Salient: Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 15. 1969.
The Hero of today's society is often the liberal.
He is the man to whom social, moral and political problems art serious matters—worthy of at least a letter to the editor.
If pushed, he will join in a protest, a march, or even a demonstration, to show his "concern" to the world.
He is a man of moderation, or so he would have us believe, and he eschews the solutions of the political right and of the left.
Yet with all this, he is coming under increasing fire from both conservatives and socialists. Each regard the liberal with contempt, but does he really deserve this contempt?
Is he possibly something worthier—a moderating factor, perhaps, in our divided society —or is it simply that the derisive phrase "wishy-washy liberal" has some meaning?
It is regrettable, but none the loss true, that the typical liberal shows qualities of indecision and woolly-mindedness that are reflected in his political attitudes. He is usually in a abilities, but his contact with the problems that call forth his liberal attitudes is likely to he ephemeral.
He is often aroused by no more than the casual conversation of his colleagues: but he feels the necessity to take up a position and to defend it, and the position from which there are the easiest intellectual escape routes is usually the liberal one.
In this way a shallow acquaintance with the facts is one of the main characteristics of a liberal. The few limes that he is found to have an intimate knowledge of his subject, will reveal, under closer examination, that this knowledge is so specialised that it becomes somewhat unreal in its application.
We have such situations as that in which a senior official of the Canadian High Commission in Wellington. Mr R. M. Robinson, a professed liberal, speaking in the guise of an "expert", told a group of students early this year that the Republic of South Africa was the only country on the African continent where there was discrimination in voting rights.
After this authoritative statement, it must have been a trifle embarassing for him to learn that Liberia—also on the African continent has legal provisions which prevent any European from owning kind, practising in the professions, or taking part (including by voting), in politics!