What’s the difference between a liberal and a parrot? One of them mindlessly repeats whatever its owners say and the other is a colourful, now domesticated bird, originating from the tropical climates of the Southern Hemisphere.
This does not describe all liberals, of course, especially coming from someone who self-identifies as one, however, too many people who casually consider themselves to be “left-wing” appear to have chosen to self-identify as a parrot lately.
Take the following test and see whether you’re a liberal or a parrot:
- begrudgingly vote for Labour in the last election but you “really don’t like Jeremy Corbyn” for reasons you are not able to coherently explain?
- believe that Hillary Clinton should have won the US election but you cannot name a single one of her policies?
- believe that Putin personally ordered Russian spies to (somehow unsuccessfully) take out an ex-Russian spy in the UK (whom he had already had in a Russian prison and then released via a spy-swap) in a manner which would reveal immediately Russia’s longstanding secret door handle painting nerve agent assassination training camp?
- believe that finding out who leaked legitimate evidence of corruption and election tampering by the Clinton campaign in the 2016 primary elections is more important than the corruption and election tampering it exposed?
- believe that Barack Obama was a good President for ordinary people and introduced free healthcare to Americans?
- believe that the UK and America go to war purely for humanitarian reasons and aim to spread democracy?
- read the Guardian and think that it makes you superior to those scumbag “Daily Fail” readers, but you never disagree with any of the Guardian’s conclusions?
If you answered, “yes” to any of the above, then I am sorry to inform you that you are officially a parrot and not a liberal.
Jumping to conclusions
Some of the factual questions above may turn out upon further investigation to be true, but the point is that there is not currently sufficient evidence available to take such positions and if you do, then you are being intellectually lazy. Some of the others are demonstrably untrue, but this is not the point of this article and hopefully, by the end, you will want to do your own research.
A true liberal should question the narrative given to them by the media and the Government and they should not believe stories without evidence or support political candidates because that candidate is aligned with the party or cause to which they also belong. Liberals care about truth and policy, not tabloid gossip and identity politics.
If you agree with your favourite newspaper or website about absolutely everything, then you’re not reading widely enough.
The convenience of a false dichotomy
Too many people across the political spectrum are opting for an easy life and organising information received, such as news stories, politically speaking, into categories of “left” and “right”, choosing then to instinctively agree with the position that accords most with their overarching political views, rather than thinking critically about the story they are reading.
Well, life is not that simple. Donald Trump is a lying charlatan, but he has said many true things, especially on the campaign trail.
For example, Donald Trump said that NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) was a bad deal for ordinary Americans and had cost jobs. That is true and he was right to say that.
You see, just because someone you generally disagree with said something, that doesn’t make it incorrect by default, you need to consider the actual content of what is being said and the logical and evidential position for it, in order to come to a conclusion. The same is true of people with whom you generally agree.
You’re not alone
This need to organise our lives into narratives and act in a tribal manner is obviously part of human nature and it is not unique to the left.
As an example, sticking with “The Donald”, watch this hilarious video (which must be taken with a pinch of salt, but which emphasises the point) where people appear to agree with quotes from Hitler just because they were presented as Trump quotes, only to change their tune when they realise the true author. Again, it is the content which matters, not the purveyor of it.
The majority of the population who claim to care about politics appear to be playing for a team and repeating its talking points instead of taking policy and evidence-based positions, which is how we should all act if we wish to obtain the best outcomes.
Taking a step back for a moment, as the great Matt Dillahunty often asks theists when they seek to rely on faith for any particular claim they are making, “is faith a reliable path to truth?”
(This video is not safe for work)
Apply this logic to the humble parrot: Is believing everything that fits within your existing narrative because it is more comfortable for you, or because it comes from the party you belong to or the newspaper you like, a reliable path to truth? Clearly not. Therefore, just like the theist clinging onto his faith in the above video, this will only get you to the right answer some of the time. That makes it unreliable.
Let’s look at how a parrot and then a liberal, might react to the recent story that Russia is guilty of attempting to assassinate Sergei Skripal in the UK earlier this year.
If you are a parrot, your thought process might have gone something like this:
“(A) Boris Johnson said that only the Russians could have made the nerve agent used in the attack;
(B) I don’t like Boris Johnson’s policies but this is a matter of national security and Boris Johnson or the Government for that matter, would not lie about something like this;
(C) Russia are the bad guys and our enemy and the main victim was a Russian spy who had defected, it does seem like something Russia would do;
(D) I read in the Guardian numerous times that Russia was behind the attack.
(E) Time passes and you remember the incident as the Russian attack without ever seeing any evidence of it.”
If you are a real liberal, your thought process is as follows:
“(A) There has been an attack in Salisbury using a chemical weapon of some kind and the person killed was previously a Russian spy, this is interesting;
(B) The Government have immediately rushed to blame Russia and everyone is talking about how to respond and show force, but there has been no evidence presented for this conclusion so I will withhold my judgement until that happens;
(C) The Government and the news are all saying that this “novichok” is “of a type developed by Russia”, but that sounds exactly like the type of thing you would say if you wanted to give the impression to people who only read headlines, that Russia was behind the attack, when in fact all you are saying is that this type of nerve agent was originally developed by the Soviet Union many years ago – that doesn’t mean that Russia made this particular one and even if they did, that doesn’t prove they carried out the attack;
(D) Why is the Guardian just parroting the Government talking points and not asking questions, has nobody learned from Iraq not to just swallow the official narrative without evidence?
(E) I am not willing to go along with the narrative presented without seeing clear evidence of it.”
Again, I do not wish to dwell on any specific story here, but if anyone wants to look at the details of the Skripal story in-depth and specifically at the complete lack of evidence provided for the claim that it was perpetrated by the Russian-state (or indeed that a novichok was even used), then I suggest reading Craig Murray’s fantastic stories on this topic, this one most recently.
Do your research or don’t come to conclusions
To be an actual liberal, you don’t need to research everything in great detail, you don’t need to research anything if you don’t want to, you just need to be honest with yourself and accept that believing things without sufficient evidence just because the story fits within your existing narrative, or is being written by your favourite journalist, is not a reliable path to truth and you are not justified in those beliefs, whether or not they are eventually proved correct.
As much as it would make life easier, things are not black and white and this is a fact which needs to be recognised. People who you perceive to be in your corner may not always be acting in good faith, journalists may be on someone’s payroll or just doing shoddy work, the state may be lying like they have done so many times before. Don’t be a parrot.
If you are reading this article and thinking, “this person is pro-Russia, this is fake news”, then the point of this article has been lost on you and you need to go and ask Polly for another cracker.
You can oppose two things at the same time, you can support some policies of a political party and not others, you can agree with a Momentum policy if you are a member of the Conservative Party and you can agree with a policy of the Tories if you are a member of the Labour party. These things are unlikely but not impossible if you have an open mind and focus on policy and facts.
You can also be against the foreign policy of the USA or the UK without supporting the foreign policy of autocrats like Putin, this is a false dichotomy; refuting one claim is not usually tantamount to asserting that the opposite is true.
How to not be a parrot
I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news to all of the parrots out there, but it’s never too late to alter your thinking; a leopard may not be able to change its spots, but you’re not a leopard, you’re a parrot.