In part one, I described nine areas of major conflict between the Right and the Left in American life, a conflict that rivals the First Civil War in intensity, though thankfully not in violence. Here in part two, I describe 15 others.
The Left regards American nationalism as dangerous, is more comfortable celebrating world citizenship and prefers that America follow the lead of international organizations such as the United Nations. The Right celebrates American nationalism, distrusts world organizations, prefers that America lead humanity and regards the United Nations as largely a moral wasteland.
The Left believes that sensitivity to minorities’ feelings trumps the majority’s will. The Right believes that when not immoral, the majority’s will trumps that of the minority. For example, because some employees do not celebrate Christmas, the Left believes that organizations should rename their Christmas party the “holiday party.” The Right believes that because the vast majority of Americans celebrate Christmas, the party should be called a Christmas party.
The Left believes that a woman must have an unrestricted right to choose an abortion but no right to choose a silicone breast implant. The Right believes that society must decide when abortions are moral and legal but a woman has the right to choose to have a silicone breast implant.
The Left believes that attacking world poverty will greatly reduce Islamic terror. The Right believes that poverty is largely unrelated to Islamic terror.
The Left believes that George W. Bush attacked Iraq mostly for economic gain. The Right believes George W. Bush attacked Iraq to protect America and to change the Arab world for the better.
The Left believes that a high rate of taxation of people who earn more money is a moral imperative. The Right believes that allowing people to keep as much of their money as possible is a moral imperative.
The Left identifies with the values of most university professors in the liberal arts and values their insights. The Right regards most of these professors as moral idiots.
The Left believes that the greatest danger to mankind, as former Vice President Al Gore wrote in his book “Earth in the Balance,” is the threat to the environment. The Right believes that the greatest danger to humanity is, as it always has been, human evil.
The Left believes that marriage should be redefined and that judges alone are entitled to do so. The Right believes that the millennia-old definition of marriage as between members of the two sexes is inviolable and that it can’t be redefined by jurists.
The Left believes that in terms of parenthood, all a child needs is love, whether that love comes from a single parent, two men, two women or some other adult. The Right believes that children do best with the love of two married parents of the opposite sex.
The Left believes that opposing race-based college dorms, graduation ceremonies, congressional caucuses or professional organizations is racist. The Right believes that race-based college dorms, graduation ceremonies, congressional caucuses and professional organizations are racist.
The Left believes that labeling any enemy of the United States “evil” is wrong. It was wrong when President Ronald Reagan labeled the Soviet Union an “evil empire,” and it was wrong when President George W. Bush labeled Iran, Iraq and North Korea an “axis of evil.” The Right believes that not labeling such regimes “evil” is a sign of moral confusion and appeasement.
The Left is preoccupied with health. Leftist parents are more likely to believe that it is preferable that their teenager cheat on a test than smoke. Parents on the Right are more likely to believe that it is better that their teenager smoke than cheat.
The Left believes that just as America and the Soviet Union were equally responsible for the Cold War, Israel and the Palestinians are equally responsible for Middle East violence. The Right believes that just as the Soviets were responsible for the Cold War, the Arab enemies of Israel are responsible for Middle East violence.
The Left believes that criticism of Christianity is important and that criticism of Islam is bigoted. The Right believes that criticism of Islam is important and that most criticism of Christianity is bigoted.
I am well aware that not everyone on the Left agrees with every leftist position and not everyone on the Right agrees with every rightist one. Nat Hentoff is a leftist who doesn’t support abortion rights; Pat Buchanan is a rightist who doesn’t support Israel. But the existence of individual exceptions does not negate the fact that all the positions listed here as Left or Right are correctly labeled.
The fact is that this country is profoundly divided on virtually every major social, personal and political issue. We are in the midst of the Second American Civil War. Who wins it will determine the nature of this country as much as the winner of the first did.