I HAVE A FACEBOOK PAGE titled Bleeding Heart Liberal Petitions. Most days, I receive a slew of emails with petitions for various causes such as saving an endangered species, urging my representatives in state and federal government to vote for or against a particular bill, protest an injustice, etc. I read them all, sign most of them, and add a few to the Facebook page.
While I view these as humanitarian-related causes, for some reason that will probably forever be beyond my ken, they are invariably associated solely with one’s political affiliations. Hell’s Belles, one side of the political chasm actually considers any kind of sympathetic or empathetic sensibility a symptom of some kind of disorder!
Note: I will be posting this piece in all six of my blogs. If you are a follower of mine—and I know that I have two and I know that you both know who you are!—you can skip this on the other blogs. That is, provided that you read it in its entirety here, of course …
This is the dust-jacket to the edition of A Christmas Carol featuring illustrations by Ronald Searle (World Publishing Company, 1961).
“Westbrook Pegler was extremely good at calling people names. Particularly politicians. In his syndicated newspaper column, he called Franklin D. Roosevelt ‘Moosejaw’ and ‘momma’s boy.’ Truman was ‘a thin-lipped hater.’ Pegler was a bit of hater himself. He didn’t like the labor movement, Communists, fascists, Jews, and perhaps most of all, liberals.
In one 1938 column, he coined a term for liberals that would eventually come to define conservative scorn for the left. Pegler was the first writer to refer to liberals as ‘bleeding hearts.’ The context for this then-novel insult? A bill before Congress that aimed to curb lynching.
By the end of the ’60s, Ronald Reagan, then newly elected governor of California, had picked it up as a way to describe his political trajectory. ‘I was quite the bleeding-heart liberal once,’ he told Newsweek. By 1970, he was known as a ‘former bleeding heart Democrat.’
After that, the phrase was fully ensconced in political short-hand and quickly claimed by liberals as a positive trait. ‘You are called a bleeding heart liberal because you have a heart for the poor,’ one [bleeding-heart liberal] told the Times. (“The True Origins of the Phrase ‘Bleeding-Heart Liberal’”)
This illustration was lifted from “Paradise Shot to Hell: The Westbrook Pegler Story” by J. C. Sharlet for The Baffler (December 1999). Sharlet observed of Pegler that he was “the kind of writer who could cheer on a lynch mob (as he actually did in 1936; he sincerely believed the victims had it coming) or exhort solid citizens to join strikebreakers in ‘the praiseworthy pastime of batting the brains out of pickets’.”
Conservative vs liberal
“Political liberals are bleeding hearts because they empathize so strongly with the sufferings of others as did the late George McGovern. As Bill Clinton so succinctly phrased it, ‘I feel your pain.’ When Republicans wanted to compete in the empathy department, they had to invent a new terminology to identify this strange bird. They called it a ‘compassionate conservative.’
One might ask why conservatives have, or are perceived as having, too little empathy. Why do liberals have too much? A widely-credited explanation is in terms of competing world views.
Conservatives see the world as a challenging place in which there is always someone else who is ready to steal your lunch. Confronted by a potentially hostile environment, the best course is to take precautions and to ensure your own well-being and that of your family.
The liberal worldview is mostly the opposite. Liberals take a more optimistic view of the world as being somewhat more benign. Government is a vehicle through which the citizens of a democracy can solve problems and improve the well-being and happiness of most people.” (“Why Liberal Hearts Bleed and Conservatives Don’t”)
The reason why
The reason why I have published this piece to implore you to visit my Facebook page every so often, pick out a few issues, and sign the petitions. To get to Bleeding Heart Liberal Petitions, click HERE.
FEATURED IMAGE: This is what you will see at the Bleeding Heart Liberal Petitions page on Facebook. The illustration shows wealthy miser Ebenezer Scrooge and his overworked/underpaid assistant Bob Cratchit. The latter’s bleeding heart is a constant inspiration for the former’s sarcasm, condescension, and general nastiness. The artwork is by Ronald Searle from the illustrated edition of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol (see illustration above).