Thursday, February 17, 2005

Reasons I Left the Left #174

I've mentioned a couple of times that in my younger days, I was an avid liberal. It was the cool thing to be on a college campus. And a heck of a lot easier than critically thinking through politics. College liberalism was (and if anything is even moreso now) about posturing, and emoting, and aligning oneself with the proper causes.

But once I began taking a serious look at this modern thing called "liberalism," as distinct from the definitions of the word in the dictionary, or what the word might have meant in the past, I rather quickly dropped it.

An article in the Washington Examiner today (found via Instapundit) reminded me about the sort of things that caused me to quickly drop association with the left once I opened my eyes.

It's a little internal dustup between two of the most glittering stars in liberal punditry - Susan Estrich and Michael Kinsley.

Estrich sent out a letter which she no doubt finds a damning indictment of a serious problem:

What could be more important - or easier for that matter - than ensuring that women's voices are heard in public discourse in our community? For the last three years, my students and I have been counting the number of women whose opinion pieces appear in The Los Angeles Times...
We're going to come back to this later. But I will have you note that we have had the unintentional confession that Estrich made her students count the respective genitalia of LA Times opinion writers, and ignoring the content of their opinions.

Of course, Estrich is shocked, shocked to discover that women pundits were grossly under-represented and the problem got worse when Michael Kinsley (whom Estrich, again with unintended self parody, notes "replaced an African American woman." Did she have a name Susan? Not important. Check the minority column and the gender column and ignore the rest.) became opinion editor for the paper.

But what is it that really set Estrich off? Apparently the LA Times recently did run a piece by a woman - but the wrong kind of woman! Notes Estrich:

The article last Sunday was penned by a feminist-hater I have never heard of, nor probably have you, by the name of Charlotte Allen. Her only book was about Jesus and religion written eight years ago, and as far as I can tell what she does is to edit a blog for the Independent Women's Forum which is a group of right-wing women who exist to get on TV and get in newspapers attacking the likes of us.

Not only has she wandered off the feminist reservation, she's a blogger!

But that's just the catty part of Estrich's criticism. What really got to her was the content of Allen's opinion piece itself, which sounds like it was directed squarely at modern feminists of Estrich's type. Estrich notes the title:

"FEMINIST FATALE. Where are the great women thinkers? Thinking so much about women has shrunk their minds."
Curiously, though her letter found the time to attack Allen personally, she doesn't get around to discussing any of the content of the article.

Kinsley replies with merely clever character attacks, throwing Estrich's honesty into question, tweaking her for her self-importance, and suggesting her affiliation with Fox News is perhaps a greater ideological problem for a liberal than anything the LA Times does.

He's a clever guy, but confronted with raging, genetalia-counting feminism, Kinsley the gelding doesn't dare confront the substance of her argument.

But then we come to Charlotte Allen. The "nobody" Estrich sneered at earlier.

Remember how Estrich had her students spend time counting up which set of genitalia LA Times opinion columnists had? It seems the Allen column was specifically about that kind of thing. From Allen:

My point was that we don't have many women public intellectuals these days - the likes of Hannah Arendt, Mary McCarthy, Gertrude Stein or the recently deceased Susan Sontag - because most credentialed women nowadays would rather be feminist ideologues than tackle larger issues. [emphasis mine - ed.]
Contrast the importance Estrich placed upon her students paying attention to the gender of editorialists rather than the content of their editorials. Could not the opinions expressed have supported the goals of women - especially liberal women? This is after all the LA Times we're talking about - one of the most left-leaning papers in the nation.

But none of that matters. Estrich wants quotas, in fact if not name. She wants "women's voices" to be heard, but only as long as they say what she wants espoused. Fellow leftist Kinsley cannot find a voice to oppose this, so he tries to shift the ground of the confrontation to the personal.

Well I'm no longer a liberal. And thanks to Estrich and Kinsley for giving me another reminder about why.


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