There’s Nothing About Being A Liberal . . .

. . . that requires me to tolerate invective based on deception, such as was confirmed today by Glenn Beck’s returning from his rally over the weekend to replay his views on the sincerity of Barack Obama’s religion. This, after he apologized for last year calling Obama a “racist” who “hates” white people.

So, because in some things — not all things, but some things — I call myself “liberal,” I’m supposed to just chalk it all up to a mere, ultimately insignificant, difference of opinion? Being a liberal requires that I blandly accept all public statements as equally moral? Equally legitimate? Equally worthy of respect?

Really?

Who believes that? Other, that is, than Ashwin, who writes, in response to yesterday’s column about the Beck and Palin rally on the National Mall:

“Why don’t you record that and play it back to yourself? Do you have any idea what you sound like? Why do you call yourself “liberal” if ideas other than those you hold are so repugnant to you?”

Oh, Ashwin. Not all ideas are equally valid; not all are true, not all are based on an understanding of policy, and not all are helpful in the larger debate. And that includes some ideas from the Left, many of whom are more interested in things like putting solar panels on newly built schools for Pakistani children left devastated in recent flooding than in actually understanding why a lovely idea for their suburban home is unworkable, even silly, in other places. (Hint: It’s because many functioning Pakistani schools didn’t have roofs before the flooding, and a people clinging to life aren’t interested in why roofs are good and solar panels awesome)

I could say, for example, something outrageous, such as “We should help the Pakistani people by repatriating them all to North Dakota” — but should I then expect to earn the respect of others in the marketplace of ideas? Or I could ignore what’s true — verifiably true, if verifiable; if not verifiable, then judged with a concern for what the “holder” of an unprovable belief insists is his — and vomit up something not supported by facts. You know, like taking Barack Obama at least as much at his word regarding the unprovability of his religious faith as we did Ronald Reagan’s 35 years ago, or not suggesting that Obama is foreign-born when his Hawaii birth certificate has been produced — verification for all but the hardcore Right that he is at least a citizen, not a shadowy foreigner intent on usurping the Throne of Wealthy White Men.

If I did that, should I be exempt from rebuke because it would be “illiberal” to point out that it’s wrong to lie, and wrong to judge with malice? Finally, if I find policy too difficult to understand and context an undue burden, I could cut to the chase and call Beck a Poopyhead With Dog Breath, I suppose. But doesn’t that reveal not only an unwillingness to engage in meaningful debate, as well as a juvenile surliness that no “liberal” ought to have to tolerate?

I called Beck and Palin, et al, out on what I see as an egregious abuse of Dr. King’s name, vision, and pulpit, and I did so because I find that the message they have promoted for the last two-and-a-half years to be largely malicious, largely false, largely geared toward those unfamiliar with policy, and largely incendiary in nature, and incendiary to a point that could well get this President killed and will have fouled the waters of political debate long, long beforehand.

Would a true liberal — or conservative, or anyone else — cede the platform to buffoons and loonies because not doing so would threaten their own status as liberals? I hope not, and I suspect Ashwin hopes not, too.

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