounter only those who are like-minded, while conservatives are less likely. For example: In New York, for all its diversity, there is an extremely high percentage of people who are liberal. Over 80% of some boroughs of NYC voted Kerry in 2004, for example. Even in the most red states, the percentages weren't this high; in addition, the entire country sees the NBC/CBS/ABC broadcasts - sure, there's FOX, but everyone sees the other broadcasts as well. The same is not as true in reverse.

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  6. (Above comment was not as well-stated as I would have liked. Gotta run to class, though...)

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  7. This is so dumb.

    First, off among Orthodox Jews knee-jerk reactionary conservatism is the dominant ideology, so, according to this reasoning you and the conservatives are morons, while me and the liberals are the ones who needed to develop debate skills.

    Second, it is completely false that "liberalism is tyhe dominant ideology in the news and entertainment media" Conservatives keep repeating that shibboleth but it isn't true. Not only do the conservatives dominate talk radio and cable news, they also have serious clout in the newspaper business. Finally, and most importantly, there is no mainstream newspaper as rabidly liberal as the WSJ is conservative. And there is not liberal cable news station as rabidly liberal as Fox NEws is conservative.

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  8. First, off among Orthodox Jews knee-jerk reactionary conservatism is the dominant ideology, so, according to this reasoning you and the conservatives are morons, while me and the liberals are the ones who needed to develop debate skills.

    First, read comments above yours. Second, that's partially meaningless: We still get our news and (for many) education from places where the same is still true.

    Second, it is completely false that "liberalism is tyhe dominant ideology in the news and entertainment media" Conservatives keep repeating that shibboleth but it isn't true. Not only do the conservatives dominate talk radio and cable news, they also have serious clout in the newspaper business. Finally, and most importantly, there is no mainstream newspaper as rabidly liberal as the WSJ is conservative. And there is not liberal cable news station as rabidly liberal as Fox NEws is conservative.

    They do dominate talk radio, and have a slight edge in cable news (at least according to total viewers, which I've discussed previously). But as many have pointed out, this is precisely because they are starkly in contrast to the more "mainstream" news organizations.

    However, I'd say CNN is as rabidly left as FOX is right in the cable news race; the Journal is perfectly fine on its news pages [I've never seen anybody claim otherwise], and strong, but not rabidly right-wing on its editorial pages; and I've failed to see conservative clout in very many newspapers across the country. The Washington Post leans right more than most other major newspapers, and yet even it leans lefts a majority of the time. Others I've read consistently, such as the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and Cleveland Plain Dealer, range from liberal to way beyond what you'd call "rabidly" liberal.

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  9. r, I'd say CNN is as rabidly left

    ====

    Spoken like someone who doesn't watch CNN. Did you forget that Tucker Carlson got famous on that station?

    And of the papers you names, I know one: The New York Time, and it may be liberal, but not in the way conservatives think. Anyway, in NY, and nationally its nicelyt balanced by the WSJ; their editorial page is legandary for its bias, and it's inability to form a cogent argument.

    In DC the post is balance by the Times.

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  10. Spoken like someone who doesn't watch CNN. Did you forget that Tucker Carlson got famous on that station?

    And who goes up against Hannity? Alan Combs I believe.

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  11. 'Over 80% of some boroughs of NYC voted Kerry in 2004, for example. Even in the most red states, the percentages weren't this high'

    I live in one of those boroughs: The Bronx. 82.8% Kerry. (It was Kerry's second best county; San Francisco barely beat us.) But you should know that it really isn't kosher to compare a county to a state!

    Bush's best state, Utah, voted 71.5% Bush. Kerry's best state, Massachusetts, voted 61.9% for him. If you want to compare counties to counties, a lot of small counties in Texas voted over 90% Bush. So by the numbers this the reverse of your argument is the correct one.

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  12. I agree that it's dumb to pretend that all liberals live in a bubble and conservatives are outnumbered and under attack everywhere. We both have our bubble. But in the places of higher learning, liberals are the dominant breed, which explains why academics are so insanely liberal sometimes.

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  13. DB: Spoken like someone who doesn't watch CNN. Did you forget that Tucker Carlson got famous on that station?

    And of the papers you names, I know one: The New York Time, and it may be liberal, but not in the way conservatives think. Anyway, in NY, and nationally its nicelyt balanced by the WSJ; their editorial page is legandary for its bias, and it's inability to form a cogent argument.

    In DC the post is balance by the Times.


    As Nephtuli noted, Fox's Hannity has Alan Colmes (who's no stiff). I'm not sure what you mean the Times is "liberal, but not in the way conservatives think". When you say their editorial page is "known for its bias and inability to form a cogent argument", I thought you were referring to the Times - but realized that you probably meant the WSJ. I've never heard anyone say that about the Journal before; it's editorial pages are quite good at presenting a full picture to bring home an argument, whereas I've not seen that as often in the Times.

    And I hestitate to say that the Post is balanced by the Washington Times... the latter is not equally balanced.

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  14. I live in one of those boroughs: The Bronx. 82.8% Kerry. (It was Kerry's second best county; San Francisco barely beat us.) But you should know that it really isn't kosher to compare a county to a state!

    Bush's best state, Utah, voted 71.5% Bush. Kerry's best state, Massachusetts, voted 61.9% for him. If you want to compare counties to counties, a lot of small counties in Texas voted over 90% Bush. So by the numbers this the reverse of your argument is the correct one.


    Heh. I specifically thought of you, Charlie, when I wrote: (Above comment was not as well-stated as I would have liked. Gotta run to class, though...)

    Okay, to explain more clearly: The liberal areas of America, such as the Bronx, SanFran, Manhattan, Boston; are all full of a large, diverse group of Americans. You can run into a million Americans, watch the news, go to university, and read the Times, and never really come face to face with conservative idealogues. The reverse is true for conservatives. Even if they live in a county where 90% voted Bush, they're usually in small areas where most people are the same. But, they see news that is more liberal; they read news that's more liberal; and they go to colleges where liberalism is quite strong. They do come face to face with liberal ideologues throughout their life.

    (I said this far better in the comments on DB, however.)

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  15. I agree that it's dumb to pretend that all liberals live in a bubble and conservatives are outnumbered and under attack everywhere. We both have our bubble. But in the places of higher learning, liberals are the dominant breed, which explains why academics are so insanely liberal sometimes.

    I don't think that the intention was that ALL liberals are in a bubble; rather, they can choose to be if they'd like, and many do so. Conservatives don't have that option, and are forced to understand both sides.

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  16. I don't think that the intention was that ALL liberals are in a bubble; rather, they can choose to be if they'd like, and many do so. Conservatives don't have that option, and are forced to understand both sides.

    Why? Conservatives could move to very conservative areas. Lakewood is pretty conservative because they have little access to outside information and rarely encounter opposing viewpoints.

    The only difference is if conservatives want to get an education they are forced to confront liberal arguments, while universities are bastions of liberalism. So in that regard conservatives have it worse, that's for sure.

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  17. The only difference is if conservatives want to get an education they are forced to confront liberal arguments, while universities are bastions of liberalism. So in that regard conservatives have it worse, that's for sure.

    That's one, and news is another. Lakewood is closed off, sure, but even the little they get from the outside world I imagine comes from "well-established" sources, such as the Times. But I'm referring to the average Jew, not specifics as much.

    If you take the 4 questions from the post above, a conservative might be able to pull a no or two; a liberal could more easily pull all four.

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