The Modern Liberal Inquisition

The only Inquistion I approve of is one involving Mel Brooks.
The only Inquistion I approve of is one involving Mel Brooks.

History repeats itself.

It is a curious phrase, that certainly contains some truth, but is often misused.  However, sometimes, you cannot deny the practical reality of this simple statement.

The Spanish Inquisition started around the 12th century, in a goal to purge the Catholic Church of heretics.  It persisted in its quest of eliminating all types of supposed secularists, proven or not, well into the end of the Middle Ages, ultimately mutating in form to eliminate all forms of enemies of the Church, from accused sorcerers and witches, to simply our garden variety Jew or Muslim.

We have seen modern equivalents of the Inquisition, in many shapes and sizes.  Some are religious, others are secular, all are political. We have seen this pattern repeat across the globe, as one group or another tries to vanquish the threat of evil from our midst.

I wonder if we are beginning to see something similar in modern liberalism today.

The curious case of Brenden Eich comes to front pages today.  Eich is a successful IT entrepreneur.  Best known for creating Javascript and being critical in the formation of Mozilla (the company that created the popular Firefox browser and Thunderbird email client), he was recently elevated to the role of C.E.O. of Mozilla.

Little did he know he was passing through the doors of hell into a progressive firestorm.

Why did this happen? because of a relatively innocuous $1,000 donation to group pushing for California’s Proposition 8, the 2008 measure that sought to prevent same-sex unions from being recognized as civil marriages.

Yes.  The firestorm was regarding a small donation made six years ago.

Progressives, as they are wont to do, were outraged, and instantly began a campaign to oust Eich.  They formed protests and websites to unite the forces of good against the evil that is Brenden Eich.  Heretics must be vanquished, after all.

Make note of the fact that not a single employee of Mozilla or anywhere else had ever complained of Eich’s behavior. No one, either during his time a COO or in his current role of CEO, ever stated he behaved in anything but the utmost professional manner.  Homosexual colleagues had nothing but good things to say about the man.

Of course, facts are irrelevant to the progressive mob.  He had to go, in order to purify the souls of society.

Eich decided that enough was enough, and the silliness needed to come to an end, so he resigned from his post on Thursday.  I doubt that this is much of a burden for Eich, who is likely quite wealthy.  But Reihan Salam notes that even at this late date, if Eich had recanted his position, he probably could have held on to the job. Eich refused; and for that, I think he should be heralded for holding to his beliefs, which is so rare these days. Salam notes:

Agree with him or disagree with him, Brendan Eich was willing to pay a price for his beliefs. In the grand scheme of things, the price certainly wasn’t as high as that facing, say, Galileo. But would you do the same thing?

Famed editorialist Andrew Sullivan chimed in as well:

He did not understand that in order to be a CEO of a company, you have to renounce your heresy! There is only one permissible opinion at Mozilla, and all dissidents must be purged! Yep, that’s left-liberal tolerance in a nut-shell. No, he wasn’t a victim of government censorship or intimidation. He was a victim of the free market in which people can choose to express their opinions by boycotts, free speech and the like. He still has his full First Amendment rights. But what we’re talking about is the obvious and ugly intolerance of parts of the gay movement, who have reacted to years of being subjected to social obloquy by returning the favor.

As for the progressive inquisitors, they gleefully proclaimed success at the purging of this heretic, with little understanding of the gross hypocrisy and overall intolerance of their crusade.  Their church is now cleaner and purer for the victory; what else matters?  Sullivan again:

Will he now be forced to walk through the streets in shame? Why not the stocks? The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out. If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.

It is funny how many liberals, in discussions I have had in the past day or so, are bigoted enough to presume they know my position on gay marriage. Time and again, because I defend the free thoughts of another American, I am presumed to share in his beliefs.  Liberals have now reached the certainty that their way is the pure, unadulterated truth of life, and that any other path is sinful and must be purged, at all costs.

Sound familiar?

The ever-growing intolerance of liberals in America is disconcerting.   That their voices now has such force as to cause the firing of a CEO of a major company is disturbing to say the least.  Apparently American Progressives are ignorant of the true meaning of tolerance, acceptance, religious liberty, and most important, the concept of freedom of speech. Those are all secondary values to the modern progressive movement, secondary to their faith-based cause of ‘moral purity’.  Nothing ever goes out of style, so dig around your closet and pull out your Brown shirts, America.

What most Americans, like myself, actually believe is in freedom for all, equal access and opportunity, but also the fundamental belief of freedom of thought and speech as well as the freedom to be free of oppression. These are essential tenets critical to the American ideal.

Let us stipulate that conservatives in the past have not been free from this kind of behavior.  Neither have past liberals.  This cycle of stupidity continues endlessly.  However, it is stunning to watch a community that honestly fought for tolerance and acceptance for the past several decades becoming so clearly intolerant and unaccepting.

What the majority of us who believe in freedom of thought and speech do from this point on is open to debate. I think most of us feel inherently that something is amiss when a CEO is fired not for an inappropriate action while on the job, but a personal political line of thought he followed six years prior.  The ability to punish someone not for actions but for thoughts is the definition of a type of inquisition; a fascist tendency where all must conform, at serious cost, or be accused of heresy. Sadly, that is apparently where the progressive cause in liberal America exists today.

Obama’s Redemption?

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Conservatives love to despise Barack Obama.  The first reason is because he was a neophyte with little experience that rose to the top leadership position in the world, mostly riding his media status.  Second, because he is arrogant and espouses his moral superiority, even when being a hypocrite about it.  Third, because his own analysis of his leadership skills is woefully incorrect.

On most of the grand issues of the day, Mr. Obama has taken the wrong path. He could have built a stimulus program in early 2009 that actually promoted job growth.  He could have pushed Democrats to build a health care plan that reduced and restrained costs instead of increasing them.  And then for the last two years, he could have pushed tax reform and entitlement changes instead of reverting to the classic tax and spend mantra that has haunted liberals for decades.

But he has always taken a pass.

Last week proves hope springs eternal.  Mr. Obama invited a group of Republican Senators to dinner to talk about how to move forward in his final four years as an American President.  And according to reports, Obama was more open and honest than he has been in the past.

Despite liberal whining about how much Barack Obama has had to endure from Republicans, the reality is he has never faced an opponent greater than himself.  Obama’s primary problem through out his Presidency is the inability to tell everyone, including his own party, to ‘Go to hell’, and simply lead on an issue.

Leadership, true leadership, begets public support.  See Rand Paul’s crusade on civil rights and drones last week, ironically occurring the same time as Obama’s dinner round table with the GOP.  This wasn’t an issue that the media, Republicans or Democrats for the most part cared about.  But the public did care.  There is a growing unease of the every expanding power of the President when it comes to such things as drones.  Paul simply was willing to take a stand, even if he knew there was no path to victory in his endeavor.

Obama has never done that.  Can you think of a stand Obama took that was not cautious, thought out, and strategically positioned in such a way that Obama could either back down or blame someone else for its failure?

During his dinner with the GOP, Obama seemed reluctant to lead on the issues, again.  From Peggy Noonan, from an unnamed Senator at the meeting:

Senator No. 1: When pressed on the question, the president seemed to step back. “His idea of a process is, ‘You guys figure it out and work with my staff, and if you need me call me.’ But in the end, unless the president really gets engaged and forces meeting after meeting, I don’t see how you get past the logjam.”

…or this…

Senator No. 2: “At the end I mentioned, ‘Share [with us] how you see this going forward.’ ” Here the president “got hazy. . . . I told him this will never work without adult supervision from the White House. I don’t think he comprehends that this is part of getting something done.”

Senator No. 2 said he planned to “press” the president in coming days “to lead, to exert authority.”

Obama, at this moment, has a chance to lead.  What does he honestly have to lose?  He was a solid victory for re-election, is the undisputed leader of his party, with Democrats (even if they disagree with him) willing to go to the mat for him.  He will never face election again, and the only thing remaining in his future his his legacy, which at the moment, is mixed.

But is the President willing to use that political capital?  The above quotes lead you to believe the answer is ‘No’.  A report from the Politico states more than half of the Democrats in Congress oppose any changes to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which is fiscally insane.  Another quote from Noonan’s article:

At certain points in the conversation the president, according to the senator, said that even if he wanted to agree with the Republicans on certain specific questions there would be a rebellion in his own party: “He said that a few times. But that’s an abdication. You have to lead! You have to educate as only a president can with a bully pulpit, you have to bring your party along.”

Tuesday was the first time that I can remember that President Obama speaking to his liberal caucus, and telling them hard truths. Obama met with Senate Democrats, and was up front for the need for entitlement reform.  He stated his need to exchange entitlement cuts for more taxes.  We can debate the numbers and the actual specifics, but for Obama to tell liberals they will have fundamental changes to entitlement programs is some what of a breakthrough.

A tremendous amount of opposition to this kind of plan exists among the liberal base, and I am not sure that the President realizes what kind of fight he is in with his own party if he is honest about achieving these goals.  And of course, from our side, we conservatives have a huge trust deficit with this President, after 5 years of having the football pulled out from under us, Charlie Brown-style.  Mr. Obama will have to be forthright and honest through out the process to build enough respect and faith to get such a big deal done.

I have long said this is not an intellectual barrier for the President, but a psychological one.  Barack Obama has long been a cautious person, unwilling to take public stands that reflect poorly on his character or his public persona. Maybe this is what comes from being America’s greatest African American politician; maybe it is a reflection of African American society today to avoid risk.  I don’t know.  But I know that reality exists for this man.

So ultimately, Mr. Obama could lead.  He could get a grand bargain of tax reform, entitlement recalculation, and budgetary changes that could put the country on a long term path of fiscal sanity and economic prosperity.  It would mean he would have to compromise with the GOP and push back against liberals in his own party.  Ironically, I seem to believe the latter is much harder for this President than the former.

This was cross posted at Neoavatara