Andrew Klavan: The big white lie of leftism



The thing I like best about being a conservative is that I don’t have to lie. I don’t have to pretend that men and women are the same. I don’t have to declare that failed or oppressive cultures are as good as mine. I don’t have to say that everyone’s special or that the rich cause poverty or that all religions are a path to God. I don’t have to claim that a bad writer like Alice Walker is a good one or that a good writer like Toni Morrison is a great one. I don’t have to pretend that Islam means peace.

Of course, like everything, this candor has its price. A politics that depends on honesty will be, by nature, often impolite. Good manners and hypocrisy are intimately intertwined, and so conservatives, with their gimlet-eyed view of the world, are always susceptible to charges of incivility. It’s not really nice, you know, to describe things as they are.

This is leftism’s great strength: It’s all white lies. That’s its only advantage, as far as I can tell. None of its programs actually works, after all. From statism and income redistribution to liberalized criminal laws and multiculturalism, from its assault on religion to its redefinition of family, leftist policies have made the common life worse wherever they’re installed. But because it depends on—indeed is defined by—describing the human condition inaccurately, leftism is nothing if not polite. With its tortuous attempts to rename unpleasant facts out of existence—he’s not crippled, dear, he’s handicapped; it’s not a slum, it’s an inner city; it’s not surrender, it’s redeployment—leftism has outlived its own failure by hiding itself within the most labyrinthine construct of social delicacy since Victoria was queen.

This is no small thing. To rewrite the rules of courteous behavior is to wield enormous power. I see it in Southern California, in the bleeding heart of leftism, where I live. I’ve been banned from my monthly poker game, lost tennis partners, lost friends—not because I’m belligerent but because I’ve wondered aloud if the people shouldn’t be allowed to make their own abortion laws, say, or if the world might not be a better place without the UN.

It’s a rotten feeling. I sometimes think that I’d rather be deemed evil than a boor. Wickedness has some flair to it, even a whiff of radicalism. If you molest a child, there’s always a chance that you can get the ACLU to defend you as a cultural innovator. But if you make a remark at table about the destructive social effects of broken homes and then discover that your dinner partner is a divorcée—trust me, you feel like a real louse. It’s manners, not morals, that lay the borderlines of our behavior.

This, I believe, is the reason conservative politicians so often lose their nerve, why they back down in debate even when they’re clearly right. No one wants to be condemned as a brute—especially not conservatives, who still retain some vague memory of how worthy it is to be a lady or gentleman.

Continue reading this column written in 2007 at City Journal. City Journal is a publication of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a leading free-market think tank. Are you interested in supporting the magazine? As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, donations in support of MI and City Journal are fully tax-deductible as provided by law (EIN #13-2912529).


  1. This is a brave and hypocritical thing to say: “This is leftism’s great strength: It’s all white lies.”

    Perhaps we could look at Trump guy Eastman who proposed an illegal Constitutional scheme to overturn democracy; or Trump claiming that he and Pence believed in the scheme (Pence did not), or Guliani claiming that Trump had nothing to do with the attempted coup; or Bannon stealing from donors who thought they were supporting a Mexico wall; or Trump did nothing to stop the insurrectionist mob from attempting to hang Mike Pence. Those are all forms of lying and no organization has ever been more skilled at deception than what the Republican party has become.

      • That list I provided you is full of provable, evidence-based facts. You seem blighted by your own tunnel vision. Ideology over common sense.

        You’re right about one thing: I am full of hatred for Trump. Hate hate hate him.

    • Interesting ploy Lucinda, attack Orange Man with unsubstantiated accusations and disregard the undeniable truth that the writer brought forth. Obviously this scheme works well with mind numbed democrats, but what of people who think critically? Hmm…

      • Pun: tell me if the following statement is true: trump lawyer John Eastman asked Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani if he could be placed on a “pardon list”.

      • Read the illuminating book published in 1888 by Justin D. Fulton, “America in the Lap of Rome.” It can be found in the Library of Congress. The book was written before the internet and other technology existed, and clearly documents how Romanism has marched through time to destroy anyone or anything that opposes. Clear evidence on who was behind President Lincoln’s assassination. Moving on to present days, the World Economic Forum (WEF) are the talking heads for Romanism. WEF evil leader Klaus Schwab and thousands of useless idiots have plans on how they will continue to destroy culture and families so they can control/enslave what is left of humanity. Quoting Schwab, “You will own nothing and you will be happy.” The Build Back Better BS is cover for their evil agenda. Event 201 was the roadmap for scamdemic/plandemic. Less than 1% of the world population and many self appointed evil monsters have infiltrated world governments, non-government organizations (NGOs), 501C churches, public schools/Catholic schools, pharmaceutical companies and the medical profession. Seek the truth and use discernment when making decisions. The only way we can stop their evil plans is to unite and stop bickering over their bullshit distractions. If there is nothing to hide on the 2020 elections then why are their so many unexplained coinkydinks? How does someone who campaigned from his basement get a record number of votes? Why is inflation out of control? Why do we have orchestrated food shortages? Why do we have baby formula shortages? Why do we have fuel shortages when America was energy independent less than two years ago? Why are illegal bio labs all over the world? Start looking for the answers and solutions and stop falling for their stupid distractions.

        • Are you serious? I think you are serious. Are you serious? Nutty stuff, unprovable stoopid nutty stuff so surely you are just joshing us, right?

    • @Lucinda, your comment just reinforced everything Andrew wrote in his artical. I can find all the same verbiage from any lefty on Twitter, think for yourself and do some reseach instead of being a parrot for the criminal politicans in DC and the MSM.
      Thanks for being a example of how the left works.

    • Pence had a legal, formal job to do. Actual fiduciary certification of a correct election. Did he do it? He certified he “did” it. But did he? The state of Alaska certifies every large purchases and every pay spigot – ceremonial either.. Certification is a a real “thing”. It is involved. It is the opposite of kindergarten. And thespian productions. If he had done the work he would have found irregularities. IT’S a fiduciary duty to THE PEOPE to check. WHEN DID HE DO THIS COMPREHENSIVE JOB EXACTLY. He is a lawyer. HE KNOWS WHAT FIDUCIARY MEANS. I don’t believe that anyone wanted to harm him. They wanted him to literally do his job. Not just pretend he did when it wasn’t possible for him to have completed it in the abbreviated time to do it. To say he “certified” that he reviewed but did not could result in fraud. He was asked to DO his job. Not harm to him. That statement sounds like fraud to me. TV wasn’t showing harm to Pence. THEY SHOWED WINDOW BREAKING AND CLIMBING AROUND BY EPPS The guy with horns. Afterwards the Dems said “oh it’s just ceremonial certification”. THERE IS NO SUCH THING. CEREMONIAL COUNTING.

    • Are you still under the delusion we live under a democracy..? We’re a republic. Please seek professional help.

    • And???
      Whether what you wrote is factual or fiction does not matter. It changes nothing about the column.
      Leftism is based on lies. Pointing out that folks on the right side of the political aisle have lied does not change that fact. It does not make the lies from the left OK.
      “Little Billy, you were caught lying. That is bad!”
      “But, Mom! Johnny is a liar too.”
      Does not mean Billy is not a liar.

      • For every democrat lie or hypocrisy, there are 10,000 from the Republicans. We leftists just don’t have the gene for deception.

        • OK, prove it.
          Here is a leftist lie:
          Trump colluded with Russians to steal the 2016 election. Disproven by the Mueller investigation, and in fact Mueller uncovered a lot more evidence that the Hillary campaign was behind it than anything implicating Trump.
          Your turn. Pass along the 10,000 lies from the right.

        • Ohh…. here is another one:
          “Officers were keeping women in cells w/ no water & had told them to drink out of the toilets,”
          From that left wing politician from NYC.
          That’s 10,000 more you owe us.

        • Com’n Lucinda. This should be easy for you. OK… how about one more, voted Lie of the Year by the Washington Post.
          “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”
          And, because there is limited space, how about you just provide 10 lies from right wing folks for that one.

          • Well, you’re right on that Dr claim for sure. Ack.

            Here’s 10 lies:

            1 – Hugo Chávez stole the election. Or the CIA. Or Italian defense contractors. Who knows.

            2 – Jewish space lasers are responsible for causing California wildfires.

            3 – Trump’s Big Lie

            4 – Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert: “If you’re a Republican, you can’t even lie to Congress or lie to an FBI agent or they’re coming after you,”

            5 – Eastman claiming that Pence could legally reject state’s slate of electors.

            6 – Seven state electors (84 Republicans) forged documents and lied claiming to be legal electors.

            7 -In the text message released this week, Greene told Meadows on 17 January 2021, 11 days after the riot and three days before Biden’s inauguration: “In our private chat with only Members several are saying the only way to save our Republic is for Trump to call Marshall [sic] law.“I just wanted you to tell him. They stole this election. We all know. They will destroy our country next.”

            8 – WASHINGTON — Colorado officials are examining allegations that Representative Lauren Boebert, a Republican representing the state’s western half, inflated the mileage she logged on the campaign trail in 2020 and then used more than $20,000 in reimbursements from donors to pay off years of tax liens on her restaurant.

            9 – Gaetz: stated on February 7, 2019 in a CNN interview:
            “One out of every five people that the federal government charges with murder is an illegal alien.”

            10 – Texas Republican Convention calls Biden win illegitimate.

            I’m going fishing respond if you want.

        • Nice. You listed 10 items. I am having a hard time seeing all 10 of them as lies. In fact, I am seeing the majority of them as a difference of opinion, and that does not make it a lie. Here, let me illustrate:
          1. ??? Who said that? Maybe I am not as informed on current events as you are, but I do not recall anyone on the right side of the political aisle making any claims like that. Going to have to call that a non-lie.
          2. I seem to remember that one. If I remember correctly that was a joke. But, OK, I do believe it was actually said, so I will give you that one.
          3. For the sake of argument, I will give you that as a solid lie. (I disagree, as there are still a lot of questions, but will not argue that here.)
          4. Not a lie. A statement that is in fact correct. You cannot lie under oath and expect no consequences. That is a fact.
          5. Pence can legally reject the electors. Not a lie.
          6. That’s catching the Republicans in a lie. Good on you, the first real lie you listed. Congrats!
          7. Opinion. If MTG thinks the election was stolen, she is not lying.
          8. Cannot call it a lie until after the investigation is completed, and she is indicted of the charges. If that is what constitutes a lie, then the 2020 election of Biden is a lie, because it is being investigated.
          9. Gaetz is correct. In fact, if anything, his number is low. Per numerous sources, in 2018 28% of murders were committed by individuals in the country illegally. So, instead of saying one in five, he would have been closer saying three in ten.
          10. Once again, an opinion you disagree with does not make it a lie. But… OK. I will give you partial credit on that one as well.
          Adding up… You have about three lies there. i will be generous and say four. You still owe me six.

  2. Andrew Klavan, no doubt, is a smart man–quick-witted and well-read. Becoming easily “intoxicated” on himself he admits to being banned from poker games and losing friends, but not for being belligerent! I suspect, though, that belligerence and his “less endearing” personality traits are always fast at his heels and often out pace his “better” self.

    It should be apparent that a little social “reserve” is always good, especially for the rabid conservatives! If society already thinks of you as being a bunghole, why not relish the role more fully and play it sparingly!

    • Do onto others as they do onto you. A little social “reserve” is a foreign concept communists er- democrats fail to understand. Prime example: picketing and assassination attempts on supreme court justices. Where was the “reserve” for that? How about the baseball game shooter? Where was his “reserve”? How about incarcerating Asian-Americans in concentration camps during the war? Where was the “reserve” for them..?
      Face it- communists er, democrats have no “reserve”, just drinking the haterade.

      • Herman, it’s everyman to his best judgement! If you are set on savaging the beasts on the left, have at it! Frankly, I don’t give a damn! I associate with neither the belligerent nor the obnoxious, regardless of the color of their polka-dots: that goes for your polka dots, too, Herman.

        • As I said.. Do onto others as they do onto you. Voting blue is your club card. Don’t forget to take the burden of being responsible to what your “children” do.

          • Herman, I’m sure that “The Elements of Style,” written by William Strunk and E. B. White can help you write better posts–posts worth reading! Then there’s Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” This book will assist you in developing basic people skills and help you become less obnoxious: now, becoming less obnoxious might well prove to be a lifelong challenge for you!

            Since I associate with neither the belligerent nor the obnoxious, this is my last exchange with you! Good luck with yourself!

  3. Lucinda’s mind numbing delusions are astonishing. I hope she continues her raves. It gives insight into the mind of the mentally disturbed.

    • Speaking of mentally disturbed Tom, here’s my favorite Trump quote: “This is a tough hurricane, one of the wettest we’ve ever seen from the standpoint of water,”. What a maroon!

      • That reminds me of the time he claimed he had three undergraduate degrees from Syracuse law, and he graduated in the top half of his class. Even though he only had one undergraduate degree and ranked in the bottom 10%.
        Oh… sorry… That was Biden. My mistake.

      • Speaking of maroons, how about the time Trump bought that dilapidated estate on the coast, and in order to raise funds to renovate it, he sold off a few parcels of land to a neighbor. Does not sound so bad, but he accidentally sold his driveway to the neighbor, and could no longer access his property.
        Oh… wait. My error, that was Biden again.

  4. Mr. Klavan is voicing what I’m hearing for other conservative cali resident. They are being ostracized to the point they are putting for sale signs in their front yards and moving. I don’t mind accepting political refugees from another state, I don’t like leftists who move from their state after they trashed it with legislation and move to a free state and start the same process again. It’s on par with Berkowitz and many other assembly members you elected.

  5. Brilliant commentary, a must read. I remember when John Martin, the guy who molested his foster daughter decided to camp out on the City Hall sidewalk to protest homelessness. Reporter Grace Jang, late of the WalkerAdmin asked me if I had talked to him. I said no. She then asked what I would say if I did. I said I would tell him to get a job. The look of shock and loathing she gave me was the perfect example of the author’s point. Be strong conservatives – our culture is at stake.

  6. I have been saying for a long time that leftists are children. Toddlers really.
    This column reinforces that statement.
    A child will lie to themselves and others to reinforce a belief, or improve their standing, or avoid punishment. Most of it, in my opinion, is to gain power over others.
    A toddler will throw the most massive tantrums of all in public because they know it works. Mom will be embarrassed and will give in quicker if the tantrum is public. A child will equally distort reality for their own gain. Too much TV gives you a headache if you are watching a documentary, but it is perfectly OK if Star Wars is on.
    That NCAA swimmer that is smashing woman’s records is lying. As a male, he was ranked in the 400s, now he is winning championships. And, I am sure he believes he earned those medals. A politician who cheats in an election is convinced that he really won. Because they gained what they wanted, and must lie to themselves that it was legit. Which requires lying to others as well.
    Leftist politics is lies. The lie that raising minimum wage will make lives better, or that green energy will create more jobs. They lie that forgiving student loans will improve the economy, or speaking of college that government funding of colleges will reduce costs.
    Leftists are not about improving things, they are about getting into power, winning at any cost, even if they cheated. Lies are an integral part of that goal. And… declaring others are worse liars is nothing more than a deflection, a distraction so they can continue lying, and pushing other people around.

    • “A child will lie to themselves and others to reinforce a belief, or improve their standing, or avoid punishment. Most of it, in my opinion, is to gain power over others.” HELLO CBMTTek! Spot on definition of Trump!!!! Perfect!

      And this: “A politician who cheats in an election is convinced that he really won. Because they gained what they wanted, and must lie to themselves that it was legit. Which requires lying to others as well.” That’s 100% Trump!

      You are on my team CB. Welcome!

      • Thanks Lucinda. At least we both agree that leftists are in fact children.
        I do not care that Trump acts like a toddler. That is one man. What bothers me is leftists act like children, and since your response does not, in any way, dispute that assertion, I have to conclude I am correct.
        Well… that is unless you can demonstrate that leftists are not just toddlers in adult bodies.


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