Liberals and Conservatives, the rationality question
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr's definition of liberalism:
"the conception of a social welfare state, in which the national government had the express obligation to maintain high levels of employment in the economy, to supervise standards of life and labor, to regulate the methods of business competition, and to establish comprehensive patterns of social security."
Further, as Wikipedia observes, the term is associated with:
support for freedom of speech and freedom of religion, reproductive rights for women, a progressive income tax, the right to privacy, equal rights for homosexuals, equal rights for the disabled, affirmative action, the reduction of poverty by government intervention, affordable quality health care for all as provided by government intervention, and the protection of the environment and of endangered species.
Just so we are clear on this.
Ideologies--especially those founded on Marxian principles as modern liberalism is--tend to be, among true believers, more or less indistinguishable--at the layman's level--from certain mental disorders. This is because they force a framework on a person and requires that all facts be filtered through that framework. Liberalism is furthermore fundamentally non-rational in that it is a gnostic religion.
For those of you not familiar with the concept, the idea is all of society is corrupted and only those possessed of 'special knowledge' or 'greater enlightenment' are worthy to redeem society from its myriad flaws. This knowledge is what sets apart the True Believer from the masses around him. The appeal is obvious--who wouldn't like to think that he or she is superior to those stupid rednecks in 'fly-over country'?
All facts not congruent with the received wisdom are ignored. The typical method is to ignore the facts utterly and attack either the person presenting them, or the manner in which they are presented. Typically, because liberalism exalts a person's feelings as a guide to behavior, these dismissals boil down to, "your facts make me feel bad and are therefore false." or "You are a bad person and therefore all your facts are false."
Now, here we have disclaimers.
Disclaimer 1: Not all liberals are so thoroughly wedded to their ideology as to justify this line of argument as a blanket statement. There are many ordinary decent people who adhere to liberalism for any number of other reasons. They are sincere, misguided folks who are capable of acknowledging ideologically 'incorrect' facts when bludgeoned with them. The old saw about a conservative being a liberal who got mugged applies.
Disclaimer 2: There are those folks on the "right" whose worldview has, contrary to the alleged basis of that worldview, become an ideology. They engage in this behavior also. There is a difference. That difference is that Marx, Engels, and liberal thinkers and leaders to this very day advocate ignoring facts and dismissing, harassing, silencing, and ultimately killing those who differ from them in any particular.
Disclaimer 3: There are a lot of people whose political affiliation has nothing to do with the seating chart of the French Republican legislature. Nazis, for instance. Also, libertarians.
Haditha. The received Liberal wisdom is that as America is the font of evil in the world, and as non-whites are inherently virtuous, the allegations against eight Marines were definitely true. They were proclaimed as true by Congressmen before investigation into the objective facts was done. The objective reality did not and does not matter, what matters is the dialectic. Hence because it was ideologically correct that American Marines would kill civilians, it became Received Wisdom, dogma accepted on the basis of faith, that Marines had killed civilians.
Every time a Liberal berates a religious conservative for attempting to force his religion on others, he shows himself a self-loathing hypocrite.
Anyway, in Objective Reality Land, a second Marine has had his Article 32 Investigating Officer recommend dismissal of charges.
You see why a well-intentioned layman would confuse this Alternative Way of Knowing with a real mental disorder.
Aggravating this tendency is the nature of the internet. Liberals and Conservatives tend to gather in incestuous little circles on the internet where their views are reinforced. Absent a reason to engage in reasonable, rational dialog, they don't. Just like any other form of inbreeding, it tends to produce mutants. Protected by anonymity (side note: I know the real names of far more Conservatives than liberals on the internet), insulated from forming any sort of human connection, the Internet Liberal becomes more dogmatic and ideologically correct than he probably would be over a cup of coffee. (free-trade organic soy latte, of course)
It is of interest to me that the vast majority of liberals who I know and like on the internet aren't people I met first through politics. They are gamers, or Christians, or folks who knew my wife before they knew me. At any rate, they started to know me a little as a person, rather than as an ideological construct (Liberalism denies individuality, but that's a rant for another day). Therefore, we could overcome the immediate impulse of some Liberals in their natural state, which is to attack, slander, and defame any who hold opposing views. Moving past that first instinct, you can actually hold a dialog which can result in communication of ideas and perhaps the acknowledgment that maybe, just maybe not ALL Conservatives are really closet fascists who dream of world conquest, eat babies with hot sauce, and think freeing the slaves was a bad idea.