Sunday, November 29, 2009
Latter-Day Saints And Politics: Who's More Annoying, Right-Wing Mormons Or Left-Wing Mormons? The Answer Lies In Style More Than Substance
Since the purpose of this blog is primarily to inform people about Mormonism, I rarely address political issues. But on occasion, when other LDS bloggers in the Bloggernacle address political issues from a strongly-biased perspective, I find it necessary to respond in order to clarify and even to correct the record.
This post has been triggered by a similar post on By Common Consent, entitled "Are Right-Wing Mormons More Likely To Be Annoying Than Left-Wing Mormons". The author, Aaron B., focuses upon those who seem "unable to conceptually distinguish between their own deeply-held political preferences and the doctrines of the LDS Church".
But he not only admits to being a lefty, but claims that right-wing Mormons are inherently more annoying. When challenged about left-wing Mormons, Aaron admits that the existence of “annoying” left-wing LDS members is possible, but insisted they don’t really exist much, if at all, in the real world. Of course; to him, the left is actually the center, so he'll naturally find right-wing Mormons more annoying.
In formulating a prospective comment in response, I soon realized that my comment would probably be longer than the original post, so I decided to post my response here instead. Being more of a right-wing Mormon, I must admit that I do tend to find left-wing Mormons more annoying than right-wing Mormons. But the annoyance is actually triggered much more by style rather than by substance. Here are the issues:
(1). Dogmatism. I find much more dogmatism from the left than from the right, particularly on global warming and civil rights. They don't merely disagree with their opponents; frequently, they characterize them as "heretics", and, on occasion, seek to suppress them (Europe's Holocaust denial laws are a prime example of suppression). Neither science nor scientists are inerrant.
(2). Hysteria. I find too much catastrophism on the left. Too many will claim that the "sky is falling". Case in point: If you're going to tell me to evacuate my home because there's a fire, I better be able to see or smell the smoke before I take action; I won't act on your word alone unless your first name is Jesus and your last name is Christ.
(3). Condescension. Too many lefties deprecate the intellectual capabilities of the right. Too many attach the same value to a PhD as to a temple recommend. The first may confer wealth and privilege in this life, but the second opens the gates to eternity.
(4). Association. Too many lefties think we're disciples of Rush, Hannity, or Beck. Newsflash: I haven't listened to Rush or Hannity in over a decade, and I rarely listen to Beck. Reason: They're too dogmatic; they blame everything on liberals. I don't particularly like dogmatism from my own side, either.
And let's look at gay rights in Salt Lake City. Two mayors: Fire-breathing progressive Rocky Anderson vs. consensus-building liberal Ralph Becker. Whose administration passed the gay rights ordinance? The Becker administration. Conclusion: You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
This does not mean the right side cannot improve as well. Just as there is a distinction within the right between authoritarian-oriented neoconservatives and libertarian-oriented paleoconservatives, there is also a distinction within the left between classic liberalism and insurgent progressivism. We on the right need to better appreciate that distinction. One left-wing blogger, The Mormon Left, is a positive and articulate source for the liberal point of view, without the dogmatic moralization which plagues much of the left. The same Democratic Party which nurtures snakes like Nancy Pelosi and Rocky Anderson is also a home to upright people like Jim Matheson (D-UT) and Jim Webb (D-VA).
It's time for the left to start showing more respect for the right if they desire actual dialogue and discourse. We are prepared to respond in kind.