Jewish World Review July 24, 2003 / 24 Tamuz, 5763

Michael Graham

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Not in your right mind? | The great schism between America Left and Right can be traced back to a tiny fracture in opinion: What is the fundamental nature of Man?

Liberals, when all the politics is stripped away, believe that people are fundamentally good, that when protected from the evil influences of corporations, institutional racism and the poisonous ether of talk radio, the average person will naturally choose to act selflessly and in the public good.

Conservatives like myself recognize this as sheer idiocy. Man lives in a fallen state, prone towards selfishness, pettiness and narcissism. Without some redeeming force acting upon us, the average hausfrau would shoplift the week's groceries and blow her savings at the track, and the typical minister of the Gospel would spend his unwatched hours in the "laying on of hands" upon nubile sopranos from the Sunday choir.

Which is why, generally speaking, we conservatives are more comfortably able to bear the existence of our liberal counterparts. We're not surprised to encounter the failed logic and naiveté of liberals because we are well aware that our human beings are so very fallible.

Liberals, on the other hand, find us conservatives difficult to abide because we simply shouldn't be. Given every person's innate desire for the joys progressive taxation, gun control and abortion on demand, the very existence of conservatism makes no natural sense.

And so a conservative meets a liberal and thinks "You're wrong," while a liberal meets a conservative and wonders "What's wrong with you?"

Now they think they know.

A new study conducted by academics at Stanford, Maryland and—surprise! —Berkeley claims to reveal the explanation for the existence of conservative ideology.

We're mental.

Donate to JWR

Or, to quote the study, entitled "Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition," we conservatives are: "low in cognitive complexity"; have an "intolerance for ambiguity"; "condone inequality"; and are motivated by "fear and aggression" inspired by our inability to comprehend the nuanced world around us. (Click here for highlights)

But not to worry, my fellow conservatives. The authors of this study are liberals and therefore (in the exquisite wording of a UC-Berkeley press release) "also stress that their findings are not judgmental."

It's academic research straight from Seinfeld U.: "You're a bunch of dumb, simple-minded, bigoted bullies—not that there's anything wrong with that!"

According to Berkeley's website, the study is a meta-analysis of previous analysis of conservatives from around the world, all of it I presume conducted by liberal academics. It's hard to get a grasp of what the authors define as "conservatism" because of the people they lump together. For example:

"Disparate conservatives share a resistance to change and acceptance of inequality, the authors said. Hitler, Mussolini, and former President Ronald Reagan were individuals, but all were right-wing conservatives because they preached a return to an idealized past and condoned inequality in some form."

Excuse me, professors, but did you say Hitler, Mussolini and Reagan? The first two supported a state-run economy and an ever-growing government applying race-based policies upon its citizens. The third supported a free market economy, an ever-shrinking government and a color-blind society. So the connection is…..what?

And notice I'm completely ignoring the bizarre sentence construct about all three men being "individuals." Maybe it's my low cognitive complexity showing, but could some liberal name a person who isn't an "individual?" Or is schizophrenia another symptom of "Conservative Social Cognition?"

If you find the connection between Adolf "Uber Alles" Hitler and Ronald "Laissez-faire" Reagan hard to make out, the authors then argue that Castro and Stalin were conservatives, too.

"The researchers conceded cases of left-wing ideologues, such as Stalin, Khrushchev or Castro, who, once in power, steadfastly resisted change….[yet] some of these figures might be considered politically conservative in the context of the systems that they defended. The researchers noted that Stalin, for example, was concerned about defending and preserving the existing Soviet system."

Hitler, Castro and Stalin? I guess that bunch at Berkeley are right: It really IS all the Republicans' fault.

And so liberals have determined that conservatism is not an ideology or an economic theory, but a condition. Or, more accurately stated, an illness, like dementia or the rickets. The question is whether or not liberals believe it can be cured.

I suspect not. This would explain why it is so hard for conservatives to get members of the Left to debate their ideas. Oh, they're happy to discuss the scandalous 2000 election or George W's college transcripts or (for those too young or dumb to know what actually happened in the '80s) how Ronald Reagan destroyed the American economy and lost the Cold War.

But just try asking a liberal what they think American policy toward Iraq and terrorism should be, or ask to hear their plan to rescue children from hideously-performing public schools without using vouchers, or some other pragmatic policy question, and it's nearly always futile.

I used to think they didn't have any solutions to global terrorism or the failed government school system. Now I'm wondering if they have ideas, but they just don't think we conservatives are smart enough to understand them.

So I'm left to deal as best I can with my "CSC." My lack of complex thought that allows me to see the murderous barbarity of Islamo-fascism as unambiguously evil instead of as a form of multiculturalism. My "tolerance for injustice" shows itself in my opposition to arbitrary, unfair race-based college admissions. And when accused of being motivated by "fear and aggression," as in fearing big government and aggressively fighting the ever-encroaching nanny state, I can only plead insanity.

But if the choice is to between joining the Left or life in the loony bin, I say "Give me a conservative, navy blue jacket with sleeves that button up in the back."

I may be crazy, but you guys just don't make any sense.

Every weekday publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Michael Graham is a talk show host and author of the highly acclaimed "Redneck Nation: How the South Really Won the War." To comment, please click here.


07/15/03: Keep your eyes on the lies
07/08/03: ‘LIBERIALS’
07/01/03: Our Strom
06/24/03: Like white on Rice
06/20/03: Security begins at home
06/16/03: DEAR HIL—
06/11/03: Madame Hillary's Lessons for Young Ladies
06/03/03: War games
05/28/03: A few small reparations
05/22/03: Springtime for Hitler?

© 2003, Michael Graham