Usually conservatives hide the differences between liberal and conservative values. But Michael Gerson (column, 6-19) freely admits how liberalism exalts the values of “equality and choice,” while conservatism seeks to conserve “exclusive, traditional … sectarian beliefs and hierarchical authority.”
But then Gerson dives into the conservative philosophical mire, stating that “liberal” government defends “individual rights against every form of oppression, public and private,” thus running roughshod over defenseless conservatives and their cherished hierarchy.
In contrast, he maintains, conservatives favor “pluralism” – government that tolerates traditional values and institutions – as long as they aren’t too offensive. So a conservative government has tolerance for the Amish, but not the human-sacrificing Aztecs.
Gerson’s ire for the autocratic liberals focuses on Obama’s imposition of free contraceptives on the Catholic Church. This, he says, is despicable and exactly the kind of disregard for pluralism that causes the “cultural wars.”
In what universe is Gerson living? Liberals are not seeking to squelch such beliefs and practices, anachronistic as they are. Liberal government has not oppressed the Amish (except for forcing them to put reflectors on their buggies). Catholics are not being forced to abandon beliefs; those simply may not be imposed on their employees.
Rather it is conservatives, themselves, who actively seek to oppress the majority of Americans: black, brown, Asian, non-Christian, immigrant, Native American, poor, gay, lesbian, transgender and anyone else outside of WASPish notions of conformity. The “cultural wars” are not caused by liberal progress; they are spawned by conservative reaction to being blocked from thwarting true American values.