The Inherent Weakness of Involuntary Learned Liberalism
by Wayne Lutz
April 8, 2003

A poll recently released shows that more than eight out of ten Americans now support the war to liberate Iraq. When you consider that it would be difficult to get eight out of ten Americans to agree that oxygen is a good idea, this is an astounding number. But even more dramatic, most of those agree that we are doing the right thing in Iraq even if we do not find weapons of mass destruction.

What happened? In the months leading up to the war we were repeatedly admonished that the nation, forget the world, was "deeply divided" over the war. While it was generally agreed that those "divisions" would close somewhat after the war was underway, no one expected this level of support and agreement.

The administration invested a lot of diplomatic and public relations capital in making the case for war based on the need to rid Hussein of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Indeed, the entire case for war hinged, in the minds of our friends in Europe and our own homegrown leftists, at least, on proving that Saddam Hussein had these weapons - on finding that elusive "smoking gun."

But while the hand-wringing appeasers focused on that one issue as the only possible justification for war, we cowboys knew that relieving the Iraqi regime of its weapons, while a necessary goal, was secondary to the overriding need to change the face of the Middle East. American security depends on changing that culture of violence and anti American hatred. We are now well on the way toward accomplishing that goal, not by timidly chipping away at the extremities of the Arab monster, but by boldly cutting its heart out.

Post September 11 America knows instinctively what is at stake, and yet in the months leading up to the war there was indecision and division among our citizens. That indecision was a byproduct of what I like to call involuntary liberalism. Involuntary liberalism is a learned knee-jerk reaction, an almost Pavlovian response to questions of moral equivalency, among others, and is the result of generations of conditioning. Today's Americans know without thinking about it that recycling is a good thing, for one example, despite the fact that the environmental and economic value of recycling has been thoroughly debunked. They also know without thinking about it that war is inherently bad, and that other countries and cultures are just as good and worthy of respect as our own, in which case it follows that they deserve to be left alone to decide their own fates.

Unlike hard liberalism, which is based on a solid ideological foundation of anti-Western values, involuntary learned liberalism is no more than a set of false assumptions that have been absorbed over the years with little questioning. As such, involuntary learned liberalism is built on a foundation of sand and only awaits a hard blow from reality to send it crashing to the ground. It didn't take long after the opening of the war before that reality smacked the conditioned Americans right between the eyes and destroyed their preconceived notions of moral equivalency once and for good.

I believe that the tide turned in the first days, when Iraqi TV showed us the images of our soldiers, POWs, being abused and executed. It was at that moment that the American heart was hardened to the truth that all cultures are not equal, all people are not inherently worthy of respect, and, dare I say it, evil really does exist. And from that moment forward, with each new inhuman atrocity that was broadcast into our living rooms, the American liberal conditioning continued to crumble. Like the proverbial liberal who's just been mugged, Americans turned hawkish on this war with the first blow to their sense of humanity. The oppression and torture and mass-murder that has been taking place in Iraq for decades was now no longer a vague abstraction - now it was horrible, undeniable, ice-cold reality.

Americans responded as they did, by throwing their unqualified support behind the coalition action, precisely because they are a fundamentally decent people (except for the moron who was tailgating me yesterday, but there are exceptions to everything). The administration may need to produce the Weapons of Mass Destruction that we all know are there in order to lessen the criticism from our "friends" in Europe (although even that would be unlikely to change any of those minds), but they no longer need do it for the American people. Americans have been shaken to their cores by the horror, lies and brutality that they've witnessed firsthand from the Iraqi regime, and that's all they need to know.

And learned involuntary liberalism, a flimsy state of being to begin with, has been dealt a crushing blow from which it very well may never recover.

© 2002 Tocqevillian Magazine