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Proud to be Liberal

by : Wayne Besen
Tuesday February 14, 2006 - 01:58

by Wayne Besen

One of the great fallacies in modern lore is that liberalism stands for nothing and liberals have no core beliefs. The right wing, from the Pope to the President, has impugned the left by unfairly portraying it as a valueless movement mired in moral relativism.

This could not be further from the truth. Indeed, the left is the backbone of freedom, the defender of personal liberty, the guarantor of free speech and religious worship and the nurturer of democratic movements across the globe. Far from believing in nothing, wherever liberal democratic values prevail, civilizations flourish and emancipated people thrive.

The cornerstone of liberalism is the idea that each person is endowed with the precious gift of liberty and can freely choose his or her own path - for better or worse. We believe this is crucial to greater enlightenment, personal growth, and ultimate fulfillment. It also offers the best opportunity for people to realize their dreams and achieve their spiritual promise.

Liberalism encourages exploration and education. It reveres science and celebrates the inquisitive mind. Indeed, liberal values are often superior to those held on the right, because they are tenaciously subjected to rigorous examination. Beliefs that are questioned and still prevail are the ones that stand the test of time. Far from moral relativism, liberalism searches for the ultimate value in which to build a moral foundation: Truth.

Right wing movements across the globe often seem uninterested in such truth if it contradicts their obdurate belief systems. Reality averse, they are woefully unable to adjust to new understandings, burgeoning ideas and cultural awakenings.

Liberals believe in the power of reason, while conservatives are often just plain reactionary. This is why the GOP is the party of the "southern strategy" and anti-gay subterfuge. Republican power is directly related to fertilizing fear and fomenting fanaticism.

Modern conservatives are often discomfited by the complexities of life and demand answers to the world’s many unanswerable questions. They arrogantly and disingenuously claim to have absolute truth, while liberalism boldly proclaims that it does not have such ubiquitous powers of understanding. Liberalism is for those who are unafraid to fully embrace the magnificent journey of life and tackle the great mysteries of our time.

Modern conservatives will claim that liberals are sacrilegious for holding such beliefs. To the contrary, liberals are often extraordinarily religious or spiritual people. However, they diverge with conservatives in that they believe the strongest faith is one that is subject to healthy skepticism and painstaking examination. In encouraging people to explore all faiths - free of guilt, shame, coercion or fear - liberalism also offers people the greatest number of spiritual options.

Conservatives often attack gay rights because they know it is the mark of a free society that abhors authoritarian control. If a country treats gay people with dignity and respect and offers them equality, it signals that the country bases its decisions on sound education, rationalism and science. This inevitably leads towards success in all spheres of life.

Countries that ostracize and penalize homosexuals tend to be superstitious, rigid and anti-intellectual. This almost uniformly leads to poverty, war, oppression and ultimately tyranny.

A cynic might argue that the United States is not as gay friendly as other countries, yet, it is the richest country in the world. True, but nearly all of America’s cities and states that are centers of profit and creativity offer increased levels of acceptance for homosexuals. States most hostile to gay people are relatively backwards, with lower levels of education and income.

In essence, gay rights is the canary in the coal mine for freedom and prosperity. Unfortunately, the bird is hacking, signaling a period of increased oppression and a dangerous erosion of freedom. It is up to us to rescue this nation from the hazardous, retrograde path it is now on.

It is time we proudly stand up for what we believe in. If we don’t defend our values, our opponents will define them. Progressive does not mean passive. Our compassion does not mean that we lack passion. Our respect for other beliefs does not signify that we don’t hold strong beliefs of our own that we are willing to fight for.

Indeed, our power comes from our ability to adjust to reality. We are secure in our values, yet humble enough to adapt if our viewpoints are proven obsolete. Wherever liberal democracy takes root, a strong and proud record of economic, moral, social and political achievement follows.

In this midterm election year, I hope that you will be inspired to defend your values and work to create a better society where all people can live in dignified harmony and achieve the pinnacle of their social, spiritual and human potential. In other words, create a more liberal world. 3 Comments:

Liberals have always been on the right side of history. It was a liberal who first said that slavery was wrong, that women should vote, and that the races should not be separated, just to name a few.

Even in their respective times, those ideas were met by conservatives with venom, but now, conservatives accept them as truth. This is evidenced by the President speaking at Coretta Scott King’s funeral. In the 1960s, he would have stayed away.

In another hundred years or so, conservatives will be accepting the rights of gays and lesbians just as they now accept that slavery was wrong, that women should vote, and that the races should be integrated. Conservatives were the ones who fought those ideas when they first came about! I wonder if they have ever learned that change is inevitable and there is nothing they can do about that. Not even Ann Coulter. It is a shame that they are years behind the rest of us. posted by Matthew, at 2/13/2006 9:18 AM

Wayne wrote: "[We should] work to create a better society where all people can live in dignified harmony and achieve the pinnacle of their social, spiritual and human potential."

I couldn’t agree more with this stated objective of our efforts.

However, the Enlightenment ideals are increasingly at risk due to the concentration of wealth and power. Once the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity/human togetherness were furthered by entrepreneurial capitalism. But today, monopoly capitalism threatens more exploitation, destruction and death, as we witness in Afghanistan, Iraq and right here at home. In the struggle for resources and markets, production in service of private profit has led to intensified conflict. More conflict is inevitable no matter which party heads the regime in Washington.

The philosophy of liberalism that you describe simply cannot withstand the assault of concentrated greed that is battering at hardwon rights: rights identified by cleareyed visionaries and won in the streets and on the shop floors by organization of the oppressed and our allies.

Ultimately, the overthrow of the system of organized exploitation, racism and war must be undertaken. In a phrase, capitalism must be thrust aside and be replaced by socialism. The choice today is in even sharper relief than it was when Karl Marx asserted more than 150 years ago: "The choice is socialism or barbarism." posted by Bob Schwartz, at 2/13/2006 3:09 PM

Meanwhile, a salute to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment:

"In the Name of God the Compassionate and Merciful...

Our city was the main base of operations for Abu Mousab Al Zarqawi. The city was completely held hostage in the hands of his henchmen. Our schools, governmental services, businesses and offices were closed. Our streets were silent, and no one dared to walk them. Our people were barricaded in their homes out of fear; death awaited them around every corner. Terrorists occupied and controlled the only hospital in the city. Their savagery reached such a level that they stuffed the corpses of children with explosives and tossed them into the streets in order to kill grieving parents attempting to retrieve the bodies of their young. This was the situation of our city until God prepared and delivered unto them the courageous soldiers of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, who liberated this city, ridding it of Zarqawi’s followers after harsh fighting, killing many terrorists, and forcing the remaining butchers to flee the city like rats to the surrounding areas, where the bravery of other 3d ACR soldiers in Sinjar, Rabiah, Zumar and Avgani finally destroyed them.

I have met many soldiers of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment; they are not only courageous men and women, but avenging angels sent by The God Himself to fight the evil of terrorism."

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