Guard Against Painting Yourself Into This Intellectual Corner

Painting oneself into a corner is always embarrassing. (Pixabay)

Everybody loves to laugh at the proverbial idiot who, while painting a floor, works away from the door instead of toward it. At last he finds himself trapped in a corner and in a terrible dilemma. Shall he stay there until the paint dries or tiptoe out, messing up his work and his shoes at the same time, to say nothing of his pride?

Painting oneself into a corner is always embarrassing. Nobody likes to look up from their work and realize they're trapped. I have struggled to understand certain bizarre inconsistencies in some areas of contemporary left-wing political and cultural thought. I now believe the explanation is as simple as this. They have painted themselves into a corner and are emotionally unable to deal with that reality.

Here is Exhibit A. The thought roller coaster you are about to ride is a wild one, so hang on. It goes like this:

1. The liberal mentality stakes out tolerance as its own possession, its personal moral high ground.

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2. Liberals search for any possible sign of intolerance in conservatives or any other political or cultural enemies, as they understand enemies. They will then side with whomever is the victim of this supposed intolerance.

3. Claiming victim status for that group, they are now committed to protecting them, defending them no matter what.

4. Reacting without thought to the fact that conservatives are pro-Israel, liberals assign victim status to Palestinians and all Muslims. Therefore, if Palestinians are victims, Israel must be the oppressor.

Now suppose that they award victim status to groups that are more or less mutually exclusive, say, gays and Islamic fascists. Granting honorary victim status to Palestinians, for example, now puts Israel and Pro-Israel Americans in the intolerant evil group. Seeing gays as victims means that they view those who would persecute gays as part of the evil group.

See the problem? Of course you do. No one hates and persecutes gays like Islamic fascists. How does this dilemma pin the liberal community into an unresolvable corner?

Take for example the recent Chicago Gay Pride march. When a group of gay marchers showed up with their rainbow flag with an Israeli Star of David superimposed, they were denied participation in the parade. The irony is incredible. The only country in the Middle East in which it is legal or even safe to be gay is Israel.

Perfect! That's painting yourself in a corner. What is really amazing about this story is that the liberals involved were not excruciatingly embarrassed to be trapped in such a pathetic contradiction.

The assault on free speech on American college campuses is another example. Claiming victim status for themselves, campus liberals make real victims of those who merely want to express their constitutional right to free speech. In other words, because they see themselves as victims, which they certainly are not, campus liberals violently attack, silence and persecute those with whom they disagree. All this fascist behavior they excuse because they are supposedly beating, attacking and silencing fascists. Anyone in their right mind who has not lost all intellectual honesty and/or has even the frailest of view of history must admit that the Anti-Fascism (ANTIFA) goons are the fascists.

Or try this one. It's absolutely mind-boggling. If there is a favorite liberal anthem, surely it is women's rights, not that this really belongs to liberals, but they think it does. Now when they try to combine women's rights with their vaunted tolerance of Islamic fascism, what happens? They wind up defending the genital mutilation of little girls, a hideous practice that ought to horrify any civilized person, liberal or conservative. Imagine the terrible dilemma of a liberal, pro-choice woman who wants women free of male oppression but whose devotion to tolerance forces her to somehow act like such barbarity is OK because it's Islamic culture. Now that's a corner that is not just awkward. It is disgusting. Yet that is the kind of corner into which liberals continue to paint themselves.

It is intellectually and morally bankrupt to even attempt to combine the tolerance fetish of liberalism with women's rights and come out with any acceptance of the brutality of forcing little girls to undergo female circumcision.

Those who lack the ability to see these ethical contradictions, or will not admit them, will continue to paint themselves into one foolish, embarrassing and ethically indefensible corner after another.

Here is a simple rule: When you find yourself painting away from the door, stop painting!

Dr. Mark Rutland is president of both Global Servants ( and the National Institute of Christian Leadership ( A renowned communicator and New York Times best-selling author, he has more than 30 years of experience in organizational leadership, having served as a senior pastor and a university president.

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