David Azerrad, director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics at the Heritage Foundation — a conservative think tank — argued against the tenants of liberalism and warned of increasingly liberal culture at a discussion hosted in Healy Hall on Feb. 16. The event was hosted by the Georgetown University College Republicans.

At the Heritage Foundation, Azerrad teaches policymakers and other political leaders his ideas of American political tradition, constitutionalism and conservatism. He contributes his research and work to journals including The Federalist, Public Discourse and National Review.

Azerrad said liberals and liberalism are pushing, and succeeding, in political endeavors and progress, citing President Barack Obama’s recent change in his stance on marriage equality.

“Over the past several decades it is undeniably true that the left was been moving to the left. Liberals of a generation ago were much more conservative than liberals of today,” Azerrad said.

“In May of 2012, it was less than four years ago that President Obama himself was still opposed to the redefining marriage and even that is becoming yesterday’s news.”

Azzerad argued liberals and liberalism are dedicated to progressing specific themes in policy.

“Where liberalism wants to go, and I will write it on the board for you, is: subsidized, destigmatized autonomy with a paternalistic twist,” Azzerad said.

Azerrad also said he finds a contradiction in the tenants of liberalism: that liberals allow gender identity to be chosen, but not race, a stance he found confusing and misleading.

“You don’t need a woman’s body to be a woman; I don’t understand why you need black skin to be a black person and white skin to be a white person for that matter,” Azerrad said.

Azerrad highlighted college campuses as liberal places known to quiet prejudicial and hate speech, or any dialogue that others might find offensive.

“You need to silence intolerant and bigoted speech that makes people feel bad about themselves. To see what this means, go to every single college campus in America,” Azerrad said.

Azerrad said, despite some of the liberties it gives, liberalism as an ideology comes with constraints, including a variety of economic restrictions in the form of government acting within the food and pharmaceutical industries.

“They give you a lot of choice in one area particularly — pretty much anything having to do with sex — but then in the political realm, in the economic realm, endless restrictions,” Azzerad said.

Azerrad said that liberals are on an accelerating agenda to solve perceived inequalities and expand sexual freedoms, warning that liberals are approaching a slippery slope when it comes to marriage equality and LGBT rights.

“I think eventually they are going to have to push for lowering the age of consent and perhaps even legalizing incest. After all, why is it that I can’t marry my sister? Why can’t I choose to express my identity this way?” Azerrad said.

As his speech closed, Azerrad emphasized how the success of political conservatives paved the way for liberalism to progress forward to new issues. He claimed conservative policies and ideas in previous decades allowed for liberals to develop and expand liberalism across the country.

Following a student question asking about his stance on the recent policy change in the military to opening all combat positions to women, Azerrad expressed strong opposition and asked if the public was ready to see women suffer in the battlefield if a larger conflict occurs.

“What happens if tomorrow there is a real war and women soldiers are not only killed but brutally raped by the enemies?” Azerrad said.

Another student asked Azerrad how to express conservative views on strongly liberal campuses. Azerrad said the roles of campus liberals and conservatives are now reversed, as the right has ceased to be the mainstream, a difference from the liberal counterculture of the 1960s.

“Today, the counterculture is the right. If you are not on board with the left’s sexual agenda, if you are not on-board with the left’s economic agenda, you are a minority voice,” Azerrad said.

Azerrad expressed his support for students with conservative views and encouraged them to be brave but also to proceed with care on campuses.

“You guys have it very difficult, and the way to proceed is to be courageous but cautious,” Azerrad said.

Following the event’s close, Melvin Thomas (COL ’18) said that he grew up with mostly liberal peers and was glad that Azerrad could provide a new perspective.

“I think it was very interesting to hear a spokesperson for the right give a take on how he sees liberalism,” Thomas said.

Dominic Lamantia (COL ’17), a member of the GUCR, said the event was an intriguing opportunity to reflect on both liberalism and conservatism’s roots.

“I thought this was a very intellectually stimulating presentation, and it is very good for us as members of GUCR to be able to really dig deep to really examine the philosophical underpinnings of both liberalism and conservatism,” Lamantia said.

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One Comment

  1. I think it’s great that at a school where the student body is consistently liberal, we have conservative as well as liberal intellectuals come to campus and give talks.

    That being said, a lot of the arguments Azerrad makes don’t sound like sincere attempts to grapple with what “liberals” or those on the left believe. For instance, I think it would take a knowledgeable “liberal” about two seconds to make a convincing argument why we should allow gay marriage but not lower the age of consent. Indeed, exactly what definition of “liberalism” is Azerrad working with anyway? Which serious liberal intellectuals, rather than “progressive” or “radical” or “socialist” (or maybe he just means Democratic) really support restrictions on free speech to the extent that he charges? And what definition of conservativism does he support instead?

    In short, as much as I support more dialogue on campus that includes conservative and moderate voices, this doesn’t seem like a very illuminating event.

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