When I was on the book tour for Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild, critics predictably countered by playing the moral equivalence card. Show them how intolerant, racist, sexist, hateful, conspiratorial-minded, and violent the Left can be, and they sputter “B-b-b-b-b-ut the Right is just as bad.”
Spend anytime in the blogosphere and it’s clear that the two sides of the political galaxy are not created equal. One side burns effigies of American soldiers and craps on the American flag. The other does not. One side wraps itself in assassination chic. The other does not. One side indulges in v icious Sambo photoshops, rank religious bigotry, death wishes, gloating over the illnesses of public figures, and fill-in-the-blank derangement syndrome. The other does not.
Now comes fascinating statistical evidence that the Left is indeed more hateful than the Right. Syracuse University professor Arthur Brooks writes in the WSJ today about annual surveys that shed light on just how unhinged liberals really are:
Do the data support the claim that conservatives are haters, while liberals are tolerant of others? A handy way to answer this question is with what political analysts call “feeling thermometers,” in which people are asked on a survey to rate others on a scale of 0-100. A zero is complete hatred, while 100 means adoration. In general, when presented with people or groups about which they have neutral feelings, respondents give temperatures of about 70. Forty is a cold temperature, and 20 is absolutely freezing.
In 2004, the University of Michigan’s American National Election Studies (ANES) survey asked about 1,200 American adults to give their thermometer scores of various groups. People in this survey who called themselves “conservative” or “very conservative” did have a fairly low opinion of liberals — they gave them an average thermometer score of 39. The score that liberals give conservatives: 38. Looking only at people who said they are “extremely conservative” or “extremely liberal,” the right gave the left a score of 27; the left gives the right an icy 23. So much for the liberal tolerance edge.
Some might argue that this is simply a reflection of the current political climate, which is influenced by strong feelings about the current occupants of the White House. And sure enough, those on the extreme left give President Bush an average temperature of 15 and Vice President Cheney a 16. Sixty percent of this group gives both men the absolute lowest score: zero.
To put this into perspective, note that even Saddam Hussein (when he was still among the living) got an average score of eight from Americans. The data tell us that, for six in ten on the hard left in America today, literally nobody in the entire world can be worse than George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
The BDS crowd often points to conservative Clinton-haters in the 1990s to argue that the Right was just as hateful as the Left is now. That, too, is not supported by statistical evidence. Brooks notes:
In 1998, Bill Clinton and Al Gore were hardly popular among conservatives. Still, in the 1998 ANES survey, Messrs. Clinton and Gore both received a perfectly-respectable average temperature of 45 from those who called themselves extremely conservative. While 28% of the far right gave Clinton a temperature of zero, Gore got a zero from just 10%. The bottom line is that there is simply no comparison between the current hatred the extreme left has for Messrs. Bush and Cheney, and the hostility the extreme right had for Messrs. Clinton and Gore in the late 1990s.
“Simply no comparison.”
Put that on a bumper sticker.