Jewish World Review Dec. 7, 2004 /24 Kislev 5765
Blue America: The land of the easily offended
Commentators on our country explain our blue-red division in many ways liberal-conservative; secular-religious; North-South; coasts-heartland; singles-married with children.
I propose one more explanation: the easily offended-the not so easily offended.
With the acknowledgment that there are many individual exceptions, a major defining characteristic of modern-day liberalism is the ease with which liberals take offense personally and/or on behalf of others.
Liberals regularly portray as offended women, African Americans, Jews, American Indians, gays and every other group liberals declare a minority, i.e., any group that votes Democrat no group that votes Republican, such as Mormons, Cuban Americans and Vietnamese Americans, is considered a "minority." All other groups are constantly warned that almost anything they say that is not patronizing of those groups is offensive (and therefore subject to litigation).
Having given thousands of lectures across the country and on all seven continents (yes, Antarctica, too) over the past 30 years, I can vouch for the personal-offense element. I am continually astounded at how often members of the audience (usually liberal women) will say they are offended by something I said, when what they really mean is that they don't agree with me.
It is most unlikely that conservative men or women speak that way saying, "I am offended" when they hear liberal speakers.
For one thing, conservatives are so used to being labeled as stupid, bigoted, ignorant, racist, homophobic, sexist, insensitive and intolerant that it is almost impossible to offend them. Moreover, the culture does not allow them to feel offended, since they are not an officially designated minority.
For another, liberal positions are far more emotion-based than reason-based.
To cite but one of many examples, take the widely held liberal slogan "War is not the answer." It is pure irrationality. War has ended more evil than anything the left has ever thought of. In the last 60 years alone, it ended Nazism and the Holocaust; it saved half of Korea from genocide; it kept Israel from national extinction and a second Holocaust; it saved Finland from becoming a Stalinist totalitarian state; and according to most of the people who put "War is not the answer" stickers on their bumpers, it saved Bosnian Muslims from ethnic cleansing.
The list of irrational, feelings-based liberal positions is almost as long as the list of contemporary liberal positions. The relevant point here is that people who take positions based on feelings will of necessity take disagreement more personally and feel offended more often than others.
Liberals' claims of being offended themselves or on behalf of a selected group are almost endless.
Liberal Jews and non-Jews claim that "Merry Christmas" offends Jews and other non-Christians. That 90 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas is of no importance to the easily offended.
Liberal blacks and other liberals see racism almost everywhere in America. To cite a typical example, the absence of black musicians in major orchestras has frequently been named as an example of white racism, despite the fact that many orchestras audition musicians behind a curtain. To non-liberals, the reason probably lies in the fact that few black kids learn to play the oboe or viola. And the sad result of liberals taking offense at so much white behavior is that many whites now talk very guardedly and unnaturally to blacks.
Liberal American Indian spokesmen and other liberals regularly tell us how offensive Indian names of sports teams are. The latest polls show that most Indians have no problem with such names, but liberals are still offended on their behalf. To make the point of how offensive the name "Indians" is for the Cleveland baseball team, one liberal caller once asked me, "How would you feel if a team were named 'Jews'?" I told him that it would be a great day in Jewish history for 3,000 years, Jews have been looking for fans.
Part of America remains the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. An almost equally large part is now the Land of the Easily Offended and the Home of the Hypersensitive. Which land we become is a big part of the second American civil war we are fighting.
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JWR contributor Dennis Prager hosts a national daily radio show based in Los Angeles. He the author of, most recently, "Happiness is a Serious Problem". Click here to comment on this column.
ARCHIVES © 2004, Creators Syndicate