March 28th, 2005

Condescension and leaving the political fold

In my “about me” description (see upper right), I mentioned that I’ve faced some ostracism within my circle of friends and colleagues for my political views. This was especially dramatic beginning with the buildup to the Iraqi war and ending with the 2004 Presidential election.

It hasn’t been pretty, and I’ve lost some of them, perhaps forever—sometimes merely by dint of saying something as mild as, “I disagree.” It’s not as though I insulted them—at least not knowingly or intentionally—but many have nevertheless acted as though they’d been insulted.

The situation would usually arise in the context of a party or a dinner or some other get-together among friends. I’d be at the table, chatting, joking, having a good time, and someone would bring up politics, the war, Bush—something. Then the vitriol would start, with the assumption that of course all of us agreed on these things: Bush was an asshole and a liar, the war a disaster and a crime, and so on and so on and so forth.

I’d be faced with the choice of speaking up or keeping silent. Sometimes I chose the latter, depending on the company, how long the conversation went on (passing remark vs. lengthy gabfest), and how strong I might be feeling that day.

Whenever I did decide to speak up, I tried to be quiet and respectful, and above all simple. I’d start by saying that I’d been a liberal Democrat my whole life (I’m one of you, not one of them, so don’t hate me, please!). I’d say I’d never voted for a Republican in my life (true). Then I’d say, in the mildest of voices, that nevertheless I happened to have come to agree with George Bush on quite a few aspects of his foreign policy.

First there was usually a stunned silence. At one party the person I was addressing asked me, “What did you say?” three times before she actually could process my answer and even understand the words I had said, much less react to them. Yes, every now and then people would be curious to hear what I had to say, and we would have a decent discussion. But far more often the anger would erupt, often instantaneously—and I mean rage, the like of which I had never before encountered with friends or acquaintances. A closed-mindedness, and a refusal to even listen to me. Most of these people had always seemed to respect my intelligence before, but now I was considered to be very very stupid—or evil. Gone over to the Dark Side.

Attacks. Name-calling: “imperialist,” “colonialist”—and, in one rather memorable case, “Dan Quayle lover,” although I certainly hadn’t breathed a word about any passion for him. Many of my friends were noticeably cooler to me after these exchanges, and a couple of old friends actually severed our relationship (permanently, so far).

There are a host of reasons this happened, I suppose. But at the time I didn’t see it coming, and it was extremely shocking and disturbing to me. But now that I’ve had some time to think about it, I think that I actually would have gotten a better response from them if I’d skipped the “I’ve always been a liberal Democrat” intro. Because there are few things more hated than an apostate, a turncoat, a traitor.

Someone who leaves the fold is much worse than someone who was never in it. There’s a special rage reserved for those who have rejected the ideas that others hold dear. I don’t think I ever said anything condescending to any of these people, but time and again they told me I was being condescending.

But when I thought about it, I realized that this perception of condescension was inevitable and unavoidable. After all, I was saying “I used to believe ‘A,’ but now I believe ‘B,’” and I was addressing people who continued to believe “A.” Under the circumstances, how could they fail to see me as condescending, whether I was really conveying that attitude or not?

Inherent in the idea of anyone changing his/her mind from one position to another is that the person must think the second position is superior to the first—else why the change? So, whether or not the changer intends to be condescending, the reader/listener hears condescension because in fact it is implicit in the situation. No way out of it, I’m afraid.

85 Responses to “Condescension and leaving the political fold”

  1. Poltak Says:

    Gather round, kids, it’s cliche time!

    I am beginning to think that Dr. Michael Savage is right: Liberalism is a mental disorder. While I don’t agree with him on everything, on this I think he is right.

    What was it that Churchill said? “If you’re not a liberal by 20, you have no heart. If you’re still a liberal by 30, you have no brains”. He may just have been correct.

    Those or my undocumented assertions.

    I am new to this blog thing. My feelings and experiences unfortunately don’t corrispond to my writing abilities so far. they will.

    Visit my blog so i will feel welcome. Yes it’s shameless self promotion, but what isn’t?

    Poltak

  2. eddie t Says:

    I grew up in the Boston area and I tell people that I was “raised leftist”. In my memories of my life I am retrospectively mortified when I realize how many thousands of people that I have known have wasted MOST of their whole lives in an acidbath rage at Nixon, Reagan, and now Bush. (particularly ironic in Nixon’s case, when I realize with the advantage of calm hindsight what a huge-government flaming liberal he actually was on most policies) In a previous comment I mentioned that discovering that a person from my past is still a far leftist is similar to finding out that they still walk around in a marijuana haze, and that often these two things overlap. I am strongly suspecting, if many people’s reactions to my becoming conservative are any indication, that many leftists ARE leftists because it is part some basic mental problem that they have, whether it is drug damage or one of many other things. I say this mostly because I have sat and listened to diatribes of the verbal, email, and print publication variety that are mostly a string of f words or incredibly childish insults of religion. And many of these are written or spoken by “mainstream” democrats such as chairpersons of democratic party town commitees. So much of what I hear from the left sounds like the guffawing of a very stoned 14 year old. (yes, I was one of those at one time in my life)

  3. Ken Says:

    Interesting phenomena, this switching of sides. Generally speaking it’s a good thing to re-evaluate ones political posture from time to time. It shows that the mental muscles are not atrophied from lack of use or from a tired reliance on dogma. I’m not sure that I like the term, though. Neocon. It sounds as though I just got out of prison – and that most people would prefer that I stayed locked up.

    Having these run-ins with other opinions is unavoidable, but you can’t let it shut you up. I mean what’s the delicate way of saying to a Cub fan that you are now a White Sox fan? It can’t be done, you just have to take your lumps. Anyway, you sound a lot more tactful than me.

    I made the mistake of saying this to an old friend: “Whadda ya mean? This IS a Christian country…” To which he replied, “No, it isn’t.” You see I neglected to qualify it with “predominantly” Christian.

  4. sTupy Says:

    Here’s another one, from an expat living on the former Iron Curtain. I, too, know just how neo-neocon feels post down to the last word – I’ve had the same experience, with both Americans and Europeans. “But I like Bush”. That’s usually enough to set some people off. No problem. Just go out and get some new friends, that’s all.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Neo neocon,
    I hear ya, sister. Been there. Was raised in a liberal/labor house hold, spent all my formative in L.A., New York and San Francisco. Finally got off the boat because I just couldn’t stand to stiffling political group-think from people claiming to be so open-minded. Seriously. It became ridiculous.

    And then I ruined a lot of dinner-parties.

    (A friend of mine was complaining about this lack of intellectual rigor at his own dinner-parties, of which he had many. I told him that it was simple: Dinner-parties are about FEELING sophisticated, not actually BEING sophisicated. Complex, sophisticated thought is actually hard work. By definition, it nessecitates that you leave your intellectual comfort-zone and go out into uncharted territory. Where it’s scary. And you’re not sure that you’re right. Or that people will like you and think you’re smart.

    Who the hell goes to parties for that kinda headache?!

    Pass the Merlot and shut up.)

    But that’s not why I’m writting. I was just gonna say something stupid. And that is that if you lost friends over this, then you’ve lost nothing, since those people were obviously not your friends.
    I know it sounds overly simplistic, but sometimes things are simple. The sky is blue. Fire is hot. Friends can disagree about freakin’ politics and still be friends.
    And as for creeps who acted like your friends but turned out not to be; well, your well rid of them, aren’t you?

    Jesus, I sound like my mother.

    Anyway, that’s really what I wanted to say. You’re better off. Don’t sweat it.

    And I really like your blog.

  6. The Matrix Says:

    Love your blog. I too was once a liberal, turned conservative, but I flipped much earlier than you. I was in my late twenties, earliy thirties (around 1990). I have never looked back. I lost many friends but found new ones. My blog is http://www.neoconexpress.blogspot.com, hope you find it interesting, it is less personal than yours, and in many ways I find yours more compelling. In any event, welcome over to the good side. Hopfully many will follow. Best,
    Joe Gelman

  7. Mark Says:

    This post could have been written by me!

    Having the courage of one’s convictions hurts at times. Those who fail to continue a friendship in light of differing viewpoints probably weren’t worth keeping as friends in the first place. At least that hjas been my experience.

  8. Ignatz Says:

    Hi, Neo-Neocon,

    I heartily sympathize. I’ve had the exact same experience as you’ve had. Many of my friends suspect I’m an iconoclast, but they carefully avoid asking me if I voted for *, as they like to style him. I not only voted for him this last go, I wept tears of relief when he won over the unspeakable Kerry.

    But their venom is amazing. It’s been five years since I’ve talked with a couple I used to be friends with–she was born in Vancouver and moved to the US when she was 2, but still calls herself a Canuck (she’s 54 and has lived here all her life), priding herself on not being an American, and her husband is just as rabid a lefty.

    I’m a registered Democrat, feminist, greenie, who demonstrated against Bush in 2001′s inauguration (yeah, I drank the Koolaid). Wake-up call #1: when the major newspapers admitted sometime that spring that Bush hadn’t actually “stolen” the election after all. I was angry that they’d fed me a line.

    Wake-up call #2: the Islamofascists attacked the country (and city) I love, butchering thousands of innocent Americans. Within two months, the Left’s Usual Suspects were already wringing their hands and saying we had to understand the mass murderers. Instant split…

    I used to work for nonprofits in Third World countries, for women’s rights, and have had my eye on these boyos for years. The muslims are the most misogynist group on the planet. And the most homophobic. And they’re as totalitarian and imperialist as they come. The Left, claiming they oppose such things, nevertheless has in effect thrown its lot in with the enemies of freedom, of women, of religious freedom and tolerance, of gay rights, of democracy. They’ve gone quite round the twist, and no longer stand for anything but hatred of the Right.

    I’ve had it with them. And yes, it has affected my social life. Also my work life (the publishing business). But I most related to David Blue’s post, that his friends who make excuses for the child-murderers of Beslan are no longer morally acceptable to him–amen, brother. And that hurts. It’s like seeing your buddies march off to join the German-American Bund in the 1930s. Brrrr!

    I pick my battles carefully, and will point out a factoid or two to my Bush-deranged friends. Metaphor: grass can grow through concrete, given time. But I can’t respect their ideas any more, and that’s bad: especially for them and for our country.

    Hang tough.

  9. ron Says:

    I linked to your blog through Betsy’s Blog tonight out of curiosity. I was intrigued enough to read some, well most of the responses to your explaination of why you are you. I get it, most of them get, and I can only imagine the frustation of your friends not getting it. I had a similar situation when a friend from high school whom I had got back in touch with over the last 2 years or so. It had been awhile since I’m 51. Anyway, last summer sometime I forwarded him something from a conservative web site. He didn’t appreciate it (I had no idea of what his leanings were except I suspected he was conservative because he claimed to be Christian and we grew up in the same small town in Eastern Oregon). We wrote back and forth a couple of times and it was obvious that he was radical liberal. Hated GW because he visited some of his weathiest supporters in the Seattle area. I mean, c’mon, like Kerry didn’t do, and even act, the same way and thing?? The last email I got from him was that we better not email each other anymore or we’d have to meet in Vantage, WA and put the gloves on!!
    I guess my point is that most liberals are neither tolerant, or compassionate. They DO NOT want to be confused with the FACTS!! Always willing to give up the shirt off someone else’s back.
    Hang in there. This post is pretty old compared to when the thread started but I wanted to say something.
    All the neo cons I know are open minded, never publicly stated or wrote books about assassinating the previous Perjuror, er, Commander in Chief, never cried he would bring about the end of civilization, know what they believe, and don’t try to push their agenda (haven’t got one) on others, and support the government and their efforts on most things. Just are plainly more balanced.

  10. David Blue Says:

    Ouch! That must really hurt, neo-neocon. You got it worse than me, and that’s not good.

    It’s the same in Australia as in America, in my experience.

    Things started to get bad immediately after 11 September, 2001.

    When my friends were protesting against the possible and then actual invasion of Afghanistan, they got worse.

    I dropped out of some situations where I met my friends, till things blew over. They didn’t blow over.

    Bali – the Bali terror blast in 2003 – may have brought some people together. Not me and my friends. Not at all. I went to the public ceremonies for the victims alone.

    Iraq was worse than everything before it. The hate was continuous and intense.

    I had always had one point of disagreement with my liberal friends: I am pro-life (anti-abortion). It was possible to isolate that, set it aside, not discuss it. So I preferred to do that.

    But it wasn’t possible to bracket this out. Everything seemed to be about this big conflict: about hate for Bush, hate for Howard for supporting Bush, hate for Tony Blair for supporting the war on terror and thus Bush, and so on. And constant sneering. Every topic from cricket to the latest movies seemed to call for references and analogies to the real cheats, the real liars, the real villains and so on.

    The real villains were always our leaders, our corporations (Haliburton!) and so on, never the terrorists, never people like Mohammed Atta or Imam Samudra, or Amrozi bin Nurhasyim the smiling bomber.

    For me, Beslan School Number One, the school massacre, was the ultimate end. Because my friends, people I’d known and stuck with most of my life, were still on the wrong side, and now it was about the sadistic mass-murder of children.

    I can think of being wicked on a bigger scale, but compared to the protracted, cold-blooded killing, rape, torment – the total, genocidal jihad fury unleashed on those hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of children, parents, teachers, day after day – I can’t think of anything more wicked, ever.

    That changed me. That’s unforgivable. It’s unforgettable.

    And it can’t be set aside. Nobody has the right to be on the wrong side over that. If you want to deal with that by quickly hand-waving and resuming the recitation of excuses for jihad terror, “root causes”, anti-American cliches, and digs about “Zionists”, just adding a new (temporary, expedient) interest in the crimes and faults of Russia – you are not a proper person. You are lined up with Shamil Basayev and the likes of Amon Goeth.

    For years, I’d been a freak and increasingly a social outcast to my friends. I experienced almost the same as you did.

    But after Beslan, my friends became morally unacceptable to me. That was the end.

    There seems no cure for this conflict. It destroys what were supposed to be lifelong friendships and social networks inexorably, irrevocably, comprehensively.

    And that sucks.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    This is exactly what happened to me, Ms. neo-neocon. I understand that I am still liberal but I think the Democratic end of the spectrum herded left into a totalitarian deep end.

    Your experiences are identical to mine: the foundation in liberal thinking, the fundamental commitment to freedom that turned me around when freedom was threatened on 9-11, the fire and rain from my friends when it became apparent that I disagreed, torn friendships.

    Democrats have to tear it all down and rebuild. And we who would be considered apostates are actually the best hope for a renewed liberalism.

    Thanks for your blog.

  12. hg wells Says:

    neo-neocon’s experiences sound similar to mine. I live in the SF Bay area and all my social circles are overwhelmingly Democrat/liberal/progressive. So was I–I had read just about all of Chomsky’s political books–until 9-11 set me off on a different path. One of my best and most longstanding friends was so dismayed that she threatened to end our friendship, which shocked me. Such a response would never occur to me. I don’t expect my friends to believe as I do about politics, religion or anything.

    Like neo-neocon I also had the expectation that liberals were better than conservatives when it came to tolerance, but that’s not been my experience. I’m sure there are abuses in the reverse situation but it’s just not what I expected from my liberal friends and associates.

  13. James Says:

    I can’t help feeling that the nasty vehemence on display by those of a leftish persuasion toward Bush and toward Bush’s foreign policy supporters is very similar to the supporters of Newt Gingrich and co. going after Bill Clinton and his supporters in the early to mid-nineties.

    Having been on the receiving end of discussions with people holding both of those views, there is almost an inability of the true believer to handle facts that might be inconvenient to their arguments.

    Not sure what that means, but it’s just a thought…I had a few similar experiences recently.

    Ms. Neo-Neocon, once again, thank you for another thoughtful posting.

  14. Paul Says:

    I do not like Michael Moore or Rush Limbaugh at all. What does that make me ?

  15. TmjUtah Says:

    Editorial note -

    My name is A.R. Jones, and I live in Orem, Utah. I try to post under my own name instead of the nick when commenting directly on remarks made over a signature, but sometimes I forget.

    Please accept my apology for the oversight.

  16. TmjUtah Says:

    Mr. Barnes –

    “As to the angry reactions of your liberal friends in response to you “changing sides,” remember, you’re throwing your lot in with people who, at the extreme, believe that all liberals (by which they mean anyone to the left of Bob Dole)are literally traitors whose summary execution may not out of the question in the near future.”

    I’m a conservative. I’ve been one all my life.

    My dad was an oilfield chemist. He was mildly dyslexic and spent his college career getting a business degree and ended up driving a truck in southeastern New Mexico in the late fifties before he stumbled into an assisant lab tech position with an oilfield services company. He ended up running the southwestern states labs for that company, and worked there for thirtyeight years.

    He also read prodigiously, albeit slowly. Mostly history, biography, and a fair chunk of American western lore, usually journals or memoirs.

    The wisdom my dad imparted was simple. I was fourteen in 1975 and was learning a lot of government and history in high school. I asked him what the difference was between Republican and Democrat. He thought a second and said, ‘A Republican wants you to have a job and pay taxes. A Democrat wants you to pay taxes and give the money to somebody who doesn’t have a job”.

    The only time my dad ever hit me with a closed hand was when I referred to four ranchhands waiting in the rain for a ride as ‘greasers’. That was sometime in the seventh grade. I remember the year because I was wearing a red football jersey at the time and explained to mom that the bruise was a football injury.

    “People are people. Don’t ever forget that”. Simple stuff, like I said. He got me a job hoeing cotton that summer, too – side by side with the illegals, and for the same pay.

    Mr. Barnes, there are bomb throwers in any demographic. There’s fame, or money, or simply noteriety for its own sake at play. What pundits, politicians, or editors put out for consumption is their affair. The process by which we actually manage the conduct of our community has generated a thirty- plus year decline in public support for liberal agendas.

    You may choose to frame the discussion with snippets of hyperbole presented as datum. That’s your right, and more power to you. neo dissects her personal experiences regarding how her choices have changed her relationships; not unexpected for a professional therapist.

    I may reach here, but I think that neo is as “conservative” as I’ve always been. She doesn’t see her politics as making her superior, or even a “winning” proposition.

    She sees the need for certain outcomes, and recognises what must happen for those goals to be met.

    Opinion, comment, and public relations are important, but decision and outcome is what reality is measured by. Over the past few generations western liberals have failed more often than not to bring solutions to the causes they championed, and as a result our system has worked well enough to marginalize them . When they come up with better ideas, they’ll come back to power.

    It’s not about winning, Mr. Barnes. It’s about working.

    They need to soak up that “people are just people” thing first, though. They really do.

  17. Blueberry Says:

    WHO are you’re friends?

    Most of my friends are liberals, or lets say “agnostics”, but I don’t think I’ve been disowned by any of them because of my politics.

    One girl did go off on a rant about “Bush Being Hitler…blah, blah, blah” and she is no longer a friend. But then, I think there were other circumstances that drove us apart. I’m sure such a simplistic world view was only a symptom of the problem.

  18. neo-neocon Says:

    Bill Barnes: I tried to delete the duplicate comments, but blogger refused to cooperate. It does that every now and then; it can be quite ornery at times. Sometimes blogger says something isn’t posting when it actually is, and so you get those duplicates.

    But, to respond to the substance of your comment:

    The beauty of a blog is that the blogger writes about what he/she wishes to write about. If I wanted to dissect political theory here I suppose I would; right now it’s not what interests me to write about, although some day it might. The fact that I’m not writing about it doesn’t mean it’s something in which I have no interest at all, however.

    I am sure if you want to read such dissections there are no end of blogs you could go to in order to do so. I could spend hours arguing with you, or doing research linking you to very fine criticiques of Chomsky, et. al., but it’s also not the way I choose to spend my time. I actually have slogged through quite a few hours of reading Chomsky’s work and I must say I have rarely read something so full of errors, so meandering in its logic, and so sophistic in its argument. Again, there are people who have devoted much of their lives to countering Mr. Chomsky, and they’re doing an excellent job–I don’t happen to choose to be one of them. I’m also happy to say I’m no longer a student (except in the general sense of still wanting to learn), and you are not my professor, so fortunately I don’t have to take on your assignments in order to get a grade in the course.

    I always find it curious when people act as though, by dint of supporting some of Bush’s foreign policies (which I most definitely do), a person is therefore responsible for, and needs to account for and differentiate him/herself from, every utterance made by every person on the entire spectrum of the right. I have no doubt Ann Coulter and Michael Savage, for example, have made some very stupid and intemperate remarks, but unless I’ve written a piece here praising them to the skies I see no reason to spend time differentiating myself from them. Nor would I ask you to explain that you don’t agree with Ward Churchill about his “little Eichmanns,” unless you’d written a piece defending his statements, which I assume you have not. Your feeling that I need to do this might be an indication, I believe, that you feel that each movement is a monolithic whole, and that anyone who espouses some sort of agreement with someone on a certain “side” is therefore responsible for what everyone who supports that person has said, as though we all march in lockstep.

    As far as this post goes–I, and others here, are remarking on our personal experiences with some (not all!) liberals we know. This type of experience seems commonplace enough that it represents a very real phenomenon and trend. To me, it is all the more disturbing because one of the thing liberals have always prided themselves on is respect for and tolerance of the opinions of others.

  19. Bill Barnes Says:

    I apologize. The first two times I was given the response that it couldn’t post.

  20. Bill Barnes Says:

    Sorry, I misunderstood you, having only looked at the last week or so of your blog. I thought that the fact that you called yourself a NeoCon rather than a “liberal hawk” meant something, that you had become a Republican, and that you were serious about political theory rather than simply writing personal memoir. Two last points and then I’ll leave you alone.
    As to hyperbole, rabid Bush supporters have in fact called for Sy Hersh to be charged with treason and given the death penalty. Some have simply said “He should be shot.” I’m sure some have said the same about Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, etc. Savage and Limbaugh have both called for the elimination of liberals from the United States (Limbaugh says a few should be kept around to “remind us of what the enemy looks like”). Coulter has said she would welcome the bombing of the New York Times. They may not mean to be taken literally, but still… Bush and Chaney and Ashcroft may not say such things themselves, but neither do they publicly condemn them, in fact they wink and nod at them when it serves their political purposes. In general, they effectively encourage know-nothing political and religious fundamentalism (“the jury is still out on evolution”; global warming doesn’t exist; abortion is murder). If you sharply disagree with these aspects of the Bush package, it’s incumbent on you to make that clear. Andrew Sullivan’s strong initiatives on the torture issue are exemplary in this respect.
    Finally, the comments here seem quite like what you’re accusing liberals of, quite like group-think. Have those of you who automatically put Noam Chomsky in the “totalitarian” category ever actually read anything he’s written? And it’s a shame that you are unwilling to take seriously the anti-Bush elements of the right, or people from the right who have moved to difficult-to-categorize positions, like Michael Lind and the crowd at the New America Foundation. I strongly disagree with the paleocons on most things (as I do with Chomsky) but calling them totalitarians (particularly when you’ve never read them)is simply ridiculous. Take a look at the Cato Institute website. And take a look at the writings of the conservative “realists” — and the current argument between Krauthammer and Fukuyama. Fukuyama is the leading neocon political scientist – How do you respond to his strong critique of the Bush administration policy in Iraq? From your comments, and your seeming unwillingness to take other points of view seriously, I would say you are fooling yourselves if you think you’re forming anything other than a closed circle.

  21. Bill Barnes Says:

    Sorry, I misunderstood you, having only looked at the last week or so of your blog. I thought that the fact that you called yourself a NeoCon rather than a “liberal hawk” meant something, that you had become a Republican, and that you were serious about political theory rather than simply writing personal memoir. Two last points and then I’ll leave you alone.
    As to hyperbole, rabid Bush supporters have in fact called for Sy Hersh to be charged with treason and given the death penalty. Some have simply said “He should be shot.” I’m sure some have said the same about Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, etc. Savage and Limbaugh have both called for the elimination of liberals from the United States (Limbaugh says a few should be kept around to “remind us of what the enemey looks like”). Coulter has said she would welcome the bombing of the New York Times. They may not mean to be taken literally, but still… Bush and Chaney and Ashcroft may not take this line themselves but they effectively encourage know-nothing political and religious fundamentalism (“the jury is still out on evolution”; global warming doesn’t exist; abortion is murder). If you sharply disagree with these aspects of the Bush package, it’s incumbent on you to make that clear.
    Finally, the comments here seem quite like what you’re accusing liberals of, quite like group-think. Have those of you who automatically put Noam Chomsky in the “totalitarian” category ever actually read anything he’s written? And it’s a shame that you are unwilling to take seriously the anti-Bush elements of the right, or people from the right who have moved to difficult-to-categorize positions, like Michael Lind and the crowd at the New America Foundation. I strongly disagree with the paleocons on most things (as I do with Chomsky) but calling them totalitarians (particularly when you’ve never read them)is simply ridiculous. Take a look at the Cato Institute website. And take a look at the writings of the conservative “realists” — and the current argument between Krauthammer and Fukuyama. Fukuyama is the leading neocon political scientist – How do you respond to his strong critique of the Bush administration policy in Iraq? From your comments, and your seeming unwillingness to take other points of view seriosly, I would say you are fooling yourselves if you think you’re forming anything other than a closed circle.

  22. Bill Barnes Says:

    Sorry, I misunderstood you, having only looked at the last week or so of your blog. I thought that the fact that you called yourself a NeoCon rather than a “liberal hawk” meant something, that you had become a Republican, and that you were serious about political theory rather than simply writing personal memoir. Two last points and then I’ll leave you alone.
    As to hyperbole, rabid Bush supporters have in fact called for Sy Hersh to be charged with treason and given the death penalty. Some have simply said “He should be shot.” I’m sure some have said the same about Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, etc. Savage and Limbaugh have both called for the elimination of liberals from the United States (Limbaugh says a few should be kept around to “remind us of what the enemey looks like”). Coulter has said she would welcome the bombing of the New York Times. They may not mean to be taken literally, but still… Bush and Chaney and Ashcroft may not take this line themselves but they effectively encourage know-nothing political and religious fundamentalism (“the jury is still out on evolution”; global warming doesn’t exist; abortion is murder). If you sharply disagree with these aspects of the Bush package, it’s incumbent on you to make that clear.
    Finally, the comments here seem quite like what you’re accusing liberals of, quite like group-think. Have those of you who automatically put Noam Chomsky in the “totalitarian” category ever actually read anything he’s written? And it’s a shame that you are unwilling to take seriously the anti-Bush elements of the right, or people from the right who have moved to difficult-to-categorize positions, like Michael Lind and the crowd at the New America Foundation. I strongly disagree with the paleocons on most things (as I do with Chomsky) but calling them totalitarians (particularly when you’ve never read them)is simply ridiculous. Take a look at the Cato Institute website. And take a look at the writings of the conservative “realists” — and the current argument between Krauthammer and Fukuyama. Fukuyama is the leading neocon political scientist – How do you respond to his strong critique of the Bush administration policy in Iraq? From your comments, and your seeming unwillingness to take other points of view seriosly, I would say you are fooling yourselves if you think you’re forming anything other than a closed circle.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    Hi neo-neocon

    Last Friday I read your normblog profile and subsequently—among others—your post titled “So why ‘neo-neocon’?” and found that your story is quite similar to mine (this is also why last Monday I took the liberty of quoting and linking to your above mentioned post). But today this post seems to be taking the words right out of my mouth! If this can be of any comfort to you, here in Italy things are no better. Keep up the good work!

    Wind Rose Hotel

    P.S.: My own normblog profile is
    here

  24. Paul Says:

    You are entitled to your opinion and so be it if eople don’t like it. In this country we still have the right to express our opinions and say what we feel. I am a NeoCon too. Stand firm ! :)

  25. E See Says:

    Group bonding, circle dances, etc. happen across the political (or any other) spectrum, but more than that is needed to explain the intensity of the left-liberal hostility to any kind of opposition from the right. The sad fact is that, under the stress of historical challenges, liberal politics for many have hardened into a kind of secular faith, and such people perceive any who fail to accept that faith not as intellectually mistaken but rather as morally flawed if not evil. And for this increasingly worried faithful, what’s worse even than heresy is apostasy.

  26. Judith Says:

    “My own experience is that most NeoCons and Liberal Hawks won’t debate except with straw men.”

    Funny, my experience is that most antiwar and lefty types only debate with straw men. Wading through the thicket of unexamined assumptions and simple wrong information is an exercise in patience many of us fail.

    I agree with “unbeliever”‘s analysis. I personally experienced this back in the day when a couple I always assumed were as liberal as I told me they were voting for Bush in 2000 and didn’t believe abortion should be legal. I hit the roof, I am ashamed to say, and “betrayal” describes how I felt.

    “One of the most interesting aspects of this historical moment is how much intense disagreement there is among different elements of the right over Bush administration policy. The paleocons are every bit as outraged by the neocons as most liberals, if not more so.”

    Well, sure. The paleo-cons, Chomkyites, antisemites, identity politickers, and nascent totalitarians are on one side, and the promoters of representative government, individual rights and responsibility, universal standards of behavior, globalization, are on the other side. “Left” and “right” are becoming increasingly useless terms.

  27. neo-neocon Says:

    Loyal Achates: If you had read my post carefully, you’d see that I said that many people had negative reactions to my merely stating I am a lifelong liberal Democrat who agrees on some points of foreign policy with Bush. Just that simple declarative sentence. Can’t imagine how that could cause trouble and antagonize anyone, but it did, it did. And your response (to not exactly call, but to clearly insinuate, that I am lying) merely illustrates my point, I believe. If you didn’t already exist, I might have to invent you.

    To those of you who’ve had similar experiences to mine (and I know there are many of you–probably millions, as jakita said), I would imagine you understand what a painful surprise it was. I had no idea I was so naive, but I was.

    To Mr. Barnes, I have no doubt that there is polarization on both sides. I am merely describing the reaction I experienced from one side, the side I know best. Remember, I’m neither a conservative, nor identifying myself as one. I am still a liberal on many matters, and a moderate on many others. What makes you think that “throwing your lot” in with a certain group means you embrace all the tenets of that group (your hyperbole about “summary executions” aside)? That’s way too much “dancing in a ring” to suit my tastes.

  28. Bill Barnes Says:

    The anti-liberal commentators are fantasizing, and I’ll bet on the basis of a very small n. In fact many people, if not most, at all points on the political spectrum, behave more or less in the manner you critisize in times when politics are bitterly polarized. And some people, at almost all points on the political spectrum (except real crazies at both ends), behave otherwise. My own experience is that most NeoCons and Liberal Hawks won’t debate except with straw men. But Norm Geras and I had a perfectly civil series of exchanges (though Norm’s argumentation was conclusory rather than on the merits – for my side see Small Precautions archives for Feb 13). One of the most interesting aspects of this historical moment is how much intense disagreement there is among different elements of the right over Bush administration policy. The paleocons are every bit as outraged by the neocons as most liberals, if not more so. Take a look at their websites. As to the angry reactions of your liberal friends in response to you “changing sides,” remember, you’re throwing your lot in with people who, at the extreme, believe that all liberals (by which they mean anyone to the left of Bob Dole)are literally traitors whose summary execution may not out of the question in the near future.

  29. The Unbeliever Says:

    I think the problem goes beyond just garnering the stigma of “traitor”. My experience has been that liberals find it easy to write off always-been conservatives as idiots, or blind ideolouges, or religious fanatics, or meddling facists, etc. But when they’re faced with a former liberal who has (quite understandably) switched sides, it’s not as easy to write off the other side. Who is it easier to sneer at: the enemy you’ve never met and refuse to engage, or the friend you’ve partied with? If they truly did respect your intelligence while you were liberal, and yet the person posessing that intelligence saw cause to oppose their views, what does that say about liberal beliefs?

    The standard liberal intelligentsia mindset runs into a serious logical flaw in these situations. If you assume that only liberals are intelligent, then it follows that no conservatives can be. However, if a known intelligent person becomes a conservative, you can no longer say “all conservatives are stupid”; you’re forced to acknowledge that at the very least, they’re as smart as the liberals. You’re wrecking a deeply ingrained mindset, you’re turning an entire worldview upside down, you’re forcing previously unchallenged assumptions to be re-thought.

    The rage you’re seeing is the rage of betrayal, but it’s not you who have betrayed your friends–their own beliefs and assumptions betrayed them. And it’s easier for liberals to reject the anomaly, pretend you don’t exist, than to re-examine every article of faith they’ve built up over the years. Dropping your friendship is their manifestation of deep denial.

  30. rshams Says:

    As a “neocon” growing up in a “liberal” family with “liberal” acquaintances, and currently involved with someone who is…not a neocon, my experience has been that leftists perceive any disagreement with their paradigm as antagonism. Basically, they, within their circles, define what is liberal or conservative or moderate, and anyone who challenges those definitions is “causing trouble”

    It seems that we neocons, and I’m heartened to know that there are so many out there, are upsetting members of the Left who refuse to engage in dialogue.

  31. meander Says:

    There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in any of your previous posting content that would lead me to believe that you were in any way rude or offensive when you attempted to express a different point of view from those in your once tight circle. You always seem to gentle your language with some rueful, self deprecating aside so as to soften up the listener and make them more receptive to your main point. You strike me as highly reasonable and rational so I’m sure this past year or so has been interesting, dismaying and all sorts of things.

  32. jakita Says:

    wow, loyal achates . . .

    You posted two minutes before I did, and you look like one of those people I’m referring to. Why are you calling neo-neocon a liar? Are you compelled to insult her because you disagree with her?

  33. jakita Says:

    My experience as well. Few people want to discuss issues. It’s all about group bonding, or some such external factor. Right now in some circles I’m a freak–kind of like a circus dwarf.

    Hang in there, neo neo-con. There are probably millions of us now, as the 2004 election seemed to prove.

  34. Loyal Achates Says:

    Being involved in a very strong relationship with someone much more conservative than I am, I’m inclined to think that what happened between you and your friends is at least as much your fault as theirs.

    If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about conservatives placed in a group of leftists, it’s that they like to cause trouble and antagnize people. ‘Born again’ rightists are especially bad in this regard. What makes you different? I don’t want to call you a liar, but… well, there’s no way to finish that sentence.

  35. Ymarsakar Says:

    Being involved in a very strong relationship with someone much more conservative than I am

    That’s not all that hard to get.

    If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about conservatives placed in a group of leftists, it’s that they like to cause trouble and antagnize people.

    Why do the Left always prefer to talk about themselves, even when it seems they are addressing others?

    My view is quite simple, Neo. It is easier for people to feel rage over your beliefs because they have never loved their own beliefs. Love in this case, means caring about something other than yourself. And since the Left likes to merge their identities with their beliefs, loving their beliefs becomes loving themselves, and that’s kind of mutually exclusive.

    So this is why their rage is both uncontrollable and weak. Only someone who has truly loved a set of philosophical beliefs, can truly hate a different set of beliefs.

    So if their reactions wasn’t hate and rage, Neo, what do I think it was? Fear. Self-doubt. Weakness personified. They lash out at you not because they feel any particular antipathy towards you, since after all they never did so before right? No, their reaction to you is simply a way to ignore their own doubts, problems, and anxieties. Their weakness is their fear, and their fear of their weaknesses. Pounding on someone available, like you, is a great way to make themselves feel better. That is also another example of weakness.

    Not everyone is strong like you are, Neo. Not everyone can face themselves, their beliefs, their fears, and the possibility of being wrong. It is why Evil still resides in the hearts of men and women. Weak people give evil comfort and a place to stay, to incubate, until evil is strong enough to corrupt more people. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that evil is just biding its time until more people become weak.

    It is a sad thing that you cannot make someone be strong. No, that person has to choose to become stronger or weaker. It is their choice, their life, their fate. It is sad because it is such a waste, but it is of benefit also because we do not need to feel guilty or responsible for their actions.

  36. bunkerbuster Says:

    Where do conservatives and/or neoconservatives get the idea that they are entitled to spout their views unopposed?

    One theory is that they get it from the mainstream media, where so much conservative bloviation is unopposed.

    Perhaps neoneocon’s disappointment comes because she had envisioned herself as a sort of Bill O’Reilly sans fame. Now she complains because she can’t spout nonsense talking points without having some uppity liberal say she’s wrong.

    The great braying of conservatives complaining about “liberal” media boils down to the same thing: a sense of entitlement to unopposed opinionating. Even if we accept that the biggest daily newspapers favor liberalism, don’t we need to ask why the competing conservative newspapers have failed to gain readers and/or respect?

    It’s never good enough for conservatives to be free to spout their opinion at dinner parties, on campus, in newspapers, TV etc. They seem to believe they’re entitled to have people agree with them.

    There’s a ton of callow ad hominem on this blog about the poor reasoning abilities, etc. of liberals. But if liberals are such poor thinkers, why can’t conservatives simply take delight in outdebating them and leave it a that?

    Why don’t we hear this same complaint from liberals? You don’t here them complaining about the neoneocons of the world who just have to pipe up in support of American chauvanism.

    Liberals don’t complain because they are happy to shoot down the neocon’s cockamamie claptrap. I know I am.

    I have no worries at all that any conservative is going to make me feel intellectually inadequate. And that’s not because I think I’m so smart. It’s because I am prepared to happily shift my views when someone, anyone, substantively corrects them.

    I get a sense the conservatives believe their views are more like religious faith. Therefore challenging them is akin to a kind of assault on their personality.

    To be sure, there are liberals that make the same whinge about having to argue with conservatives who don’t agree with them. But they’re relatively rare and it this aggrievement/entitlement paradigm isn’t a pillar of the ideology, as it is with conservatives.

  37. dboy Says:

    I really like this website. I have undergone exactly the same thing. I am a professor from California with a long history of leftist influences. However, as one blogger notes, it often seemed like the ravings of a stoned 14 yr old. The minute I began to voice my concerns, no matter how mildly or carefully, I was branded as a ‘fascist’ etc . THey often sought to ‘re-educate me’ — but the minute anything came down to an intellectual point/counterpoint, then the ad hominem attacks would begin, the hissy-fit emotions etc… Really tiring by now.

    I have now lost 2 friends of 30 years. But as another writer notes, what kind of ‘friends’ act like self-righteous prima donas over politics? ANd all at the emotional level? No great loss, i suppose.

    It is shocking how so-called ‘progressives’ support, (from a comfortable distance – of course!) brutal and savage societies just because it makes their social life seem more sociable. If you tell anyone about the brutality to women in Muslim societies, for example, they immediately counter that Christian ‘fundamentalists’ are just as bad, etc etc
    It is all so predictable and silly that i just can barely stand it — like watching a hackneyed movie you have seen 12000 times…. So they drink their cocktails and feel warm and fuzzy about defending butchers like Sadaam Hussein (“Bush is just as bad..”), stoning, vaginal circumincision, honor killings etc (“we are just as bad.. colonialism.. yadda yadda). I think many of these folks are just old-fashioned Isolationists who nevertheless want to keep a foot in the 60′s and somehow keep thinking they are cool…

    Meanwhile, this wk for example, the Shi’a festival of Ashura proceeds with accolytes hacking their skulls and those of their children with special ceremonial knives and prancing thru the streets spouting blood as they chant “Allah hu Akbar” in praise of Iman Hussein, the martyr speared with his father on a horse numerous centuries ago etc.

    But we cant be negative about this, can we? That would be bigoted. We must accept and embrace and above all ‘understand’ such behaviour because WE are bad… WE are warming the earth and alientating other countries… It is all OUR fault…

    I think of how the English banned wfe-burning in Colonial India — we wouldnt do that now.. we would just submit to Shari’a because of a twisted sense of diversity. THis in fact is happening in Europe.

    Ah, well. I do go on. I guess i really am a fascist, colonialist, running-dog, son of apes and pigs. I deserve to lose friends and be alienated from polite conversation. I am bad, too..

    Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh!

  38. Derwin Williamson Says:

    from the left coast-west coast to your east cost lair
    may god bless you and keep you all the days of your life and strengthen you in growth and knowledge.. the loss of friends is painfull and i have
    experienced the same up to and including a relationship…conversly i have helped a female friend come to see that believing in the values of our founding fathers,that this nation and her people are good,that our economic system, when not sabotaged by socialist tampering, offers the greatest potential for human freedom and prosperity. I asked one friend to please explain to me what they found objectionable about our afganistan and iraqi endevours? was it twenty-five
    million people freed, was it women liberated from
    mysoginist tyranny, was it young girls allowed to
    attend school,or perhaps it was the freeing of a country from thirty years of oppression…i came
    to the conclusion that many of thier political beliefs
    were in fact oriented in group psycholgy.from college to work life certain attitudes were assumed
    and absorbed with-out a great deal of critical examination. the “liberal” group-think became a
    measure of thier own self worth ,esteem and value.
    indeed i find in talking to them that thier attitudes
    politically somehow seem to provided them with
    a shared feeling of superiority over the lesser mortals of the conservative stripe. fortunately
    i am granted “different” status amongst those i grew up with in that i left high-school with them and served four years as a united states marine, then
    returned for college…did i say different? perhaps crazy would be more accurate…secoundly i studied metallurgy and engineering rather than english, history, or journalism respectively so they are quite proud of me formulating a cognizant sentance..old marine creatur that i am.. enjoyed you writing and you honesty with stop by from time to time in support. especially for the idea that differences can be discussed rather than shuned..

  39. Rose Says:

    Wow. I just stumbled in here – and I have to say I have had the same experience – deciding not to stay silent anymore, trying to be respectful, losing friends, gaining new ones, baffled by the divide, troubled by the hatred of people who were once friends… How many of us are there?

  40. Doug Says:

    Thanks for your site. It is fascinating. I too am a total liberal, but I enjoy socializing with conservatives, and hearing another point of view. I don’t think I’ll ever be a conservative, but I am getting fed up with the rather adolescent stylings of the liberals, and am extremely turned off by the cult of Obama-ites and the Obamas themselves. Hillary would be a great President, precisely because she is a bit of a square and can compromise and is a grown up and is whip smart is touch and has a lot compassion. The Obamas are so immature, vapid, and Michelle Obama is so lacking in dignity and diplomatic skills, I could not ever vote for him at this point, and so am, oh lord, at least looking at McCain if Hillary does not get the nomination. The Democrats have been ripped apart. This is fascinating to me.

    However, I am troubled by this country. I have spent time in Europe and was impressed by the Universal health care system they have. I don’t really understand why Americans are so bothered by this. We pay a ton in taxes and really don’t get all that much for it. Why is it bad to have universal health insurance? It would be good for America’s entrepreneurial spirit. So many people would go out and start their own businesses and be innovative, blah blah blah, but they can’t because they are tied to their corporate job that they hate because of health insurance. It doesn’t sound very entrepreneurial to me.

    I know a ton of people who would love to start something, take a risk, be rugged individuals, live hand to mouth while going for their dream, work for themselves, roll the dice, be Kit Carson, I don’t know … the whole nine yards, Woo-hoo, but they have a pre-existing medical condition, so are stuck working as a payroll supervisor or some knowledge base job, whatever that means, for some big company. It doesn’t seem very American and dynamic. It seems pretty dreary.

    So my conservative friends, please explain to me why universal coverage like in Europe is so terrible and scary? And just so you know, I like a lot of conservatives socially. I am not a scary psycho liberal like the ones we all know. Oh God, I know they are so tiresome. So I will not freak out when you give me your answer. Thanks a bunch.

  41. ajmalkov Says:

    I’m the latest to stumble in here and I must say I am stunned by the similarities in our experiences.

    I lost a best friend of almost 30 years and a very good job over this stuff — I just couldn’t bear to hear the president, our troops and elected representatives denigrated viciously and continually in my work place. This was in the Bay Area and I finally had to move back to the Midwest to find some balance. At my new job, I haven’t heard Bush’s name mentioned once. I assume many people are rabid leftists suffering from endemic BDS, but they have sense enough to keep it to themselves when there may be others present who do not share their illness.

    Like neo-neocon, the thing that bothered me the most was the assumption on the part of Bush-haters that everyone else in the room shared their derangement. I was raised in a part of the country that is considered racist, fundamentalist and intolerant, but I never experienced a conversation in my hometown where homosexuals, non-Christians or members of racial minorities were openly denigrated as though everyone else in the room must be in agreement…not one time. It simple wasn’t done — such behavior was considered rude.

    Something I haven’t seen anyone else comment on here is how frequently anti-Bush rants contain elements of anti-semitism as well. Perhaps people in the Bay Area felt free to express anti-semitic beliefs in front of me because I am not a Jew, but I was very disturbed by this and often felt I was in the presence of Nazis. I’ll never forget a “protest” sign I saw in San Francisco during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war: “Nazi kikes out of Lebanon.”

    When I realized someone was walking around San Francisco with such a sign without being challenged, I knew I had to get out of there.

    I’ve often wondered why ordinary Germans didn’t stop the evil in their midst before it mushroomed into the Holocaust. The answer is that Hitler had the same kind of apologists that the Islamists have now. As several people on this thread have pointed, I can’t be on the same side as apologists for the baby-killers of Beslan.

  42. Vince P Says:

    test

  43. Vince P Says:

    Let me share my experience…

    I was never a liberal or a leftist but I am gay. So to be gay means that one must be a atheist religion-hating America-hating Exterme Leftist. That is the automatic assumption.

    So whenever I’m in a social event without fail someone will make some outrageous Anti-Bush / Anti-America / Anti-Religion / Anti-Republican / Anti-Conservative rambling. Without fail. I swear it’s like these people’s lives are invested on keeping a hot hot hatred burning.

    Because of my Italian-American upbringing, i was raised arguing, so I make sure to let whoever said something dumb that I disagree, or if they were factually wrong about something, i would say “You are wrong. The trurth is x,y,z”

    Well let me tell you.. if you think leftists hate you for your conversion to Non-leftism.. nothing tops the hate you get when you’re gay and you go against Leftist… especially if you dont march in lockstep to things like Gay Marriage (which I oppose)

    Luckily for me I was never concerned with being popular and so I’m sure I missed out of the chance of being friends with so many wonderful tolerant compassionate open-minded far-left gay activists. My loss I’m sure.

  44. Vince P Says:

    - continued –

    No one hates more hatefully than the Gay Leftist. I doubt even the Muslims can reach those levels. They’re a little intimidating at first.. but after you get called Hitler for the 100th time, the novelty begins to wear off and you realize these people are intellectual lightweights.

  45. Vince P Says:

    - continued (Filter problems) -

    In all my years trying to understand this strand of Leftism (The destructive Anti-America wing) I think I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s actually a spirtual problem. I believe a lot of those folks are driven by a intense hatred for God and thus they hate all that that is associated with God (the God of the Bible that is… They’re perfectly at ease with Allah it would seem). They hate America (one the world’s few truly Christian nations), Israel, Christians and Jews.

  46. Margaret E Says:

    NeoNeoCon, and all of you commenting here… what a great oasis in the desert this is! You can read MY story on my blog, if you want to. Suffice it to say, I am one of you. I’m the editor of an “alternative newsweekly,” so when I started coming to my senses a few years ago – and having the guts to write about it! – the repercussions were HUGE. I’ve lost many, many friends, and am no longer the “popular girl” I once was. Thank God, I’m in the south, where a conservative is not a total pariah, but still… most in my circle were artists, professors, creative people… you know the drill…

    Just wanted to chime in and say to all of you (especially you, Vince P, ’cause you MOVE me!)… keep the faith. We are not alone!

  47. Margaret E Says:

    Sorry, meant to include my website address…

    http://www.lcweekly.com/

  48. Margaret E Says:

    And my blog ON my website (clearly, I’m longing for a support group!)

    http://www.lcweekly.com/index.php?option=com_myblog&blogger=Margaret%20Evans&Itemid=123

  49. mark Says:

    new to your site but just wanted to say I love your insight

  50. jakealope Says:

    Since all the reasons that we went into Iraq have been proven false and hundreds of thousands have died and hundred of billions of $ have been spent, have you had the moral courage to rethink your support for the war, which, from what you say, turned you into a neo-con?

  51. neo-neocon Says:

    jakealope: Just click on the category under the right sidebar entitled “Iraq,” and start reading. I’ve discussed the war over many years and written many thousands of words on the subject, which you are free to peruse at your leisure.

  52. dan Says:

    I read your background with fascination but understanding. However, i have witnessed that despite expressed concern for religious minorities, the treatment of a Jewish person with conservative views which was horrible and a Jewish person who became a Christian, was beyond the pale in its ferocity and so wrong. it was double betrayal in their eyes. what i found remarkable is that the Left publicly espouses the minority (non-majority) opinion and importance of being open to other ideas, opinion, and views. However, the reality is that there is no tolerance of opposing views and there is this attempt to drown out and stamp out alternate views; an unacceptance of a person with different views – exactly opposite to the principle espoused. You become an enemy simply for your views.

    As an ideological position that expresses public concern for the feelings of members of racial or ethnic minority groups, you would think they would practice what they preach and have understanding of the rights of minority speech and the beautful thing about America that all should be able to express minority opinions and not be ostracized for it. Unfortunately, many liberals are abusive and ostracize those opposing views despite their expressed principles to tolerance of minority views. the expression of an opinion in a room of liberals should be celebrated instead it is demonized and stamped out. And the attempted ostracization is heightened with a racial minority actually having an opposing view. Suddenly the worst language and actions are heaped upon the minority voice as if 100% compliance is necessary and that voice must be drowned out or destroyed. there is certainly no celebration of free speech and diversity of opinion. This is why many conservatives see “fascism” in activist progressive types and fear for their country.

  53. Jamie Says:

    How great to find this site!

    Like Vince, I’m also gay (but a woman). I grew up with a liberal mother (actually I expect she was pretty moderate down deep) who taught me that Republicans are bad evil people and Democrats are good. Reagan BAD, Carter GOOD. My dad didn’t say much. The good thing about my mother, though, was that she also instilled tolerance in me (except for Republicans ;).

    When I was 18 I moved to Atlanta and ended up in an even more liberal environment…the gay community. I bought it all hook line and sinker. Bush I bad, Clinton good. I voted the first time for Clinton and was soooooo happy he beat that evil, bad, head of the CIA Bush I.

    Then I started working at a particular place in the mid 90s and worked my way up into the IT dept. The guy who supervised me listened to a Libertarian local talk show host during the day. At first, what he had to say really pissed me off. My blood would boil. But then I started to check out what he was saying. It usually turned out he was telling the truth – or a good argument could be made for what he was saying. And then I started listening to him…really listening. I didn’t agree with everything (still don’t) but he made a lot of sense and in the real world, what he was saying made a hell of a lot more practical sense than the Utopia construct.

    FF to 2000. I put a Bush sticker on my car and dared drive it to the local women’s bar where my girlfriend worked. Came out to find a flat tire. We were ostracized and yelled at by people we thought were friends. I have kept my close friends and we’re all ok with each other. But the level of general outrage that a lesbian would BETRAY her gay community was unbelievable.

    I ask my Democrat-voting friends what a Dem administration ever did for gays. And then I answer for them, oh right, DOMA.

    As to why don’t Americans want Universal healthcare? Because it doesn’t work. We spend more money per person because we get many more MRIs and CT scans. We get better drugs. We see specialists sooner. France’s HC system will be bankrupt in about 15 years. Britain is having to increasingly privatize and ration. Canada is in a similar boat and people don’t want to pay more taxes. They’re sick of it. That’s why we don’t want it. Nothing is free.

  54. Jamie Says:

    On a happy end note, one day I was visiting my parents and found a National Review in the house. I said “is this Dad’s?” and my mom answered that no, it was hers. I was gobsmacked. But happy. Turns out, my dad had been a quiet conservative all those years (who knew) and finally was able to talk some sense into my mom. :)

  55. Vince P Says:

    Hi Jamie.. that’s a great story. Thanks for writing it down for us.

    Do you know of the gaypatriot.net blog? Lots of gay conservatives there.

  56. Loweski Dub Says:

    This site is new to me and I know i will probaly be back everyday to blog. I am young and am just starting to come into my own as far as politics is concerned. My family is republican and I have always been the one to disagree with my family on a subject. Not because I believe lefist mumbo-jumbo but just to get a reaction and see what insights I could gain.
    I am a Neo-con and have been told so on many occasions. My generation “the millenias” is a cespool crawling with liberal fanooks (not literally,sometimes). I do not know what has brought this on, maybe hollywood and disney movies. The fact is that these people have not woken up. Capitalism will not be the seed of its own demise. War is needed for the world to go round. These niave teenagers do not knwo that war is economics. There are few resources that need to be allocated. If it is done through military intervention we should embrace it and sign up.
    Programs for the poor are pointless. There will always be poor people. If they do not have the sense to pick themselves up by their own bootstraps they deserve poverty. “But what if they have not bootstraps?” The poor and lazy have more bootstraps then the rest of us hardworking business people. As i was applying for college my counsular said ” well you are at a disadvatage already, your white, not poor, and your a man.” what is the world coming to. These idiot teenagers can talk but what are they really doing to support their views? talking.

  57. ERB Says:

    Wow! To finally find out that there are others out there who have had the “dinner party” experience. So far I’ve had one woman scream at me for no other reason than I objected to her husband’s anti-Palin rant. Then I had another friend actually stand up and walk out of my home when I dared to casually describe the Obama cult as “a little creepy”. I’ve been stunned by the reaction to very mild comments and I think it’ll get worse…. I’m not even “out of the closet” yet with anyone except my husband and parents, though I’m guessing that a few of my friends are wondering.

  58. RobCon Says:

    I agree. Dukakis was my first vote and Clinton was my last Democrat vote. After that, Republican Party line all the way.

  59. Brian Says:

    It goes the other way, as well. I was a lifelong conservative and, about the same time as you, started leaving the camp over things I didn’t think were true. I applaud you in that you have been able to keep an open mind and be more interested in finding truth than holding a party line or preserving your reputation. Most people would rather consider themselves correct in their thinking than take the risk of changing their mind.

  60. Tim Says:

    This is exactly the thing I noticed the most in my own conversion. Liberals expose ideas out at dinner parties like that in order to justify themselves. They assume everyone believes what they say because they do not believe it themselves. It’s like a type of validation when everyone says “Yeah, that Carl Rove, what a jerk…” there need be no why, they only want the emotional and egotistical boost from it.

    They really are lost, it very much is a group think mentality. Liberal philosophy/metaphysics has no rationalization of individuality in it. All it does is detract from itself and the person. It almost erodes at your personality to emerge yourself into groups like that. They’re almost like a cult!

  61. Neil C. Reinhardt Says:

    First, I LLOVE your Blog.

    POOR “jakealope” is a perfect example of a brain washed liberal who would not know what a fact is were it a sharp pointed cactus he sat on while naked.

    So no one thinks I am on the far right and a guy who followed Bush around like some pupppy dog. I will point out I am 75 year old Pro-Iraq War Agnostic Atheist Activist and Vet who served in the 101st Airborne.

    Anywho, in 2003 I wrote an email laying out 18 facts which PROVE the Iraq War is both Fully Justified and a Necessary Part of our war on Terrorists who have been killing
    us and our friends for over 30 years. IF any one wants me to forward it to you, I can be reached at: religionsucks@webtv.net

  62. Johnny Says:

    In my experience conservatives tend to be much more close-minded than liberals. I think it is because the former is based on fear and the latter on love.

  63. Team Roster Says:

    Best you could edit the blog name neo-neocon » Blog Archive » Condescension and leaving the political fold to something more specific for your blog post you make. I loved the the writing withal.

  64. Tom Says:

    And what do you base that assertion on Johnny? In my experience it’s just the opposite. While liberals claim to be “tolerant”, in truth they are only tolerant of that which they already agree with.

  65. South San Diego Says:

    I ran across this blog while reading about issues relating to class war.

    I grew up working-poor, attended the Southern Baptist Church, listened to country music, and was Reagan Youth in my south San Diego high school. It seemed clear who our class-enemy was: the East Coast/LA/San Francisco liberals.

    And then the Persian Gulf I war happened, and I watched as these goddamn neocons sent my friends to kill and die to secure their oil fields. It’s a simple calculus: who profited? who paid (with our lives)? who stood by as a free-rider? I made the switch over to the Green/P&F parties, despite the annoying middle class Boomers at their helms.

    But I do agree with some conservatives on some issues, such as the draft, and civic responsibility: we should bring back the draft and ensure that it’s applied equally, so upper middle class kids and Senators’ kids get a taste of what they’ve been doing to my class for so long.

    I went much farther than my neighborhood expected in education… and am actually doing that pulling the bootstraps up thingy sans family connections or professional-class etiquette. And while I still consider the liberal bourgeoisie my sworn class enemy, I will ALSO fight you neocon parasites regardless of which idiotic family from which you had the luxury to have spawn. Neocons’ policies kill the working class. Neocons will pay.

    Thanks to erstwhile public education and social programs, there are far more of us educated working class kids than you think. We don’t know about this liberal NYC circle you speak of. And we’re tired of this game between the affluent left and the super-rich right. Our sisters and brothers are already trained soldiers and commanders. You’re right: it is CLASS WAR!

  66. South San Diego Says:

    One more thing: you underestimate the power of class-allegiance. We will never trust the bourgeoisie, even if we’re in it. Left or right, you’re still the class enemy. So your “courageous” transformation to a neocon comes as no surprise.

  67. Ymarsakar Says:

    So basically SSD wants to force people to die for no reason like he believes neocons forced people to volunteer for Gulf War 1.

    What kind of North Korean brainwashing is required for this one again?

    It’s why people with an axe to grind aren’t given positions of authority. They can’t be trusted to wipe themselves after. Hygiene issue.

    Neocons will pay.

    When it comes to real war, you’ll be the first one they pick off. You’ll be singing a different tune then.

  68. Ymarsakar Says:

    I made the switch over to the Green/P&F parties, despite the annoying middle class Boomers at their helms.

    Basically that’s the definition of a useful idiot/tool. He does what he is told to by the powers that be. When they give the order, he’ll go on his supposed “war” rampage, but the goal will be decided by the Leftist commanders and commissars, not the blue collar drones and cannon fodder.

    Well, the Left tends to recruit such in spades. Maybe they’ll even make use of them, when SEIU needs more bodies.

  69. South San Diego Says:

    Commissars? Hahahahahaha. Red-baiting is so 20th century! Dude, the Modern Era ended with the Cold War. Now why on Earth would we listen to you, the “powers that be”, the SEIU fossils, or the North Koreans who constitute the oppressor class? Some self-reflective speculation there, Ymarsaker!

    We are the free workers – you see us in the Solidarność movement against the Communists, in the streets of Seattle against the corporatists, in kibbutzes and anarchist collectives, in womens/worker/immigrant cooperatives. We make decentralizing (and yes, money-making) tools like Facebook, Twitter, and the blog system that you use.

    We simply tire of middle-class neo-Modernists prancing around our neighborhoods pretending to know us better than we do, beating us upside the head with ideology… and irresponsibly retreat to their comfortable worlds while we clean up their mess. If any ax-grinding is gonna take place today, this surely would be the most obvious.

    We are young, glib, versatile, multilingual, ideologically flexible, and rightfully pissed off about the irresponsible Boomers (both hippies and teabaggers) who continue to hog the microphone and want to turn my century into another ideological fight.

    Look you of the upper/middle classes: we hold you in high regard and enjoy you… but we don’t trust you. Nothing personal… we learn from experience. Stop consuming us to validate yourselves. And pay attention.

  70. South San Diego Says:

    Hey, I can do bold lettering too! Hahahahahaha.

  71. John Romeo Says:

    An Individual changes sides only when they act against their own best interest. Everyone is on a different side of most issues. Left and Right are narratives of grouping. We the people are each sovereign nations of one.

    We have a constitution because we disagree, not because we agree. If you read the constitution you will not see one word in the document about political parties; left or right; conservative or liberal.

    This is because we are all on one side: The side of individual liberty. Therefore, with respect to politics, I am only on the side of a constitutional government limits power.

    Since Presidents, members of Congress, and Judges all swear to uphold the constitution and don’t, make them all Benedict Arnolds. Changing your view makes you a good American. Forcing your view on others is tyranny.

    Is your friend a friend when they want to force you to accept the government takeover of the banks, GM and Healthcare and trillions of dollars of debt. A wise old line from a blues song says, “If you watch your good friends real carefully your enemies can’t do you no harm.”

    John Romeo

  72. Roy Conant Says:

    It’s funny how one side castigates the other for essentially irrational and inexplicable political beliefs. While asserting you have left the fold and have been ostracized, you provide no concrete analysis of the events and circumstances of your conversion. Can it be your conversion was motivated by an inability to articulate and rationalize a discomfitting cognitive dissonance between who you really are and who you professed to be?

    If so, welcome to the world of the neo-cons whose bluster and bravado, loneliness, and inability to find or embrace innovative solutions to persistent problems cause them to solve their social/political schizophrenia by finding common cause with subsuming themselves in the quaking jelly of fearful reactionaries whose solutions lie in a mythically ideal and non-existent past.

    When I began reading your blog about becoming a neo-neocon, I thought I might find a disciplined dialectic….

  73. neo-neocon Says:

    Roy Conant: well, I guess you didn’t look very hard.

    On the right sidebar, under “categories,” the very first one is called “A mind is a difficult thing to change: my change story.” Click on it, scroll down to the bottom, and start reading the explanatory tome in chronological order.

  74. Roy Conant Says:

    Oh, I did and mostly I found a litany of tired red herrings used by folks who, rather than critiquing and critically assessing, are content to ridicule someone who is. For example: “America has been very good to you, Joe. If you like Russia so much, why don’t you just move there?”

    To which I might well reply to the neo-cons today (who, by the way are mostly bigoted, white, and well-off): “This is America today, love it or leave it.”

    As though a trite litany of the mindless euphemisms employed by the reactionaries of my youth (those mostly distraught by the passage of the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts) are really useful in any analysis. But, perhaps you learned otherwise in your family counseling classes…

    My suggestion would be that you engage in a disciplined analysis of your discourse and from there attempt to employ some dialectical discursive analysis. But, like most neo-cons and neo-con apologists, I rather suspect you won’t… :-)

    P.s. I’m posting this dialogue to my Facebook account for the amusement of my FB friends from across the political spectrum — Hope you don’t mind… lol

  75. JIM Says:

    Bush wasted trillions on a War in the FOG of Cheney antics.
    It was all useless, and caused no good, to America.
    But, I am glad, Osama is ( DEAD ON ARRIVAl of SEAL T/ 6).
    You seem bright, and a very good observer of the world.
    Ron Paul seems to bug people, in select circles.
    But, I wonder if so many are clueless whey so many IRAQ combat Vets support RON PAUL ??

  76. Ron Says:

    I stumbled upon your blog a few years ago and am so pleased that I did.

    As I read through the negative comments . . . all I sense is hatred, jealousy and envy.

    And most of these people are Godless. While I can understand the problems one may have with religion . . . God IS THERE.

    A first cousin, by marriage, went out of her way to tell me that GWB is a stupid man. Excuse me, Is he still President (in 2012)? After which I said to her, God is laughing at all the stupid things that are being said and at the way humans are behaving. When I mentioned God, there was this “hollow” “vacant” look in her eyes.

    Wishing you good health and a long life (we need you out there). I enjoy your posts immensely. Oh, and not because I agree with everything you write but because you make me think. And for that, I thank you!

  77. NYCnative Says:

    Although my family were Conservatives, I began hanging out with liberals, musicians, artists in my younger years. I was not following politics but ended up helping evacuate the WTC during the 93 bombing and believed my country was doing everything it could to keep us safe. All we heard throughout the 90s from Clinton was how dangerous Saddam was and what a threat he was to the US and the world. I knew enough about the containment policy to understand that it was a failed policy, that shooting at our planes was an act of war and wished the US would stop the madness of trying to protect the entire Middle East from him and finally do what we should have done after the 1st Gulf War.

    After 9/11 I realized that war was being waged against us the entire time yet we refused to accept it and did nothing about it. What happens “over there” sure does affect us here at home. I can understand people wanted to go the sanctions, hoping that would work. I watched as both parties signed off on Afghanistan and how the UN for one of the ony times I can remember agreed unanimously that Saddam should disclose or disarm. After giving that kind of demand, why would they then refuse to “use force”? Of course people have selective memories… Most of the countries were actually doing business with Iraq under the radar. The oil for food program was one of the biggest FAILED policies of all time and THAT was about to be voted on to end because the rhetoric about how that policy itself was starving little children. No mention that Saddam was the one starving little children with his defiance and tyrannical rule. I watched as the left, the Democrats gave aid and comfort to the enemy by spinning their decision to use force to condemn GWB! He must have lied! Forget about the fact that the UN itself was one entity that documented the stockpiles of WMD being there in the first place. Never-mind that more than one intelligence agency warned Saddam may use them.

    I didn’t vote for GWB the first time but I woke up from my liberal sleep and finally began to see the Democrats for what they really were and they have proved to me every chance they get that they are the ones who would do anything, slander anyone for political gain. It began with the chad fiasco. Even though I didn’t vote for Bush, I saw how the Democrats only wanted to recount the votes in selective areas but not the areas in which it looked as though the recount could give Bush additional votes. The should have asked for a Statewide recount, that I would have agreed with. I’ve come full circle, back to the fold of my families politics and will never again be fooled by those who say they work for the little guy, the working man and the CHILDREN of course. If the label NeoCon fits because I agreed with taking out Saddam, then by all means, I am the same as you.. A Neo NeoCon.

    If only we had stayed united after 9/11. Iran is the biggest exporter of terrorism, they are the ones financing Hamas, Hezzbolah, were killing our troops in Iraq and boost about pushing the Israelis into the sea, murdering innocent women and children. If we stayed united we would have shown the world that we were serious, that we will finish what we started and Iran wouldn’t be so bold, they may have gone the way of Libya, giving up their dreams of becoming a nuclear power. Maybe the people of the Middle East would trust that we wouldn’t leave them to be wolves, to the brutal evil doers and maybe one day realizing the dream of being free.. Liberty and loving freedom is in the hearts of all men.. too bad we couldn’t be the one country on the planet to help that along. Could you imagine if we started by taking out Saddam after kicking him out of Kuwait?

    Security does not end at our borders. We are not the “policemen of the world” when we stand with allies and against despots, it is our heads that they want in the end. How could we have let the pre 9/11 mentality rule the day once more? It is a sad day when we don’t realize that the war will NOT end just because the American people have grown tired and sick of fighting in foreign lands.. that is what the enemies of freedom are counting on.

  78. NYCnative Says:

    oops.. that was boast of kicking the Jews into the sea.. but you get the picture.. and not leave them to be wolves, but leave them TO the the wolves.. sorry. typing too fast..

    One addition to my comment is the question to those who blame Bush for rushing to war and making stuff up.. what WAS he supposed to do after he and the UN itself called for Saddam to disclose or disarm? How could we not hold him to account, especially after 9/11? He couldn’t, WE couldn’t, plain and simple, he could not back down. It was what needed to be done and I feel was long over due. In the Iraq Liberation Act CLINTON signed into law the reasons for Saddams removal were clear, and YES, the attempted assassination of a US President, Bush 1 WAS reason enough.. So what it was his father, it doesn’t change the facts, father or not, it was just one of the reasons. They all were reason enough for me. I don’t think GWB should have went back to the UN to authorize use of force.. he had all the authority he needed and HE did go to Congress.. If use of force isn’t going to war, using the force of the US military, I don’t know what use of force would be. I never liked Hillary but I did appreciate the fact that she didn’t shy away from her vote, stating clearly that she based her decision on advice from her own husbands people and not only on what was given to her by GWB. For once she did the right thing.

  79. A Goy and his Blog » Blog Archive » Compromising with Moral Adolescence: A Losing Strategy Says:

    [...] to appease the moral adolescents, and to passively watch for another article like Robin’s (or neo‘s, etc.), it’s critical that we become activists ourselves in this area. It is critical [...]

  80. RAY THOMA$ Says:

    You demand my name but won’t give me yours. I understand why. Liberals have an unreasoning hatred of people like you and me. I was a liberal WAY back when. I even tried to start an international organization to help those “not as fortunate” as we. But during the Goldwater election I had an epiphany and became one of the most vociferous right-wingers possible. I was sure we only had about 15 years before being ?”taken over” by communism. But the more I learned, the more I realized it wasn’t just communism, which was only one kind of collectivism that was the danger. People who HATE communism still love collectivism because they don’t know what it is. I didn’t lose many liberal friends because I didn’t have many so if any liberals “wrote me off” I didn’t notice (like I didn’t notice when other students didn’t include me in their groups because I didn’t care). You have embarked upon a life-changing experience, just as I did many years ago. I was a “Goldwater Democrat” and even went around wearing a gold-colored donkey wearing black “horn-rimmed” glasses. The more I learned, the less vociferous I became. But at the same time, I was exasperated by the APATHY I saw. I am STILL bothered by that because that apathy is going to be the death of us. I’d really like to be able to have you as a friend and if you’re willing, write me at http://www.raythomas101@yahoo.com. I promise not to bother you too much; only so much as you’re willing to be bothered. I have linked to several of your blog items and would like to link to more. -RAY THOMA$

  81. Scott Guthery Says:

    Neo-neocon’s original March 25, 2005, posting rings true for me. I moved to Boston from Austin. The mere fact that I’d lived in Texas was, I discovered quickly, cause for deep suspicion. Quick example: when people started tearing into evangelicals I’d quietly and respectfully ask “Have you ever met an evangelical?” Incredulous looks all around. It’s a closed-bunker, echo-chamber world that these folks live in. The bitterness verging on hate that these folks harbor can’t make their lives happy places. All’s the pity. A nation divided against itself cannot stand.

  82. Hoang Kaizhen Says:

    Thanks for the insight. The comments here are quite the spectacle. As a (legal) immigrant from SE Asia, it took me a while to figure out the political landscape due to the different usage of words here which are nonexistent or have otherwise different meaning in Mandarin.

    Some of the comments that stand out are Roy Conant whose ornate retort (offset by his sophomoric generalization of neo-cons as mostly white, bigoted and well-off) doesn’t say anything to substantiate his moral and intellectual superiority beyond confirming neo-con’s post title that Leftists are too incapacitated by their own reflexive, self-gratifying condescension and sanctimony to recognize the totalitarian aspect of their position on the government and the economy.

    But most self-professed “Liberals” I know are more like Doug who wanted universal coverage but is open to a respectful, objective discussion with the opposing view on the empirical and systemic effect of “socialized” medicine.

    In any case, I don’t know why you would assume the label of neo-con since many American political labels (on the Left and Right) aren’t self-explanatory and were meant to obfuscate rather than facilitate rational discussion.

    It would be more precise to say you’re a Free Thinker.

  83. Ymarsakar Says:

    Americans thought they were all free thinkers after 9/11. But that didn’t turn out to be the case, hence the names.

  84. Ymarsakar Says:

    I bet tools like South San Diego were profiting from the arms deals to AQ in Libya as well as the new Californian arms deals to terrorists.

    It’s how the tools are rolled from the mold.

    Their god Hussein is going to end up sending a SWAT team to your house because one of us told them your address were housing Tea Party activists. No one will survive then.

  85. playing roulette Says:

    playing roulette

    neo-neocon » Blog Archive » Condescension and leaving the political fold

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About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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