F.R. Duplantier reporting Behind The Headlines

Week of:
December 17, 2000
Liberal Deceive Selves and Others

F.R. Duplantier

by: F.R. Duplantier

Some liberals will go to any lengths to deny the truths they find unpleasant.

In the current issue of City Journal, published by the Manhattan Institute, British physician Theodore Dalrymple examines "the mental mechanisms that liberal intellectuals use to disguise the truth from themselves and others," beginning with "outright denial. Increasing crime [in England] was long dismissed as a mere statistical artifact, before the sheer weight of the evidence overwhelmed the possibility of denial," he notes. "As to educational failure, it was long denied by the production of statistics showing that more and more children were passing public examinations [which] had deliberately been made so easy that it was impossible to fail them."

Another mental mechanism used for deception is the "tendentious historical comparison or precedent. Yes, it is admitted, violence and vulgarity are a large part of modern British life; but they always were," Dalrymple parrots. "For some reason not fully explained, it is supposed to be a comfort . . . that antisocial behavior has persisted unabated over hundreds of years."

Yet another deceptive mechanism, "once the facts are finally admitted under the duress of accumulated evidence," is to deny or pervert "their moral significance," says Dalrymple. "Do children emerge from school as ignorant of facts as when they entered?" he asks rhetorically. "Well, of course: this is because they are no longer taught by rote but instead are taught how to go about finding information for themselves." Dalrymple points out that any quantity of violence can be "explained away by reference to the 'structural violence' of capitalist society."

Dalrymple sees a "causative relationship between the ideas that liberal intellectuals advocated and put into practice and every disastrous social development of the last four decades." He remembers how liberal intellectuals "called for the destruction of the family as an institution. The destigmatization of illegitimacy," he recalls, "went hand in hand with easy divorce, the extension of marital rights to other forms of association between adults, and the removal of all the fiscal advantages of marriage." Rather than increase "the stock of innocent sexual pleasure," the destruction of the family "resulted instead in widespread violence consequent upon sexual insecurity and in the mass neglect of children, as people became ever more egotistical in their search for momentary pleasure."

Dalrymple accuses liberal intellectuals of turning education into "a form of childish entertainment," rejecting "grammar and arithmetic" as "mere bourgeois tools," and eliminating "the very idea of failure." He charges that they justified and encouraged crime with their absurd claim that "an unjust society forced people into criminal activity, and therefore punishment constituted a double injustice, victimizing the real victim. By what right could an unjust society claim to impose its version of justice?" he mimics. "Empathy and understanding were what was needed, provided they absolved the criminal of his responsibility. The creation of a universal disposition to do good, and not the creation of fear of the consequences of doing evil, was what was needed to extirpate crime." Dalrymple reports that "these were glad tidings to those tempted by the life of crime and demoralizing ones to those who upheld the law."

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