Paul From Minneapolis

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Use of the Word “Liberals”

Whenever I construct a passage using the word “liberals,” and ascribe some sort of characteristic to them, I run a risk. The risk is, I give an opening for liberals to say “Oh, there he goes, stigmatizing an entire group.”

The thing is, I’m just using the word. Sometimes I throw in “left-leaning types” or “left-ers” just to find a different word and hint at the existence of varieties. But there is no better word available than “liberal” when one is generalizing, which is allowed: liberals claim to wear the name proudly, right? If it means something in the positive sense, I don’t see why it should be forbidden to perhaps mean something in a negative sense.

Not that I’m always using it negatively! Sometimes I’m just using it. “Liberals are more likely to attend The Vagina Monologues than conservatives” or “Liberals sure do dominate Powderhorn Park in Minneapolis” or “Liberals I run into seem incapable of ever perceiving that they might be deeply mistaken about something, or lacking a certain essential perspective that opens up an entirely different way of looking at the world especially Iraq, and that seems odd, since they describe themselves as so completely open to Other Worldviews, it’s their thing, their métier, like Jake Gittes and divorce work.”

Okay, the last is negative, but I’ll stand by it. Generalizations have value and I like them. We all understand there are exceptions. For anyone reading this, I’m sure you’re one yourself. There's no doubt at all.

But I really don’t mean anything by it, except when I do.