conservatives drawing the line

Eugene Volokh suggests that maybe men should not freak out when women talk about some of the gender-specific challenges they face:

OK, I get it: Life’s hard for men. I’m not being sarcastic; life’s hard for everyone, in various ways, and it’s in some ways especially hard for men, just as in other ways it’s especially hard for women.

And that means what? That the difficult choices and regrets that many women face don’t matter? That we as humans should ignore them — or ridicule them — because we feel that women are undervaluing the problems that men face? These could be the problems of your friends. If you don’t have women friends, they could be the problems of your sister or your daughter. If you don’t have a sister or daughter, they could be the problems of your sister-in-law. And even if you don’t care enough about your sister-in-law to care about her problems, maybe your son might.

More to the point, they are the problems of fellow humans, who like us have one life to live, who like us cannot turn back the clock, who like us have to make decisions and then take stock of how they went wrong. There’s a good deal to learn for us as humans by considering the problems, even the self-inflicted ones, of other humans. (Hence the value of much great literature.) And there’s very little to gain, I think, from treating reflections on these problems as if they were no more than just the latest item in an us vs. them confrontation.

Meanwhile, The National Review‘s Rich Lowry exposes the crypto-racist nastiness at the root of a certain kind of right-wing slander of Abraham Lincoln:

The anti-Lincolnites hate that the North instituted a progressive income tax; they never bother to complain that the Confederacy did the same. They hate that Lincoln suspended habeas corpus; they never note that Jefferson Davis did, too. They hate that the North resorted to a draft; they don’t care that the Confederacy also had one. They hate that Lincoln fought a war against his countrymen; it evidently never occurs to them that Jefferson Davis shot back (let alone that he fired the first shot).

It doesn’t figure much in their calculations, either, that Lincoln sought the ultimate end of slavery, while Jefferson Davis wanted to preserve it. The Lincoln-haters will admit slavery is wrong, but their denunciations of it have all the moral force of someone complaining about his cable bill, and considerably less passion.

Operationally, they are pro-Confederacy.


I think this is important. There are real, genuine debates we could be having between the “left” and the “right.” What is the role of the state in our lives? How should power be allocated between the federal government and the more local units of government? What is the proper balance between individual liberty interests and collective health and security? These are questions without easy answers, and we have to hash them out in the pubic square, and different people will advocate for different positions and we’ll have to see how it works out.

But a lot of questions actually do have easy answers. For example, “Are women people?” And, “Was slavery morally wrong?” People who want to debate those propositions are wasting your time.

There’s so much to talk about, and there are so many areas where real disagreement among reasonable people is both worthy and necessary. Here’s hoping more of the public debate is about those subjects in the very near future.

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One Response to conservatives drawing the line

  1. Pingback: on hearing | The Handsome Camel

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