Thursday, November 16, 2006

Pseudo-Conservative Contradictions, Part 2

This is a continuation of my earlier Pseudo-Conservative Contradictions. One of the best ways to see that pseudo-conservatives are not advocates of ‘liberty’ and ‘freedom’ as they constantly claim is by noting how they handle debate with opponents. Most pseudo-conservatives I hear use authoritarian tactics in debate which show they don’t foster ‘freedom of expression’. Prime among debating tools for pseudo-conservatives is the personal attack, the ad hominem tactic: attack the person and not the substance of the disagreement. Thus, you’ll hear those on the right, who otherwise maintain they are the arch defenders of liberty and freedom, use dismissive attacks on opponents like “cut and run”, “hate America first”, “unpatriotic”, etc. The goal is to encourage audiences to emotionally dismiss the opponent and not even listen to what they have to say. In other words, these defenders of liberty aim to squelch debate and the free exchange of ideas.

In an excellent book, The Authoritarian Dynamic, political scientist Karen Stenner gave a brief description of the predisposition to be authoritarian; she wrote (p. 16) that the stances taken by the authoritarian “have the effect of glorifying, encouraging, and rewarding uniformity and of disparaging, suppressing, and punishing difference.” Ad hominem attacks are attempts to glorify uniformity and suppress difference. On the other end of the continuum from authoritarianism is libertarianism. The true and consistent libertarian can reasonably make a claim that they are defenders of liberty. The pseudo-conservative is a sham defender of liberty, an authoritarian masquerading as a true lover of freedom. How long are Americans going to allow the pseudo-conservative, authoritarian right to get away with this scam? They pump themselves up as guardians of liberty but consistently behave in ways that undermine it.

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