Saturday, July 07, 2007

Liberalism and Illiberalism

Perhaps the editorial board of The Tennessean, which bemoans a lack of "transparency" in President Bush's Supreme Court appointees, should, in the interest of transparency, state its own positions:

The Tennessean opposes the free speech rights of those who are not in the media business.

The Tennessean favors racial discrimination.

The Tennessean favors the judicial micromanagement of the other branches of government.

Those positions emerge in today's editorial, which is otherwise notable for its breezy indifference to the actual facts or complexities of the cases that it flippantly references. To the extent that the positions coherently state what has come to be regarded as progressive orthodoxy, they only serve to emphasize the illiberalism of early 21st century liberalism. Today, it is conservatives who make the cases, in opposition to the illiberal left, in favor of free political speech and in opposition to racial discrimination.

Those who bemoan the "conservative" victories in these cases should perhaps be concerned at how vast they must regard the conservative constituency. The decision in Wisconsin Right to Life versus the Federal Election Commission was favored by the AFL-CIO and the ACLU. No less than Washington Post columnist David Broder finds it "astonishing to me that a decision grounded in the First Amendment right to address basic public policy questions should be objectionable to people who consider themselves liberal."

Meanwhile, The Tennessean accuses Chief Justice John Roberts of "twisting logic" by invoking Brown vs. Board of Education in the recent racial discrimination case, but George Will more aptly observes the following:

[Justice Stephen] Breyer said that last week's decision abandons "the promise of Brown." Actually, that promise -- a colorblind society -- has been traduced by the "diversity" exception to the equal protection clause. That exception allows white majorities to feel noble while treating blacks and certain other minorities as seasoning -- a sort of human oregano -- to be sprinkled across a student body to make the majority's educational experience more flavorful.

Critics, sometimes with good reason, have criticized the tendency of those categorized as "social conservatives" to favor big government solutions to their particular set of concerns. The more blatant inconsistency occurs on the left, where the most illiberal means are zealously advocated if they are thought to achieve desirable ends.


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