Off The Record: Old-fashioned liberal can't keep up with causes of the New Left

August 16, 2004|HERB BROCK

Crows' feet, graying temples, bifocals, a bad ticker and those blankety-blank AARP publications in the mailbox every other day are all reminders that I'm a Baby Boomer whose protest-crazy generation is now more concerned with the price of prescription drugs than the cost of war.

But, in this very political year, I'm also observing a political change. Either I'm not as liberal as I used to be or there is a new definition of liberalism. Winston Churchill used to say that any man who is under 30 and is not a liberal has no heart; and any man who is over 30 and is not a conservative has no brain. Well, Winnie, I'm way over 30 and don't have a clue.

I guess I'm just an old-fashioned lib who cannot keep up with what I suppose should be called the New Agenda of the New Left.

The Old Left generally used to embrace the following positions:


* Anti-Big Military

* Anti-Big Business

* Anti-Big Gallows, Big Gas Chambers, Big Electric Chairs and Big Needles

* Anti-Big Guns (and all other sizes)

* Anti-Big Bigots (and all other sizes)

* Pro-Big Women (and all other sizes)

* Pro-Big Government

The New Left has added the following positions to its agenda:

* Anti-Big Cars

* Anti-Big Bellies

* Anti-Big Churches (as long as they are conservative Christian)

* Anti-Big Discount Chain Stores (at least all those based in Arkansas)

* Pro-Big War Heroes (with initials JFK) but still Anti-War

* Pro-Big Mouths (as long as they are liberal)

In other words, to be a liberal in the old days meant you generally were against war, the military-industrial complex, capital punishment and racial and sexual discrimination and you were for gun control, civil rights, abortion rights and the overall help government could give minorities and the downtrodden of our society.

But now it appears that we liberals also must carry a lot more burdens on our bleeding hearts - hearts already heavy with worries over the more traditional concerns of war, peace and civil rights.

Today's liberals not only must loathe tanks but also detest big civilian vehicles whose battlefields are the nation's streets and highways. We must despise SUVs as gas-guzzling threats to the environment, insatiable gulpers of foreign oil and also as mastodons on wheels that have unfair advantages in collisions with normal vehicles. In an accident, an Expedition is Goliath and a Festiva is David; we liberals must find the rock for David's slingshot.

Big Automakers aren't the only villains in our sights. Big Fast Food, which produces Big Bellies, is equally evil. Greedy fast-food restaurant chains have perpetrated one of the greatest right-wing plots ever hatched by luring unsuspecting customers to their stores, tying them into booths and stuffing Big Macs and Biggie Fries down the throats of these unwitting souls. These chains have turned us into a land of lard buckets, and they, too, need to be punished.

Big Churches also are on the enemies list. Well, not all churches. So called conservative and/or fundamentalist and/or evangelical Christian churches are the demons. It was OK when mainline churches expressed their anti-war and anti-segregation views in the 1960's. After all, Christ was a revolutionary - and he had long hair, to boot.

But these right-wing churches pressing their agendas, from anti-abortion to anti-gay marriage to pro-family values - are not to be trusted and should not be heard. They are wanting to create theocracies. And their Christ had slicked-back black hair.

Big War Heroes are now in vogue with us liberals, now that John Kerry is our presidential candidate, but we liberals are still anti-war. I suppose Kerry gets a pass because he went on to protest the war in which he won all those medals.

Big Stores are a recent entry on the New Liberal list of institutions to trash. Well, not all stores. The main target of this hatred is Wal-Mart. The nation's biggest retailer allegedly also is one of the nation's biggest violators of women's rights, by allegedly giving women lower pay than men and fewer promotions than men. It also allegedly one of the biggest destroyers of downtown business districts, by ruthlessly exploiting the capitalist system by stealing business from the smaller stores by offering more merchandise at lower prices - prices that are appealing to the lower and middle class people that Democrats claim to care about.

Big Mouth is my reference to the bitter, angry and hateful language of the leaders of the New Left and their efforts to shut up and shut down those right wingers who disagree with them. My fellow liberals already dominate the mainstream media, from Big Newspapers to Big Networks, but they somehow feel that they must squash, through congressional action (see the so-called "Fairness Doctrine") and the courts (see efforts to bust the biggest Big Mouth of the right, Rush Limbaugh), the few prominent voices of the right. The liberalism I embraced was compassionate, tolerant and open-minded, not combative, intolerant and close-minded.

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