Saturday, July 18, 2020

The right looks for converts: the left looks for traitors

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You don't have to be active in British politics for long before you recognise the truth of this quotation:
The right looks for converts: the left looks for traitors.
Today, for instance, Twitter is full of left-wingers crowing about the redundancies at the Guardian because they believe the paper did not do enough to boost the saintly Jeremy Corbyn.

You even see this attitude in Liberal Democrat Twitter, which is strange given how inchoate the party's philosophy is.

Meanwhile Boris Johnson is showering Labour Leavers with peerages.

But where does the quotation come from?

Duncan Hill has kindly directed me to a blog post by Tom Maguire, who had asked just this question:
John Leo, columnist for US News and World Report (and proud possessor of a link from Matt Drudge, no less), was kind enough to send me an e-mail assuring me that the original source is Michael Kinsley. Apparently, Mr. Leo included the line in a Nov. 26, 1990 column rounding up the best aphorisms of the year. He also is kind enough to tell me that the correct quotation is:

"Conservatives are always looking for converts, whereas liberals are always looking for heretics."

Apparently Mr. Leo complained in his original column that he did not like the "whereas"; I'm with him.
I am with him too. The formulation people have settled on is more elegant.

You can read more from Michael Kinsley on his website.

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