An Open Letter to My Liberal Friends
To My Professorial, Academic, Writer, Elitist, and Other Leftist Friends,
I’m writing because the way you guys have been treating conservatives in the media has been really brutal. It sounds like you’re convinced we’re the embodiment of evil but haven’t actually met any of us other than me. That’s a little disturbing since, like me, the vast majority of conservatives are everyday people who simply want to live and let live. So, I thought it was about time you heard from a conservative you (hopefully) trust. You know me, you know how deep in the conservative movement I am, and you know that I carry significant liberal-approved credentials — a liberal arts education, a Harvard graduate degree, and years working in academe. So I write this hoping you’ll hear the truth and believe me.
Every day we conservatives hear a steady drumbeat of truly disturbing allegations. We hear that we’re uneducated, jealous, racist, war-mongering, women-hating, gay-bashing, immigrant-despising, evil bigots. But the truth is, we’re nothing like what’s being portrayed by the folks on your side.
First, we’re not uneducated hillbillies. We’re actually thoughtful people. We’ve considered why we believe what we believe. We’ve read or have a functional understanding of many of the principles of Locke, Smith, Jefferson, Madison, Hayek, von Mises, Friedman, Nozick and Rawls.
We aren’t single-issue voters governed by prejudice or extremism. We think about the same issues you do, but we think of them in terms of how they affect our families, our neighbors, our country and the world — and in that order.
We don’t despise immigrants, foreigners, or other countries. From what I see, conservatives actually love seeing new people come to America if 1) they come legally, 2) they love America too, and 3) they want to live as Americans. That’s not wrong. We’ve put a lot of work into this society, and we’d like to see it preserved.
While we love American society, that doesn’t mean we can’t look at the rest of the world with interest, wonder, appreciation and pity. We love to travel. We go on international mission trips. We send long-term missionaries. We do business overseas. And we send help and aid to the poor outside the U.S.
But we value what makes America unique in a different, more significant way than we value things outside of America. We love it because we honestly do see American as the savior of the world.
A pretty big claim, right? Well, we think in terms that grand because we know that liberal (in the old sense: individual rights, free speech, self-determination, etc), representative democracy came from the United States.
Free enterprise capitalism — the free enterprise capitalism that’s reduced global poverty in the last 50 years by more than the last 500 combined — married liberal democracy here.
True religious freedom came from here. The innovations that have revolutionized the world — cotton gins, light bulbs, automobiles, airplanes, rocket ships, and microchips — they all came from here. And when tyranny threatened the globe not once, not twice, but thrice, salvation came from here.
But we’re not blind to America’s problems either. We know the country’s not there yet, even if we’re not sure where there is.
We hate that America has gotten things wrong in the past. Slavery is never far from any of our minds. But those problems don’t keep us from greatly loving our country on balance. We know America has done immeasurable good and that the world is better off with her than without her.
We’re pro-woman — I can’t believe I even have to write that one, but lots of people on your side claim we’re not. We don’t want to marginalize women. On the contrary, we value women, but the way we value women looks different from the way you value them. We think treating them differently from men is a sign of honor, not disrespect. We all think it’s fine for women to work if they want. But we also know the woman’s role as mother in the family is irreplaceable (from either a creationist or evolutionist point of view).
We believe in traditional gender and sexual roles (again, whether you ask creation or evolution, those roles are what we seem to have been dealt), and are very, very cautious when to comes to modifying the natural order. In any field other than sex, you all seem to applaud that idea.
But being cautious doesn’t mean we hate gays or transsexuals. What we hate is the sensation of being forced to accept an idea solely because someone else values that idea. I know very few conservatives who dislike gays as people. I know a great many, however, who intensely dislike the pressure society is under not just to accept gay people but to approve of everything they do as well. None of us approve of everything our own fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sons, or daughters do. Why would we, then, afford others infinite approval when even our own families don’t get that?
We also don’t hate minorities. It really saddens me that even needs to be said. But it does. I saw an election mailer today showing a mob of white people with torches terrorizing black voters. That’s not us. It’s really not.
Think about that for a second. How many of your neighbors are conservatives? Or work associates? Or family members? Do you really think we go home at night, toss our jeans in the corner, and grab pillowcases with eye holes cut out so we can go talk about how much we despise people just because their skin’s different from ours? Do you really think that? Please tell me you don’t, and please hear me when I say conservatives aren’t those people.
Sure those people exist, but they don’t hide their racism, and they don’t find any quarter with us. We run them out of our ranks as soon as we find them.
As far as I’ve seen from my perch in red state America, conservatives actually don’t have much of an opinion at all about individuals’ race or religion.
What we do view very suspiciously is balkanization — the grouping of individuals based on unique traits and then pitting those groups against each other.
And that suspicion turns to downright hostility if those balkanized groups are then galvanized with rhetoric that’s dangerous to fundamental American and Western values, whether it’s black nationalism, white nationalism, Marxism, Islamism, or transnationalism.
This is where so many conservatives are genuinely (or I think often uncharitably) misunderstood as bigots. We really couldn’t care less what color, religion, or orientation anyone else is, as long as those others support American values such as freedom, the centrality of the individual, the worth of every man, the rule of law, equality under the law, rugged individualism, capitalism, freedom of speech and the press, religious freedom, government subject to the people, and common decency.
We like Donald Trump, and we actually have good reasons for liking him. When we look at Trump we see someone who’s actually a rough metaphor of the America we love. He’s strong, proud of what his country has historically stood for, puts the American people’s interests first, refuses to back down to threats, and tries to solve problems with diplomacy before war. I could give you examples of all of these, but you really already know what I’d say. I wish you’d think about those reasons before you dismiss them out of hand.
We also see in Trump an effective leader because he’s getting done what we’ve wanted done. Regulatory rollbacks, federal judgeships, strong stands against currency manipulation and lopsided trade deals, an obsession with securing America’s borders, and a passionate pursuit of pro-business policies.
What we don’t see is someone who’s racist. As far as anyone can tell (and certainly as far as anyone said before 2015), he’s always been racially agnostic. We don’t see a bigot. He’s been extremely pro-gay rights. He doesn’t hate trans people (though he does believe in using biological terms to officially describe people — hardly a position that courted controversy until the last decade or so of human history). We don’t see a sex criminal (again, I can’t believe I even have to write that).
We do see, however, a man who’s made terrible moral decisions regarding sex, but from everything everyone has said, those decisions were consensual. (He never said he forced women to let him grab them. He said women let him do it. There’s an enormous difference.) We don’t see a Russian stooge. We see a man with far too much personal pride and arrogance to be anyone’s stooge, and we see someone who’s beating Moscow into the ground internationally every chance he gets.
Finally, we don’t see someone who’s mentally unstable at all. We know he’s got a temper. We know he abhors disrespect and disloyalty. We also know he makes incredibly strategic decisions on everything from how he handles international policy (NK, Iran, NAFTA) to the manipulation of a hostile media. By our lights, there’s zero evidence of his being mentally unstable. Mercurial, yes. Unstable, no.
I could go on and on. The point here is that while you guys have counterpoints to everything I’ve written, I — we — desperately wish you would at least consider the fact that we have legitimate reasons to believe what we do, and that we’re not evil because of that.
There are currently 179 threats against Trump live on Twitter as I type this. According to Mashable, one month after being sworn in, Trump faced 12,000 assassination tweets. We conservatives are now used to being told to go crawl in a hole and die.
That started out as baffling to us. But over time that bafflement transformed into defensiveness and is now giving way to deep-seated anger over the hatred directed at us just because we see the world differently.
What’s happening can’t continue. You can’t keep allowing your fellow leftists to say we who disagree with them are the embodiment of evil. We’re not, but some desperate, mentally ill person on your side will believe that and do something that makes shooting up a synagogue look like Mickey Mouse. And we can’t let those accusations get to us or goad us into responding physically, because some ‘roided up nut we want to get rid of will do something a lot worse than sending pitifully made “bombs” to prominent liberals. It only took a snowball fight to spark the Boston Massacre in 1770.
You have to stop this. For just a day or two, every time you hear someone in the media attack Trump or his supporters, stop for just a second and remember that those attacks target good, decent, loving people you know. People down the street, in the next cubicle, or across the table at Thanksgiving. Do those people match what you’re being told about conservatives — or maybe worse, do they match what you’re telling others about conservatives?
So instead of using dehumanizing rhetoric to turn us into boogeymen, why not fight as we are? We’d prefer it, and it would be much, much better for the country today and tomorrow. If that doesn’t happen, the streets will eventually run red with blood, and your hands will match.
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