This past spring I was watching television and along came a news report. Here is the context. Dr. Ward Churchill the professor from the University of Colorado, whom I cited in a previous article because of his intellectual nihilism, had just gone before a group of his faculty peers for a professional evaluation. The result of this review was that Churchill's colleagues found him guilty of repeated instances of plagiarism, fabrications, false claims, improper citations, and unethical scholarship. Professor Churchill was not available for comment but his attorney, David Lane, responded to these allegations by saying: “There are two sides to every story. Everybody has their own truth.”
Now I would like to use this scenario to suggest something that may be rather shocking (especially for those of you who know me): I believe I am more of a true liberal than Ward Churchill.
Here's why I believe my liberal credentials will stand up well against those of the professor:
I am a liberal because I believe that the best education is one that indeed liberates. It liberates us from the consequences of those things that are wrong and frees us to live within the beauty of those things that are right. A liberal arts education is driven by the hunger for answers rather than the protection of opinions. It is not subject to the ebb and flow of personal agendas or political fads. It is not afraid to put all ideas on the table because there is confidence that in the end the student will embrace what is true and discard what is false.
I am a liberal because I believe in freedom: Freedom of thought and expression; freedom of life and liberty; freedom to pursue happiness. I recognize the law of opposites: If it weren't for darkness we wouldn't know light; if it weren't for evil we wouldn't understand good; if there is no truth then nothing is a lie; and but for the shadow of slavery we see no freedom. I am energized by the unapologetic pursuit of truth. Wherever it leads I am confident in the words, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”
I am a liberal because I believe in integration. Truth cannot be segregated into false dichotomies of objective materialism vs. subjective narratives. Truth is an integrated whole. The liberally educated person recognizes that we can not and should not separate personal life from private life, the head from the heart, fact from faith, or belief from behavior. Truth is not relegated to simply what you can taste, touch, smell, and see. It doesn't end with the materialist's claim that two plus two is four. Truth is much bigger than simple tactile conclusions. There are ideas that are tested by time, defended by reason, validated by experience, and confirmed by revelation. We are in fact endowed by our Creator with an objective moral understanding. We do know that rape is wrong, that the Holocaust was bad, and that hatred and racism are to be reviled. Even though we cannot produce these truths in a test tube we hold them to be self-evident laws that no human being can deny.
I am a liberal because I recognize that when we exchange the truth of God for a lie that we build a house of cards that will fall to mankind's inevitable temper tantrum of seeking control and power. To deny what is right and true and embrace what is wrong and false is to fall prey to the rule of the gang or the tyranny of one.
I am a liberal because I believe that unless the measuring rod is independent of the things measured, we can do no measuring (C.S. Lewis) and that truth is bigger than me or you or your opinion or mine. Os Guinness says it this way: “All truth . . . is true everywhere, for everyone, under all conditions. Truth... is not simply ‘true for us'; it is true for any who seek in order to find, because truth is true even if nobody believes it and falsehood is false even if everybody believes it. That is why truth does not yield to opinion, fashion, numbers, office, or sincerity - it is simply true and that is the end of it. It is one of the Permanent Things.”
I am a liberal because I believe in justice and that justice is the bedrock of liberty. I believe liberty is the antithesis of slavery and slavery is the natural outcome of lies: Lies about who we are as people, lies about what is right and what is wrong; Lies about man and lies about God.
Napoleon once quipped that “history is nothing but a fable agreed upon” and Europe flowed with the blood of world conquest. Ward Churchill claimed that “there is no truth.” He is now found guilty of lies endemic in his own research. David Lane says, “Everybody has their own truth” but he then turns to the courts to administer justice that assumes a foundation of honesty and truthfulness.
Here is the question: Is Churchill really free or is he now a slave to his own constructs and fabrications where he now is bound to defend the indefensible? Is David Lane free to pursue all ideas relative to the Churchill story or is he captive to one view and one view only, i.e. that of his client's?
And finally, who is really free? Which worldview honors liberty, and justice? Which paradigm is open to a critical exchange of ideas? Who's do you trust most to honor liberty, and justice? The answer to these questions tells you “why I am a liberal.”
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