In a recent comment JayinPhiladelphia noted the following:
And as for diversity, you've nailed it 'school. We have not only an Obama voter on the front page, but also an international roster here.
We very much encourage diversity of opinion on Israel Thrives. We also want diversity of subject matter within the obvious limits of Jewish concerns and we want opinions from people in other parts of the world. While I find myself in opposition to the Obama administration, I certainly do not expect everyone who participates here to agree with me and, in fact, would consider this experiment a terrible failure if group-think prevailed.
One of the things that I am beginning to find more and more compelling, after reading our friends from Britain and Australia, in these recent months, is how much our concerns align and, yet, are distinct. I find that Geoffff and Shirl and Daphne are focused on some things while me and School and Doodad are focused on others. This, of course, is as it should be. We're all tending our home fires while keeping an eye on our mutual horizon. This has also made me very aware of how much responsibility American Jews have for criticizing the Obama administration. Those guys cannot do it as effectively as we can for the obvious reason that he's our guy, not theirs.
Those of us who regularly participate here, however, understand that our disagreements are not meant to be blood-sports in which we seek to ruin the reputations of those who may disagree on this issue or that. We welcome diversity of opinion so long as that diversity is expressed in a generally collegial manner.
As someone whose politics has evolved beyond political parties I find it liberating to be able to consider left, right, and center without the typical animus or pathos that defines partisanship. It is one of the great things about being free of political partisanship that we can look at the views of political heretics with an open mind. For example, is Pamela Geller someone to be entirely dismissed or should she be fairly considered? Should Daniel Pipes be fairly considered or are we under some partisan obligation to spit poison and hatred toward political opponents?
As someone who comes out of the progressive-left it took an awful lot of soul-searching before I could begin to consider widely alternative points of view. The training in partisan hatred (which is a pretty good definition of the role of places like Daily Kos) was strong in me. I had an automatic, knee-jerk dislike and disinterest in the views of people defamed by the left. It is the constant drawing of these lines concerning who is "in" and who is "out" that came to fascinate me, even as I rejected the premises behind those assumptions.
What are the boundaries of acceptable hatred within whatever political movement that you may think of yourself as belonging to? Are Evangelical Christians, for example, really so evil that they must be spat upon and demeaned and dismissed? I do not think so.
The conclusion that I have drawn is that one political perspective that is entirely unwelcome on Israel Thrives is anti-Zionism. There are plenty of venues on the progressive-left wherein anti-Semitic anti-Zionism is perfectly acceptable. One of the questions that this blog asks, to the discomfort of some, is just why it is that we find the rise of western anti-Semitic anti-Zionism to be primarily on the progressive-left?
I have been demonized and demeaned for asking that question persistently and in public. And, I am sorry, but asking that question does not automatically docket someone onto the political right. On the contrary. Liberalism is a political tradition that goes to John Locke and the Enlightenment and that is concerned with the rights of man, but it is also an orientation in how we relate to others. Liberalism is theory, but it is also personal practice. The authoritarian tendency is not liberal from either perspective.
An interesting question came up the other day when I claimed that defining someone else's political identity for them against their will is distinctly illiberal because it is, in fact, authoritarian. It was pointed out to me by several individuals that if this is so how could I call another person a "racist"? Wouldn't doing so be equally illiberal?
I think that is a terrific question and one that we might give some thought to, but it's precisely because I am a liberal that I can say that I do not have a pat answer to that good question. I am open-minded to the consideration of it. And it is precisely open-mindedness that is the hallmark of liberalism as we understand it as a personal orientation in the world.
There is theory and there is practice. There is the shifting historical political tradition of liberalism and then there are people who engage the world in a liberal manner. And while no one is perfect, it is unclear to me how one can revere the former while acting upon others, against their well-being, in a way entirely contradictory to the latter.
For example, not to put too fine a point on it, but accusing another person of threatening oneself and one's children in an effort to ruin that person's reputation for political reasons is simply not liberal.
It is vile, in fact.
And it is not welcome here, nor quickly forgotten.