It has become something of an axiom in liberal and centrist discourse that the modern American right is uniquely infested by extremism, intolerance, fear-mongering, and irrationality unparalleled on the left (except for the lunatic fringe). As someone whose views are a mix of “conservative” and “liberal,” I have no interest in defending the right from these charges. But mainstream liberalism is not as free of similar sins as its proponents imagine.
I can already hear accusations of faux evenhandedness — glib, unfounded assertions that “everyone does it equally.” But that’s not the issue. It is certainly true that some deeply problematic attitudes — hostility to science or conspiracy-theory paranoia — are far more mainstream on the right than on the left today. Yet, regardless of conservative bad thinking, liberals have their own blind spots that bear examining.