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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Kersten Missed The Real Problem In Her Liberal War Critique

Category: Kersten
Posted: 10/22/13 19:39

by Dave Mindeman

Katherine Kersten is a senior fellow with the Center for the American Experiment.....a conservative think tank. She is one of those people who seems to "know" all the answers for everything. And they all have a common theme. Her latest posting continues that theme. The title gives us the crux of the matter....

Liberals are Waging a War on the Weak
A Weak Moral Code is Responsible for the Divide Between Rich and Poor

It is hard not to notice that her premise regarding a Weak Moral Code being responsible for the rich/poor divide does not equivocate. Kersten believes that liberal thought and its supposed consequences ARE the cause.

This has to be broken down and examined....

We hear from all sides that America is becoming "two nations." The upper class of highly educated professionals is flourishing -- rich and getting richer. But many in the working class are struggling -- dropping out of the workforce and leading increasingly dysfunctional lives. The middle class is shrinking and beginning to show similar signs of dysfunction.

Liberal opinionmakers bemoan this inequality, which they tend to view solely in economic terms. Yet ironically -- even as they call for more wealth redistribution and job training -- they fail to see the responsibility they bear for the social conditions in which many of our society's less fortunate members now flounder.

Yes, Kersten believes that we, liberals, are responsible for this divide. And she feels it goes back to our quest in the 60's for liberation...you know, freedom to do your own thing.

Since the 1960s, America's elite -- on the campus and in the media, government and nonprofit sectors -- has led a crusade for social and cultural "liberation." In the process, it has jettisoned once-clear standards of conduct, substituting a fluid new moral code that champions self-actualization and "choosing your own values."

She gets the 60's culture reaction wrong here. It was not a quest to choose your own values....it was a rejection of having values imposed upon us. The 60's revolution was a reaction to forced conformity. We were told to accept the premise that the War in Vietnam was necessary. That society needed to be rigid. Education rigid. Futures rigid. The 60's generation felt the need to question everything and to test the limits of what is supposed to be.

That didn't necessarily mean that "values" were rejected. Even the Christian religion saw a new awakening at the time. But when it came to "values", that generation put everything on the table for examination and a lot of it was found wanting.

Kersten goes on....

In a recent issue of First Things, R.R. Reno, the journal's editor, listed the multiple arenas in which America is seeing the relaxation or abandonment of once-universal norms: from sex and marriage to the legalization of gambling, marijuana and assisted suicide. On all these fronts, moral restrictions are being dropped in the name of expanding freedom for all.

Who gets to define what "universal norms" are? And why, in her new context, is expansion of freedom a bad thing? Sure, some of these ideas are changing - some would say its about time - but to judge the changes as good or bad just because they are different from the past requires a very narrow and puritanical judgment.

But then she gets deeper into the matter....

Affluent, college-educated people -- the top 20 percent -- can generally handle the new smorgasbord of choices, thanks to their education, their grasp of risk and the social capital that helped them achieve success in the first place. But the poorly educated and vulnerable, who often lack these resources, cannot.

Reno cites statistics that prove his point. For example, upper-class Americans have developed a "relatively disciplined approach to drugs," he says. But parents who dropped out of high school are twice as likely to have children who use marijuana as are parents with college degrees. The less educated a person, the more likely he is to be a frequent gambler.

Kersten assumes that affluence and a college education apparently makes you "smart" enough to judge things as you are supposed to judge them. In other words, have a more "moral" compass. The less educated and the poor, it would seem, are more susceptible to poor decisions. Kersten almost gets to the point of a medieval class structure. The "poor" are just not responsible for their behavior,

So Kersten makes the big jump - "Our society, despite professed concern for the less fortunate, is waging a "war on the weak."

Ironic isn't it? Liberals have fought for decades to try and look out for the rights of the disadvantaged (the only ones who do) and yet Kersten calls us out for waging "war" on them.

In our newly liberated world, the biggest advantage the strong have may be their ability to manipulate the complex, open-ended moral code that is replacing the straightforward rules that once guided life......Today, however, the language of right and wrong is evaporating. In its place, we promote subjective rules for living, open to endless interpretation. "Make healthy choices," we tell our youngsters. "Value diversity." Do things that are "in your comfort zone." People with the education and ability to conjure prosocial meaning from these therapeutic buzzwords feel in control of their moral lives. Others, who need a clearer compass to navigate life's shoals, are set adrift.

For Kersten, the language of right and wrong has no nuance. It is a black and white divide with no gray areas. It is conformity to a moral code which Kersten wants to interpret for the weaker members of society - the poor and uneducated. I have to ask, why should any of us dictate concrete moral values for anyone else? We can impart our ideas and give examples and reasons for why we think they are acceptable, but to tell someone they are wrong to think differently breaks a community contract that we are all in this together regardless of belief systems.

Sure, we have laws and regulations that we have accepted to give society a sense of order -- but that doesn't hold for every phase of life and even the laws need a periodic examination for relevance.

Essentially, Kersten thinks that society cannot function properly unless it has a moral conformity. She brings that forward as she moves further into her posting....

The consequences have been most dramatic in the arena of sex and family formation. On these issues, we live in a moral Wild West. "Decide for yourself when you're ready" for sex, we tell our kids. Sex of any kind is OK so long as it's "safe" and there's mutual consent......Even if we could magically equalize incomes, our nation would still be marred by the kind of inequality that matters most: cultural and moral inequality.

There, that is the crux of the matter. Its not about education or social standing...its about moral values. Its about the moral family. True morality, her idea of morality, is what is needed in Kersten's way of thinking. And it is clear that blaming liberals for expanding thought in regards to what are individual "moral values" is the true reason that Kersten wants to blame them for this faux "war".

The reality is that Kersten is the one at war. She is at war with anyone who would question here 1950's world view. She is a conservative thinker, not in policy, but in preserving a past moral mentality that is her personal comfort zone. A place that doesn't want true individual thought but is searching for dictated conformity.

There is the real war. The real reasons for the problem have slipped by her.
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Katherine Kersten: Wrong Again

Category: Kersten
Posted: 11/19/12 13:16

by Dave Mindeman

Republicans have been doing a lot of crazy analysis regarding the election. Mitt Romney keeps digging. Karl Rove keeps pitching. Newt Gingrich keeps flipping. And everybody is excusing.

But Katherine Kersten comes up with the most delusional analysis ever published in print.

She is telling liberals that we only "think" we won. We really didn't you know. Kersten gives the low down.

Many conservatives are in a deep funk over the election results. But this gloom and doom is misguided. Going forward, conservatives have strong reasons to believe that the American people will hear their message in 2016 and beyond.

Really? As the President would say..."please proceed, Katherine".

Romney's low favorability ratings mark him as one of the weakest presidential candidates in modern history. Nevertheless, Republicans made major gains among crucial demographic groups in 2012, as Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center noted in an analysis of the presidential vote. Compared with 2008, the party was up among men (four points), whites (four), younger voters (six), white Catholics (seven) and Jews (nine).

Outside of younger voters, that's a demographic list that must be really, really high on the GOP "growth" potential....right? Kersten doesn't seem to be much of a "futurist", but then what do you expect from a person stuck in a 1950's value base. But she finds some other gems to prove here theory....

In 2012, Republicans kept their majority in the U.S. House, where Democrats failed to come close to making up the huge losses they sustained in 2010. But the GOP's most resounding success came at the state level. The party won every governor's seat up for re-election, and added North Carolina. Republicans now occupy the governor's mansion in 30 states, the largest majority for either party since 2000.

Let's add some facts. The House lost 7 or 8 seats depending on what recounts deliver. Also if you look at the individual vote counts for all Congressional races, Democrats got 1 million more votes than the Republicans. The House retained their majority because of gerrymandering, not because of superior messaging. And in the states, the governor increase was a net of 1 extra and Kersten doesn't even mention the legislative flip in Minnesota and only mentions California's new super majority (after increasing taxes in the last session) in passing as some kind of mistake.

But what is really interesting is that Kersten does not mention the Vote NO campaigns in Minnesota for the marriage amendment and for Photo ID. Campaigns which she was certain would be approved and bring Minnesota back to "traditional" values. She left out any rants against gay marriage, because her ideas were rejected.

Face it, Kersten. You lost.

But, of course, that would be reality - she prefers delusion.....

But conservatives' greatest strength in coming years will be enduring principles for which they stand. These are not just policy options, but incontrovertible truths of human nature that transcend party, time and place.

These principles hold that human beings -- and liberty -- flourish best under limited government; that economic prosperity and innovation spring from free markets, and that strong families and a vibrant civil society are essential to instilling the virtues and "habits of the heart" on which self-government depends. In contrast, the liberal entitlement state stymies human ingenuity and fosters debilitating dependency.

These are not incontrovertible truths....at least not with the definitions that Kersten espouses.

Progressive philosophies won on election day, whether Kersten wants to deny the facts or not.

Those philosophies won because they believe in fairness, the right to privacy, in taking care of the poor, that money is not going to tell us how to think, that equality trumps bigotry, that everyone's vote counts, that strong families don't have just one definition, and that this melting pot of a nation is stronger because we embrace diversity in all of its forms.

Those are the truths that endure...

and Katherine Kersten is flat out wrong.
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Kersten's Myopic Understanding Displayed Again

Category: Kersten
Posted: 01/17/10 18:15, Edited: 01/17/10 18:16

by Dave Mindeman

Katherine Kersten has another myopic diatribe about her gay marriage views again. This time she points out the "bullying" tactics of the LGBT community.

Her column is a list of, what she considers, disgusting attempts at retaliation and retribution for Proposition 8 in California.

But I find this particular little tidbit especially offensive:

Has the Ku Klux Klan returned? Are neo-Nazis or fundamentalist right-wing hate groups on the rise?

To make even the remotest comparison of LGBT activists actions with such vile groups shows a stunning myopic view of the world we live in.

Sure, there are activists who have gone over the line. But too often they are reacting to hatred directed at them. The KKK and neo-Nazi's distributed hate as their sole purpose for existence. And gays and lesbians were often their targets....among others.

I would challenge Kersten to compare her list of vandalism and namecalling with the list that follows:

On June 9, 2008, Jeremy Waggoner, an openly gay hairstylist from Royal Oak, Michigan, was brutally murdered in Detroit. His murder is still unsolved.

On July 17, 2008, in Colorado, 18 year old Angie Zapata, a trans woman, was beaten to death two days after meeting Allen Ray Andrade. The case was prosecuted as a hate crime, and Andrade was found guilty of first degree murder on April 22, 2009.

September 7, 2008 - Tony Randolph Hunter, 27, and his partner were attacked and beaten near a gay bar in Washington DC. Hunter later died from his injuries on September 18. Police are investigating it as a possible hate crime.

September 13, 2008 in Denver, Colorado 26 year old Nima Daivari was attacked by a man who called him faggot. The police that arrived on the scene refused to make a report of the attack.

September 15, 2008 - A Bourbonnais, Illinois elementary school bus driver was charged with leading a homophobic attack on a 10-year old student passenger. The boy was taunted by the driver who then encouraged other students to chase and beat the child.

On November 7, 2008 in Newton, NC the home of openly gay Melvin Whistlehunt was destroyed by arsonists. Investigators found homophobic graffiti spray painted on the back of the house.

On November 14, 2008, a 22 year old transgender woman, Lateisha Green, was shot and killed by Dwight DeLee in Syracuse, NY because he thought she was gay. Local news media reported the incident with her legal name, Moses "Teish" Cannon.
DeLee was convicted of first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime on July 17, 2009 and received the maximum sentence of 25 years in state prison. This was only the second time in the nation?s history that a person was prosecuted for a hate crime against a transgender person and the first hate crime conviction in New York state.

On December 7, 2008 Romel Sucuzhanya, a 31 year old straight Ecuadorean and his brother Jose, were attacked on a Brooklyn, New York street for appearing to be gay and for being Latino; they were walking arm-in-arm, which is normal for brothers in their culture. Romel later died from his injuries.

On December 12, 2008 in Richmond, California a 28 year old lesbian was kidnapped and gang raped by four men who made homophobic remarks during the attack.

On December 27, 2008 in Dayton, Ohio 24 year old Nathan Runkle was brutally assaulted outside a gay nightclub.

On February 15, 2009 in New York City Efosa Agbontaen and Branden McGillvery-Dummett were attacked by four young men with glass bottles and box cutters who used anti-gay slurs during the attack. Agbontaen and McGillvery-Dummett both required emergency room treatment for their injuries.

On February 18, 2009 two men were arrested in Stroudsburg, PA for the stabbing death of gay veteran Michael Goucher.

On March 1, 2009 in Galveston, Texas three men entered Roberts Lafitte bar and attacked patrons with rocks. One of the victims, Marc Bosaw, was sent to the emergency room to have twelve staples in his head.

On March 14, 2009 a gay couple leaving a concert in Newark, New Jersey were attacked by 15 teens. Josh Kehoe and Bobby Daniel Caldwell were called "faggots" and beaten. Caldwell suffered a broken jaw.

On March 23, 2009 in Seaside, Oregon two gay men were attacked and left lying unconscious on a local beach. The men regained consciousness and were treated at a nearby hospital.

On April 6, 2009, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, an 11 year old child in Springfield, Massachusetts, hanged himself with an extension cord after being bullied all school year by peers who said "he acted feminine" and was gay.

On April 11, 2009 a gay man in Gloucester, Massachusetts was attacked and beaten by as many as six people outside a bar. Justin Goodwin, 36, of Salem suffered a shattered jaw, broken eye socket, broken nose and broken cheek bone.

On June 30, 2009, Seaman August Provost was found shot to death and his body burned at his guard post on Camp Pendleton. LGBT community leaders "citing military sources initially said that Provost?s death was a hate crime." Provost had been harassed because of his sexual orientation. Military leaders have since explained that "whatever the investigation concludes, the military?s ?Don't ask, don't tell? policy prevented Provost from seeking help." Family and friends believe he was murdered because he was openly gay; the killer committed suicide a week later after admitting the murder, the Navy have not concluded if this was a hate crime.

Maybe Ms. Kersten thinks that some spray paint, spoken vulgarities, and maybe a couple of lost jobs can equal the kinds of things that gay people can be exposed to on a moment's notice.

I don't.

I can't excuse or condone retaliation -- but I can understand it to a certain degree.

Pure and simple hatred for a person for just being themselves? No, I can't understand that.

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