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May 12, 1981 - Image 8

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Michigan Daily, 1981-05-12

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Opinion
Page 8 Tuesday, May 12, 1981 The Michigan Daily

The Michigan Daily
Vol. XCI, No. 5-S
Ninety Years of Editorial Freedom
Edited and managed by students
at the University of Michigan
Guns and logic
A MAN AMBLES into a crowded Salem,
Oregon bar, coolly pulls a semi-automatic
out of his pocket, and opens fire on the assem-
bled throng. Within seconds four people have
Fallen dead, and a score of others lie wounded.
Once again the suicidal idiocy of America's

End of the liberal fad?

4

Once upon a time, nearly
everybody in America wanted to
be called a liberal.
It was the societal passkey of
the early and mid-1930s, the
ticket to political and social ac-
ceptance. Franklin Roosevelt an-
d his New Deal were riding high,
WPA and the Wagner Act were

Coring
Apart

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andgun philosophy is waved bloodily aloft for all the rage, and suddenly it
ie rest of the world to marvel at and recoil seemed antiquated, even un-
patriotic; not to pay lip service to
om. America's new lockstep march in
It does little good to reiterate for the hundred- quest of economic recovery. It
time the arguments supporting a sane gun- was vogue, it was chic, and no
)ntrol program: that virtually every country one likes to feel left out.
lforcing strict handgun limitations has a So conservatives started
urder rate far below that of our own; that the calling themselves liberals, too.
To be sure, they remained
ajority of America's murders are committed liberals with a difference -
t by professional criminals but by family liberals who worshipped a balan-
embers or neighbors possessed by fits of ced budget and a government
mporary rage. without handouts; liberals who
It does little good to debunk the 2nd Amen- ad tocialist agittion at home
nent civil-libertarian hypocrisy which per- abroad. While campaigning
eates pro-gun arguments. The fact that gun- against FDR in 1936, GOP can-
bby chieftains remain among those least didate Alf Landon declared, "I
kely to champion civil liberties in any other believe a person can be a liberal
ea phases their well-drilled supporters not thus illuminating the sublime
le wit. ease of attaching the "proper"
What would do some good is for the very label to even the most an-
lent majority to stop being so silent. A recent tithetical set of political prin-
BC poll indicated some 75 percent of ciples.
mericans support handgun restrictions; yet GIVEN enough time, all
movements and trends come full
ven the most militant gun-control advocates circle. Our current congressional
.em strangely locked into a mindset of defeat. liberals may by and large still
hey whine incessantly about the uphill odds of behave like liberals, but for God's
eir cause, about the near-invincibility of the sake don't address them as such;
they will run screaming in terror,
)position' diving behind new press releases
It would be nice if Goliath would stop proclaiming their love for
apitulating to David. If that slumbering 75 frugality in government and their
ercent would ever wake up and assert its con- newfound respect for that gutsy
ctions, the National Rifle Association might guy in the White House. After all,
nd itself with hardly a friend left either within a person can be a conservative
without being a tightwad.
ongress or without. And fewer people might It's a shameless hypocrisy,
ad up bleeding to death on a barroom floor. yet who can blame them?
"Liberal" has evolved into the
dirtiest word in the American
/44Q'4 political lexicon - a term to con-
jure up one's darkest
associations with economic mud-
dle and sociological deviance.
Better to call your congressman
a crook, a lecher, a pederast -
anything but aliberal.
Last week's embarrassing
Democratic defeat on the Reagan
budget vote was poignant but
hardly surprising. The ghost of
recently-axed comrades still
-4hang heavy over Capitol Hill, and
conservative me-tooism has
/ become the hottest-selling chap-
ter in the manual of political sur-
vival. Idealism isn't paying off -
Edward Kennedy stuck doggedly
and proudly to his liberal creed
throughout his 1980 presidential

primary run, and was consisten-
tly, humiliatingly trounced; Iowa
senator John Culver did likewise
last fall in a Senate race which
became a microcosm of liberal
vs. conservative Middle America
- for his troubles, he was pum-
meled by more than 100,000 votes.
SUCH RESULTS are merely
the electoral manifestations of a
decades-long verbal fusillade:
Kick a liberal - it'll make you
feel good. Attacks from the Left
have been as venemous as those
from the Right: Last week on this
page, Cornell professor Manning
Marable castigated "white
liberals and self-appointed 'do-
gooders' (who) act self-righteous
about the oppression of the black
community without lifting a
single finger to halt it."
Well, damn those bleeding
hearts! No matter that liberals
single-handedly engineered
every bit of civil rights and aid-
to-the-poor legislation currently
in existence, while conservatives
fought such enactments tooth and
nail; after all, it's much more
ego-lifting to bite the hand that
feeds you. Though your average
conservative may have the vision
of a mole and the heart of a
weasel, by golly, at least you
know where he stands!
Such logical illogic drives un-
wittingly to the likely core of anti-
liberal vitriol: Envy. Through his
very idealism, the liberal places
himself perpetually on the firing
line; the very connotation of
"idealism" implies one possesses
a superior view of society and its
problems, an ascendant vision of
perfection. To which many would
reply: "Who are these creeps
who think they're better than we,
are?"
The "impractical" liberal
dreams of a society without
misery, of the perfectability of
man; the "practical" conser-
vative accepts, even encourages
- in the pursuit of self-interest -
the defects of civilization and the

evils of humankind. Thus the
liberal is forced to play and be
judged by different standards: If
he doesn't wear a hair shirt both
in public and in private, then he's
open to charges of hypocrisy not
applied to his cynical, conser-
vative brethren.
IF THE LIBERAL desires to
live in a comfortable neigh-
borhood, then he's a fraud. If he
wishes to send his kids to a good
school then he's a traitor to racial
equality. The liberal isn't allowed
the good life - if he doesn't
AR
emulate Christ, he's Satan incar-
nate.
It's a wearying existence at
best, which may account for the
alarming loss of vitality in the
whole progressive movement.
The tragedy of it is that, with few
exceptions, the liberal thinker
remains firmly on the side of the
angels. We need his ideals, now
more than ever: Reagan supply-
side economics are likely to suc-
ceed only at the price of
catastrophic unemployment; the
poor, the elderly, the under-
privileged suffer ever-mounting
deprivation; our civil liberties
are under fire as never before;
our State Department's toughest-
kid-on-the-block symdrome
threatens the future of the world.
While liberals can certainly be
insufferable (Eugene McCar-
thy's presidential "children's
crusade" was the quintessence of
I-know-what's-best-for-you elit-
ism), now is hardly the time to'
stone the guardian of the gates to
apocalypse. Though all the slings
and arrows of a fickle body
public, the liberal has remained
our best hope; if Reaganism con-
tinues to have its unchallenged
way, he may prove our last hope
as well.
Christopher Potter is the
Summer Daily Editorial Direc-
tor.

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