Years ago I came to the enlightened opinion that liberals talk about caring for people, but their actions belie their words. A recent discussion with a liberal friend drove this assertion home for me. Having spent almost forty years in higher education, I have accumulated several friends who are of the liberal persuasion. I forgive them this indiscretion because having never ventured outside the ivied halls of academia they don’t know any better. However, I do continue my mission of trying to educate my liberal friends—in spite of their steadfast reluctance to learn. Most of my liberal friends consider themselves intellectuals, but in truth on matters of politics and culture their minds are made up and they do not want to be bothered with the facts—not the attitude of an intellectual. Here is a case in point.
I recently visited with a liberal college professor in his office at the nearby campus where I spent so much of my adult life. On his wall hung a nice tapestry with an inspirational message woven into the scene it depicted. The message read: “Give a man a fish and you feed him today. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” I have always liked that maxim, but found it odd that my liberal friend would display an adage so obviously at odds with his leftwing beliefs. Oh, I suppose most any teacher would find this saying inspirational. After all, college professors firmly believe they spend their lives teaching people to fish. Some do. However, an objective observer would have to admit that indoctrinating complacent sheep is a more apt description of how many liberal college professors spend their professional lives.
I complimented my friend on his new tapestry and then commented, “It’s too bad you don’t believe what it says.” He was taken aback by my comment and challenged me: “Not only do I believe what it says, I live it out every day.” Then he delivered an impressive soliloquy on the contributions college professors make to the lives of their young charges. Rather than get into a debate over teaching versus indoctrination—a debate my friend and I have had many times—I decided to take another approach. However, before commenting on the approach I took in pointing out the inconsistencies in my friend’s views, let me share his intractable opinion concerning indoctrination in the college classroom. Not only does he not deny that he indoctrinates rather than educates, he proudly claims it is his job to indoctrinate college students who come to him with “inappropriate” views on politics, culture, and life because, after all, he knows better. He firmly believes that indoctrination is education. And there it is in a nutshell: the liberal’s answer to every quandary. When logic, reason, common sense, and the facts run counter to leftwing orthodoxy, fall back on intellectual elitism and academic snobbery.
I asked my friend if he was still in favor of welfare and what President Obama was doing to increase the number of people on food stamps. Rolling his eyes, he waved my question away as if shooing a gnat. “That is like asking me if I like to breathe.” Having established for the record what I already knew to be the case, I pressed on. “Do you think providing welfare entitlements and food stamps is the same as teaching a person to fish?” Again he waved my question away with the air of a put upon college professor condescending to a slow student. Having sufficiently set up my real question, I ventured to ask it: “How then do you explain the tendency of welfare to become a way of life that continues across successive generations?” “Further, why is breaking the cycle of welfare the biggest challenge faced by those—Democrats and Republicans—who want to reform the system?” Before he could answer, I added: “By the way, don’t try to deny my assertions about welfare. I have the numbers.”
His response was enlightening. “I do not deny your assertions. I would not even want to. As far as I’m concerned there is absolutely nothing wrong with welfare becoming a way of life that is passed from generation to generation. The fact that we are willing to take care of poor people across generations just means we are a humane society. Some members of society will always need our compassionate attention. That’s just the way life is.”
I started to tell my misguided friend that shackling people to a life of government handouts just robs them of their freedom and self-worth. I started to tell him that making an individual forever dependent on handouts from others could hardly be said to help him. But then I remembered who I was talking to. With that realization firmly fixed in my mind, I simply suggested he change the maxim woven into his tapestry to read: “Don’t bother to teach a man to fish. Just sign him up for welfare. It is much easier to get welfare than to catch a fish anyway.” My friend responded in the same way he always does at the end of our discussions. He shook his head sadly at the obvious ignorance of all conservatives and this one in particular.