September 16, 2006

The old Left is as Bad as the Right Canard

Eric Alterman commented on the obsession of TAPPEDs newest author, Branden Nyhan.

I am with Atrios on this. Absolutely, the left needs to police itself and I think I do as much of this as a person can, in my position(s). But this “the-left-is-just-as-bad-as-the-right” disease in a liberal publication that knows well the differences both in power as well as ethics between contemporary conservatives and liberals is beyond counterproductive. It’s downright destructive. What’s more, it’s sloppily done, as the commenters here, and on previous Atrios posts have demonstrated.

I'm with Eric and Atrios. This is the same argument I had with the book review in the American Prospect about Michelle Goldberg's book last week. The reviewer, Peter Steinfels, the author of a column on belief and ethics in the New York Times, reviewed several books written about the religious right. What he concluded was that the authors (including Michelle Goldberg and Kevin Phillips) were too shrill because they didn't understand the leftists are just as worrying as the rightwing evangelicals.

[Steinfels complained:]

If I were to visit only the wilder shores of liberal, left, feminist, sexual, and environmental politics, reporter's notebook in hand, I would probably get a similarly worrisome view of the prospects for American life and institutions.

Well, perhaps I'd agree with Mr. Steinfels statement if there was any sign that the liberal shiboleths he has named had ever had a significant say in our government. But, personally, I've never seen a lot of wilder feminists who have succeeded in placing extremely left-of-center judges on the various courts, including the supreme court. I've never seen an animal rightist being put in charge of the FDA. Or a bunch of wacko leftists that have hosted affairs where the leadership of the Congress has come to pay homage.

What Mr. Steinfels misses, is that the places and conferences that Michelle Goldberg attended, the people running them have achieved significant changes in policies, in public funding and in legal restrictions. I would beg for him to show the same level of "influence" in our nation's history from the wild leftists he so fears. And worrying about whether the words, "in God we trust" will be removed from money doesn't count because will not affect the lives of ordinary Americans - whereas destroying public schools, lying about public health issues and trying to subvert our Constitution by packing the court with people who do not believe in the Constitution -- those are truly radical ideas and they have a particularly ominous cast these days.

What does it say that even the liberal magazines are scolding liberals for misusing their platforms. It reminds me of Nickolas Kristof who never found a subject where he couldn't bash the liberals for their flaws while watching the deprecations of the right. It's definitely tiring.

On another note: Dr. Alterman has been fired from MSNBC. I suspect he doesn't fit the type of discussion they are trying to promote. Still it is worrying that someone who brings such rational discussion to a broad audience on a mainstream media portal has been given the boot. They must think that progressive voices are found all over the mainstream media these days and so his perspective is simply redundant. Sort of like how Phil Donahue was fired from MSNBC in the runup to the Iraq war because the network worried about hosting a liberal voice when everyone else was gung-ho for the war. So what does MSNBC know about the latest war drums that we don't know? And I wonder how long they'll keep Keith Olbermann because he surely isn't demonstrating the proper deference to authority.

Do remember to update your bookmarks for Dr. A to MediaMatters.org/Altercation/. And let MSNBC know you are disappointed in their decision.

Posted by Mary at September 16, 2006 01:05 AM | Media | Technorati links |
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