- Cowardice and appeasement
- Comfort with confusion and ignorance
- Indecisiveness and similar cognitive defects
- Terror mismanagement
In short, after an exhaustive research effort, the scientists
concluded that the typical liberal is very much like Renfield, that
sniveling, nasty, bug-eating sidekick to Dracula. This is why liberals
always say, "Yethhh, master" to bullies and tyrants like Josef Stalin,
Fidel Castro or Saddam Hussein: They are dim-witted, cowardly, nasty
creatures who can never make up their minds. It's not me, science says
OK, I'm making this up. There is no such study scientifically
"proving" that liberals are feckless crapweasels.
But there is a Berkeley study that purports to prove that
conservatives are hard-wired in the brain to be closed-minded bullies.
The study by a team of psychiatrists claims to show that conservatives
are defined by five qualities: "Fear and aggression," "dogmatism and
intolerance of ambiguity," "uncertainty avoidance," the "need for
cognitive closure" and "terror management."
According to the media summary put out by Berkeley's crack press
office (and later pulled from its Web site), all "conservatives" share
the same basic psychological wiring. They give four examples of four
conservatives who share these attributes: Hitler, Mussolini, Rush
Limbaugh and Ronald Reagan.
Now, this whole thing is what I like to call a pinata of asininity -
bash it from any angle and from any distance and you will get some
reward. But let me pick a few points.
First of all, Hitler and Mussolini weren't conservatives. Or at least,
the idea that Mussolini and Hitler were "conservative" as we
understand the term in the United States and Britain is very, very
much in dispute among political scientists and intellectual
For example, Hitler always claimed he was improving upon Marxism and
socialism ("Nazi" does stand for National Socialism, you know).
Mussolini was born into a socialist family, was a leading socialist
journalist and thinker and was admired by Lenin. When Mussolini broke
with the Socialist Party about WWI, he declared, "You think you can
turn me out, but you will find I shall come back again. I am and shall
remain a socialist and my convictions will never change! They are bred
into my very bones."
I wanted to get that out of the way in part because I'm writing a book
that covers much of this territory, but also because I have a low
tolerance for anyone, let alone scientists, lumping American
conservatives with socialist German mass-murderers. Call me
thin-skinned, if you must.
Anyway, Jack Glaser, one of the lead authors of the Berkeley study,
acknowledged in a media release that a study focused solely on why
right wingers aren't right in the head might seem "partisan." But, he
explained, there is a "host" of information available about
conservatism and comparatively little about liberalism.
But why, exactly, haven't they studied why people are liberal? Perhaps
it's because the profession thinks it's "abnormal" to be a
conservative in the first place.
After all, psychiatrists study why people murder or why some people
believe they're Napoleon or why they think Carrot Top is funny. But
they don't study people who take showers. Why? Because taking a shower
is normal, and therefore uninteresting. Perhaps it says something
interesting about a profession that sees conservatism as so abnormal
so as to be worth studying.
If you go back and look at the list of characteristics that define
conservatism, you'll discover that it applies to liberals, too. Fear
of ambiguity, a desire of cognitive closure, etc: These are human
traits, not conservative ones.
Plenty of liberals refuse to accept that a factory closing can be a
good thing or that something other than racism is to blame for the
problems blacks face. There are liberals who will tear your eyes out
if you say that the 1964 Voting Rights Act had problems or that it's
not clear Head Start is worth the money.
These scientists went off to find negative traits, and when they found
what they were looking for they stuck in a pin and said, "Here's a
conservative." This is the equivalent of only looking for your car
keys where the light is good. In short, they started from a position
of cognitive closure. So I guess they were conservatives after all.