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Lots of great reading

Posted by Richard on February 7, 2006

When you’re looking for worthwhile reading, the posts nominated by the Watcher’s Council are always worth checking out. The two posts at the top of the latest voting results complement each other nicely and are well worth your time. Both are by ex-liberals looking back at the events that helped bring them to their senses. The winning council post is New Sisyphus’ Our Liberties are Our Liberties, Even If, and Especially if, That Pisses Mohammed Off, which looks at the West’s responses to Islamist challenges, starting in 1989 with Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwah against Salman Rushdie:

When Cody’s, the famous Berkeley bookstore, was fire-bombed for carrying The Satanic Verses, the reaction was not what I would have then expected, yet another nail in the coffin of my leftism. I tried to imagine if the muted reaction would have been the same if a militant Christian sect had bombed the store for carrying Chomsky and found myself laughing at the very thought.

The winning non-council post is A mind is a difficult thing to change–Part 6 B (After 9/11: war is interested in you), which is the latest installment in neo-neocon’s wonderful recounting of her slow journey out of the intellectual wasteland of New York liberalism. This rather long (5000 words) episode spans the period from 9/11/01 to the astonishingly rapid victory in Afghanistan, and like past installments, it’s fascinating, introspective, and insightful reading:

I was still regularly reading my old liberal sources (NY Times and Boston Globe, the New Yorker and even some new regulars such as the LA Times, the Guardian, and the New Republic). But now I was also reading the Telegraph and National Review, the Wall Street Journal and the Jerusalem Post, MEMRI and English versions of Arab papers, Canadian and Australian and Scottish ones, and the blogs–a vast cacophony of voices. And it was becoming clearer and clearer–at least to me–that the arguments in the media from the middle or the right were making more sense–and had more predictive value–than those emanating from the left.

It was as though I were sitting in a court of law as a member of the jury and being asked to decide a case. Before, I had heard only the presentation from one side. Now I heard both sides, and was trying to give both a fair hearing, and to approach my task without prejudice or preconceived notions. I was reluctantly coming to a certain distressing conclusion: more often than not, the voices on the left were less credible than those on the right.

Arnold Kling, in his TCS Daily column Stuck on 1968, provides yet another look back by a former liberal:

Given the state of knowledge in 1968, I can understand why an intelligent person might have believed in the Conventional Wisdom at that time. However, since 1968, considerable evidence has accumulated that challenges the Conventional Wisdom. In some cases, the evidence turned out to be so overwhelming that beliefs were quietly discarded from the Conventional Wisdom.

A rational response to this record of powerful evidence against the Conventional Wisdom might be to reconsider one’s views, as I have done. Instead, it seems to me that liberals have become more close-minded and more dogmatic.

For more great posts on a variety of freedom-related subjects, don’t miss Carnival of Liberty #31, hosted in no-nonsense fasion by Louisiana Libertarian Kevin Boyd.

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