I’m sure we’ll all recognize the “left” in our lives. This sounds so familiar, I would have sworn that Dr. Goska was writing about some of my own family members.
Dr. Danusha V. Goska — 2014
How far left was I? So far left my beloved uncle was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party in a Communist country. When I returned to his Slovak village to buy him a mass card, the priest refused to sell me one. So far left that a self-identified terrorist proposed marriage to me. So far left I was a two-time Peace Corps volunteer and I have a degree from UC Berkeley. So far left that my Teamster mother used to tell anyone who would listen that she voted for Gus Hall, Communist Party chairman, for president. I wore a button saying “Eat the Rich.” To me it wasn’t a metaphor.
I voted Republican in the last presidential election.
Below are the top ten reasons I am no longer a leftist. This is not a rigorous comparison of theories. This list is idiosyncratic, impressionistic, and intuitive. It’s an accounting of the milestones on my herky-jerky journey.
In the late 1990s I was reading Anatomy of the Spirit, a then recent bestseller by Caroline Myss.
Myss described having lunch with a woman named Mary. A man approached Mary and asked her if she were free to do a favor for him on June 8th. No, Mary replied, I absolutely cannot do anything on June 8th because June 8th is my incest survivors’ meeting and we never let each other down! They have suffered so much already! I would never betray incest survivors!
Myss was flabbergasted. Mary could have simply said “Yes” or “No.”
Reading this anecdote, I felt that I was confronting the signature essence of my social life among leftists. We rushed to cast everyone in one of three roles: victim, victimizer, or champion of the oppressed. We lived our lives in a constant state of outraged indignation. I did not want to live that way anymore. I wanted to cultivate a disposition of gratitude. I wanted to see others, not as victims or victimizers, but as potential friends, as loved creations of God. I wanted to understand the point of view of people with whom I disagreed without immediately demonizing them as enemy oppressors. …
9) Selective Outrage
I was a graduate student. Female genital mutilation came up in class. I stated, without ornamentation, that it is wrong.
A fellow graduate student, one who was fully funded and is now a comfortably tenured professor, sneered at me. “You are so intolerant. Clitoredectomy is just another culture’s rite of passage. You Catholics have confirmation.”
When Mitt Romney was the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, he mentioned that, as Massachusetts governor, he proactively sought out female candidates for top jobs. He had, he said, “binders full of women.” He meant, of course, that he stored resumes of promising female job candidates in three-ring binders.
Op-ed pieces, Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show,” Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon posts erupted in a feeding frenzy, savaging Romney and the Republican Party for their “war on women.”
I was an active leftist for decades. I never witnessed significant leftist outrage over clitoredectomy, child marriage, honor killing, sharia-inspired rape laws, stoning, or acid attacks. Nothing. Zip. Crickets. I’m not saying that that outrage does not exist. I’m saying I never saw it.
The left’s selective outrage convinced me that much canonical, left-wing feminism is not so much support for women, as it is a protest against Western, heterosexual men. It’s an “I hate” phenomenon, rather than an “I love” phenomenon.
8.) It’s the thought that counts
My favorite bumper sticker in ultra-liberal Berkeley, California: “Think Globally; Screw up Locally.” In other words, “Love Humanity but Hate People.”