Veil of Ignorance
The right-wing has loved to construct this myth of liberal blame-Americanism so they can continually bash it to pieces. They’re always on the prowl for an example–and when they find one, they’ll prop it up on a pedestal and proclaim to the world that this is what every Democrat feels about our great nation.
It’s not true of course–the examples they give (when they’re even accurate, more on that later) are the anomalies, and the rule is that Democrats are well aware that our country is, compared to most, a beacon of liberty and civil rights. They just don’t labor under the illusion that a favorable comparison to Saudi Arabia makes us perfect.
Recently, the blogosphere gave us a very clear-cut example of this dynamic. Feministe wrote a post on Saudi Arabian abuse of women. At the end, she noted that we should not forget about domestic abuse in America while we are protesting the Saudi’s–we have a problem here too, not as extreme to be sure, but a problem none-the-less.
The right immediately latched on to the post as a paradigmatic example of a liberal who can’t blame non-Westerners for a problem without hitting America first. I pointed out that any fair reading of the post clearly belied that interpretation. But even still, they persisted–Jeff Goldstein went as far as to say that the Democratic party had to “nuke” these voices (which apparently make up the entirety of the “base”) in order to win elections again. In other words, it played out exactly how I predicted it would–conservatives take a reasonable liberal post, distort it so it “blames America first,” proclaim it to be the epitome of liberal thought, and conclude with a lament that all the moderate liberals who don’t engage in this type of thinking are gone.
The worst part, in my opinion, isn’t that the syllogism is wrong at almost every step (although it is). The worst part is that it doesn’t even come from an honest effort to find truth. It’s not like the Feministe girls are interpreting their post one way, and the conservatives another, and they’re just talking past each other. How do I know? Simple. One day later, Feministe had a post up criticizing draconian Colombian abortion laws (they prohibit abortion even when necessary to save the life of the mother). It did not criticize, draw a parallel to, or mention American abortion sentiments in any respect. In other words, it was exactly the approach the right says the left never takes.
The response by the conservatives? They don’t even recognize the post exists. One of the blogs that joined in the Feministe bashing in the first post, Balloon Juice (a blog which, by the way, I generally adore) was reading Feministe today and still ignored it.
So, to recap:
Liberal blog mentions America in context of a broader post about anti-female practices: Inaccurate and universalized claims about blame-America-first.
Liberal blog fails to mention America in context of a broader post about anti-female practices: Complete, absolute, unbroken silence.
It’s hypocrisy personified.