I really don’t like stereotypes. They are a shorthand for lazy thinkers, they lump whole groups of people together in ways that are far too broad, they end up insulting those groups.
But sometimes I have to admit that there just may be a nugget of truth at the core of that stereotype, and it identifies a fundamental element of a certain group.
One such stereotype is that “liberals feel, conservatives think.” It’s a bit overly broad, but in the last week I’ve seen two shining examples that really, really put that first part in sharp relief.
The first is the Cindy Sheehan story. Ms. Sheehan has a demand (it’s gone a bit beyond a “request” at this stage): she wants to meet, face-to-face, with the President and get him to explain exactly what our overall goals and strategy in Iraq are, and why they are worthy of pursuing. Setting aside that these questions have been answered ad nauseum, what makes Mrs. Sheehan different from numerous other critics of the president’s Iraq policy?
Why, it’s because she FEELS bad. Her credentials are that her son, Casey, who volunteered for service, volunteered a second time when he re-enlisted, and volunteered a third time to go on his last mission, was killed by terrorists in Iraq. Mrs. Sheehan, waving her son’s bloody shirt, wants the president to look her in the eye and tell her why he died.
In the second example, earlier this week my colleague Rob brought up the rise in the number of illegal aliens who are dying while sneaking into the US. Rob’s attitude boiled down to, in three simple letters, “BFD.” For which he was thoroughly taken to task for being “cruel,” “heartless,” and various and sundry things. I thought Rob deserved a bit of support, so I wrote my own piece agreeing with him and expanding on a few aspects he hadn’t covered (the main one being the absurdity of these people doing everything they can to avoid the attention of the US government right up until they’re in desperate straits, at which point they should swoop in and save them), and got my own shellacking.
But logic doesn’t matter, you see. These are human beings, and we should feel bad about their problems. And because we should feel bad, we should set aside stupid things like laws and policies and do everything we can to save them from the consequences of their own ignorance, stupidity, and willing violations of both the laws of the United States and self-preservation.
Because, in the end, all that matters is that we feel good about ourselves right now. Forget about whether or not those feelings are based in reality, or whether or not they’ll last, or whether or not the actions that make us feel good will actually solve the problems.