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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