December 30, 2013
A counterblast to "authoritarianism"
BOOK REVIEW of "Dehumanizing Christians: Cultural Competition in a Multicultural World" by George Yancey
My reaction to this careful and thorough book was a good chuckle. Yancey has in effect caught the political left with their pants down. Leftist pretensions of tolerance and good will rapidly fall by the wayside when they are dealing with conservative Christians. We know that from the outpouring of hate speech towards Christians we regularly see in the media. Yancey verifies that by way of careful survey research. Progressives seem to have more fear and loathing towards Christians than Christians have fear and loathing towards the Devil!
Yancey is primarily interested in the concept of authoritarianism so he looks at how people want to treat members of other groups. Do they want to use force to suppress members of groups that they disagree with? Given the way progressives froth at the mouth about Christians, one would expect that all sorts of suppressive actions towards Christians would be supported by progressives. And they are. The old Voltairian attitude "I disagree with what you say but I will fight to the death for your right to say it" is conspicuously absent. It is clear that, given their way, progressives would treat Christians as harshly as Stalin did the kulaks.
No observer of history should be surprised by any of that. From the French revolution on, the political left has always striven to gain control over other people and impose on other people what the Leftist thinks is a good thing. Obamacare, for instance, imposes a vast regulatory and bureaucratic apparatus on American healthcare that will undoubtedly reduce services and increase costs but "It's for your own good" we are told. Or for the good of somebody anyway.
Where Yancey innovates is that he has highlighted Leftist hate by using the conventional methods of psychological research. Psychologists such as Altemeyer use questionnaire surveys to "prove" that conservatives are a bad lot. Yancey returns the compliment by using the same methods to show that progressives are a bad lot. After 20 years of doing such research myself, I don't think it proves much either way but Yancey's demonstration that it can just as easily be used to shoot down progressives is at least amusing.
Given that it undermines almost the whole of what has so far passed as political psychology, there are real grounds for expecting that the Left will try to suppress this book. Chris Brand's book on IQ was withdrawn even after distribution had started. The only thing that might save the book is that Yancey is black. Suppressing a book by a black would definitely cause some grinding of gears in "progressive" heads. In their terms it would be "racist".
I have linked above to the Amazon site for buying the book but if Amazon withdraw it, the book may still be available from the publishers here. Prof. Yancey blogs occasionally here. His personal page has some rather good harpsichord music playing on it. A devotion to the harpsichord is a high-water mark of civilization in my opinion.
The amusing thing about the Leftist claim that conservatives are "authoritarian" is that it has always been a blatant case of projection (seeing your own faults in others). Nothing could be more authoritarian than Communist regimes and all Leftism is authoritarian to its core. Whether by revolution or by legislation, Leftists aim to change what people can and must do. When in 2008 Obama said that he wanted to "fundamentally transform" America, he was not talking about America's geography or topography but rather about American people. He wanted them to stop doing things that they wanted to do and make them do things that they did not want to do. Can you get a better definition of authoritarianism than that?
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