If you’ve ever read any of my other articles here on The Hayride, you know I don’t believe a word of that headline, and you also know that I have never used a clickbait headline just to attract readers. So why have I done so this time? The answer is that I’ve recently come across two illustrations on how the left and the far-left view ordinary people that love their country.
Let’s start with the one you may have heard of, Anand Giridharadas’ appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program. Mr. Giridharadas is a TV show host, but I don’t want to publicize his show or his network. If you’ve heard of this interview it’s probably because of Sean Hannity’s coverage, as his audience is considerably wider than the modest viewership of MSNBC.
If you watch the entire interview, which is just short of eleven minutes, he examines the post-coronavirus relationship between American citizens and their government. He delivers his opinion very innocently, as if he simply can’t imagine that anyone would disagree much less be offended by what he’s saying.
“One of the fundamental questions to me is, what’s going to be our relationship to government, the idea of government after this? We kind of look at it at three levels this week. There’s a primordial American tradition going back to the founders of being freedom-obsessed, even though we’re a country founded on slavery and genocide. Being freedom-obsessed to the point where we’re always so afraid of the government coming for us, that we’re blind to other types of threats — whether it’s a virus, whether it’s bank malfeasance, climate change, what have you.
This quote starts about four minutes and 10 seconds into the interview. This is the next level of leftist attack on those who want to exercise individual freedom instead of simply following orders. It starts with a typical leftist mantra, namely that the United States is irrevocably tainted by our past. Due to our history of slavery and genocide it doesn’t matter who we are, or what we are today. Our freedom, our economy, our record on human rights, none of this matters, because we have a flawed past. The fact that no country is perfect, because all human beings are imperfect makes no difference. We are guilty of our forefather’s sins and we should be ashamed and fixate on the past, not strive to improve anything for our future or our progeny’s future. Your children and grandchildren will be equally tainted. This is familiar nonsense that we’re already familiar with.
The new twist here is the argument that we are completely blind to other threats because we’re “freedom-obsessed.” I would argue that threats to our freedom are the greatest threats we face, since we have God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We’ve lost countless lives and treasure fighting wars to ensure that people throughout the world can remain free. Freedom is precious; it is the foundation of our society.
How did we fall into this blind-obsession with freedom? According to Mr. Giridharadas, it’s Ronald Reagan’s fault.
There’s also a more recent, kind of 40-year version of this, which is the Reagan war on government. That’s not just an idea on the right. There’s a hard version on the right, there’s a small-c ‘conservative’ kind of militant version of it, but it has also infected many people on the left.
Imagine that! Reagan’s quote about the nine most terrifying words in the English language being “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help” is so pernicious that it’s even “infected” many people on the left! Mr. Giridharadas explains that the infected people on the left may have concerns about high taxes that leads them to use Cayman Island trusts. The horror!
But it’s not just Reagan’s fault, of course. Oh no, Reagan’s ideas may have died out in time, but Mr. Giridharadas puts the blame squarely on Donald Trump’s shoulders, where he clearly believes it belongs.
You put someone who can barely read a sentence in government, in the figure of Donald Trump, and it becomes true government sucks, because you made it suck by telling everybody it sucks. I think the most important thing that could come out of this is realizing the government is not the biggest threat to our liberty. It can be a threat to our liberty, but we’re threatened by many, many things and what the government fundamentally does is protect us.
So our government sucks precisely because President Trump tells us it sucks. It’s impossible that you have concluded that there are problems with our government on your own, it’s sucks because Trump makes it suck. What government really does is protect us if we would just let it! This is a garden-variety ad-hominem attack on the President that we expect from someone suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome.
I want to reiterate for emphasis that what’s especially striking to me is that one TV show host is presenting this to another TV show host as a simple matter of fact. It doesn’t seem that either man is concerned with the personal attacks both on the people who disagree with them and the President. This type of argument, i.e. one that attacks a person instead of that person’s ideas or positions, makes any kind of meaningful dialog with the other side difficult, if not impossible. This is a fairly common tactic from the left.
But Mr. Giridharadas is not the only left winger examining the effects of our relationship with our government. Ms. Gina Gustavsson explains that the true risk of Sweden’s coronavirus strategy is not death, it’s blind patriotism, which is apparently far worse than mere death.
I’m writing another article on Sweden’s response to the coronavirus which will be Part II of my Value of Life series, but for those who are unaware, Sweden’s approach has been almost the opposite of the United States’. Sweden has not shut down its elementary schools, restaurants, museums, or businesses.
One of the most interesting aspects of Sweden’s approach is that, like the United States’ approach, it’s driven by reliance on epidemiologists. We know, because Nancy Pelosi told us so, that we need to be driven by science. Sweden’s government relied heavily on their public health agency and has been guided by Chief Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell. I find it fascinating that Dr. Tegnell and Dr. Fauci have come to such radically different conclusions, and I’ll discuss this in my next Value of Life article.
Ms. Gustavsson points out, with some alarm, that trust in Sweden’s Public Health Agency has risen to 73 percent. She’s even more concerned that 63 percent of Swedes agree with their government’s approach to dealing with coronavirus. I’ll let Ms. Gustavsson explain herself:
What we are witnessing in Sweden is more likely to be the dark side of nationalism. To be sure, many Swedes who now say “let Sweden be Sweden” are staunch supporters of wider immigration and international cooperation. But such convictions are no vaccine against the psychological forces of nationalism.
Like any group identity, national identity is a powerful force. In “Liberal Nationalism and Its Critics,” contributors and I show how national identity can charge both the best and worst sides of human behavior. In a recent research article, I argue that when self-critical and based on a shared public culture, nationalism can legitimately be liberal or even progressive in nature. But when it takes the form of blind allegiance, nationalism becomes a danger to liberal democracy.
Obviously patriotism is just an expression of pride in our country and what it has achieved, PATRIOTISM IS A DANGER TO LIBERAL DEMOCRACY! Let’s analyze this claptrap. Ms. Gustavsson begins by pointing out that Swedes can be “staunch supporters” of wider immigration and globalism, which are, of course, very important to the left, but she notes that even these enlightened attitudes are no defense against vile nationalism. In truth, the right uses the same tactic. I recently heard Louisiana senator John Kennedy start a criticism of the Chinese government with words to the effect that the Chinese people are good people, just like us. It’s a truism that most people are good people, and I’m always surprised that our politicians (of either party) have to point out such an obvious truth, but that’s certainly the current trend. Here Ms. Gustavsson is pointing out that the Swedes are good people, but that awful nationalism may lead them astray in exactly the same way that Senator Kennedy said the Chinese were good people before he criticized their government.
Ms. Gustavsson then notes that her research has shown her that nationalism is good when it leads to liberalism or progressivism, but that it can take on the form of blind allegiance, which is, of course, a danger to liberal democracy. Does this sound familiar? Are there people that show blind allegiance to a country that was founded on the principles of slavery and genocide? Are there people that show a blind allegiance to a president that can barely read a sentence? Naturally we would argue that we do not show blind allegiance, that we believe in the principles of our founding fathers as laid down in the Constitution, but then again, we’re merely “freedom-obsessed”. We can’t view our country objectively because of all the freedom! It’s clear that patriots are merely the blind leading the blind.
If being patriotic and obsessed with threats to our freedom makes you blind to larger threats, then I’ll see you at The Lighthouse for the Blind, where I volunteered when I was in high school. Do you think they’ll rename it The Lighthouse for the Freedom-Obsessed?
John Mason is the host of The John Mason show that airs every Tuesday and Wednesday from 1:00 to 2:00 PM on WGSO, 990 AM. You can listen live at wgso.com. He’s also a candidate for the Jefferson Parish Republican Executive Committee.