Ten myths conservatives believe about progressives

| November 28, 2008 | 25 Replies

This list by Sara Robinson is especially well-conceived and written.   Based on my own personal experience, these are, indeed, “Ten Myths Conservatives Believe About Progressives.” Here are the myths Robinson tackles:

1. Liberals hate America.

2. Liberals want to leave us defenseless in the face of evildoers around the world.

3. Liberals hate the free market.

4. Liberals hate our troops.

5. Liberals are a bunch of elitists who hate decent working- and middle-class Americans.

6. Liberals are against “family values.”

7. Liberals want to raise our taxes.

8. Liberals are Godless—and therefore, amoral.

9. Liberals don’t believe in personal responsibility.

10. Liberals are wimps.

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Category: American Culture, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich and his wife, Anne Jay, live in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where they are raising their two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Erika Price says:

    Holding steady to such silly, oversimplified myths does a disservice to any meaningful dialogue or criticism, and the conservatives who proudly rattle off such falsehoods come across as pig-headed and bigoted. However, I suspect that many a liberal holds a prejudiced myth or two about some homogenous, malevolent body known as "conservatives". For example, conservatives are not all "heartless" or "racist", though many a young, brash liberal seems to think this is the case. Lumping the whole of political ideology into two well-defined, well-stereotyped castes makes a hopeless mockery of the democratic process. But it's a very appealing activity.

  2. Alison says:

    Keep in mind, though, Erika, that this is exactly how people are fed these myths. The kind of minds who take these things as truth like to get their facts in bullet-item form, easy to memorize.

  3. Karl says:

    Didn't want to leave the picture unbalanced.

    Ten myths liberals/secularists/progressives/atheists (take your pick) believe are true about conservatives/religious/traditionalists/theists.

    1) Conservatives/religious/traditionalists/theists should be ashamed of either hating or being phobic of people different from themselves.

    (Nevermind that it might be foolish to try and live with a serial liar, pedophile, rapist or murderer.)

    2) Conservatives/religious/traditionalists/theists want such control of society that no nobody will dare try and tell them that they might be wrong about something.

    (Nevermind that someone in the past wrote down what they thought might be good things to consider for people trying to get along with each other.)

    3) Conservatives/religious/traditionalists/theists think government social programs are communistic.

    (Nevermind that most governments first exists to assist those who govern to help themselves and secondly to allow the people a voice in the how they want to be helped as well.)

    4) Conservatives/religious/traditionalists/theists enjoy war and love making war on poor defenseless women and children.

    (Nevermind that no matter how horrible war always is, war can be and has sometimes been justified.)

    5) Conservatives/religious/traditionalists/theists are a bunch of bigots that can't see past the nose on their face. They want everyone to be just like them.

    (Nevermind that in the human realm it takes a bigot to call someone else a bigot.)

    6) Conservatives/religious/traditionalists/theists don't believe in freedom of choice or freedom to learning from ones own experience.

    (Nevermind that most everyone could avoid making some of their own mistakes by listening to and learning from the experience of others.

    7) Conservatives/religious/traditionalists/theists want to make all the money and leave the rest of the not so blest people with out any hope.

    (Nevermind that the conservatives/religious/traditionalists/theists give much more to charity than their counterparts.)

    8 ) Conservatives/religious/traditionalists/theists have God on their side no matter what the issue being discussed.

    (Nevermind that Conservatives/religious/traditionalists/theists have permitted such secular influences into their hearts and lives that they no longer know when God is on their side.)

    9) Conservatives/religious/traditionalists/theists believe people need a saviour to get through the day.

    (Nevermind that all people have more things in common with each other than are different.)

    10) Conservatives/religious/traditionalists/theists are responsible for all of the evil in the world, a.k.a.without them laws/doctrines/customs/holy writ wouldn't exist and therefore evil wouldn't exist.

    (Nevermind that evil and hatred would do just fine for themselves if laws/doctrines/customs/holy writ didn't exist.

    Last but not least and foremost in many people's thinking is:

    11) Conservatives/religious/traditionalists/theists want the sinners who refuse salvation to die without hope.

    (Nevermind that most liberals/secularists/progressives/atheists don't want the kind of hope conservatives/religious/traditionalists/theists have to offer, they only want their rewards in the here and now.)

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    Karl: A few of your points sound like the sorts of things that some liberals would say, but not many of them, in my opinion. Most of the points raised in the main post really are FOX News major talking points.

  5. Karl writes:—"(Nevermind that in the human realm it takes a bigot to call someone else a bigot.)"

    So….there's no such thing as a bigot which someone of un-bigoted mindset can recognize as such?

  6. Karl forgot to mention gays in his group of serial liars, pedophiles, rapists and murderers.

  7. Karl says:

    Mark:

    I think Jesus said it very well. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Now if you consider yourself in that category feel free, and cast away.

    Projektleiterin:

    I was pointing out the utter senseless perspective that even today's culture still believes some people ought to be locked up for certain behaviors and habits of the mind. Not only for their own sake but also for the good of others. You grouped gays with this group, are you insinuating some of them should be locked up?

  8. Karl says:

    For those who think science might have s a clue concerning bigoted behavior, check this out.

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=buried-prejud

  9. Karl,

    I wasn't suggesting casting any stones—Jesus was referring to a literal stoning. But if I take you at your implied word, then you can't even claim to judge what sin is, because that would be being bigoted.

    Of course, that's nonsense. Bigoted behavior is, in my reading of what Jesus said, something to guard against—which means you have to be able to recognize it. Somebody has to be able and willing to call off the stoning.

  10. Karl,

    I read that report when it came out. Very sobering. But that's not a prescription to turn a blind eye to it. Just because you may be bigoted doesn't make it either impossible or irrelevant to recognize it in others. In fact, the best way to see it in others is to recognize in yourself and understand the behavior and its causes.

    Or is this some species of the argument that if we don't talk about it it will go away?

  11. Karl says:

    Being bigoted has nothing to do with recognizing sin, it has everything to do with claiming individual irresponsibility for different degrees of tolerance of the stereotypical behaviors of other people.

    You may not agree with what some Christians believe or do, as they may not agree with what some specific group of people do. Bigoted behavior acts upon the same flaws in others you fail to recognize in yourself.

    The great outcry in our modern society is for tolerance, except for those who have been labelled intolerant. We all know what happens next – as soon as you label someone else intolerant – you are headed towards intolerance towards them. This is nothing less than war with ones own ideology.

    I didn't say people shouldn't judge themselves or the flagrant flaunted sin of others. I believe turning a blind eye can only go so far when someone is trying to both put your eyes out and silence you at he same time.

  12. Karl writes:—"The great outcry in our modern society is for tolerance, except for those who have been labelled intolerant. We all know what happens next – as soon as you label someone else intolerant – you are headed towards intolerance towards them. This is nothing less than war with ones own ideology."

    What happened to "hating the sin and loving the sinner"? I suppose if you tie your beliefs so strongly to your core identity and those beliefs are shown to be prejudicial, separating the two gets rather difficult.

  13. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    I've taken the liberty of editing the labels to reduce the verbiage.

    KARL: 1) Conservatives should be ashamed of either hating or being phobic of people different from themselves.

    (Nevermind that it might be foolish to try and live with a serial liar, pedophile, rapist or murderer.)

    It would be more accurate to say that Conservatives have a tendency toward hatred and phobias of different people. Your nevermind actually seems to support the liberal myth by failing to acknowledge that most people of different political and cultural backgrounds have very similar views to the majority of conservatives, and that serial liars, pedophiles, rapists and murderers can also be conservatives.

    KARL: 2) Conservatives want such control of society that no nobody will dare try and tell them that they might be wrong about something.

    (Nevermind that someone in the past wrote down what they thought might be good things to consider for people trying to get along with each other.)

    This "Myth" seems to be supported by many facets of the patriot act, and the uneven application of its provisions. Here again the "Nevermind" is nothing more than a rationalization of said "Myth" than an argument against it.

    KARL: 3) Conservatives think government social programs are communistic.

    (Nevermind that most governments first exists to assist those who govern to help themselves and secondly to allow the people a voice in the how they want to be helped as well.)

    This claim was repeatedly stated throughout the recent presidential campaigns by many Republicans, That the "Liberal Democrats" favored socialism and communism ( the two are actually quite different ) Again the "Nevermind" is a rationalization of the point of view. The actual purpose of government is to regulate and level the field. Its kind of like the referees at a football game. The rules are known to all, but if the refs don't interfere from time to time, the game becomes a brawl.

    KARL: 4) Conservatives enjoy war and love making war on poor defenseless women and children.

    (Nevermind that no matter how horrible war always is, war can be and has sometimes been justified.)

    This claim qualifies as a myth. No one enjoys war or loves war except for those few individuals that profit from it. As to the "Nevermind", Yes wars are sometimes justified, but the one in Iraq wasn't and the continuing occupation is an indicator that it was unjustified.

    KARL: 5) Conservatives are a bunch of bigots that can't see past the nose on their face. They want everyone to be just like them.

    (Nevermind that in the human realm it takes a bigot to call someone else a bigot.)

    This is pretty close to the first item on your list. The conservative camp seems to attract the xenophobes and bigots. The "Nevermind" in this case really makes no sense to me. A bigot is a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices ( http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bigot ) It doesn't take a bigot to recognize a bigot. However, if you recognize someone as a bigot, it doesn't mean that you aren't one also.

    KARL: 6) Conservatives don't believe in freedom of choice or freedom to learning from ones own experience.

    (Nevermind that most everyone could avoid making some of their own mistakes by listening to and learning from the experience of others.

    Many conservatives believe in limiting choice of others to a short conservative-approved list. Conservative legislator at the state level have tried in the past to make history an elective course for high-school. the "Nevermind" doesn't address the first point, but I totally agree with learning from others past mistakes.

    KARL: 7) Conservatives want to make all the money and leave the rest of the not so blest people with out any hope.

    (Nevermind that the conservatives give much more to charity than their counterparts.)

    It would be more accurate to say Liberals believe that "Conservatives believe that unfettered capitalism can cure all of societies ills." Over the last 20 years, Republican legislators have worked hard to move the United States toward a service based economy. This has included fighting for legislation that allowed Corporations to file criminal lawsuits for civil offenses with impunity. They have also worked to encourage corporations to move their factories overseas. And in deference to item 3, When a government program that was originally intended to make it possible for low income families to qualify for a home is enacted, the conservatives scream "Socialism", but when deregulation allows investment firms to become insolvent by trading accounts receivable as liquid assets, and then the government gives these failed firms millions so the CEO's can receive their bonuses, it is somehow a good thing.

    KARL: 8 ) Conservatives have God on their side no matter what the issue being discussed.

    (Nevermind that Conservatives have permitted such secular influences into their hearts and lives that they no longer know when God is on their side.)

    This should be reworded to "Conservatives believe they have God on their side no matter what the issue being discussed."

    This more accurately describes a secular point of view.

    KARL: 9) Conservatives believe people need a saviour to get through the day.

    (Nevermind that all people have more things in common with each other than are different.)

    This is a new one to me. Are you just making these up?

    KARL: 10) Conservatives are responsible for all of the evil in the world, a.k.a.without them laws/doctrines/customs/holy writ wouldn’t exist and therefore evil wouldn’t exist.

    (Nevermind that evil and hatred would do just fine for themselves if laws/doctrines/customs/holy writ didn’t exist.

    I know of no one that favors total lawlessness, except for a few neo-conservatives that want to be above the law. Many Liberals agree on most of the laws, but do not believe laws that mandate a particular religious interpretation beyond civil responsibility. There are religious groups that within their following, mandate how women may dress, what entertainment is appropriate, What foods and beverages may be consumed on days they deem holy, and what occupations are deemed suitable for their followers. I am not referring to Muslims, but to a particular mainstream Christian sect. (BTW, I suspect that you meant "i.e" instead of "a.k.a."

    Last but not least and foremost in many people’s thinking is:

    KARL: 11) Conservatives want the sinners who refuse salvation to die without hope.

    (Nevermind that most Liberals don’t want the kind of hope conservatives/religious/traditionalists/theists have to offer, they only want their rewards in the here and now.)

    This last one makes absolutely no sense to us nonbelievers. Why would we think in such a religious mode?

  14. Karl says:

    Loving the sinner doesn't mean everything they do is to be endorsed and encouraged. Somethings done by people (sinners or not) are just plain idiotic, and purposeless but not malevolent.

    However, some other things done by people are also pointless but also potentially malevolent for those who think the behavior is actually productive or something worth while spending so much time doing. Convince someone into wasting their time on an activity that they later decide was a complete waste of time and see if they really can learn to tell you beforehand if they can determine what is a worth while use of time or not.

  15. Vicki Baker says:

    Convince someone into wasting their time on an activity that they later decide was a complete waste of time and see if they really can learn to tell you beforehand if they can determine what is a worth while use of time or not.

    Is this an experiment you are currently conducting here at DI?

  16. Karl says:

    Vicki writes:

    Is this an experiment you are currently conducting here at DI?

    I don't consider ideological discussions a waste of time as it sharpens the perspectives and viewpoints of the participants. I do find that when the playing field isn't level or the participants are treated with bias by the officials then the outcome however either group sees it is a loss for all concerned.

    Much of what ERIK P had to say could very well be what some people need to hear, but it doesn't need to be said to most adults who believe they have already worked through these issues. Saying directly offensive things will not change another person. All of us need to internalize our frustrations towards others into effective self-examination. If we all did this, sin would still be there but it would have less of a grip on all of our lives.

    Guess what! If you expect to ruffle some feathers you probably will. Keep those with opposing points of view at arms length and maybe they will one day become a honest friends who do more than just tolerate your point of view as well.

  17. Karl says:

    Vicki:

    This website is the moderator's experiment. Read about the intended purpose of DI.

  18. Karl, have you considered the possibility—remote as it may be—that some of us worked through these issues a long time ago and came to realize that where you seem to be now is only one of many good places to be?

    A friend of mine—a good friend—from time to time tries to "bring me back to the fold" of christianity. He asked me once in all sincerity what had happened and all I could say to him that he would listen to at the time was that I'd grown out of it.

    My starting point was all this stuff about "sin." People make mistakes. They make bad choices. Sometimes those mistakes and choices are made for them.

    Where is this sin thing? I've asked at many doors and the best I can surmise from all the answers is that sin is supposed to be the in-built human capacity to screw up.

    Well, I don't find a supernatural explanation for that capacity to be in the least reasonable or compelling. People are all works in progress. I actually find the concept of sin as used by religious people pretty useless in solving or improving anything.

    But that's just me.

  19. Karl says:

    Mark,

    I'm full aware that most here at DI have some degree of perceived liberation from the trapings of religious dogma. That is your choice and perogative. I just think you are held captive to another belief system which you claim is not a religion. It very well could be just as insideous because you claim to hold to a secular point of view that tries to eliminate any reference to a religion. Yet in the long run we all believe something regarding the world that was roots in a perspective that is not totally scientific.

    I have never said that I've been trying to bring back into the fold. I've just been trying to build some common ground and present a point of view that you have stopped considering reasonable. To each his own.

    I can not claim to speak for anyone other than myself when it comes to how I deal with matters of cognition and faith.

  20. Karl says:

    Mark stated:

    "I’ve asked at many doors and the best I can surmise from all the answers is that sin is supposed to be the in-built human capacity to screw up."

    Sin is not supernatural (its also not hocus-pocus or mumbo-jumbo). It is entirely a natural consequence of what it means to be human. Its part of the natural learning process (built-in) for people because of the necessity of permitting both correct and incorrect choices for both societies and individuals.

    The crux of the matter, as I see it, is when does the learning process stagnate for a society or an individual? When does the learning curve go flat line?

    This is where every society and individual must come to grips with what it means to try to get beyond poor or wrong choices. Constantly choosing to lower the standards to include more and more wrong choices as if there were no consequences does not resolve the real issue.

  21. Karl writes:—"The crux of the matter, as I see it, is when does the learning process stagnate for a society or an individual? When does the learning curve go flat line?

    This is where every society and individual must come to grips with what it means to try to get beyond poor or wrong choices. Constantly choosing to lower the standards to include more and more wrong choices as if there were no consequences does not resolve the real issue."

    Absolutely. I am in total agreement.

    The difference between us is, I believe, that what you see as lowering standards I see as taking down artificial barriers. A matter of interpretation.

  22. Karl says:

    So how does one decide which standards are artifical barriers?

    Individually, at some level of collectivism or by some combination of natural law superimposed upon written case law?

  23. When you erect a barrier to prevent certain people from sharing in common practice based solely on the observation that they are different than you are, it's a safe bet that is an artificial barrier.

  24. Karl says:

    What is the common practice based upon? Natural law, or societal convention. With your definition, some number of people must be required to define the common practice. This then enables any number of people to also decide what in their perspective is not common but should be common.

    This leaves your society totally subject to the will those who are uncommon as mush as the common. If all I want is to obtain a bail out I refuse to recognize the real consequences for my ideas and behavior.

    If enough people want to have the government to supply for their needs and wishes then we might as well recognize that the end of our civilization is at hand.

    Look at history, that mindset is fatal to the people who hold to it.

  25. radley5 says:

    Why don't conservatives understand that government is not so much the problem as is the corpocracy which has developed out of that government's weaknesses? Why, oh why, can't they understand that maybe, just maybe, our forefathers could not have possibly imagined the world as it is today?? Why are they so opposed to change of any kind (even if it is in their best interest)? Why do they think they are superior to other Americans whose histories show generations of contributing and participating in working towards the betterment of this country?

    Government is there to protect the people (and not against international war only)…not to protect those who would and could care less about the people.

    It's a neverending story….

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