“Is American conservatism inherently bigoted?” asked Peter Beinart.
(Click on video at right.)
For many liberals, the answer is obviously “Yes.” President Trump’s attacks on Mexicans, Muslims, and other minorities, combined with his half-hearted repudiations of white supremacists, have made Republican racism almost an article of faith in Democratic politics.
But efforts to shame conservatives have backfired horribly. “Outrage at political correctness-fueled by the conviction that charges of bigotry are used to shut down legitimate discussion-has become more central to American conservatism.”
After being constantly stigmatized as racists and homophobes, conservatives have adopted a siege mentality and are expressing more racial and cultural resentments.
“Liberals would be wise to recognize this vicious cycle” and stop wielding the epithets “racist,” “bigot,” and “anti-Semitic” so promiscuously. Republicans do bear responsibility for renouncing egregious racists in their midst, as well as policies, such as Voter ID laws, that clearly have racial consequences.
But to halt “the downward spiral” of cultural division, self-righteous liberals should remind themselves that values evolve over time, and that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama publicly opposed gay marriage until five years ago.
Were they bigots until 2012? “Hatred and scorn” are easy. Empathy and persuasion are hard-but without them, our divisions will only deepen.