Monday, February 20, 2006

Soft Bigotry's Hard Edge

During his first presidential campaign in 2000, President Bush decried what he called the "Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations". It was a phrase that struck a chord with me, because it highlighted one of the main reasons I consider myself a conservative. You see, despite the brush with which many of our opponents try to paint conservatives, I care very deeply about those who are less fortunate than I. Where I part ways with liberals is when it comes to the question of how best to help such people. I am firmly of the belief that such assistance is best rendered voluntarily, and that government involvement is best kept to a minimum. I have both ethical and practical reasons for this belief. It is commonly held by those on the left of the political spectrum that on the contrary, it is the right and duty of the government to provide that assistance, and to tax its citizenry in order to pay for such assistance. And a subset of that belief system is the "Soft Bigotry" to which the President alluded -- the unspoken, and often (to be charitable) subconscious attitude that the poor or suffering or oppressed are in the condition they are in because thay are incapable of helping themselves, and that the only hope they have of a better life is to let the government take care of them. It is an insidious kind of bigotry, because it masks itself as charity -- but the message, while well hidden under layers of concern, is there -- you are inferior, you are a child, here, let nanny do that for you.

While an entire blog entry, indeed, an entire blog and more, could be devoted to that particular debate, that is not the point I would like to address today. There is a hard edge to that "Soft Bigotry", and that is what concerns me today. That hard edge, in American political terms, is the expectation of liberals, and in particular the Democratic Party, that certain demographics of our population should out of hand be aligned with the Left, simply because the Left is "looking out for them". This expectation is particularly true when the demographic groups in question are ethnic groups -- especially African Americans. There's a paternalism to this attitude, even if it isn't spoken outright. The implication is that Blacks can't and needn't think for themselves, because the Democratic Party will take care of them. I can't speak for African Americans, because I am not one, but if I were, I would be insulted by this.

And there's an even more sinister side to this -- the treatment received by Blacks and members of other ethnic minorities who are politically conservative, especially, those who openly declare themselves so. Just ask Michelle Malkin or LaShawn Barber in the blogging community. I commend to you an excellent piece written last weekend by Pittsburgh Live columnist Salena Zito on the topic. It exposes just how ugly things can get when the Left takes aim at Black conservatives. And it belies not only the "Soft Bigotry" of the Left, but the ugly, hard, blatant racism they are willing to employ to further their cause.