Mark Steyn, conservative pundit, writes in National Review:
“The Left endlessly trumpets its ’empathy.’ President Obama, for example, has said that what he looks for in his judges is ‘the depth and breadth of one’s empathy.’ As he told his pro-abortion pals at Planned Parenthood, ‘we need somebody who’s got the heart — the empathy — to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom.’ Empathy, empathy, empathy: You barely heard the word outside clinical circles until the liberals decided it was one of those accessories no self-proclaimed caring progressive should be without.
Indeed, flaunting their empathy is what got Eugene Robinson and many others their Pulitzers — Robinson describes his newspaper column as ‘a license to feel.’ Yet he’s entirely incapable of imagining how it must feel for a parent to experience within the same day both new life and death — or even to understand that the inability to imagine being in that situation ought to prompt a little circumspection.
The Left’s much-vaunted powers of empathy routinely fail when confronted by those who do not agree with them politically.”
Almost three years ago, in my first post on this blog, I asserted that “Republicans lack empathy” and continued:
“[I]f you are a Republican, you probably are thinking: ‘Oh, yeah? Well, then why did Democrats oppose overthrowing Saddam, whereas Republicans supported it? Where’s the empathy for all those poor people he oppressed?’ Or: ‘What about having empathy for the working-class and wealthy people the Democrats want to make pay for social programs?’ Or: ‘What about empathy for all those aborted babies?’ Then you dismiss this blog altogether.
The trouble is that these responses come from a flawed understanding of empathy. Empathy does not imply compassion, or mercy, or charity. It is merely the ability to think like someone else, to put oneself in someone else’s position, to assume their values and beliefs. One need not maintain them forever. I can imagine, for example, what it was like for Saddam to be executed. I imagine that being executed was unpleasant. Yet merely comprehending this fact does not mean I object to Saddam being executed.
However, both of the typical responses I outlined above stem from the erroneous belief that empathy implies kindness and compassion. Empathy may frequently result in such things, but it need not always.”