“Entitlement” It’s a word that I seldom heard used before the current political competitions in the U.S. To be entitled to something means that you feel that receiving it is your right. In the battle between Republican candidates and also between the Left and the Right, political entitlements have come to mean things like medicare, welfare, educational subsidies and the like. However, entitlements exist all over the the political and social spectrum, not just in the Left.
The political and social Right have their entitlements as well. Interestingly, when the Republican campaigns moved to S. Carolina, one of the campaign managers (not a TV news person) commented that now the discussion will turn more to religion and guns. I’m not sure that has actually happened, as the state of S. Carolina has somewhat transformed due to an influx of retirees, but the sentiment is revealing. Clearly, one of the well established issues of entitlement in the Right is the privilege of owning assault rifles. Regardless of the fact that it serves no practical purpose and it is potentially increases risk factors within society, the right to bear weapons that are only designed to hurt people is a perceived entitlement for the Right.
Also, as I’ve often commented before, the Right is righteous, meaning that whether they are in a majority or not, they feel that they are correct and that if the rest of society does not agree with them, they are morally inferior. (The Left is capable of looking down their noses at those that don’t agree with them, but it is more condescending than arrogant.) Their sense of entitlement, often fueled by religious conviction, can trump all other rights and considerations when it comes to things they are passionate about. The religious right has the feeling that because they have God on their side, they are entitled to ignore the rights of others and are not required to provide evidence for their causes.
Take for example the story of the University of London’s student organized panel discussion on Sharia law and human rights. Before the beginning of this rational, mature discussion, a Muslim extremist barged in with a video camera saying that he was recording faces and would subsequently attack anyone who said anything bad about the prophet Mohammed. The entitlement here is that rational discourse in not acceptable and that beliefs should be adhered to by everyone solely on faith.
This kind of intimidation is far from unique when it comes to the political and religious Right. Take, for example, the Australian case of Melinda Reist, an anti-pron activist, who is suing a Liberal blogger (who has excellent taste in blog design, I might add) for claiming that she is a fundamentalist Christian. Reist feels that she is entitled to not have her religious beliefs examined in any way as a motivation for her crusade. Whatever you may feel about her cause, the audacity of refusing to allow anyone to question the religious roots of her beliefs, and indeed threatening such questioning, is a new sort of entitlement. There is certainly a need to take information at face value, however there is also a responsibility to examine the potential biases and hidden agendas that may lurk behind some particular stands.
This kind of entitlement is the right to ignore reason, facts and intelligence, -and it’s very common as an entitlement of the Right. It is the same sense of entitlement that allows a fundamentalist to ignore vast amounts of scientific research to champion Creationism, claiming that it all depends on what assumptions you make. In fact, the extreme right often claims the entitled right to ignore reason and science in order to get their way. -And I mean entitled, -that their beliefs deserve just as much respect as hard evidence and science.
Add to this a few other Right Wing entitlements. The military cannot be questioned. Any attempt to criticize it or cut it back is met with immediate indignation. The ability to profit, even at the expense of and exploitation of others, is regarded as an entitlement, resulting in increased elitism and poverty in western countries.
I’m willing to admit that I might be cherry picking here a little, but when I look at the Right Wing entitlements compared to the Left Wing entitlements, I don’t have any problem deciding which side of the spectrum I prefer.