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NewsReal Sunday: Finding fertile leftist soil for conservative seeds

Posted on August 9 2009 1:42 pm
David Swindle is the Managing Editor of NewsReal Blog and the Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. Follow him on Twitter here
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My post from Friday about “progressive” media watchdog Media Matters‘ intolerance of CNN’s Lou Dobbs use of the word “socialist” to describe “progressives” yielded plenty of interesting dialogue with our readers. One of the most thoughtful exchanges was with a commenter named Thalpy who had grown frustrated with the Left’s close-minded tactics.
Thalpy said:

Characterization of the Left as an assembly of true believing denominations of the one religion just about gets it, I believe. The Left is impervious to attack ( and civil discourse) because it’s based on belief, not reason. …”when talking with a leftist or debating his political plans perhaps it’s best to consider carefully which denomination they fall into when you critique them. Otherwise you’ll sound like someone attacking a Baptist by calling them a Catholic.” Actually, it doesn’t matter which denomination, progressive or socialist,you may be addressing since they both possess the unifying characteristic of irrationality. Their zeal and general resistance to truth make debate or common discourse wastes of our time. In fact, it’s been suggested that the Left with their branch of liberalism constitute a mental disorder, an aberration. Well?

I understood why Thalply could be frustrated, but felt he was missing something. I responded:

While I think there’s some merit to many of the points in your comment ultimately I strongly disagree. Debate and common discourse has tremendous value. If David Horowitz hadn’t done so with me then I’d probably be blogging for Media Matters instead of the Freedom Center. So be sure not to forget that there are plenty of thoughtful, often open-minded leftists out there.

That being said you’re right that many leftists are not worthy of debate. For an example of one check out this essay I wrote upon encountering an Afro-Centric radical who called me a racist.

Thalpy replied:

Your comments are thoughtful and appreciated. Today’s post is probably a bit too cathartic. By trivializing the importance of debate and common discourse-without exception, I’ve omitted conditions that you have found to be of value in your life and work. Your example provides a hopeful example for us all. David Horowitz is beyond doubt one of the most gifted communicator-educators of our time. He may well have seen you as one of those thoughtful, and ultimately educable, open minded leftists out there. His time was well spent with you and perhaps with others, but when it comes to Obama’s legions, the czars, Congress, and the MSM-what then? Have any of the town hall meetings been initiated to provide a give and take on the issues? These are the leftists I had in mind when I made my comments.

Thank you.

It was a very good question and entirely legitimate concern. I had a suggestion:

As conservatives we know the limitations of our abilities to change and remake the world. There is so very little that we can do and contribute toward making an impact at changing things. (This is what separates us from the Left who seem to think that the world can be drastically improved if only the proper policies were made into law and the the proper politicians elected.)

So I suppose my advice to you would be to work at the individual level. Try and befriend just one person with political ideas counter to your own. Make one friend on the other side who you can connect with who you can help teach how to love America. That’s do-able isn’t it?


Given that it’s Sunday I find my mind wandering to a spiritual understanding of this subject. One of Jesus’ parables comes to mind.

Luke 8:4-8:

4While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 5“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. 6Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” When he said this, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

In Luke 8:11-15 Jesus explained the meaning of the parable:

11“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

Now, a love of the American Idea is certainly not supposed to be any kind of equivalent to God or the Gospels or Christianity. That’s not the point I’m making here. Rather: don’t assume that just because someone doesn’t share your patriotism that they’re not capable of growing and changing. Don’t go forth with the default setting that the person you’re dealing with is crazy, stupid, immoral, or malevolent. One of the principle themes I still stand by — that I first articulated when I was still one of Horowitz’s critics — is that people do and think intolerable things primarily out of malice or ignorance. And ignorant Anti-Americans can’t be dealt with in the same fashion as malicious Anti-Americans. (Examples of malicious anti-Americans who really should know better: radical professor Noam Chomsky, anti-white racist bell hooks, 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Ladenthe list is quite long.)

Those who embrace anti-American attitudes because they simply don’t know better should be considered fertile soil. And they should be met with a friendly tone and open arms. They should be invited to join in the American Project. Save the vitriol for those that really deserve it.

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