TCS Daily

Liberal Noblesse Oblige

By Joshua Elder - August 19, 2004 12:00 AM

"Today, we say the only thing we have to fear is four more years of George Bush."
--Senator Edward Kennedy, speaking at the 2004 Democratic National Convention

In the weeks and months following September 11, a peculiar political animal began migrating to our towns and cities in large numbers, leaving behind the fever swamps that had their home for nearly thirty years. Conservative poli-zoologists christened these creatures hateamericus leftus due to their propensity for blaming every conceivable ill -- from AIDS in Africa to the fact that it rained on the way to work that morning (consider it blowback for not signing the Kyoto Treaty) -- on America.

Yet when Noam Chomsky -- the infamous academic who has made a career out of anti-Americanism -- claims that he chooses "to live in what I think is the greatest country in the world," I believe him. In his own special way, Chomsky considers himself a patriot. The vast majority of even the most rabid leftists feel the same.

The Left loves America, all right, but only because it has people such as them in it. They obsess over America's crimes while glossing over those of the rest of the world (Chomsky, for instance, is a Khmer Rouge apologist.) because only America's crimes reflect badly upon them. The world ends at their doorstep, and that's why Ted Kennedy can say in all seriousness that George Bush is the greatest threat facing America today because the rest of the world just doesn't matter.

We created Osama bin Laden. We supported Saddam. We fired the first shot in the Cold War. We are the puppetmasters, and the rest of the world dances on our strings. Seen in this light, September 11 can only be understood as the direct result of our evil imperialist machinations in the Middle East; the murderous, totalitarian and proselytizing ideological influence of radical Islam being tangential at best. Slaves to forces beyond their control, the hijackers and their al Qaeda terror masters can no more be held responsible for their actions than a trained attack dog.

Or as Robert Fisk, Middle East correspondent for the left-wing British newspaper The Independent, put it after being viciously beaten by a group of thugs at the height of the recent Afghan War: "I couldn't blame them for what they were doing. In fact, if I were the Afghan refugees of Kila Abdullah, close to the Afghan-Pakistan border, I would have done just the same to Robert Fisk. Or any other Westerner I could find."

It's a rare man (heck, a rare masochist) who can receive a savage, unprovoked beating and come to the conclusion that he probably deserved it. I attended a lecture by this unique individual two years ago at Northwestern University and took the opportunity to ask him if he would still consider the attack justified had the roles been reversed -- if it had been an Arab journalist attacked by a group of grieving American relatives of those who died in the World Trade Center. He told me no, that Americans were too educated and too civilized to ever do something like that.

And there you have it. Americans (and Brits like Fisk, presumably) have agency. They are in control of their own destinies and can be held morally accountable for their own actions. Afghans, Pakistanis and all the other poor, brown-skinned people from that part of the world, however, simply cannot. They aren't like us, you see. Nor do they matter except for the way that their failures reflect negatively upon us. Their failures are our failures and therefore our responsibility.

Unsurprisingly, the French have a term for this; they call it noblesse oblige. Defined as "the inferred obligation of people of high rank or social position to behave nobly or kindly toward others," it is the philosophical cornerstone of the entire modern liberal project - at home as well as abroad. Leftists are self-anointed saviors, enlightened elites that will bring about a new golden age for mankind if only the American people will embrace their ideas and vote their candidates into office. John Kerry promises to create 10 million new jobs in four years if elected. Aside from demonstrating a profound ignorance of economics, Kerry's pie-in-the-sky economic pledge also betrays a remarkable pro-American hubris. Like any good big government proponent, Kerry believes the American state has the power to solve every conceivable problem facing this nation and its people if only he were calling the shots instead of the sinister cabal of rich, old white men who spend all their plotting to make the richer, richer and the poor, poorer.

Of course not all Americans are created equal in the eyes of the Left, as comedian Bill Cosby recently discovered after he publicly criticized the pathologies of low-income blacks: "They think they're hip. They can't read; they can't write. They're laughing and giggling, and they're going nowhere." Harsh words, but what really raised the hackles of "leaders" in the black community was Cosby's insistence that blacks take responsibility for their own problems and actively work to solve them. This was heresy. Everyone knows that blacks cannot be held responsible for their own actions. Their failures, like those of Robert Fisk's angry Afghans, are the fault of others. America's all-pervasive institutional racism keeps blacks down and only through the largesse of benevolent whites can they possibly succeed. To call this attitude patronizing would be a gross understatement.

The Democrats have become the party of the elite, and liberalism the ideology of the narcissistic. They cultivate cosmopolitanism but practice provincialism. Isolated in their ivory towers, beltway newsrooms and Hollywood mansions, they have lost all touch with reality (that whole Bush-is-worse-than-Osama thing again). Their inability to see the world as anything but a reflection of themselves will be their ruin.

For their own good, for the good of the country... liberals need to just get over themselves already.


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