The letters page of The New York Times today has a half dozen letters praising Bob Herbert, whose Sept. 9 column recounted the many accomplishments of liberals and took aim at the conservative use of the word as a political slur.
I join Bob Herbert in proudly defending the term liberal. No one should ever be ashamed to call himself (or herself) a liberal. If there is one thing that I would like to achieve with my column, other than to make people laugh and think at the same time, it would be to make the word liberal respectable again by plucking it from the foul mouths of the wingnuts.
One of the letter writers to The Times says the terms liberal and conservative have become meaningless, which I agree with only up to a point. There are liberals who are illiberal and conservatives who are unconservative but in the middle belt of sanity and reason both terms still apply - and both are honorable. As a general rule, the further left you go and the further right you go, the crazier you become.
Almost every country in the world that is screwed up could be helped by being less rigid, more open-minded and tolerant, in short, more liberal - Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, you name it. I can't think of a single liberal country that is a threat to world peace.
Meanwhile, here in America to be a liberal is seen as a terrible thing by some people. Yet as Bob Herbert pointed out, the candidacies of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin would be impossible but for the liberal-minded pioneers who pushed the causes of civil rights and gender equality against stubborn conservative resistance.
Hurrah for liberals, I say. Where would we be without them?