Left vs. right: mistaken vs. evil?
Today I want to recommend this post by Clive Davis. He quotes Roger Scruton as saying that those on the left consider those on the right to be evil, whereas the right considers those on the left to be merely mistaken.
I think that, as a generalization, this holds up fairly well. But there is no question that there are numerous exceptions. There is a vocal segment on the right that considers the left to be evil. Recall the group that thought Clinton had murdered Vince Foster, for example, and you need look no further.
Scruton writes that, " if I can persuade [those on the left] that I'm not evil, I find it a very useful thing." I recall a similar effort at persuasion on my part. It worked with some of my friends and relatives, but didn't work with others. But I resent, and still resent, their idea that any supporter of a hawkish or conservative cause should automatically be regarded as "evil until proven not-evil." This was a revelation to me, and not a pleasant one.
Davis's post goes on to quote writer Nick Cohen as crediting (or blaming?) his own change of heart on certain topics to having read Paul Berman's book Terror and Liberalism. (Hmm, perhaps that's next on my list.) Here's Cohen on the subject of changing one's mind:
I didn't see a blinding light or hear a thunder clap or cry 'Eureka!' If I was going to cry anything it would have been 'Oh bloody hell!' He convinced me I'd wasted a great deal of time looking through the wrong end of the telescope. I was going to have to turn it round and see the world afresh. The labour would involve reconsidering everything I'd written since 11 September, arguing with people I took to be friends and finding myself on the same side as people I took to be enemies.
I consider it highly ironic that, in his autobiography Radical Son, David Horowitz fingers none other than that very same Paul Berman as having been one of his most most vicious attackers when Horowitz underwent his own neocon conversion (I plan to say more about this topic in a subsequent post). Life is an interesting journey, is it not?