The Intolerant Left

Political parties’ beliefs have become extreme in recent years, making it increasingly difficult to reach compromises (Courtesy of Flickr).

By Paul Ingrassia

Until recently, American liberalism was an ideology founded upon the free exchange of ideas and the rule of law; it was an advocate of American exceptionalism, as well as the spread of Judeo-Christian values across the globe. However, over the past decade or so, all of these sentiments have been virtually expunged from the New Left’s platform. Broadly defined, leftism traditionally called for more government intervention to remedy the perceived social injustices of the free market, which contrasted with the classical liberal approach of non-intervention.

Where the latter diverged from the former with regard to the size and scope of government, these competing philosophies–classical liberalism and classical leftism–were essentially united in their adulation of the American cultural bedrock, which was deep-seated in natural law. However, somewhere along the line, the Left became more radical and slowly molded its platform around the ideology of its extremists.

The fact that in today’s times, Gore Vidal, a radical of the 1960s, would feel happily at home with the worldview propounded by modern leftists should draw the ire of traditionalists everywhere. This rather heinous development of the past decade is perhaps the greatest existential threat of modern times, given the inherent degeneracy of an ideology rooted in a sort of Camusian relativism that views reality as a social construct, history as a class struggle, cultural homogeneity as regressive, and institutional authority, particularly of the religious variety, as grossly incompatible with modern notions of “progress.”

To many, this ideology was happily inhibited by several booming victories for conservatives over the past year and a half— the successes of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump to the presidency were viewed as abject failures of the leftist establishment to address the needs of the everyman, both of which will undoubtedly have significant longstanding consequences. Yet, despite these sweeping victories, conservatives must not relent or become complacent. The Left still remains, arguably still, the dominant intellectual tradition in contemporary times; its stranglehold over the curriculum in many public schools, universities, and large portions of the mainstream media demonstrate just how influential it remains. To this end, many conservatives see this leftist infiltration as malignant; a continuation, more or less, of the free-spirited sixties cultural ethos that has left not a part of our society unscathed. Today’s penchant for informalism, for example, and our heightened skepticism of authority, are but rather benign in comparison to the mounting societal forces that are increasingly denying objective truth, reducing once unassailable aspects of reality into nothing more than some man made, illusory creation.

Accordingly, conservatives must remain vigilant about what we perceive as an outright attack on the American cultural fabric. This ongoing battle is perhaps most evident in the political obstructionism incited by congressional Democratic leaders to block President Trump’s agenda at every turn, such as in their petty yearning to complicate Judge Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation vote, which does enormous harm to the rest of the country.

It should be made clear that those in Congress who are working to oppose Trump’s every move are simply acting out the sort of seedy dogma that belies contemporary leftist principles. In so doing, they have implicitly shown which part of their shrinking constituency matters most to them: not the jobless coalminer, nor the disabled veteran, nor even the inner city African-American. But instead, the rabble-rousers on college campuses and the holier-than-thou Hollywood-types that have in their nastiest moments advocated for a military coup of the Trump White House.  When they are not spewing this brand of fatuous nonsense, today’s radical leftists emboss the President and his supporters as irredeemable “deplorables,” in their view, helplessly clinging to an outmoded, degenerative worldview anathema to a quickly changing national identity.

The most extreme of them hope to irrevocably tarnish the legacies of America’s mostly white, male, Protestant forefathers whose accomplishments no longer comport with their vision of a brave new world. For every hyperbolic attack peddled by leftists against our newly elected president for being “authoritarian”, there is an actual case of anti-democratic nonsense that arises from their side. Take, for example, UC Berkeley’s violent suppression of free speech, which forced the controversial right-wing speaker, Milo Yiannopoulos, to rescind an invitation to speak on their campus due to the destruction caused by radical, left-wing agitators.

This sort of obstructionism that typifies many in today’s Left has worked its way into national politics as well. While Democrats in Congress may not be protesting in the streets, their attempts to stop Trump at any cost showcase a clear favorite among their constituents of whose policy preferences are prioritized. These are the radical, leftist loonies, who have become something of a juggernaut in the party, particularly on the coastal regions. They typically in their thinking resort to emotive tropes, instead of rational exposition, which is demonstrated in their policy preferences for open borders, big government and neo-puritanical “tolerance,” the latter of which includes everyone save those lockstep in their doctrinaire worldview.

Democracy, of course, is not a one-way street, but whenever either side reaches a point in which anyone who disagrees becomes deplorable by default, there is a serious problem. This is compounded especially by how radical some on the Left have become in degree of their demands. For instance, during one of the Democratic primary debates, both Clinton and Senator Sanders agreed that on the topic of immigration, all undocumented aliens should remain in the United States so long as they don’t commit a dangerous crime. In other words, the Democratic Party platform basically legitimated open border anarchy, a topic that subsequently became a major liability for Clinton, who made great strides to avoid speaking about it on the campaign trail.

But what turned many people off from Clinton was not so much the extremity of her positions on policy (though that certainly was part of it), but in the condescending rhetoric that was leveled against those who actually supported, for instance, reasonable measures to protect our borders. And make no mistake, this was not a fallacy committed by those simply on the Left (or more precisely, those in the Democratic Party).

This was keenly illustrated by Mitt Romney, a supposed ambassador of conservatism, whose own inflated ego clouded his sensibilities when he attempted to despoil Trump’s candidacy in his long forgotten March 2016 speech. What this shows is that contemporary leftism has largely defined the rules of the modern political game, even for large swaths of the Grand Old Party.

As a result, whenever an ideological outlier like Trump arises, they become the enemy by default, and become subject to ruthless assault by a political establishment that resorts to many of the same obstinate tactics of radical leftists. To the chagrin of the Romneys and Bushes of the world, the ideological forces that mounted Trump happily proved insurmountable, in part because the President tapped into something that was authentic and conservative.

It is perhaps altogether fitting to end on an optimistic note with a piece of advice from one of modern conservatism’s founding fathers, William F. Buckley Jr. He once said, “a conservative is a fellow who is standing athwart history yelling stop!” Now, perhaps more than ever, conservatives ought to take this most prescient advice and use the advantage accorded to them by the changing political climate to effect real, substantive change.

 

Paul Ingrassia, FCRH ’17, is a mathematics and economics major from Patchogue, New York.

There are 47 comments

  1. Embarrassed

    Suffolk County ignorance, Fairfield County pretentiousness, you’re really representing the Fordham community here, Jesus would be proud.

  2. make it stop

    You really think that Trump became the “enemy by default” simply because he’s a political outlier? Jesus Christ. He became the “enemy” because he is a disgusting, repugnant man who has the intellect and temperament of a 3rd grader. Are you actually blind to that reality? Because if you are, that’s truly tragic.

    And frankly, it’s hard not to be condescending towards conservatives when their views are so antiquated and unreasonable. As an aggregate, you overtly deny science and facts. You deny the notion that all humans should be treated with respect, and you have elected a treasonous fool who has made our country the laughing stock of the world. How are us liberals supposed to act towards you, Paul, when you and your fellow party members deny the most basic aspects of logic and reason? Am I expected to respect your views when your views neglect to respect others? And doesn’t this make YOU the intolerant one? I’m so sick of reading article after article on here about how evil liberals are. This newspaper has become an embarrassment.

    1. Eidgenoßen

      No need for profanity. Perhaps you could elucidate why you think the logic is flawed. I think it’s a bit hyperbolic to say Trump has the intelligence of a 3rd grader, but if you were to expand on the rest of what you said, and post some philosophical points challenging conservative thought, that would be helpful for everyone.

      1. make it stop

        Where at any point was I profane?

        And secondly, I’m sick of having to justify why I think Trump’s conservatism is logically flawed and unreasonable. Isn’t it obvious? Do I really have to point each and every moment of his stupidity and hypocrisy out? I will, but to me it just seems like a given.

  3. Bruh

    “The Left still remains, arguably still, the dominant intellectual tradition in contemporary times; its stranglehold over the curriculum in many public schools, universities, and large portions of the mainstream media demonstrate just how influential it remains.”
    The link to WaPo you have linked there makes absolutely no sense…it’s actually about a REPUBLICAN lawmaker in Oklahoma who attempted to censor the education system by banning AP US HIstory..did you even read it? If anything that shows the intolerance on the extreme right, nice self drag though I guess.

  4. Emma Boar

    Wow! I saw your facebook profile and I can totally understand why you are the way you are…I’d be very mad too if I looked like the babadook

    1. S

      If you’re going to choose to comment on an article, perhaps you should try to focus on people’s actual arguments instead of attacking them personally. By attacking his looks as compared to his argument, you radiate intolerance of the highest kind.

      1. Emma Boar

        I have never claimed to be tolerant of the right, I absolute have no regard for them whatsoever, so your comment is absolutely pointless. You sound quite upset, perhaps you should look for a safe space

      2. Emma Boar

        On top of that, I am positive that he is completely aware of his ghastly bad looks. It isn’t intolerant to point out facts. Run along to your safe space, snowflake.

      1. Eidgenoßen

        Well, first I had to find out what a “babadook” was. I must say, that was one of the more abstruse insults I have heard.

      2. Emma Boar

        It’s the most accurate comparison to explain what exactly he looks like, he could really be its twin. A face not even a mother could love

    2. Tom Hagen

      It seems we have another culprit fitting under the “Intolerant” left!

      By the way, I admire your pictures very much…

      1. Emma Boar

        Tom, I understand that you’re upset because you’re inbred. Must be hard having parents who are siblings

  5. RamFan

    This is in the top 5 of the worst things I’ve ever read in my life. We get it, Paul, you’re mediocre and inadequate in every way possible. No need to deflect your inner turmoil on the internet like this. Therapy might help. Please look into it.

    1. Publius

      So those opposed to your ideology are in need of reparative therapy? This comment has probably done more to assert the cause of the author than any of the arguments in the article.

  6. PJ

    Excellent, well written piece that will surely incite the snowflakes into another hissy fit. Yes who was it that said if fascism would appear in the USA, it would manifest in the form of a leftist movement. We’re seeing that now.

    1. make it stop

      You truly are delusional. Take a history class and learn what fascism actually is. If you’re still supporting Trump after that, then you yourself are a fascist.

      Oh, and Trump is the biggest cry baby, snowflake to walk this entire earth. You people are so useless and stupid.

  7. Again?

    How many times does Fordham need to post the same “opinion piece” that boils down to “I am upset at leftists because I only watch Fox News and listen to my racist uncle for worldviews” before they realize they’re removing what little legitimacy they have as a paper. Seriously take this Infowars shit somewhere else.

  8. Ummmm

    In fact, it is your party that has shifted frighteningly towards extremism in recent decades. Regarding the “open border anarchy” that Clinton and Sanders supposedly agreed upon – check out this video of candidates Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush discussing illegal immigration in 1980. Note how drastically the tone has shifted within the Republican party. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ixi9_cciy8w

    1. Publius

      We are a nation that supposedly lives under the rule of law. If we are to stop enforcing the law when it comes to immigration, then where do we draw the line? The inability to address illegal immigration in the 1980s has lead us to our current predicament with regards to the immigration question. Republicans, dating back to the foundation of the party, have always had a “tougher” stance on immigration, and if anything Bush and Reagan were the deviants from Republican orthodoxy. See Eisenhower’s position on illegal immigration: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Wetback

      1. Eidgenoßen

        Even if the Republicans called for a total block on all immigration, I cannot see how it could be considered “extremism.” Drastic, maybe; “extremist,” in no way. A border is an essential characteristic of a sovereign state, and the permeability of that border is at the discretion of the inhabitants of the state. Many sovereign states, including our own, have issued moratoriums on immigration in certain times and contexts. Watching the video of Bush and Reagan, what strikes me most is not their openness to immigration but, in fact, their hesitation to make concessions to “anchor baby” families (while, in the end, they do make concessions).
        Nowadays, Trump isn’t even advocating a full block–”beautiful door in the beautiful wall,” as he put it. Calling something “extremism” doesn’t make it so.

  9. 24601

    The article’s fundamental flaw is its lack of any attempt at engagement with the other side of the political spectrum – or, at least, what it perceives to be the other side of the political spectrum: it confounds opposition to Brexit and the election of Donald Trump with unabashed leftism, conveniently ignoring the numerous factions within the British and American conservative movements which, tapping their own equally authentic understanding of conservative principles, opposed each of these “booming victories.” But this is a relatively minor point. The author simply assumes and asserts his beliefs without making any genuine effort at convincing those who might disagree with him, expecting us to blindly assent to the evidence-free accusation that modern leftism “is perhaps the greatest existential threat of modern times,” on the basis of its alleged “inherent degeneracy.” These sort of arguments, eminently subjective as they are, will not (and indeed, are not designed to) convince the other side; rather, they are the sort of red meat that hopelessly ideological demagogues like Ted Cruz throw to their base and that have caused our recent descent into unprecedentedly toxic partisanship. Donald Trump, perhaps lacking the intellect to use this kind of ideologically-driven rhetoric, resorts to a baser form of partisanship that is more akin to the kind of cult of personality that authoritarians cultivate rather than the kind of partisanship that ideologues manufacture: his enemies are corrupt, immoral, and fundamentally evil, solely because they oppose him. As I said, his tribalism is not ideological: Hillary Clinton can be a “nasty woman” in 2016, even though she was a “wonderful woman” in 2008, despite little difference in her policy preferences in each of those years. The substantial difference between the two Clintons was, of course, their opposition to Donald Trump: Clinton was happy enough to play nice with Trump, the outlandish celebrity, in 2008, despite their ostensible policy differences, and he was more than thrilled to cooperate. But the moment they became enemies, they were suddenly at each other’s throats. What is the solution to this problem? I’d be arrogant if I claimed to know. But this article certainly isn’t it: it’s quite the opposite. I suggest, however, one modest step for all of us to pursue: try to ascertain a deeper understanding of the beliefs of people who oppose us. It’s a deceptively difficult task, masquerading as simple advice: overcoming our biases requires extraordinary effort and commitment, and we will never truly succeed. Unfortunately, though, it is more important than ever that we at least try.

  10. Cool

    Yes it is the left who is intolerant not the party who fought against gay marriage (and continues to, considering a bill has been introduced in North Carolina to delegitimizate gay marriage). Trump calling women who criticized him “ugly” and “pigs” was also very very tolerant much more than those dang lefties who want to allow non-Christians to be able to immigrate to a country founded on religious freedom. Keep being uniformed.

    1. Eidgenoßen

      Almost as much as Barack Obama “deligitimized” gay marriage, when he said before his 2008 run that he was morally opposed to it from a religious perspective.

  11. The Dude

    I can’t help but admire how incredibly biased this fact based article is. There are no accounts of the things that conservatives have done wrong, but rather what they have right. And yet you address the liberal side as a scandalous, “degenerative” point of society. What this article is could easily be classified as “click bait.” I don’t disagree with many of the things you’ve said in this article- however, you seem to construct the idea that one side is right and the other is simply wrong.
    That is not how the world works, and it will never work that way. Both liberals and conservatives are guilty of this: Choosing to fight instead of understand one another. That is an ignorant way of thinking that everyone should concede to, including myself. I don’t believe that one side is better than the other, even though I clearly have my standpoints. I don’t wish the other side ill because they think in a way that I could never duplicate; that is the way that the world works! It’s how we make progress! If we didn’t have these diverse ways of thought, we wouldn’t have the technology to even see your article.
    It’s amazing that we refuse to locate the much more simple and straightforward path over a river simply because one person wants to go through a canyon and another wants to climb a mountain.
    An unbiased mind would point out that “Hey, you both know that there’s a bridge that goes right over the river you’re trying to get across, right?”
    But nay, we will instead ignore the truth and see our own ideas, because “My view will be better” or “My trail will make me stronger” when, in fact, there is a better way if both sides would just agree to take it.
    Making an article like this is admirable for your integrity and clear standpoint.
    However, it will not help people.
    It will not change the world; rather, it will cause more hatred among parties because you have produced a biased article against them.
    It will make them see the other side as a group of biased haters.
    I don’t condone your article: It is well written and frankly correct in many points, but it covers up a rather large portion of people’s views, and I think that it is high time enough to end this petty struggle among people and begin a new era of understanding.

  12. mecha space Jesuit 420

    oh wowie! Another article complaining about FREE SPEECH and those TOLERANT LIBERALS!!!! So exciting and original, keep up the good work angry white boi :))))

  13. Your Obedient Servant

    Quite pretentious, asserting that alternative world views, and the policy preferences they naturally generate, are somehow intellectually unsound because they don’t neatly fit into a narrow definition of culture. Moreover, for someone complaining about the radical intolerance, you don’t lend yourself much authority for accusing those in opposition of being “degenerate” and “loony”.

    This fetishization of a pseudo-Clash of Civilizations mentality lacks legitimate proof beyond your opinion. Empirically, the efficacy of your assertions is dubious at best and highlights a severe misunderstanding of both the policy formation process and the motive operation of the current political parties. You can’t simply observe an outcome and assign it the melodramatic catalyst you desire, ignoring much more practical explanations.

    However, I’m glad you’ve decided to come down from the mountainside to deliver us the stone tablets of redemption. I hope we all rapidly accept your singular viewpoint so that we may utterly dispense with premises that are narratively inconsistent. That way I can overlook your misdiagnosis and get on with being just as stodgy as those you feign to decry.

    A.Ham

  14. Donald J. Trump

    Tremendous article! Keep writing – you’ve got quite a talent. Make sure to send your op-eds to my new address when I’m finally sent to prison. My future cell mate Mike will love them!

  15. Eidgenoßen

    A perspicacious article that really cuts to the heart of the issue. Once you dispute the nature of reality and substitute a modernist philosophy in its place, you are free to deny the needs of other citizens and dismiss them as “irredeemable”–which was, incidentally, a far more odious comment than any Trump ever made. While this kind of rhetoric might provide one with a feeling of superiority, it essentially guarantees that the other side will be your enemy, if for no other reason than to defend personal honor. If the “radical left” truly felt their ideas could hold up to full philosophical scrutiny, they would have no need to engage in supercilious posturing.

  16. Cincinnatus

    You denounce the left for attempting to block the Gorusch nomination – how does that differ at all from what Republicans did with regards to Garlands nomination last fall? Also wasn’t it Mitch McConnell who went out of his way to oppose Obama at every step of the way? Seems that there’s problems occurring on both sides of aisle – not sure if all the blame can be thrown on Democrats, no matter how conveineant that would be for your argument

  17. John Walton FC72

    Russel Kirk was “the founding father” of modern American conservatism. William Buckley was it’s Saint Paul.

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