On October 2, 1996 in the “New York Post,” then columnist Carl T. Rowan wrote a piece entitled “Liberal Is Not a Four Letter Word.” In it, he described what it meant to be “a liberal” and what it entailed. After reading it, it just reaffirmed to me that the ideology had nothing to in common with the liberalism of the past. That the ideology was hijacked. Where once liberalism believed in the chains of the Constitution, the limits of power and government, as well as rugged individualism, it, along with the conservatism of the modern variety today, believes in the omnipotence of the state. To me, it was a sad read.
Here was how Rowan defined what liberalism was (and is still to many) according to him:
I say that it is a person who believes that a society worthy of survival must have a social safety net-that is a level of degradation below which it will not let any human sink. This means support for social programs to protect babies and its children and cloak dignity around its aged.
Support for programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Support for Social Security, Welfare, Nationalized Health Care, the S-chip program and more. These programs are facing financial difficulties and cannot be sustained. Furthermore, to make individuals dependent for their needs on government is a crime worse than drudgery. Private entities such as churches, synagogues, non-profits and others should be able to assist in these matters. It is they that can cloak dignity around human beings and not the government.
A liberal cherishes maximum personal liberty and abhors the trappings of a police state. This means fighting book bans, censorship in the press curbs on free speech, immigration policies that are racist and acceptable to the “huddled masses” that they be rocket scientists and bigotries that demand stifling conformity.
I neither want nor desire the United States to become a police state. No person of reason would want that at all. Furthermore, I abhor book bans or censorship of any kind, whether that is in the press or in society at large. That said, here I believe that Rowan was very disingenuous. It is liberals that demand that book stores not carry certain books. It is liberals that want to stifle free speech whether that is in the square, in newspapers, on the internet, and talk radio or on the University Campuses. It is they that want the force of government and force other institutions to prevent a challenge to their ideas. Liberals always call for “fairness,” a word not defined by them, but what they really mean is “no challenge to us whatsoever.”
On immigration, Rowan very much favored the “open borders” approach. That, if there are policies that penalizes people who enter the country illegally, that is “racist.” Rowan further believed that to defend U.S. Borders was “racist” as well. He also believed that it was “racist” to have immigrants-both legal and illegal-assimilate into the mainstream of society by learning the English language. It is not “racist” at all, contrary to his and the belief of other liberals. Immigration policies are in place to protect the American People and to reaffirm this nation as a melting pot and not, as Rowan would have wanted a multicultural basket case.
A liberal believes that well financed public education is an investment and a national blessing and not a burden.
The United States spends billions of dollars a year on the public education system. The U.S. has the lowest math and reading scores of any country in the Western World. The results are abominable. The federal government spends and spends with nothing to show for it at all. Liberals want this policy to continue and that is absurd. To continue this policy would be detrimental not only to students but to all.
Liberals believe that fairness requires that citizens pay their taxes according to their ability to pay and according to the wealth for which they expect government protections.
One can smell Karl Marx’s influence on Rowan’s thinking. “To each according to his ability and to each according to his need.” Rowan further believed that achievement-personal, financial or business achievement-should be punished. This mode of thinking violates everything the American Dream encompasses and it is a thinking that breeds class envy and class hostilities. What it also says to the poor, the middle class and those who start out in life “You can’t make it for you are too stupid.” Here Rowan’s thinking was dumb.
Liberals believe that money earned by one ma’s labor is no precious than money earned by another man’s-and that there must be a minimum wage that one pays another for the sweat off his brow.
Aside from liberals, there are “moderates” and some conservatives that have this distrust of the market place. They believe that not only in the minimum wage but they also believe that businesses should provide a “living wage” as well. Both have caused consternation for businesses and others and they have been particularly discriminatory when hiring young workers out of high school in the restaurant business and other. It is these private entities that should decide how one should be paid and not the government.
Liberals believe that national security does not rest solely on military hardware.-that it lies also in the unity and loyalty of the nation’s people…Liberals know from the fate of Germany a half century ago to the Soviet Union’s more recent debacle in Eastern Europe to our experience in Vietnam, that there is stark limitations to uses of military power….conflicts must be engaged under great duress.
I will agree that there are limits to using military force. I agree to an extent. However, to defend the peace, we always have to be on guard for war. The U.S. has always had the best trained and best equipped military in the world. That should continue. Peace through strength works and we must always negotiate from that premise.
Let me say this as well: that liberals, “moderates” and conservatives have an obscure idea what the military is used for. All of them believe that it should be used to destroy monsters abroad. That is not he case. The purpose of the military is defending America’s interests. All these ideologies have one thing in common. They despise non-interventionism with a passion. They tag it with the negative label “isolationism.” Non-interventionism is not “isolationism” at all. All non-interventionism is, is simply the policy of defending the people and our interests here. That is it.
In the beginning of his column, Carl Rowan wrote “I am one tough task master when it comes to educational preparness and personal responsibility, hard work and obeying the laws. But I know those things are not exclusive qualities of having a sense of compassion for others or a love of independence of the human spirit.”
To Carl T. Rowan, compassion was measured by government force. It was never measured by personal responsibility. What he advocated was making the American people “slaves to the system.” Freedom of the human spirit is not measured by a government doling out programs or by protecting the freedom of some, which Rowan supported. Freedom of the human spirit is measured by liberty and the right of one to use his or her God given talents and freedom to succeed in society. It is for all. In 2000 Carl Rowan died. He died never realizing this reality at all. No matter how hard he tried to defend liberalism, it was then, as it is now, as it will always be, a four letter word.