de Leon: Lazy, weak and cowardly?

When I first read Elizabeth Moore’s column, “You made a big mistake, America” (11/07), I was so overcome with shock that I thought it must be a parody of exactly the type of loathing and ignorance the column contained. An expression of disappointment in John McCain’s loss, and a thoughtful, rational analysis of Barack Obama’s victory it was not. Instead, it was only a hysterical rant riddled with false accusations and incendiary rhetoric.

Making claims such as “the lazy, the weak and the cowardly are idolized and rewarded” (by the Democratic leadership and the millions of Americans who voted for Obama, one can infer), Moore spouts a barrage of hate directed at President-elect Barack Obama, a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, a former president of the Harvard Law Review, as well as the apparent result of America’s “big mistake” to which Moore points.

Really? This, according to Moore, is the man accused of sitting at the helm of — what? The Democratic Party? American society? Moore never specifies what, exactly, Obama leads that so idolizes and rewards the lazy.

But will Obama’s policies really reward lazy, selfish and cowardly Americans? Perhaps his notion that all Americans should have health care supports this claims. Perhaps Americans who want their sick relatives or friends to receive health care without stumbling into staggering debt are the cowards Moore is referring to. Or perhaps the cowards are the Americans who wish for a more rational and effective foreign policy that will result in a world in which America is a more respected leader and a safer place.

Many foreign leaders and citizens have shared congratulations and positive feelings about Obama’s win. Moore points to the praise Obama has received from leaders of nations whose values and policies oppose ours as evidence that Obama is not only the wrong choice for America, but also so misguided that he is more closely tied to “the governments of our country’s worse enemies” than to our own principles and values. But such interpretations distract attention from the fact that Obama’s election has inspired expressions of good wishes and hope from leaders as diverse as Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations; Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany; Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France; Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India; Yousaf Raza Gilani, the Prime Minister of Pakistan; Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran; and Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize winner for his anti-apartheid activism.

The ability of a leader to interact effectively with a country’s enemies, as well as with its allies, is the very nature of diplomacy. Obama, it appears, is prepared to wield this tool effectively. The notion that Obama will use diplomacy to compromise the security of our country and to advance anti-American ideals is unfounded, preposterous and offensive.

“Gone are the golden Horatio Alger stories”? One of the reasons Obama’s election has inspired such passion among American voters is precisely because it is one of the ultimate Horatio Alger stories! A man with a white mother from Kansas and a black father from Kenya soars to the heights of American higher education, breaking barriers and achieving dreams. He is the epitome of the American dream.

Perseverance? Obama has become the symbol — rightfully so — of American perseverance: of hundreds of years of overcoming prejudicial barriers that civil rights activists and ordinary citizens fought and died to overturn. Obama did not single-handedly persevere through hundreds of years of history to uphold the principles of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. But his extraordinary career achievements (which include teaching the very constitutional law whose principles Moore claims he rejects), individual perseverance and hard work are the crowning consequences of the success and sacrifices of other remarkable Americans who, in the spirit of the progressive liberal tradition, fought for change and a better America for all of its citizens.

Yes, we did. You’re welcome.

Maria de Leon is a junior in Silliman College.


  • Jenny

    I liked that there was a different view for once. I didn't agree with her article, but she presented a different side of Yale's students that many aren't exposed to. Some controversy is always good as it helps challenge people and their views, which only serves to help them become smarter in their reasoning.

    Think about what Elizabeth said, where she may be right and where you may be wrong. It will only make everyone more capable of uniting people from different viewpoints.

  • Sarah

    It was nice of you to go to this much trouble. My response would have been much shorter ("Are you…on drugs?"), which I suppose is why I don't have a column.

    Also, my Captcha is "nations his." Apropos!

  • Thanks

    Great rebuttal - although, you could technically spend about 30 pages of a well-laid out essay, tearing apart each of Moore's ridiculous and unfounded claims, Moore's article was hardly worth a paragraph.

  • 08

    Well said! And in response to Jenny, just because someone airs a viewpoint that is not usually heard doesn't mean they've made a significant contribution to discourse. Ignorant and irrational rants like Elizabeth's deserve to be slapped down by well-written, rational appeals in exactly this way. I'll entertain the arguments of rational conservatives anyday, but reactionary rants don't deserve the same treatment.

  • Yale09

    The great number writing against Ms. Moore's column is starting to convince me that she is right.

    The mob frenzy of Obamamania is starting to scare me as a political moderate.

    I was told that the revolution would come from the right.

    But a more rabid insurrection seems to be mounting on the left.

    I fear for America and I fear for Yale.

  • Viewpoints

    I am sick of people saying that it is "nice to hear a different view." The comment section on Moore's original article has many similar remarks. This is the same argument that people make for teaching intelligent design in classrooms. It will spur a little healthy debate, right? Why not put forward the view that Dean Koontz is a far better writer than Shakespeare, and that quantum mechanics is far too controversial to take the place of classical mechanics?

    If she had written a well reasoned editorial which did not contain blatant lies and libel then it would be a different story. You would not hear me complain if someone were to intelligently argue why they believe that conservative politics is better for the country than liberal politics, even if I happen to disagree.

    Let's not mix up that piece with intelligent debate.

  • Recent Alum

    As a centrist leaning to the right on some issues, I thought that Ms. Moore's column was absolutely on target. Admittedly, it was not making an argument that is likely to convince many Obama supporters to change their views (it would be hard to make a profound argument with so little space). I read it as being addressed primarily to other conservatives at Yale to help them cope with what they (justifiably, in my view) see as a catastrophy for the country.

    In any case, the vast majority of pro-Obama columns that I read in the YDN in recent months also did not make any substantive argument, but simply started with the assumption that the reader shared the author's left-wing views. See, e.g., Michael Zink's column making fun of conservative concerns without making any attempt at an argument. For some reason, these pro-Obama columns are never criticized for lacking substance.

  • Ted Leo totally sold out

    Basing your opinions on who the least number of people agree with doesn't make you a political moderate, '09. It makes you a hipster douchebag.

    Sorry, let me try to elevate the discourse. Angry responses to unfounded hate speech hardly qualify as "mob frenzy," and given that a reasoned response to such invective seems to you evidence of a "rabid insurrection" on the left, you are clearly no moderate.

  • y07

    #7: that's catastrophe, chief. I'm assuming you're in law school or a recent grad, from the "see, e.g.," and I just wanted to remind you that a judge won't be so forgiving.

    #5: you do know that your thought process is completely illogical, right? Do you believe that the moon is made of green cheese because why else would people go to such great lengths to refute it? Do you believe (not to get too Godwin's Law here) that those Holocaust deniers must have a point or else why would everyone get so upset? Are you pretty sure that you can fly, because everyone tells you that you can't? Are you convinced that there was a second gunman on the grassy knoll, because of the efforts the Warren Commission went to to prove that there wasn't?

    You make no sense. None.

  • BK Alum

    #3, #4, #6: Exactly which claims in Moore's column are "ridiculous and unfounded", or "blatant lies and libel"? Let's look at the first few paragraphs of her piece:

    "Thank you, America, for electing a man who has known associations with domestic terrorists and dissenting radicals who make their careers out of defacing the United States and promoting its ruin."

    This is not a disputable claim. Obama worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, and their relationship was in fact so close that Ayers (and his wife and fellow terrorist Bernardine Dohrn) hosted Obama's first fundraiser in their home, which launched his political career as a member of the Illinois State Senate. Imagine if McCain or Palin had this kind of relationship with a guy who used to bomb abortion clinics; their political careers would have ended years ago.

    The claim that Obama has associations with "dissenting radicals" is even less controversial, since it include people with extreme anti-American views who did not engage in terrorist acts, like Rev. Wright and Rashid Kalidi, among others.

    "Thank you, America, for electing a man who is wildly acclaimed by the governments of our country’s worst enemies, by Iran’s death-crazed Ahmadinejad, Venezuela’s drug-lord-promoting Hugo Chavez and Cuba’s torturing-socialist Castro Brothers."

    Even de Leon doesn't disagree with this statement.

    "Thank you, America, for electing a man so far from the foundations and roots of our government, so beyond the principles as guaranteed by our Constitution and Bill of Rights, so disrespectful of the glories and honor of the past that his main philosophies take active steps towards the very foundational principles that led to the death of millions during China’s Cultural Revolution and Russia’s Great Purges."

    Again, this is not a refutable statement. The philosophy that led to the Cultural Revolution and the Great Purges is known as communism. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that Obama is not a socialist (a charitable assumption given that Obama has associated with socialists throughout his career and was even a member of the socialist New Party), there is no question that his agenda (like that of any Democrat) would take "active steps" toward a regime that is closer to socialism/communism than the current regime. For example, universal healthcare, gun control, higher taxes on the wealthy, etc., may or may not be desirable as a matter of policy, but there is no question that these policies involve taking steps toward a regime closer to socialism than what we have now.

    I could go on with the rest of the column. If there is any incorrect fact in it, I have not seen it yet. Leftists can make arguments in favor of Obama, but it is simply incorrect to say that Moore's column contains "blatant lies and libel" or "unfounded" claims (at least as far as I can tell).

  • lolydn

    this piece makes as little sense as moore's opinion piece.

    some points for the children in the audience:

    1. The election of a US President always inspires the requisite politeness via diplomatic congratulations. Obama is not unique in this regard.

    2. Obama's resume is meaningless; George Bush did graduate from Yale and Harvard Business School, but I don't see how that makes him Presidential material.

    3. Antonin Scalia also taught constitutional law. But I presume you'd assail his view of the constitution.

    4. Americans didn't decide to adopt progressivism, they simply rejected a failed Republican Party. Obama came into November 4th under the most favorable circumstances possible (an awful recession, a bogged-down war, an unpopular incumbent, and a favorable press). He won by 4% in the popular vote, mostly due to Reagan Democrats switching back to being Democrats. America is - for better or for worse, still a center-right country.

    5. Obama didn't need to tell me that yes, I could.

    en resumen:
    Stop drinking the obama kool aid and formulate a coherent argument. Those outside the PoliSci "major" figured out how to do it a long time ago.

  • TC alumn

    #10 and Ms. Moore I think you are both conflating a little bit here. Communism is not responsible for the great purge…stalin is. Communism is a political ideology that promotes the abolition of private property in favor of communal control of the means of production, not a set of historical events. Communism says nothing about imprisonment of intellectual dissent, Stalin did and Mao did. You are creating a cause-effect relationship where there is none.

    If you want to draw historical comparisons, then I'd say the philosophy behind neoconservativism draw more parrallels to the Great Purge and the Cultural Revolution than Obama's healthcare and progressive tax systems. The subversion of basic rights, random imprisonment, in-group, out-group mentality… sounds much more like the current administration than Obama's tax structure.