The 12th Carnival of the Liberals

Welcome, one and all, to the 12th Carnival of the Liberals! Today we have a selection of some of the best liberal and progressive writing on the Internet for your reading pleasure and consideration. My name is Ebonmuse, and I’ll be your host for this edition.

My weblog is called Daylight Atheism, and my primary purpose in writing for it is to bring to light the hate-based agenda of the religious right, the better to organize opposition to their noxious policies. As you might therefore expect, many of the posts in this edition attack the cross-toting clowns that are running this country at the moment, as well as the demonstrable futility of faith-based politics in general (although about that, more anon). With that in mind, let’s get to the entries. I’ll introduce each of the ten posts with some commentary on why it was featured and the liberal principles it exemplifies.

Being a liberal means belonging to the reality-based community. We progressives should always derive our beliefs from the facts of the situation, as opposed to coming up with the beliefs first and then trying to force the facts to fit them. As the great physicist Richard Feynman wrote, “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.” This aphorism applies with a vengeance to the political sphere, as the catastrophic failures of the Bush administration show all too well. Writings on the Wall drives this point home in Hijacking the political debate, which argues that the facts that drive one’s interpretation of the world cannot be derived from religious texts. Literal interpretations of the Bible and other scripture have been proven false time and again, and we must move past them if we are to craft a policy that works.

Being a liberal means supporting the right to privacy. The essence of liberalism consists in allowing individuals the freedom to pursue their own conception of the good life free of interference. The more personal the area under discussion, the more important this principle is; and nothing is more personal or more important than sex. As opposed to conservatives driven by the obsessive need to impose their own dogmatic and fiercely puritanical morality on a phenomenon as diverse as humanity itself, we should defend the right of consenting adults to live their lives as they wish without facing hatred or discrimination. Polite debate, cultural controversy or civil war: What’s the next step in the sex wars? offers a chilling portrait of exactly what the anti-sex crusaders want, and comes to us courtesy of an excellent blog that I’m ashamed of myself for not finding before, In This Moment. This one comes with my highest recommendation – go and read!

Being a liberal means having the honesty to own up to your mistakes. Rather than stubbornly persisting on the same failed course long after its failure is obvious, a true liberal possesses the humility and courage to admit when they are wrong and seek a better way. President Harry Truman’s slogan “The buck stops here” symbolizes this ethic of personal responsibility. In contrast to this principled view is the arrogance of George W. Bush and his ilk, who continue to insist that their failed policies are commandments straight from God and not subject to revision. The Accidental Blogger shows the folly of this course in Rejoice! Your President Talks To God, which offers compelling reasons to stand against a president who regards himself as only a little lower than the angels.

Being a liberal means being open to new ideas and being willing to consider them on their merits. A new participant in the Carnival of the Liberals (and another of my favorite blogs), Philosophy, et cetera, offers a novel idea for consideration in A Challenge for Right-Wingers: the proposal that we should support an unconditional basic income for all members of society.

One of the ideals upon which the United States was founded, and one of the guiding principles of liberal democracy, is the ideal of secularism: that every person, regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof, should be able to participate in society on an equal footing. The inimitable Professor P.Z. Myers of Pharyngula and his undead army of death-ray-wielding mutant squid-men bring us Secular horror?, which takes a strong stand for secularism as an integral part of our society.

Being a liberal means standing up for your principles – something of which many incumbent Democrats sorely need to be reminded. The professional panderers of the Beltway could take a lesson from Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers, a personal hero of mine. The brilliant and fearless Sen. Chambers is profiled by A Revolution of One in a post titled Barak He is Not, which explains his support for a bill that separates the Omaha school district largely along racial lines as a genius political move.

Being a liberal means recognizing that the true price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and to do that it helps if you know who you’re being vigilant against. Pam Spaulding, proprietor of Pam’s House Blend and contributor to the always-brassy Big Brass Blog, helps out with an informative Guide to the Top 20 AmTaliban, a list of those figures most eager to turn America into a right-wing Christian theocracy.

Science is the most effective way we have to learn about the world around us and control it to our benefit, and it is something that every good liberal should support without reservation. On the other hand, the principled conservatives who also support it are now in the awkward position of having leaders who would like nothing better than to eviscerate science in every area where it makes them uncomfortable, from “intelligent design” in biology classes to censorship and outright lies about contraception in sex ed. Bee Policy brings us Caffeine, or righteous indignance, wondering how anyone who cares about science and education can justify voting for these people.

The spirit of reason and rational thinking that was reborn during the Enlightenment gave liberals and progressives some of our most influential and eloquent thinkers. Atheist Ethicist follows in their footsteps with The Bus of State, which criticizes the worldview of the religious right for being based on blind faith rather than a clear-eyed look at the world around us. Though I do not believe our blindfolded bus driver has sent us careening off the precipice yet, we are still headed in that direction – but I do not think it is too late to turn things around.

Finally, liberals recognize the common humanity of all people. The United States of America is a nation founded and built by immigrants, and we should never forget that. Welcoming comers from all cultures has always been and should always be one of the things we are most proud of, and though we have often fallen tragically short of that ideal, that is only incentive for us to work harder to live up to it. The recent debates regarding immigration in this country have made this issue more visible than ever, as The Executioner’s Thong reminds us in El Primero de Mayo. This is a complex issue with no easy answers, but this post at least encourages us to start asking the right questions.

I’d like to make one remark in closing. Recognizing that the last few Carnivals of the Liberals have been hosted by atheists, and not wanting religious progressives and liberals to feel underrepresented, I put out a call for them to submit posts for this edition. However, none did. Perhaps this is because religious liberals are less engaged on the Internet or because they are unaware of the Carnival of the Liberals specifically, but I can’t help wondering if this is another manifestation of whatever underlying cause has kept them so underrepresented in politics more generally. Although I am an atheist, I bear no ill will toward religious progressives; if anything, I wish they would speak out more often. With that in mind, I issue a challenge to the liberal religious people whom I know are out there: If you don’t want your tradition to be defined by the evil of the religious right, then speak up! Show the world that you are out there and that the likes of James Dobson and George W. Bush do not represent you.

With that, we conclude the 12th Carnival of the Liberals. Regrettably, the carnival guidelines did not permit me to include every post that was submitted, but I will say that none of the nominees I received were unworthy of inclusion, and I’m grateful to all who took the time to contribute. The next Carnival of the Liberals will appear at Lucky White Girl in two weeks, so I encourage all progressives to get started writing!

A Christian vs. an Atheist: On God and Government, Part 11
Weekend Coffee: March 28
Atlas Shrugged: The Craft of Not Acting
The Rebirth of Nullification in Alabama
About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, City of Light, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • tng

    There’s a lot of great reading in this edition. Thanks for all your hard work.

  • Doctor Biobrain

    Ok, I’ve gots to know: Did I miss the deadline, or do you just hate me? I don’t need to read any of these to know that my submission was clearly the most deserving to win. So it’s got to be something personal. If you hate me, just say so. I understand. I’ll hold it against you forever and make you suffer at some undisclosed time in the future; but I certainly understand. So far, I’ve only lost this thing twice, due to my own lax standards towards deadlines; and I just need to know if this was yet again my fault, or if I finally have an enemy to destroy.

  • TheLastChance

    The second I saw the “In This Moment” article I thought one thing: 1984. Anyone whose read the book can see the clues: The only difference between the Party and the Chrisitan Right is that the latter will force people to attend church. Once I saw that article it all clicked… I doubt Orwell intended this, but, in reality, it all fits:

    God is our Big Brother.

    Off to read the rest of them!

  • Diane Silver

    Thanks so much for posting the Carnival, and thanks even more for posting a link to my story. I found your comments about the posts and what it means to be a liberal to be great.

    However, I found your comments about the lack of religious progressives to be, well, fascinating. I offer the following insights with a somewhat bemused chuckle.

    While I’m not exactly a Christian, at least not in any traditional sense, I am a member of a church (in Kansas of all places), and I do consider myself to be deeply spiritual if not down-right religious. Committed to science, I am also a firm believer in mysticism and things you can’t always see and measure. And yes, I guess that puts me firmly in the camp of the elusive religious liberal.

    To understand my perspective, take a look at The Lesbian and The Fundamentalists. There I write:

    I am a lesbian, feminist, single mother whose spirituality is closer to New Age and Buddhism than Christianity. This spring I battled the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions in Kansas. Imagine my surprise when I realized how much I have in common with fundamentalists.

    To find some more very politically active religious progressives online go to Talk To Action, which includes a mixture of folks like Mainstream Baptist and very secular bloggers. Also check out the Network of Spiritual Progressives.

  • Ebonmuse

    Hi Diane,

    You’re most welcome! And thank you very much for submitting your post; out of all the entries I got, it was my personal favorite. I apologize for your comment’s not appearing earlier, my spam filter flagged it for some bizarre reason.

    I should make it clear that I don’t doubt that religious progressives exist. On the contrary, I know that they’re out there. But I do think they haven’t done nearly enough to organize and get their message out, which is why cretins like Falwell and Dobson dominate the news and have essentially become, for better or for worse, the public face of Christianity in this country. Efforts like the UCC’s Accessible Airwaves are a good start, but they’re only a start, and a great deal remains to be done. I do appreciate those links, though – I’ve not come across either of them before.

  • Diane Silver

    I actually agree with you that religious liberals haven’t done enough. The biggest complaint I have is with progressive and even moderate Christians who have been silent while the religious right has defined their religion. Some of that is the bias of the media, and I say that somewhat lovingly and with much irritation as a former newspaper reporter. Some of that is the fact that progressive Christians have not spoken out as much as they should. However, I’m seeing a real change in that.

    Interestingly enough, the right’s push to ban same-sex marriage has helped organize moderate and progressive clergy in several places, particularly in Kansas. (I worked with clergy during the campaign to defeat the ban, and they were among the gay community’s most enthusiastic supporters.) Out of last year’s fight, two new organizations of moderate clergy and people of faith were created and are beginning to make waves. If this can happen in Kansas, it can happen anywhere. For more details on this, look here and here.

  • charlieahern

    Having recently discovered the Carnival, I’m still digesting it and visiting your blogs. Thanks to all from a newbie.

    For those of you who don’t think religious progressives have done enough, I suggest that you visit a local Unitarian-Universalist congregation on Sunday morning.

    You might meet a woman who recently struggled with the California National Guard to keep a homeless shelter open in one of their armories…and won. Or you might meet a member who is running for county commissioner, as the first GLBT person who served on the city council. Or maybe meet a member of the Raging Grannies, who show up in big hats and dresses to sing at peace demonstrations. Or you might see your State Assembly member at a congregational meeting being asked about minimum wage and Clean Money legislation. Or you might have heard my homily on MLK’s ‘Letter from the Birmingham Jail.’

    You won’t see these folks on Fox News, but they are taking care of business.

    And while you’re at the service, please throw $20 in the basket. They may be collecting for an indigenous NGO in Darfur.

    Hope to see you soon.