Day By Day

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Thuggishness Of the Left

Peggy Noonan, wisest of women, notes the tendency of the Left to stifle free expression rather than to enter into an open dialogue of ideas.

It is not only about rage and resentment, and how some have come to see them as virtues, as an emblem of rightness. I feel so much, therefore my views are correct and must prevail. It is about something so obvious it is almost embarrassing to state. Free speech means hearing things you like and agree with, and it means allowing others to speak whose views you do not like or agree with. This--listening to the other person with respect and forbearance, and with an acceptance of human diversity--is the price we pay for living in a great democracy. And it is a really low price for such a great thing.

We all know this, at least in the abstract. Why are so many forgetting it in the particular?

Let us be more pointed. Students, stars, media movers, academics: They are always saying they want debate, but they don't. They want their vision imposed. They want to win. And if the win doesn't come quickly, they'll rush the stage, curse you out, attempt to intimidate.

And they don't always recognize themselves to be bullying. So full of their righteousness are they that they have lost the ability to judge themselves and their manner.

And all this continues to come more from the left than the right in America.


What is most missing from the left in America is an element of grace--of civic grace, democratic grace, the kind that assumes disagreements are part of the fabric, but we can make the fabric hold together.

Read the whole thing here.

There are serious and defensible ideas to be advanced from the Left, but they are not being heard in the current atmosphere of stridency and thuggishness. This bespeaks a fatal insecurity on the left, a lack of faith in their own intellectual resources and capabilities. Afraid that they cannot compete in a test of ideas, they descend gleefully to the level of playground bullies and try to intimidate their opponents, and in doing so they are also doing serious damage to our political culture.

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