'Why the Web Benefits Liberals More than Conservatives'

I'm sure many of you read yesterday's CNN op-ed by Gregory Ferenstein, "Why the Web Benefits Liberals More than Conservatives", a title that pretty much explains itself, with the same sense of pure incredulity that I felt -- as if we were the recipients of a message originating from an alternate universe where humans evolved from aardvarks.

Here's an "expert" on the Net who believes that possessing a Facebook page is an impressive achievement, who deeply admires HuffPo ("Look, ma! I got a webpage!"), and who has evidently never heard of Matt Drudge, Lucianne Goldberg, Andrew Breitbart, or Free Republic, not to mention AT, or the thousands of other conservative sites. Who is operating on the assumption that conservatives are some kind of mindless automatons without an original thought in their heads. Who is apparently unfamiliar with the Tea Party phenomenon, one of the most decentralized, netcentric, and autonomous developments in American political history. If Ferenstein were the man responsible for a handbook on running a nuclear reactor, I would hesitate a long time before switching it on.

But it's possible to be too critical in this case. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that Ferenstein ought to be encouraged. To hope that he becomes widely listened to, broadly discussed, and massively influential. Liberals have operated on a hallucinatory level of delusion where conservatives are concerned since the very beginning. We want them to continue thinking that way.

Consider the "automaton" characterization, for one example. This originated with Theodor Adorno, a German Marxist and member of the notorious Frankfurt school, stalwart opponents of everything reactionary until things got too hot in Europe during the 30s and they decamped en masse to the capitalist United States. Adorno took upon himself the tricky task of creating a psychological portrait of the typical fascist that would not also implicate the left. He came close to bringing it off, too, in a volume titled The Authoritarian Personality. Reactionaries, according to Adorno, were hierarchal, other-directed, rule-obsessed puritans much given to violence and repression. (Something that Adorno was to become all too familiar with in later years, when a group of students tried to run him off his own campus. Unfortunately for theory, the students were leftists involved with the German Red Brigades.)

The Adorno thesis was, as it was meant to be, picked up whole by American liberals and used as the criterion for judging anyone on the opposite side of the fence, which is how Ferenstein encountered it. Liberals have spent decades searching for such figures in militias and backwoods churches. At the same time, large numbers of nonhierarchal, maverick conservatives, ranging from Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan in the days of yore to Sarah Palin, Jan Brewer, and Chris Christie in our time, have snuck past them, leaving doctrinaire liberals confused, frustrated, and embittered.

That's the ground that Ferenstein starts off from, and it never gets much firmer than that. Which is exactly the way we want it. We could not have selected a better liberal "Internet expert" if we sat down and designed one. A man who misses such Net supernovas as Drudge, Lady L, and Brietbart is not someone whose "insights" will keep us up very late. He is, on the other hand, with his easy caricatures, soothing fabrications, and empty predictions, exactly the type that liberals like to hear from.

So let's hope that Ferenstein finishes that book we just know he's working on, hits the bestseller lists, gets his New York Times Magazine cover, and his own PBS series. Liberalism is begging for yet another thinker of his caliber. The sooner they get one, the better off we will all be.
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