Michael J. Salamon

Parlor Liberals and Genghis Kahn Conservatives

There is a small, slowly growing body of research, mostly correlational in nature, which suggests liberals are smarter than conservatives. On some level it makes sense. Liberals tend to be somewhat better educated and have a broader worldview. If this is true and not merely some anecdotal artifact like – people with large shoe sizes are smarter than those with smaller feet, than it stands to reason that those who are independent are smarter than both liberals and conservatives. Why? People who are so locked in ideologically are prone to dogmas that are limiting. When you are so constrained by your leanings you lose sight of the broader picture, the available levels of understanding are constricted and means of coping are therefore, inhibited.
Far from being the only one, Peter Beinart, whose work I read voraciously, is one such noted individual who is locked in by his liberal approach. On the one hand he can speak about how he and his daughter were upset when they were in Israel when the sirens sounded and at the same time not state clearly and definitively that Hamas would have gladly celebrated if those very same rockets had killed him, his daughter and any number of others. But he is not alone. Liberal Zionists, like Antony Lerman ( talk about the end of the dream and take great pleasure in skewering Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as if they can clearly read his mind and know every thought, feeling and move he will have even before he has them. Yet it is the Liberal Zionists of Israel, the Amos Oz’s and the Ari Shavit’s who can actualize the reality of living in a region where neighbors have no greater goal than to eradicate them and their families. These are the people who have the liberal idealist dream but are also cognizant of the fact that passivity when a rocket is aimed at your window or a terror tunnel is burrowed near your child’s nursery will result in tragedy.
I take particular umbrage at a half page ad placed in the New York Times on Saturday 23, August, that was allegedly funded by Holocaust survivors and their offspring defaming not just the leadership of Israel but also Elie Weisel. In a complete bastardization of the phrase Never Again they accuse Jews who choose to defend themselves. Never Again means we will defend ourselves and not allow others to attempt to wantonly kill us. Further reference is made in the ad to two absurd articles that are supported by no thinking person which allegedly support genocide as if those articles justify an ad against the Jewish State by Jews who are survivors.
There is always a better way to deal with conflict but neither Genghis Kahn conservatives nor parlor liberals will be able to achieve it. These polar opposite approaches to logic are much too concrete to be useful in a world with multiply shifting variables, emotions and historical imperatives that impact every situation. Jean Piaget, the developmental psychologist, pointed out that concrete thinking was a stage that only about 1/3 of educated people pass through in their teen years. On their way to developing a more abstract form of reasoning that takes into account current, evolving realities most people get stuck in the concrete stage. And frankly it makes for good copy to be seen taking a stand no matter how rigid or ill-conceived or even hateful (Think about the Hamas leader espousing to Wolf Blitzer the Jewish blood libel.)
When the research is finally completed, if ever, I am sure we will find that conservatives are not quite as smart as liberals, and liberals are not as smart as independent thinkers and we are all foolish for giving extremist thinkers so much air time and far too much credibility.

About the Author
Dr. Michael Salamon ,a fellow of the American Psychological Association, is an APA Presidential Citation Awardee for his 'transformative work in raising awareness of the prevention and treatment of childhood sexual abuse". He is the founder and director of ADC Psychological Services in New York and Netanya, the author of numerous articles, several psychological tests and books including "The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures" (Urim Publications), "Every Pot Has a Cover" (University Press of America) and "Abuse in the Jewish Community: Religious and Communal Factors that Undermine the Apprehension of Offenders and the Treatment of Victims."