At the core of left-wing thought is a denial of painful realities, the denial of what the French call les faits de la vie, facts of life. Conservatives, on the other hand, are all too aware of the painful realities of life, and base many of their positions on them.
One example of this left-right difference is the differing attitudes toward human nature and responsibility for evil. When liberals blame violent crime on poverty, one reason they do is that ever since the Enlightenment the Left has posited that human nature is good. So, then, when people do bad things to other people, the Left argues that some outside forces -- usually poverty and, in the case of non-white criminals, racism -- are responsible, not human nature.
Why? Because people on the Left find it too painful to look reality in the eye and acknowledge that human nature is deeply flawed.
Another fact of life that the Left finds too painful to acknowledge is the existence of profound differences between men and women. There is no other explanation for the denial of what has been obvious to every previous generation in history -- that men and women are inherently different. This denial is certainly not the result of scientific inquiry. The more science learns about the male brain and the female brain, not to mention male and female hormones, the more it confirms important built-in differences between the sexes.
Yet many people, influenced by left-wing thought, believe that girls are as happy to play with trucks as are boys, and boys are as happy to play with dolls and tea sets as are girls.
Why do they believe such silliness? Because acknowledging many of those differences is painful.
For example, feminists and others on the Left do not want to acknowledge that men are far more capable of having emotionally meaningless sex than women. Therefore, feminism has taught generations of young women that they are just as capable of enjoying emotionless sex with many partners as are men. The fact is that the great majority of women are deeply dissatisfied with the hook up culture and yearn to bond with a man even more than they yearn for professional success. But feminism came up with the famous and false phrase, “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle” to counter the painful reality that most women feel incomplete without a man in their life -- just as, I might add, most men feel incomplete without a woman. Ironically, however, most men have no trouble acknowledging this.
This is what the notion of Political Incorrectness is all about. The very definition of “Politically Incorrect” is a truth that people on the Left find too painful to acknowledge -- and therefore do not want expressed.
To cite yet another example, why are many young black males in prison? The reason is too painful for the Left to acknowledge and therefore it is politically incorrect to say it: Young black males commit a disproportionate amount of violent crime. And why are there speech codes on virtually all college campuses? Because the Left doesn’t want to hear facts or opinions that cause them pain.
That’s why the Left developed what it calls “trigger warnings.” A “trigger warning,” as defined by the Oxford Dictionary, is “a statement at the start of a piece of writing, video, etc. alerting the reader or viewer to the fact that it contains potentially distressing material.” That’s why the Left constantly speaks about being made “uncomfortable” and about feeling “offended.” Being made uncomfortable or feeling offended, is, after all, painful.
Take the left-wing bumper sticker idea, “War Is not the Answer.” The painful truth is that war is often the only answer to great evil. Nazi death camps were liberated by soldiers fighting a war, not by peace activists or by peaceful dialogue with the German regime. But having to acknowledge the moral necessity of war is too painful a truth for many on the Left.
One might say that Leftism appeals to those who wish to remain innocent. Growing up and facing the fact that life is messy, difficult and painful is increasingly a conservative point of view.
I’m Dennis Prager.