Sometimes I surf to things I wish I hadn't. Usually it's some form of grotesque pornography (have to watch the links people put in message board postings and the like), but occasionally it's something much worse. While reading Media Whores Online today I noticed an article by David Horowitz that they were critiquing, an article that blames Clinton for the bombing of the WTC. That's no surprise, and it's a testament to the skill and intelligence of the MWO people that they are so easily able to dismiss such ludicrous arguments. While on the page, though, I discovered a link to a different article: One called "Can There Be A Decent Left? Michael Walzer’s Second Thoughts". Horowitz takes Walzer's criticism of the left and extends it, calling leftists (and, by implication, even moderate liberals) murderous, delusionary, nihilistic... "indecent" barely begins to cover it.
This is no surprise. This sort of thing is common enough, and Horowitz is often named as one of your nuttier right wing-nuts. Like Limbaugh, like Coulter, like Sullivan, and like all those little right-wing blogs, though, it reminds those on the liberal side: many of them hate us, and many of those that don't support those that do. Not just dislike. Not just disagree. Hate. Hate with a black rage and an overwhelming belief that they are right, a belief founded in the quasi-mystical bases of their ideology (that I exposed earlier on when discussing Jane Galt's column on American Exceptionalism) and founded on the hard-core religious certainties that the omni-religious (and largely secular) left simply doesn't share. There's a reason there are no liberal militias. There's a reason that "liberal" became such a dirty word in American politics. There's a reason why Coulter was able to get away with saying that liberals should be scared into submission, or possibly executed. There's a reason why even mild left-wing critiques of the current administration is now called "Anti-American", in a disturbing shift back to McCarthyism. Hatred of the left runs wide, and runs deep.
Would this matter if there were equal numbers and equal power on each side? No, it wouldn't. I have no doubt that there are leftists who hate the right as much, although without the religious and mystical bases that allow American-style conservatism so much cohesion (barring the libertarian/conservative split). I also have no doubt that there are conservatives that are friendly to liberals who also don't share their views; I've met them, and actually have good friends who fit that description. There are not equal numbers, though, not where it matters, and certainly not equal power. There are not equal numbers on the radio. There are not equal numbers on television (corporation-friendly blandness and sensationalism does not count as a "liberal bias"), there are not equal numbers in the think tanks (and certainly not in the power or funding of those think-tanks), and there have never been equal numbers on the Internet. There are, however, equal numbers out there, as the 2000 election showed. What does that matter, though, if one side is raging and the other isn't?
There are already signs that things are changing and that the left is finally realizing that one side is playing hardball and the other isn't; it is beginning to respond in turn. One of the best is the previously mentioned MWO, which provides a valuable service in exposing the media's deference to the administration. Another is Paul Krugman's column, which, bit by bit, is unravelling the aura of fiscal responsibility and economic superiority that the right has taken for granted for too long. (Hence the reason the libertarian blogosphere is freaking out over Krugman; he's tearing apart their scripture and exposing that their alliance-of-convenience with the Republicans is nothing more than a hollow lie for those who actually value economic efficiency over lining their own pockets). Others are the liberal blogs I've found and the liberal sources online, which are slowly returning the Internet to parity... I hope. Parity will not matter, however, if the left does not remember that there are many on the right who think that we are, yes, evil. They cannot be dismissed. They cannot be ignored. They have too much power, they have too much influence, they have too much money for that. They must be met with all the wit and ferocity that the progressive community holds dear, and that community itself must learn to function with the kind of cohesion and strength that the right brings to bear every day, or it will be swamped.