I don't like progressives. News to no one who reads this blog, I'm sure. But what I want to put across to anyone who reads these posts - what I want to make as clear as possible - is exactly what I'm talking about when I condemn progressives.
It isn't their political policies that I am reacting to. It's their mindsets, and in particular, their attitudes towards anyone who disagrees with them or isn't on their political side.
If someone comes to me saying they think communism is the answer to the problem of poverty, I'll disagree strongly. But, all else being equal? I will also want to hear what they have to say if I'm in the mood to discuss things - and if I'm not, I'll just ignore them. I will ask what arguments they have for their position, I will bring up criticisms, I will propose alternatives. They'll react to those, I'll react to their reactions and ideas, and they will react to mine. Eventually we may both decide we see things different - we put more stock in one bit of evidence than another, or we have different priorities, even if we ultimately have some overlapping goals and ideas in mind. Odds are, I'll think the policy is tremendously wrong-headed, and I'll fight the policy - but the person won't really be a problem, per se. At worst, they will be someone I disagree with, and may try to think of how to make them appreciate any mistakes I think they're making.
This recipe and result will stay in place for most progressive positions. The advocate of universal health care. The gay marriage proponent. The defender of abortion, of massive central government, of state welfare. I disagree with these things strongly, but this isn't what sets me off when it comes to the progressive. I can talk about these things, just as I can talk with an atheist at length and keep calm and polite, even friendly with the right people. The issue itself isn't the problem. I would go so far as to say as, the mere embrace of liberal positions is not enough to make a person into a progressive.
The key ingredient for the progressive - and the reason I end up having to categorize them with the Cult of Gnu - is hatred.
If you are an atheist or mere irreligious who doesn't believe in God... but who does not hate religion, despise religious figures, and wish fervently for the day when every religious believer is a pariah or chased to the absolute fringes of society - if you, in fact, think religious people may well be right, but you just don't believe them, and don't think they are on the whole stupid, wicked and dangerous - well, guess what? The Cult of Gnu has a word for you: accommodationist. You are seen as giving aid and comfort to the enemy, and will likely find yourself quickly cast out of their group. Because what makes a Gnu a Gnu isn't mere lack of God belief, or even the positive belief that God does not exist. It is the contempt towards religion and the religious. The conviction that it is, as PeteBog suggests, a sickness that is meant to be contained, controlled and eradicated - quite possibly with the aid of the state. The belief that religious people are not just wrong, but obviously wrong, and deserving of contempt is what makes an irreligious person into a New Atheist.
That's what the case is with the progressive. All that changes is the target: replace 'religious person' with 'conservative', and the same rules apply. I would go so far as to say that for some, New Atheism is just a natural extension of progressivism. If you merely disagree with conservatives but think they're largely normal, reasonable people who (God forbid) may well be right, you will find yourself shunned in progressive circles about as quickly as the 'accommodationist' atheist is shunned by the Cult of Gnu. When a progressive is expected to show their credentials, to signal whose side they are on, they do so principally by attacking or condemning conservatives - with actual support for or argumentation for 'progressive' ideals being a very distant concern. It is the glue that binds their communities together, a shared social hatred.
This is the conclusion I have been forced to come to after multiple intentional interactions with progressives, reading their articles, watching how their own view of the world manifests even in fiction. I saw it in the reaction to George Will, and sadly, I saw it even in the reaction to me that took place after that.
I will be challenged on this. Lothar in particular - who I do not think understands the extent of the progressive problem, or how far away he may really be from progressives - will hasten to argue it's 'not every progressive', and that conservatives have their faults. I won't go into it great detail this entry, but yes, I will admit straightaway that conservatives do have flaws on this front. But no, I don't think they are as pronounced as the progressives' problem by a longshot.
Lothar once challenged me to pose as a gay atheist and see how I'd be treated among conservative Christians. I may well take him up on that challenge sometime, and report my results. But I have a challenge of my own to throw back at him: pose as a polite social conservative, and see how you're treated on a progressive blog. Mark my words: you'll be treated worse than the polite gay atheist.