Jonathan Haidt is hardly a road-rage kind of guy, but he does get irritated by self-righteous bumper stickers. The soft-spoken psychologist is acutely annoyed by certain smug slogans that adorn the cars of fellow liberals: “Support our troops—bring them home” and “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”
“No conservative reads those bumper stickers and thinks, ‘Hmm . . . so liberals are patriotic!’” he says, in a sarcastic tone of voice that jarringly contrasts with his usual subdued sincerity. “We liberals are universalists and humanists; it’s not part of our morality to highly value nations. So to claim dissent is patriotic—or that we’re supporting the troops, when in fact we’re opposing the war—is disingenuous.
“It just pisses people off.”
The University of Virginia scholar views such slogans as clumsy attempts to insist we all share the same values. In his view, these catch phrases are not only insincere, they’re also fundamentally wrong. Liberals and conservatives, he insists, inhabit different moral universes….
I’ve been saying that for a long time; rarely shall the twain meet. There are simply two basic sorts of human, with different world views. I used to think that was over-simplification, but as I’ve gotten older it’s become absolutely clear.