Is it possible for true (classical) liberal ideas to be prosecuted by illiberal methods? Victor Davis Hanson says that it isn’t:
There is a common theme here. Our self-appointed priests of fairness from time to time freely commit sins of intolerance. But don’t dare hold them to the same sort of accountability to which they hold other, less progressive Americans, whose similarly dumb remarks are not gaffes but rather windows into their prejudiced souls.
We must make allowances for the Biblical conservatism of some black pastors in a way we cannot for the white Christian CEO of Chick-fil-A. Farrakhan’s hatred cannot possibly earn him ostracism. The anger we feel toward evangelical Christians for their incorrect attitudes toward feminism and homosexuality cannot be extended to Muslims who have similar views.
Such selectivity is untenable. Classical Western liberalism was predicated on judging people as individuals — and on their merit and performance — rather than collectively in groups identified by gender, race, or religion. Using illiberal means to advance supposedly liberal ends results not just in hypocrisy and cynicism, but in the current disaster of “Chicago values.”
Politically correct exemption is doomed, because who can sort out the conflicting agendas of various identity groups? Who certifies who’s really black, brown, or white in a multiracial, intermarried America — Barack Obama? Elizabeth Warren? Who deserves how much compensation for which particular past oppression?
Can black pastors who oppose gay marriage be judged to be prejudiced? Is the Asian-American who opposes illegal immigration subject to the same charge of nativism leveled at so-called whites? Can Harry Reid be judged a bigot and McCarthyite if he claims he’s a liberal?
A simple antidote to multiculturalism and political correctness is to evaluate all Americans on their actual behavior, regardless of their politics, race, gender, or religion — in other words, to return to the old liberal idea that one common culture treats all sorts of different people absolutely the same.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, I tend to agree. That is why I have been dismissive of post-modernist and “progressive” thought because of the very double standards that result in these individual “truths” that cloud the debate.
I come from a background and a career where results matter and I am judged by those results. This is a culture where explanations of deviant results are allowed but never excuses. The follow-up question to every unrealized goal is “what will you do to get back on track to achieving the goal?” If I have a project initiative that reaches the end of a budget without achieving the stated goal, I don’t get to continue spending money without a plan in place to recover – and sometimes the project gets cancelled. If I continue to exhibit a pattern of non-performance, I will lose my job and as I progress to more and more responsible positions, the tolerance for those mistakes is less and less.
The expectation is that as I advance, I will increase my expertise in avoiding problems, managing risk and delivering results and that those skills are brought bear for the benefit of my employers, the shareholders of the company and our employees.
In society and in government, excuses have come to be accepted as a matter of course. Avoidance of responsibility is rewarded instead of accepting it. This is what necessitates the implementation of post-modern thought to support those excuses. The fallacy is saying that performance isn’t measured in our contemporary world, it is – it is the goals that are fluid or poorly defined. The goalposts don’t really move, they just never get planted in the ground in the first place.
In our brave new world, failures have to be rationalized by “creating” another standard or measure – or simply claiming that truth is nothing but your opinion, the value of which is in the eye of the beholder. Double standards are a necessity in post-modern societies where the “truth” is malleable and becomes what the political class in power decides it is.
But there is objective truth.