Let me begin by plainly stating my biases. I like and admire the Palins. My wife has worked with Bristol for years (she edits the Patheos Faith and Family Channel, where Bristol blogs), she collaborated with Sarah on her most recent book, and I have successfully represented Bristol in free-speech litigation. We Frenches share the Palins’ political, cultural, and religious values, and we’re proud to call them friends.
Even amongst fellow conservatives, I can think of few people who are more unfairly misjudged and maligned. It’s as if the avalanche of leftist hate has consciously or unconsciously negatively impacted even those who would otherwise be their friends and supporters.
So, with that as background, it was particularly infuriating to watch CNN’s Carol Costello maliciously celebrate audio of a distraught and injured Bristol Palin, a young woman taped in the immediate aftermath of an unquestionably traumatic event. It was infuriating, but it was also instructive, a reminder that to some on the left (including Carol Costello herself) outrage over an issue — in this case, violence against women — takes a backseat to hatred of a political opponent. In the hierarchy of values, demeaning, mocking, and discrediting the wrong kind of person trumps even the most basic expressions of human sympathy in the face of obvious pain and suffering.
Here’s the lesson we have to learn again and again: For all too many on the left, their feelings are the true reverse of Sally Field’s famous Oscar speech. They hate us. They really, really hate us. And that hate burns with greater ferocity than does their love for peace or safety or security for their fellow citizens. And for conservative women or for black or Latino conservatives, the hatred burns especially hot.
But the triumph of hate over principle isn’t confined to the realm of personal attacks but extends into core matters of constitutional liberty. The press gave up investigating the IRS’s systematic, years-long assault on dissenting speech long ago. After all, the IRS was only targeting the Tea Party and the pro-life movement, the Left’s most hated opponents
Thankfully, there are liberals who see this reality and have responded with moral courage and genuine outrage. And, yes, conservatives — as fallen human beings — can be susceptible to the same impulses, but the modern Left has personalized politics to an alarming degree. I saw this 20 years ago at law school, when conservatives faced physical threats, saw their faces pasted on gay porn and posted in the halls, and even endured campaigns to force future employers to revoke offers of employment. We still see this in the academy, where the suppression of dissent is so pervasive that exposure to contrary ideas is seen as hurtful and “unsafe.” And now it’s infecting the marketplace, where individuals can be forced out of their jobs — not because of their job performance or treatment of their fellow workers — but because some on the left hate them and their values that much.
Violence against women.
Free speech and individual liberty.
You name the topic, and it can be turned into a cudgel to beat your opponent to political death. But when the narrative flips, when the hated opponent becomes the victim of actual abuse, then the best we can hope for is a kind of “move along, nothing to see hear” intentional ignorance. Unless, of course, you’re a Palin. Then your pain and fear and tears are matters of high comedy.
It’s far too kind to call this conduct hypocritical. It’s vile. But none of us should be surprised. Bristol Palin least of all.
This article first appeared on National Review Online