Schweizer: Thank you.
FP: What inspired you to write this book?
Schweizer: I've experienced what so many others have with family and friends: the left's sense that they are our moral superiors. They care more, are less selfless, more civic minded, etc. My personal experience was that this simply wasn't the case. So I decided to pick the leading lights of the movement, those who come from politics, academe, and activism, and that are particularly aggressive in spouting their moral superiority, and do some digging.
FP: Give us some of the best examples of the gulf between some liberals’ social criticisms and the ingredients of their private lives. Give us some insights, for instance, into the likes of Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Cornel West, Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy and Barbra Streisand.
Schweizer: Looking for liberal hypocrisy is, as they say in the military, a target-rich environment. Noam Chomsky, for example, has attacked wealthy Americans who set up trusts to avoid paying inheritance taxes. But this self-professed "radical socialist" has a tax attorney and did the very same thing. (When I asked him about this hypocrisy he said it was okay because he and has family have been working on behalf of suffering people all these years.)
Michael Moore's hypocrisy is pathological. He has said numerous times that he doesn't own a single share of stock and that capitalism is not acceptable "on any level." And yet, I found that, according to tax returns filed with the IRS, he has owned shares in Halliburton, numerous oil companies, defense contractors and other multinationals through a tax shelter. When it comes he race he's also wildly hypocritical. He says that Americans who happen to live in largely white neighbhorhoods do so because they are "racists." But he lives in Central Lake, Michigan, which according to the U.S. Census has more than 2,500 residents and not a single black person in the entire town.
Cornel West has numerous times condemned middle class blacks that abandon the "chocolate cities" for the "vanilla suburbs" but guess what, his flavour of choice is vanilla, too.
Ted Kennedy likes to pose as the Robin Hood of the Senate, forcing wealthy Americans to pay their taxes to help the poor. But I discovered that Kennedys record of actually paying taxes is horrible. Tax the inheritance tax. He says that Americans should pay 49% to the IRS when they die in the name of "social justice." But according to public records, the Kennedys have almost completely avoided contributing to "social justice" by placing their assets in trusts that are located overseas. The Kennedys, over the past thirty years, have paid less than 1% in inheritance taxes on more than $300 million. Ted Kennedy, like Hillary Clinton and George Soros, loves higher taxes. On other people.
FP: You show how liberalism's heroes live their lives in a manner that proves their ideology to be, among other things, self-destructive. Can you talk about that a bit?
Schweizer: It's amazing how quickly liberals abandon their precepts when they realize how bad they are for you. Gloria Steinem preached about the evils of marriage for more than thirty years and told young women to avoid it because it's akin to slavery. Then guess what happened? She found someone and fell in love. They didn't just shack up--they got married.
Hypocrisy is part of the human condition. Conservatives, moderates, and liberals are all guilty. But when a conservative abandons his principles and becomes a hypocrite--they are the worst because of it. Think of the pro-family politician who cheats on his wife. The family gets torn apart, the kids get hurt. They'd be the first to say that abandoning their principles was a bad idea. With liberals it's the opposite: they improve their lives by abandoning their liberal ideas. They are more prosperous, their kids go the better schools, and as Steinem shows, their family life improves, too.
FP: Are leftist ideals workable?
Schweizer: I suppose there are some leftists out their trying very hard to live consistent with their principles. But I can't imagine it's a very happy life. I actually started researching Ralph Nader for the book because I assumed that even if he looks perpetually depressed, he was trying to live consistent with his principles. But Saint Ralph falls wide of the mark, too. Smart leftists, I believe, know deep down that they ideas they perpetuate really don't work. They experience it on a daily basis.
FP: What are some of the key lies that lay at the foundation of the progressive faith?
Schweizer: There are several lies that are at the very core of the progressive faith. Some of self-serving, some are simply wrong. The biggest self-serving lie concerns their assumptions about conservative motives. I notice often times that liberals attack conservative motives rather than dealing with the substance of the issue itself. What matters for the left when it comes to affirmative action, for example, is not really whether the policy works but whether you are morally clean by endorsing it. If you oppose affirmative action, on whatever grounds, you are by definition a racist. The left does this all the time. I wrote "Do As I Say" in part to disprove, once and for all, that the left does not have the moral high ground on any level.
FP: Why do you think people are drawn to leftist ideals and what kind of people are they? Self-contempt appears to be a common ingredient, no?
Schweizer: Yes, self-contempt is a big part of it. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the great German pastor who stood up to Hitler, wrote a book about "cheap grace." Liberals are guilty of cheap grace in the political sense. They feel guilty and their form of penance is embracing the destructive ideas of the progressive faith. But it's cheap grace because as I show it the book, they don't actually change the way they live. I think that the religious comparison makes sense because in many respects the modern day left represents a religious movement. They are motivated by a sense of sin, guilt, and the need for salvation and absolution in the political sense. Socialism offers salvation to them. Of course, they don't actually plan to live like socialists.
FP: Who, in your view, is the most contemptible figure in your study?Schweizer: Thanks, I'm honored to do this. I read Frontpagemag.com five days a week and have always enjoyed the interviews. How nice to now be part of them.
Schweizer: Boy, that is a tough one. Michael Moore I think stands out because his level of hypocrisy borders on the pathological. But I would put Nancy Pelosi right up there. After all, Michael Moore can only make movies. Nancy Pelosi can make laws. And for someone who claims to be a friend of organized labor and the environment to run her own business affairs the way she does takes an incredible amount of moral flexibility.
FP: Peter Schweizer, thank you for joining us.