March 17, 2002
Who Cares? Nick Denton Goes Snipe Hunting

In his ongoing search for the elusive liberal blogger, Nick Denton (last bashed in this little squib) writes this astonishing sentence:

For the purposes of this discussion, I'm defining liberal as anyone who cares about injustice, whether in the US, or in the world at large.

If that's the criterion, there are thousands of us out here. It apparently comes as news to many who pride themselves on their liberalism and openmindedness that some of us voted for Reagan twice because we care about injustice in the U.S. and the world, and thought that a world with a stronger U.S. and a weaker U.S.S.R. would be a juster world. We may have been horribly and shamefully wrong in thinking that, but the idea that people voted for Reagan out of pure malevolence and a deep and abiding love for injustice is tripe -- or some other bovine byproduct.

In the last six months, daisycutters and special forces have done more for justice and freedom abroad than a hundred NGOs, a thousand special ambassadors, or a million protesters. For all their ostentatious caring, lefties I know are quite grudging in admitting that the War on Terror has done any good at all. It is the righties who melt with pleasure over pictures of Afghan men shaving their beards, going to the baths, going to the movies, Afghan women going back to school, back to work, back outside, Afghan children flying kites and riding makeshift ferris wheels, Afghan dervishes whirling again, and so on and on and on.

Denton goes on to qualify his statement in the next two sentences, redefining a liberal as:

Anyone who believes in the notion of enlightened self-interest. For instance, letting in Pakistani textiles - even at a cost in American jobs - because the world will be a safer place if the developing world is actually encouraged to develop.

Even here, the underlying assumptions are very odd. Some of those who have been loudest and most vehement in agreeing with Denton on this point have been libertarians and conservatives. Do Virginia Postrel and the Instapundit and Brink Lindsey and the members of Libertarian Samizdata now count as liberal bloggers? If so, why are they not on the list? Perhaps, like spotted owls, liberal bloggers will turn out to be far commoner than previously suspected. Or perhaps there is something wrong with Denton's definitions.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at March 17, 2002 10:20 PM