Sine her death at 89 last week, I’ve been reading with interest the accolades for the great actress Lauren Bacall.
Many of the obituaries focused on two personal beliefs – strong doubts about the existence of God and a lifelong commitment to liberalism.
“I gave up a belief in God, and nothing I have seen in the last 37 years has changed my mind on that point,” she was reported to say at the age of 45.
At 70, the widow of Humphrey Bogart said: “I’d love to believe that after I die, I will see Bogie walking toward me with his arms outstretched and that we’ll be dancing forever on clouds. But I’m a common sense-type person. I’d love to believe that will happen, but I do not believe that it will. I’m not an atheist. I feel that ‘somebody up there likes me.’ But to believe that I’ll see Bogie again? No.”
Some of the obits portrayed this agnosticism (which literally means “lack of knowledge”) as something heroic, plucky, fearless.
I always wonder why believing only in materialism is considered bold, cerebral, courageous. But that’s just me. I tend to think of those who deny the Creator as just that – in denial.
It’s often linked with “open-mindedness” as is liberalism. I associate both with emptyheadedness.
Bacall and Bogart famously attended the House Committee on Un-American Activities grilling of the Hollywood Ten. Bogie and Bacall went there with the idea of standing up for the First Amendment rights of the writers and directors who were all card-carrying members of the Communist Party, as the committee would prove by producing their cards.
The members of Hollywood Ten were in a bind. Each knew they would be asked under oath by the committee if they were or had been members of the party. If they invoked their Fifth Amendment rights, it would have been tantamount to an admission. If they lied and said they weren’t, they could be prosecuted for perjury. So the Hollywood Ten chose a novel strategy – refusing to answer the committee, claiming the question was a violation of their First Amendment rights.
With stars like Bogie and Bacall on hand, the idea had merit.
But it all backfired when certain members of the Hollywood Ten became so disrespectful and contentious with the committee, they were held in contempt.
Soon, even Bogart felt the need to denounce any fondness of Communism, saying famously he didn’t like it any more than did J. Edgar Hoover.
It was a statement made out of embarrassment for the Hollywood Ten’s antics before the committee and to salvage his own reputation after playing the “useful idiot” role for the party.
But Bacall apparently didn’t embarrass easily. Much later in her life – in 1995 – she appeared on the Larry King show where she described herself as “Anti-Republican … a liberal. The L-word … being a liberal is the best thing on earth you can be. You are welcoming to everyone when you’re a liberal. You do not have a small mind.”
She knew the clichés. She understood the perception. But she didn’t have a clue.
To describe oneself as “anti-Republican” and, in the same breath, as “welcoming to everyone” is, it would seem, something of a contradiction.
But it never does – not for liberals.
Ask liberals today to describe who they are and what they believe and they will generally use the following terms: “tolerant” and in support of “diversity.”
But they don’t mean it any more than Bacall revealed in her slip-up 20 years ago.
Liberals are completely intolerant of anyone who doesn’t think like they do.
What kind of tolerance is that?
It’s easy to be tolerant of people with who you agree. The challenge is tolerating people who think nothing like you.
What kind of diversity is it if everyone must think alike?
What’s virtuous about racial, ethnic and gender diversity if everyone is expected to think alike?
But that’s just the kind of tolerance and diversity liberals support.
Liberals don’t so much reject “small minds,” as Bacall claimed, as they embrace closed minds – closed to the evidence all around us of something greater than materialism and closed to the ideas of others and to rational, lively and vigorous debate.
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