The Liberal Mind
sinus einel distortions and oversimplifications.
Aware of these limitations then. I
nevertheless venture upon a short analysis of the Liberal mind. And I shall
argue thjl it is indispensable to a knowledge of that mind lo recognize that
there is un enormous area in which the
Liberal does not know lime to think.
More specifically: he is illogical, he is
inconsistent, and he cannol assess evidence.
Several years ago. I wrote a critique
of modern education specifically, of
Yale education for which I now feel
I must, in part- apologize. I apologize
not so much for the irrelevance of the
indictment as for its incompleteness
Almost all of my critics intoned lhal
Yale that Liberal education attempts
to teach students not wltat to think, bul
how to ihink. Ami I used tei answer ihem
with some such observation as that, my
ignorant but decent delivery man is a
far better citizen of the world, to use ei
term iheit engages the rapt and respect-
fa) attention of all Liberals, than the
chairman "f the department of philosophy of Moscow University who—make
no mistake about it—is nol ignorant. I
slill maintain lhat ihis is a sufficient answer, bul I shall never forgive myself for
being so easily duped as to accept uncritically tin- premise that lhe Liberals
are, indeed, successfully teaching American students bow to think. I should have
come back at my critics ~ it would have
been easy by demonstrating that not
only does modern education lend to
(each you to think what you ought nol
lo think, il also fails to teach you hou- to
There isn't space for many examples
nf the Libera] mind eit work on a logical
problem, so let me attempt just one or
Some months ago. I suggested on a
television program that symbolic of the
sluggishness of the collective Liberal
anti-Communist effort is the fact that
should Eleanor Roosevelt meet Senator
McCarthy eit a cocktail partv she would
probably refuse- to shake hands with
him. whereas she would almost as surely shake Yishinsky's hand at the same
parly. A day or two later a reporter
asked her. How about it? Indignantly
she answered lhat she would shake-hands
with both Visbinsky and McCarthy eil
any future social affair, that in the past
she had nine' shaken McCarthy's hand
(this weis evidently ;i vivid memory).
and that was lhat.
\ot quiii-. however; f"r '•' month or
two later she was asked in her regular
question-aud-atiswer column in Ladies
llnme Journal. "In a recent column
from Page 6)
you defended your right to shake hands
with Mr. Visbinsky. and Senator McCarthy. Would you also have felt it wees
righl to shake hands with Adolf Hitler?"
Replied Mrs. Roosevelt (not, I ihink.
alter anything but thc intensesl intellectual effort to solve that one), "In Adolf
Miller's early days I mighl have eanisiel-
eiiil it. but after he had begun his mass
killings I don'l think I could have borne
I suggest thai any effort to understand Mrs. Roosevelt S code on when it
is permissible to shake someone's hand
is very difficult if one has reference' to
these.statements. If we were lo set up a
syllogism, here is how it would look:
Proposition V: K. R. will not shake
hands with llieise who are guilty of meess
Proposition He E. K. will sheike hands
Conclusion: \ i-lnnsky is nut guilty of
But even Mrs. Roosevelt knows lhal
he is or weis. rather. So what was she'
3e WwM ertttre,
Andrei Visbinsky, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt,
and Adolf Hitler.
Iryiug lo say? Was she trying lo say lhal
there ;ne significant differences between
Hitler and Visbinsky? If so. with reference In whal system of ethics, or whal
system of logic, do these differences
emerge? The only explanation Mrs.
Roosevell attempts is thai "after Hitler
had begun his mass killings." then she
couldn't bear il. But not only has she
been able to bear lo shake hands and
drink cocktails with the first-ranking
butcher of lhe Soviet (.'nion. she has
found il bearable to talk with him, as a
co-aspirant, about drafting a mutually
satisfactory declaration of human rights!
It is much loo easy lo accept, on the
basis of this performance, lhe explanation that Eleanor Roosevell i- anti-Nazi
but pro-Communist But thai is not the
answer. Eleanor Roosevelt is not pro-
Communist. She just doesn't know how
lo think. Not even potentially, I should
-ay. Shi' is line of the people lo whom
Pythagoras could nol have explained
aliout his triangle.
Ii may be objected theii generalizations aboul lhe Liberal mind based on
anything lhat comes oul nf Mrs. Roosevelt are invalid. I disagree. The index
lo lhe intellectual sensitivity eif ei person
i- nut only whal comes out nl him. lull
what he puts up with from others. Has
anyone here ever heard any stentorian
voice from Liberaldom register dismay
at this or any olher of lhe intellectual
monstrosities mothered by this woman?
\o: Mis. Roosevell is ei certified Liberal, and 1 know of no one who refuses
to acknowledge her license as ei speekes-
man for American Liberalism. In quelling her I do not pretend in be i(iioting
from ei first-ranking Liberal scholar or
philosopher; bul I do ask why first-
ranking Liberal scholars and philosophers and thoughtful laymen countenance her. It musl l.r either because (a)
they arc aware that Mrs. Roosevelt's
close personal and political association
with her husband invested her with a
gleinxir which is highly utilitarian, or
lb), land ihis is both more plausible
and more charitable), not know ing
themselves how to Ihink. they are incompetent lo recognize lhal Mrs. Rnees.-
vell does nol know how to think.
However farfetched ibis explanation
may appear, bow else do vou accounl
for il? The Liberal community never
seems lo have enough of her. Colleges
stand in line to award her honorary
degrees; she is forever speaking lo any
group on the subject of anything, and
her annual books eire snuggled close to
the Liberal bosom. Only verv. very seldom do they meet up with condign
punishment. This happened with Mrs.
Roosevelt's last book, which was unfortunate enough to fall into lhe hands ol
a man who does know how to think.
Professor James Burnham.
Wrote Mr. Burnham:
In Imliii umi ih, lieitl.ening East, Mrs.
Roosevelt weis able to complete her flower-
strewn march unpricked by the thorns uf
liaison. .. .
Like all lur writing, the contents eun!
prose eif this heeeek aveiie! excessive ele-
ineunls on tier readers. In crossing from
the Arab lands Into Israel sin- has in one
striking way a i-urieius experience: tin'
population, she Finds, is predominantly
In another passage *\m tells us eel.eeut
Mr. Suelliii- Ghosh, whose enthusiasm inspires on.' with confidence! Whal i- ee
reilieeiiell leeitig to tneekc of such ee phrase?
Enthusiasm inspires em.' eeiili confidence?
Ily llu' record, Hitler wets the mosl enthusiastic man e.f our time, eunl Father
Coughlin, Meeee. Iluey Long, and Lenin
are not feir behind. See therefore? Bul tin"
phrase is of course not rational, nor tl"'
expression of re-eisem....
This furious energy, to which ;e ajgein-
ti<' ego frantically clings... is like- ee greal
tank with .3 drunken driver, loose in the
crowded striata eef a city. It is the onrush
of sentiment, unguiileel and unrestrained
l.v Intelligence, reason, or principle. Over
whatever subject, problem, plan, or issue
Mr-. Roosevelt touches, sh-- spreads ;l
squjillike ink of directionless feeling. \H
distinctions eer-- blurred, .ell analysis
fouled, eunl ill theit murk clear lleeiiight is
Still — Mrs. Roosevelt is one woman-
and there eire many Liberals, so. prop-
erlv. w e must move on.
Pa ire ."i2
FACTS FORUM NEWS, June, /•"■'■''