Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Taking Back The Word Liberal

Wow, what a great article by Joel Engel in the Weekly Standard, who articulates beautifully the meaninglessness of the word 'liberal' as co-opted by today's progressives. As I've stated before, classical liberalism accomplished many great things, and was a reaction to abuses that were quite real and quite undemocratic.

Now, we have the U.S. decried as 'fascist' for ending two of the most loathsome regimes of recent years in the Taliban and Saddam's Baathist dictatorship. We, incredibly, have people accused of being hatemongers for shedding light on hateful statements made by radicals such as Jane Christensen and Ward Churchill. We are condemned for having a 'culture of death' by Frank Rich*, because of the chronological coincidence of Terry Schiavo and Pope John Paul II's final days.

That's why I'm so glad to see Engel's article, because it provides much needed clarity for those of us who are uncomfortable condemning 'liberals' in view of the classical meaning of the word, and its close assocation with democracy and freedom. I've often been at pains, at times awkwardly so, to insist that it is not the Left en masse that I oppose, but only the most radical elements, yet I've made my point clumsily in some cases. Now, if I find myself at a loss for words, I can just point to Engel's article, and say, "This - this is what I'm trying to articulate". Needless to say, I give it the highest of recommendations.

*That would be the same Frank Rich who has no problem with the culture of dead fetuses, but can't wait to condemn those who believe the coldest murderers among us maybe shouldn't live the rest of their lives on easy street at taxpayer expense (yep, I said easy street. I'm tired of hearing how tough prison is. Every meal is paid for, no rent to worry about, no broken-down cars, or unexpected expenses...that's not hard. What's hard is making a living, showing up for work day after day, taking care of your loved ones, raising a family, doing the right fact, it's a truism that it is these very everyday struggles that proved too difficult for almost every single prisoner to handle).

Now, I've said before that it's probably a good thing, all in all, that abortion is legal. I've also said that I find it abominable how it is celebrated as the single defining accomplishment of democracy by some of the more strident pro-choicers. The fact remains that, in the vast, vast majority of cases, unwanted pregnancies are the result of irresponsible behavior; yet, those who would teach abstinence as a virtue to our children are dismissed as 'unrealistic'.

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