One of the abiding themes of criticism leveraged at liberals by conservatives (and to some degree, libertarians as well) is that liberals are fools for believing in the things they do.
That’s an interesting contention. Because foolishness is defined as “lack of good sense or judgment; stupidity.”
So let’s take a look at a few of the big and small things conservatives––across a spectrum of religion, politics and culture––have stood for throughout history, and why.
The example of Jesus
First, we might consider that a certain Jesus Christ was highly frustrated by a group of conservative religious leaders in his day who turned faith into legalism by imposing all kinds of rules people had to follow. When Jesus questioned their authority, they paid to have him betrayed and killed.
And wasn’t that foolish?
The bad example of the church
Then when the church grew, it basically started asking people to buy favor with God. When Martin Luther questioned their authority in doing so, they threatened his life.
The same thing happened when men such as Copernicus and Galileo questioned the view of the Church that Earth was at the center of the universe. For hundreds of years the church persecuted and imprisoned all those dared make such a claim. Because the church was behaving like a pack of fools.
It was conservatives on both sides of the Muslim and Christian religions who led the Crusades and engaged in wars over the City of Jerusalem and land claimed by the nation of Israel. These bloody fights were based on ancient claims to ownership of the so-called Holy Land. In the process, hundreds of thousands of people gave their lives for no real reason other than an attempt to prove that God was on their side.
And that is always foolish.
Wars of foolish greed
Speaking of wars, it was conservatives from the Confederate South who wanted states to have all authority in all matters. These same conservatives favored slavery and used religious justification to impose their will on people captured and forced into slavery.
Conservatives then forced America into a Civil War over these issues that cost the nation 750,000 lives.
Even after they lost that war, conservatives still didn’t give up their angrily foolish ways. Conservative white racists imposed Jim Crow laws across the nation to further persecute and control black Americans even after an amendment was added to the Constitution guaranteeing them equal rights. Hundreds if not thousands of black Americans consequently were beaten, tortured, hung or burnt to death by angry white conservatives fearful that their “way of life” was at risk by granting black American’s equal social status.
These conservatives even formed societies such as the Klu Klux Klan specifically to terrorize and persecute blacks and people of other races and religion apart from conservative white Christianity. This breed of conservatism raged full bore from the early 20th century all the way into the 1950s and 60s. The KKK persists to this day, euphemistically claiming they only favor “white rights” versus persecution of others.
But history proves we’d all be fools to believe such claims. Liberals to this day have a hard time convincing such people of the foolishness of their ways. Yet liberals are blamed by conservatives for “ruining the country.” This is a cynically contrary euphemism for providing equal rights to people that were formerly oppressed.
The same aggressive meme holds true for conservatives accusing liberals of ruinous economic policies. In the wake of the stock market crash where conservative bulls ran the economy right into the ground through deregulation and speculative investments, liberals acted to install programs to protect everyday citizens from the ugly vagaries of such behavior. The Social Security insurance program was set up to provide a common man’s return on investment through a government program that would be available to people no longer engaged the labor market. The program leverages the investment of society to build interest and provide for all those in need during their waning years.
Up until the 1960s, conservatives saw the safety and common sense of such an insurance program. Republicans supported and even expanded Social Security.
But then conservative stalwarts got greedy. It seems to drive them nuts to think they can’t get their hands on all that money through privatization. The wealthiest Americans don’t even pay into the program, and yet those are the same people who seem to be lobbying against the fact that a socialized insurance program works to protect the neediest in America.
And that is the logic of ignorant, greedy fools.
Hatred for common sense
It holds true also for Medicare, a social program set up to protect primarily the elderly from increasingly burdensome medical costs as they age. And Conservatives (note the Capital C) hate it. And so it goes with conservatives hating common sense for the very fact that it is both common, and sensible.
Instead the conservative faction in American seems to abide by contradictory logic as a rule of thumb. That is how, and why, they currently protest abortion while lobbying against organizations such as Planned Parenthood that provide legal birth control to women to help them avoid unwanted pregnancies.
Conservatives claim on supposedly moral grounds that only abstinence is a rightful method for avoiding pregnancy. The real goal it seems is to take away that decision-making capability from women, whom conservatives consistently persecute over all such decisions of sexual or personal freedom.
Even the Catholic Church looks like a fool on such issues because more than 90% of its own member base chooses by practical intuition to ignore the dictums of the church’s morality-based yet hypocritical bans on birth control. The so-called “rhythm method” so long advocated by the Vatican is nothing more than a falsely moral attempt to avoid pregnancy as well.
And when it comes to abortion, conservatives calling themselves “pro-life” who also protest distribution and use of birth control are not in favor of anything. They’re simply “anti” with no room for solutions on a practial scale. That’s not “pro-life.” It’s anti-living. Positions like that are aggressively foolish.
Equally foolish and equally aggressive are Christian conservatives claiming that science is out to kill religion simply by teaching the theory of evolution. That strange claim ignores the fact that Jesus himself taught using naturalistic parables to illustrate spiritual concepts. Men like the stalwartly foolish Ken Ham, a leading creationist, seem to have no ability to connect the organic fundamentalism of the Bible with modern science. As a result, they remain engaged in an increasingly Quixotic attempt to knock down the windmills of science. And when that fails, new labels such as Intelligent Design are invoked in an semantic battle for supremacy. But that too has failed in the face of plain and rational logic on the side of science.
Proving that creationalism is pure and unadulterated foolishness.
Fool for politics
It all spills into the realm of politics where the current band of conservative leaders is struggling to become ever more extreme in an attempt to prove themselves securely “sensible” in the eyes of their zealous and crazed base.
The height of this tomfoolery is now on full display in the cartoonish manner and statements of men such as Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee. who blather on like homeless and mentally ill individuals society on a street corner.
Adding to the manic display of such foolishness are women such as Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann, whose conservatively-driven rants split off like solar flares in the political universe. These particular women offer little more than conservative hot energy, yet people foolish enough to consider them bright stars don’t recognize the burnt out nature of their message. Like most conservative messengers, they are not prophets, but parrots. They repeat only what they’ve been able to learn from worn out ideals.
Fools for anger and fear
But their parrotism feeds on the same anger and fear that has driven conservatism for ages upon ages. From the religious conservatives who tormented Jesus to the Facebook fools who torment liberals for believing and acting on social justice, racial, gender and sexual equality, economic parity and environmental protection, conservatives keep believing they see fools where in fact what they are seeing is people committed to rational solutions.
Because it has been the liberal enterprise that has delivered on the promise of humanity and God.
Liberalism has led the way on all great scientific discoveries. It has fostered social revolutions in democracy and equality, because even when men like Ronald Reagan were lobbying against the Soviet Union, it was the liberal enterprise of America initiative for which he was a stalwart defender.
Our Founding Fathers authored a Constitution guaranteeing freedom and liberty, which simultaneously loosened the binds of religious authority where it constricted human understanding. America is a nation dependent on freedom from religion as well as freedom of religion. It is not, as some conservatives love to claim, a Christian nation by definition.
Throughout history it is liberalism that has built societies where human respect is paramount, yet God is quite welcome. But we recognize that all words are symbols, and all scripture is composed of words. That means metaphor should be welcome at the table of truth. Literalism can be the enemy of truth.
So it is not liberals that are the fools. It has long been proven that conservatism with all its rigid and anachronistic tendencies are the bane of culture, government and the earth. The main thing we need to extract from these lessons is that it takes a strong will, a rational mind and a commitmen to liberal convictions to resist conservative foolishness at every turn.
And that, my friends, is no foolish exercise.