His point here is evergreen but feels timely on Loving Day.
My one quibble with what he says is that I don’t think the left sincerely believes things are worse now than ever. Even the fringier Democrats in Congress would acknowledge that modern America is more inclusive than it used to be — if the question were squarely put to them. How could they not? The sea change in public opinion on gay marriage, for instance, is a matter of simple statistical fact.
But Maher’s right insofar as you’ll rarely hear a progressive volunteer that progress has been made. To acknowledge progress is to invite complacency about injustices that remain, or so they seem to believe. Most will do it if they’re cornered, knowing that they’ll sound nutty if they insist with a straight face that America in 2021 is more racist than it was in 1950. (There are stalwarts who’ll venture to make even that argument.) But it has to be dragged out of them. The closest they get to acknowledging it spontaneously is when they complain that X is the “new Jim Crow,” whether X happens to be Georgia’s new voting law or increasing a local police budget or what have you. That’s an admission that the very recent status quo was, uh, not Jim Crow.
Each political party is these days centrally identified by its hatred of the other. Yet the Right concedes points made by the Left all the time; paleoconservatives, for instance, tend to agree with the Left’s framing of the Iraq War as an unnecessary and misguided adventure. Several National Review contributors have called for criminal-justice reform, with a particular focus on unduly harsh sentences for nonviolent offenders and the nightmare of civil-asset forfeiture without due process. This publication declared “The War on Drugs Is Lost” back in 1996.
By contrast, when you sign on to the progressive cause, you know that ostracization and obloquy from your own side will attach to you like a traveling chorus of hecklers should you ever concede conservatives are sometimes correct. Unless you set out with the full expectation of being damned as a contrarian and a party-pooper for adhering to principle, you will find it exhausting always to be pushing back, to be damned to eternity on the intellectual Nautilus. Much easier, and more natural, is to just relax and accept the constant pull to the left. To put it another way, once you board the progressive choo-choo, it won’t stop until it reaches Crazy Town.
Leftists suffering from “Selma envy” also won’t answer America’s inclusiveness has improved radically since 1963, for the same reason that won’t answer the question of “In a Welfare State, How Much Is ‘Enough’?” “There’s no such thing as enough, as far as they’re concerned. That’s what the Greeks thought.”
h/t Ed Driscoll