"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Monday, November 08, 2004

Mike Kinsley: Arrogant Elitist

Michael Kinsley took a stab at irony in the Sunday Washington Post, with ironic results (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A29470-2004Nov5?language=printer): “If you insist – and you do – I will rethink my fundamental beliefs from scratch, since they are shared by only 47 percent of the population. . . .But could you please stop calling me arrogant and elitist?”

The arrogance of Kinsley’s sermon eludes him because he is so elitist. He presumes, against overwhelming evidence, that everyone who voted for Senator Kerry must be a Kinsley clone – that is, another “softheaded liberal” who shares Kinsley’s beliefs about abortion and gay marriage.

Kinsley asserts “that people on my side of the divide want to live in a society where women are free to choose abortion and where gay relationships have full civil equality with straight ones. And you [meaning those intolerant zealots who voted for Bush] want to live in a society where the opposite is true. . . . We don't want to force you to have an abortion or to marry someone of the same gender, whereas you do want to close out those possibilities for us. Which is more arrogant?”

Kinsley is far more arrogant than he realizes, because he claims to speak for “we” when he really means “me.” He assigns one prepackaged duet of opinions to Kerry supporters and another to Bush supporters. Yet many Kerry and Bush supporters don’t care a bit about these two issues (which have never been under the jurisdiction of federal law). Others hold Kinsley’s view on one of them, but not the other, and that includes Republicans as well as Democrats.

Kinsley is simply dreaming if he thinks most of his views are shared by 47 percent of the population. Exit polls show only 21 percent of voters – not 47 percent -- regard themselves as liberal. Only 25 percent – not 47 percent -- approve of same-sex marriage, and 22 percent of them voted for Bush. Bush also received 23 percent of the gay vote.

When it comes to abortion, however, only 16 percent of the voters think abortion should be illegal, and 22 percent of them voted for Kerry. Nearly half of U.S. Catholics voted for Kerry, and a larger fraction of Muslims and Jews, although many people of those faiths view abortion as equivalent to infanticide (which is also not subject to federal jurisdiction).

Kinsley’s “full civil equality” for gay couples dodges the more sensitive issue of reserving the term marriage for traditional couples. Among those favoring civil unions for gays, in fact, Bush beat Kerry 52 to 47 percent. What “civil equality”means is inherently unclear because it could involve many agencies of federal, state and local governments. The IRS would surely protest if two men or two women tried to file a joint tax return, but that would be a matter of money not morality.

Senators Kerry and Edwards advocated letting the states permit or ban same-sex marriage laws, which state elections just proved is the practical equivalent of favoring a ban. President Bush did not take a fundamentally different position, but worried (from experience) that local judges might contravene state legislatures.
Kinsley goes on to say, “We on my side of the great divide don’t, for the most part, believe that our values are direct orders from God. We don't claim that they are immutable and beyond argument. We are, if anything, crippled by reason and open-mindedness, by a desire to persuade rather than insist. Which philosophy is more elitist?”

Orders from God? Kinsley defines his “great divide” as only a habitual elitist possibly could. He imagines a division between religious Republicans and liberal Democrats. A liberal rabbi or Ayn Randian atheist has no place in “The World According to Mike.” Yet only 8 percent of the voters thought the candidate’s religious faith was a top issue. And 31 percent of those with no religion voted for Bush. Senator Kerry, on the other hand, received 47 percent of the Catholic vote, 74 percent of the Jewish vote and a sizable majority of the Muslim vote.

As for the left’s alleged open-mindedness and mild-mannered “desire to persuade,” that is just an arrogant and elitist description of what arrogant and elitist liars and panderers like Michael Moore and George Soros have been doing to try to trick and buy their way to power.

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