November 23rd, 2005

Talking to conservatives

This comment on a previous thread intrigued me (the first question, that is—although the second was a bit intriguing, also).

The query posed: back when I was a liberal Democrat, if I’d met a group composed mostly of conservatives, and had talked politics with them (or anything else, for that matter), what would my reaction have been?

Interesting question, impossible to answer with total knowledge, of course, since one can’t take a trip back in time. I’ve been critical here of liberals who are intolerant of conservatives or centrists (I consider myself one of the latter). So, did I used to be equally intolerant? How would I react were my previous self to meet my present self—would I slap my own face and walk off in a huff?

Like Pauline Kael, I’ve indeed traveled in a bit of a liberal bubble. But you may recall that during Vietnam I had a boyfriend serving there. He wasn’t a conservative, as far as I know–in fact, we hardly ever discussed politics, although we did discuss the war itself. I attended a hugely liberal school and yet, despite the fact that my friends knew I had someone serving in combat in Vietnam, I never heard a word directed against me—or him, for that matter—from anyone I knew.

Yes, I suppose that although I traveled in liberal circles, they weren’t especially radical ones. But I think it’s noteworthy that even back in that time of such discord, somehow the discourse around me seemed civil enough.

Later, I always had a few centrist or even conservative friends. A few. We just didn’t discuss politics, or if we did, we did it in a very amicable way. Was this because the issues of the 80s and 90s seemed more removed and tangential, as compared to the intensity of the post-9/11 era in which we now live? I think so.

Therefore I’ll have to say that I believe, had I been transported to some sort of “conservative” get-together back then, I wouldn’t have disliked the people or been tremendously uncomfortable there—not that anything they said to change my opinion would have worked at the time (speaking of which, I guess it’s time to start working on that next “change” post…)

Maybe I’m fooling myself, but I have no recollection of demonizing the right back when I was a liberal. I didn’t see any person as a bigot or a Scrooge—unless that individual actually said something bigoted or Scrooge-like, that is. My training as a therapist was part of it, I suppose—although that came later, in the 90s. A therapist, in order to be effective, must actually listen, and listen hard and without preconceived notions, to the person sitting in the chair opposite. Therapists need to come at that process of listening with the attitude of trying to get into the head of the client and be respectful of him/her. It requires a sort of doubling; an imaginative leap into the world of the other while still retaining one’s own self, perspective, and judgment. A therapist needs to hold both things in the mind at once, and use all these sensibilities together to help the client.

Of course, some of the most rabidly politically intolerant people I know are therapists, as I’ve learned to my sorrow since I left the liberal circle, so that argument falls down somewhat (I can’t imagine that such people could be very good therapists, but that’s another story for another time).

I think there’s still another source of my attitude towards talking politics; and surprise, surprise! it comes from my childhood. I grew up in a family where there was an ongoing political war between my father and his brother, my uncle. Ours was a small family, and this was our closest relative, who lived nearby and whom we saw very often.

From earliest childhood (cue violins here) I can remember the bitter arguing that went on at every social gathering, small or large, when they were together. Especially bad were dinners at our house, when it was just us, and they could give full vent to their frustration with each other. My uncle was not only a pro-Soviet pro-Communist, he was a politically involved fanatical pro-Soviet pro-Communist—although not, as far as I know, a member of the Party. It was clear to me even as a tiny child that nothing was ever going to come from these “discussions” but more of the same; no mind was ever going to be changed by them. And I hated it.

Somewhere quite early in the game I must have taken a vow, without realizing it, to try not to be like my uncle. To try to listen respectfully and not dismiss the arguments of the opposition out of hand, to try to evaluate the assertions of opponents with an open mind and the use of reason rather than emotion, and to change the subject if it’s clear the discussion is going nowhere and never will go anywhere.

I’m sure I’ve violated these rules at times—but I’ve tried very hard not to. The echoes of those terrible and utterly fruitless fights of my youth still ring too loudly in my ears to ever want to emulate them.

My uncle was a world traveler, and he often met people in his journeys who later came to New York and visited as they passed through. I remember one evening in 1968 having dinner with my family at my uncle’s house. He was hosting a gentleman he’d met in Czechoslovakia. It was right after the Soviet crackdown on the “Prague spring,” and it turns out my uncle had been visiting Czechoslovakia at the time of the arrival of the tanks, or shortly thereafter.

I was sitting opposite the Czech gentleman, and I watched him as my uncle discoursed on how the Czech people had welcomed the Soviets with open arms, and other assorted pro-Soviet tales. I watched the man’s eyes; he was a guest in my uncle’s house, practically a stranger, and he tried mightily to control himself, confining himself to the clenched-tooth utterance, “That’s not true; that’s not the way it was.”

My uncle was neither listening nor watching; he continued to wax rhapsodic on the joys of Soviet life. I looked at the man, trying somehow to convey with my eyes my youthful sympathy and empathy. I will never ever forget the look of bitter sorrow in his as he looked back at me.

31 Responses to “Talking to conservatives”

  1. Christopher Says:

    I really don’t see the difference between either liberal or conservative supporters–the bigotry is the same just different keywords and pet causes. Disagree with either and you get the same reaction–hostility.
    While it is easy to see the failures that came from and are the final result of the leftist ideas of the past–it isn’t much of a chore to see the shortcomings from the Right either.
    The Left was able to break the narrow bigoted mindview of the right–but failed miserably to respond with anything other than failed ideas from the world’s past, that fail to take advantage of humanity’s great ability to invent solutions to any problem (capitalism)–and ignored human nature in that we are just not all equal by any means.To try and offer One Size Fits None solutions to fix the problems at the time was shortsighted at best–and doomed to failure.
    The Right actually evolved from what it once was and began to make changes.Offer ideas.
    Whether they end up like the old Left remains to be seen. To my eyes they are falling in the same trap–unquestioning of anything they believe true and refusing to criticize or take resonsibility for their methods or any of the results.
    Personally I will leave the past where it belongs,in the past–an example of what NOT to do, and move on.
    Nice blog!

  2. Ymarsakar Says:

    Interesting question, impossible to answer with total knowledge, of course, since one can’t take a trip back in time. I’ve been critical here of liberals who are intolerant of conservatives or centrists (I consider myself one of the latter). So, did I used to be equally intolerant? How would I react were my previous self to meet my present self–would I slap my own face and walk off in a huff?

    It has been my experience that a person’s template personality is formed at around 20ish. After that, it’s all about the trimmings and the brush ups, but the core template is not changeable. Therefore, a person with a strong will will always remain a person with strong will, regardless of how his objectives have changed.

    And a kind, compassionate, thought person will still be that, even after traumatic experiences.

    The exception, as one might deduce, is what happens when the traumatic experience is before the middle to early 20s. That kind of variation produces a different foundational personality.

    So, I would presume you would have just been as thoughtful, and kind, as you are now towards liberals, as you would have been towards conservatives when you were a liberal.

    If the conservatives were pleasant, and logical, if not agreeable.

  3. John Says:

    If you want to talk about liberal hostility, try being a conservative gay man.

    I am also a post 9/11 conservative. I was a “closet” conservative for some time before 9/11 but never mentioned it in social circles. After 9/11, I had to speak up. Since then I have been called a self-hating homosexual “Aunt Mary”, the gay equivalent of an Uncle Tom. Good friends of mine (so I thought) quit speaking to me. So much for tolerance.

    I always go back to this post for inspiration.

  4. JensDensen Says:

    Erm, ever checked out the libertarians by the way?

  5. Solomon2 Says:

    back when I was a liberal Democrat, if I’d met a group composed mostly of conservatives, and had talked politics with them (or anything else, for that matter), what would my reaction have been?

    I never remember meeting a group, but I remember my reaction upon meeting one: I accused him of being too short to have his opinion matter.

    He never spoke to me again. I was deeply ashamed, but what else can a good liberal say? Criticize the part of his hair, maybe?

  6. TmjUtah Says:

    All things being equal I would probably decline the company of viciously bigoted, racist, chauvinistic, theocratic, intellectually vacuous, and economically illiterate peasants if I had the choice.

    Since that list seems to encompass the operative definition of “conservative” in the eyes of the liberal establishment, I’m not surprised they are often incapable of civility in social discourse.

    Being a conservative myself, I have faith in the voting mechanism to winnow the worst ideas out of what eventually becomes law, and the checks and balances still work for the most part.

    I think that equality of outcome agendas and identity politics are frankly silly when viewed across history. The more base aspects of liberal thought – the tendency toward faux populism in pursuit of power and the ever present specter of authoritarian solutions for narrow agendas, right on down to the displayed eagerness to ignore lethal threats in pursuit of short term goals all just serve to keep me closely involved in the debate. It’s my job as a citizen to make the case for the things I believe in – and respect the rights of others to do the same.

    Even if they do come across as screeching moonbats.

    Right now in November 2005, the system still works well enough to protect my family… even if the current crop of Republicans can’t claim to be conservative. Or hardly effective, for that matter.

  7. Simon Kenton Says:

    11:06pm Anonymous –

    Good post, and thank you for your service, active, and afterward.

  8. Richard Aubrey Says:

    I worked with liberals on several projects when I was in college, but we never understood each other.

    I discovered a project in a poor neighborhood that I had to join. It was run by the sororities. So there I was….

    Conservative girls are cuter. Search for “punisher’s ball”.

    I was once accused of “taunting”. It occurred to me that it was correct. You can’t taunt a person about something which isn’t true. You can’t taunt a, say, fencer about being clumsy. You can’t taunt a thin person about being fat. The taunting has to be about something which is true.
    I taunt liberals. What about….? The blank is filled in with something which is unarguable and makes libs look bad, or their arguments.
    So I am not often required to talk to liberals.
    It all works out.

  9. cakreiz Says:

    One question for Anon? Why do you still cloak your identity? Generalities are acceptable- I don’t want you to reveal too much.

  10. cakreiz Says:

    I was one of those centrist folks you may have met along the way. At 19, I volunteered for the Army (’71). I was a liberal in the JFK/LBJ tradition, definitely had a hawkish bent. That tradition was supplanted and replaced long ago; it’s virtually nonexistent on the Dem side. Although intrigued by the left, it never captured my imagination. I played guitar and listened to Lennon though. So I perceived myself as somewhat left. The Assistant Village Idiot (great name) nails it, “we mostly liked being suburban hippies.”

  11. Megan Says:

    Thanks Brad for clarifying that for me. I wasn’t alive in the “good ol days” LOL. :-) I’ll have to read up on SDS.

  12. klrfz1 Says:

    I’m something like Anonymous above, I tend to be a something of a jerk when I get emotional arguing politics. A couple of weeks ago I had what seemed to me a pretty rational back and forth with a co-worker about the Delay indictments. Later a friend told me she thought I was really angry. So I like being able to review my blog comments before posting them. If they seem too emotional or too negative, I don’t post. It’s hard for me to know when to back off when in conversation because I’m not always aware how I’m being perceived. I really don’t want to be so sarcastic someone bursts out crying or takes a punch at me. I too have learned to keep my mouth shut most of the time. After all, I’m probably not going to change anyone’s mind, anyway.

    I still feel contemptuous toward my political opponents just like when I was a Democrat. It’s a character defect. Now though, I sometimes pity them as well.

  13. mizpants Says:

    When I’m around hostile anti-war “progressive” types I repeat the following mantra to myself: Dumb people are conservatives, smart people are liberals, and really smart people are conservatives.
    It has a kind of Zen koan paradoxical quality that I find very calming. It’s also true.

  14. Cappy Says:

    I also avoid liberals anymore.

    Similar family situation, normal, hard-working WWII vet dad, parlour pink Uncle Eddie. In the early ’70′s Eddie really ticked off dad and I thought they were going to have it out. They didn’t. Eddie was an asshole.

  15. Brad Says:

    Megan,
    SDS is Students for a Democratic Society. A campus organization that became more than that, including a proto terrorist element (Weathermen). Very chic in its day. BTW, the society they were hoping for was anything but democratic.

  16. fred Says:

    This is hugh Hewitt’s guide, mentioned above, to handling Thankgiving Dinner arguments over Iraq. Most of you wonderful neocons out there won’t need the guide. Happy Thanksgiving.

    ———–

    Over the river and through the woods to the family argument over Iraq…
    by Hugh Hewitt
    November 23, 2005 02:15 PM PST
    It is that time of year again, when the extended family gathers to feast, watch some football, and fall into deep quarrels over politics.

    Well, hopefully you can avoid the latter.

    But, if you have a brother-in-law or a shirttail cousin who insists –absolutely insists– on arguing “Bush lied, people died” again, follow these simple rules:

    1. Refuse combat, at least twice, and be seen by your spouse and host to have been trying to avoid the clash. Even if you really, really want to engage.

    2. Sigh when you agree to discuss the war, and agree to do so only after your opponent and you agree on some basic facts.

    3. Begin by asking if your interlocutor can recall where he or she had Thanksgiving 10 years ago. The ask if they can recall 1998 very well. Then ask if they can recall Operation Desert Fox. Ask if recalls SecDef Cohen’s December 20, 1998 briefing:
    DoD News Briefing
    Saturday, December 19, 1998 – 6:55 p.m. (EST)
    Presenter: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen

    Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
    Secretary Cohen: Good evening.
    On Wednesday when U.S. and British forces launched strikes against Iraq, I stated that we were pursuing clear military goals. And as President Clinton has announced, we’ve achieved those goals. We’ve degraded Saddam Hussein’s ability to deliver chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. We’ve diminished his ability to wage war against his neighbors. Our forces attacked about 100 targets over four nights, following a plan that was developed and had been developed and refined over the past year. We concentrated on military targets and we worked very hard to keep civilian casualties as low as possible. Our goal was to weaken Iraq’s military power, not to hurt Iraq’s people.

    4. Then ask if President Clinton and his Administration were lying when they gave as their justification for the massive bombing of Iraq the fear that Saddam had WMD?

    5. Ask your opponent if they supported the invasion of Afghanistan.

    6. Ask your opponent if the US. would have been better off had it removed the Taliban regime in 1999 or 2000.

    7. Ask if your opponent believes that al Qaeda would have used WMD if they had had them on 9/11.

    8. Ask if, post 9/11, American presidents have to react differently to perceived threats against the country.

    9. Ask if Zarqawi had trained in Afghanistan, both before and after 9/11, and if Zarqawi had traveled freely in Baghdad under Saddam.

    10. Ask if Saddam’s regime was likely to have ever changed absent outside intervention, and if Saddam’s sons would have been better or worse than their father to their own people, the region, and the world.
    11. Ask if Saddam supported terrorists.

    12. Tell your opponent that his or her answers have given you a lot to think about and excuse yourself from the conversation. If pursued, explain that the gulf between your understanding of crucial facts and their understanding of crucial facts is so vast as to render impossible a meaningful exchange. Be sure that your spouse and host see you make this declaration.

  17. Jack Bog Says:

    If I can respond to the misleading (if not maliciously false) comment made about me here yesterday (by an anonymous person, of course): The post on my blog to which you have linked makes quite clear that I am not “morally superior and… revel[ling] in that glory some 30 years later.” Indeed, my post says: “[I]t’s still one of those awful, awkward stories from my youth that I try to blot out of my memory.” I believe that you, sir or madam, see yourself as the morally superior one. AS they say in the Marines, “Semper ad hominem.”

  18. Paul Says:

    If you haven’t read it already,please read Norman Podhoretz’ “Ex Friends”. As a former Leftie myself, I find a lot to identify with in his book and it does bring back some bittersweet memories !

  19. Megan Says:

    Wow! Finding this site is wonderful. I am also a post-9/11 conservative. I was raised by a mother who loved her “Labotomies for Republicans” bumper sticker. My grandfather was the only conservative I knew and he wasn’t a “real” one for all I knew. Because of course, “real” Republicans were rich, racist, idiots.

    Since 9/11 my mother, and my brother, haven’t changed much and talking politics is nearly impossible. It’s all about Bush hatred…because after all he’s just a mornic chimp Nazi, right? It’s a little frustrating because we can’t even have civil conversations to discuss any political (or related) topics. It’s not because I get all emotion or upset…but boy do they.

    Thank you SO much for this blog. I hope that my brother will someday see the light and stop drinking the Kool-aid…maybe after he’s out of college.

    Also, may I ask what SDS is? Forgive my ignorance. It’s not an acronym that I recognize.

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

  20. vbspurs Says:

    I rarely reply to a half-read blogpiece, but forgive a quick commentary just before hitting the sack, before I finish reading your post in its entirety.

    But I think it’s noteworthy that even back in that time of such discord, somehow the discourse around me seemed civil enough.

    Later, I always had a few centrist or even conservative friends. A few. We just didn’t discuss politics, or if we did, we did it in a very amicable way. Was this because the issues of the 80s and 90s seemed more removed and tangential, as compared to the intensity of the post-9/11 era in which we now live? I think so.

    I can’t tell you how it was “back then” (forgive aging you unduly here ;).

    But I can tell you what I perceived happened.

    It’s always possible several factors were at work in your lack of finding animosity towards conservatives in your more liberal circles.

    1- It could be that you are a civil lady generally, who doesn’t attract the coarser, or more radical elements of the liberal side, because as you can imagine, they certainly existed then — so it wasn’t a question that it just wasn’t “that way” back when.

    2- It could be that whilst you were politically aware, you were not politically all that involved, and as what happened to me (I’m 30), though today I hold very firm political views, a mere 4-5 years ago, however much of a conservative I was, I just wasn’t that politically motivated. The difference you perceive today, IMHO, is within, not without.

    3- The times, they are a-changing. Back in the 60′s and certainly the 70′s, the progressive, anti-war movement was at its apogee. It seemed that they had heralded all kinds of important ideas which would come to fruition, no matter which government was in place — because that movement changed society itself. Civil Rights, women’s rights, gay activism, Affirmative Action, the rise of the welfare state, anti-militarism…these were all very important strides made in the name of liberal politics.

    But then, came Reagan and the 80′s, and suddenly, the word liberal was a bad word.

    Oh sure, the programmes and the attitudes, especially in academia, continued unabated, but there was now a tug back, by the other side, and by a younger generation too.

    And it was working.

    What I am trying to say is, you were a liberal back when the liberal movement believed itself poised to change America.

    That didn’t happen.

    National Elections were lost. Communism fell. Clinton was a “third way” liberal.

    With the growth of conservative talk radio, Fox News, and then horrors, Bush 43, the left side of the aisle became embittered, disillusioned, and felt as if its shining ideals of the 70′s were being mocked or disregarded.

    What you see now, this extreme animus on both sides, this lack of being able to TOLERATE one side, even socially, even dating-wise for pete’s sake, is in large part due to that loss many progressives feel.

    It’s a loss of being able to control, lead, and direct much of what America should stand for — since they believed everyone was on the same page then.

    We weren’t.

    Happy Turkey Day to all. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

  21. Anonymous Says:

    I’m probably about ten years older than NNC and graduated in the early 60′s and went on active duty in the military for several years. Because I had two other fluent, testable, languages besides English, I wound up doing intelligence work for “mumble”. I had been raised in the “Duty, Honor, Country” tradition so prevalent at the time.

    I had never really had any trouble in undergrad days being identified as a liberal Republican (Yes, they existed.) It was the dominant political culture of my state at the time and it was sort of expected that someone with my socio-economic background would be one.

    It was quite a different story when, after active duty, I began to study for my advanced degrees. The term “hostile environment” doesn’t do it justice. I learned to keep my head down and stick to highly technical research in social science; things like methodology, quasi-historical seminars and the budding area of computers in the social sciences. I also had sub fields in anthro and econ. So, I flew under the radar as just another social sci proto geek. That ended when I was outed late in my doctoral work as not only a vet, but a vet with combat experience, training at “baby killer” schools and, ever so much worse, counter intelligence assignments. What happened was that a “mole” in the office where the GI Bill was administered went through the DD Form 214′s; a short form service record and copied some.

    My campus was a hot bed of radical activity with several incidences of everything thing up to National Guard call ups and one murder by bomb. Things got actually dangerous and I had to move my wife and newborn completely out of town. The university finally made arrangements for me to be in residence at another campus while I finished up. As an academic cause célèbre, and pariah I finally found a working home in a private sector “institute” where my budding computer skills were much caressed.

    Even today, as a life member of the alumni association I still get hostile emails.

    Was I a victim? No, not really since I eventually turned over to a “domestic counter intelligence agency” an active network of sources deep in the SDS/bombers axis. I developed the first couple of sources almost by accident and it just grew as I did what I’d been trained for. The people in it had a need to talk for various reasons and I was a very good listener, highly trained in non-directive interview techniques. Just another social scientist collecting data. It was still producing useful information just a few years ago.

    As they used to say, “There are a million stories in the Naked City, and this as been just one.” Given current conditions, I’ll post this a Anonymous and let the other participants make up their own minds. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Unless you were keeping track of what was happening at the time; bombs in Congressional restrooms and academic mathematics departments (the same type later used in Oklahoma City); that one killed an innocent graduate student, a bomb in a faculty club that killed a custodian; you missed a lot since there was only the MSM and only about four Internet sites. Our very own domestic insurgency.

  22. HenryinTampa Says:

    As a reformed liberal whacko (San Francisco bred), I can remember always being uncomfortable with the intolerance of my liberal-minded brethren. I was indoctrinated into the liberal way of thinking from a very early age. I believed Republicans were self-centered, money-grubbing war mongers. The conservatives I knew were arrogant yuppie types who talked up supply-side economics and Ronald Reagan in my Econ and Poli Sci classes. They were sharp and quick and very sure of themselves. The anarchists and socialists and “blame America first” crowds would shout them down of course, but the liberals never won the argument on the merits. I always found myself more comfortable with the conservatives than the liberals, even though I was philosophically aligned with the latter. The disagreements were always much more civil than the agreements. Even though I was on their side, the liberals were never satisfied. I had to do more to legalize drugs or support the Palestinians or end AIDs or any of a dozen other pet causes. The liberals were just WAY to serious. Everything was a conspiracy, of the corporate or government variety. The conservatives were more positive, more accepting, and more appealing to be around. The conservatives were also serious, but they were a far sight more accepting of diversity than the diversity lovers.

    It took me nearly 20 years to vote for a Republican (GWB in 2000), but I haven’t looked back. I would say that one of the reasons I even considered voting for a Republican after my upbringing/indoctrination is the greater acceptance I found when I argued with them. In my experience, you ain’t going to win an argument with a liberal, especially if you do!

  23. Anonymous Says:

    I almost NEVER talk to a liberal about politics.

    First of all, it is a good way to end a friendship.
    Secondly, they will immediately ignore any points you have and start to scream at you that you are a racist, closed-minded, intolerant, bigot, and then they will make up agreements that use as foul language as possible. (Not that my wife hasn’t chided me for my frequent Al Swearengen-like [HBO's Deadwood] language, but my goal with the language isn’t to be intentionally offensive.) This goes to Democrat rule of debate to “don’t play the ball, play the player.” If you demonize your opponent you can win regardless of the facts. Also, the Leftsit may also silence their opponent (which often works in my case; I just write you off as worthless).

    As such, many conservatives simply avoid liberals. Their friendship or company isn’t worth the pain.
    Often the goal of liberals is not to win hearts and minds but to come away with a badge of courage and a story to tell their liberal friends. One guy I knew always went to “protests” to incite a riot and get a minor injury. Nothing thrilled him more than being about to show us a red mark on his back from were a police bean bag had hit him. Nothing was actually accomplished by his asinine behaviour, but he “stood up to The Man” and that was what counted. It really annoyed me that Mr. PETA supporter was proud that he threw a newspaper vending machine at a police horse.

    Neo-neocon’s personal behaviour aside, your typical liberal would have ranted and screamed if they found themselves in room with a large number of conservatives. Any polite response from the conservatives would have only egged on the liberal. With no negative consequences, they would have had to ramp up their behaviour. If they had provoked a violent response or been politely expelled this would have only added to their story and confirmed their martyrdom for “speaking truth to power”. And, that brings up something in the liberal mind; they want to claim to be a martyr (like Dr. King, etc.) but they don’t actually want to suffer real consequences for that martyr status. Doing something that causes them to be expelled from the conference room, causes no real pain, but allows them to claim to be a martyr because their free speech was restricted (ignore that it wasn’t a government action), or that they were manhandled (ignore the lack of bruises), etc. My protester-hobbyist acquaintance was thrilled if he got arrested and spent 3 hours in jail/processing without charges. That would be just the best result possible. After all, he had expected to by at the “protest” all day; no time wasted for him. But even more proof that he took it to The Man.

    Since the 60s we live in a culture where rudeness is rewarded. The more of an A-hole you are to someone in authority the better morally you are. Since protests in the 60s were rude and right, being rude must therefore be right. And if it is rudeness to someone in authoity or someone conservative it is defiantly unquestionably morally right. They never seem to realize that in the 60s righteousness and rudeness were not a cause and effect relationship. Granted, they often went hand-in-hand, but one didn’t cause the other. Nor was rudeness necessary. Dr. King was not rude and he accomplished a great deal.

    No one cares if their rudeness actually accomplishes anything. What matters is that they have a story to tell. The Left really doesn’t care about the causes they champion. What they really care about is themselves. For example, read this story at http://bojack.org/mt-arc/001321.html . Here you have a law professor, who accomplished nothing (Reagan still became Gov, then POTUS), but feels that because he did something inappropriate (ignoring his boss, and “violating someone’s free speech rights” [what they would say if it happened to them]) he is morally superior and he gets to revel in that glory some 30 years later. He admits he did something wrong, but he feels he is right because of it. His behaviour, both in cutting short Reagan’s speech and retelling the tale, are pure self-centeredness and narcissism.

    The average liberal would have gone on a tear, when placed in a room with known outspoken conservatives. Because to them, in their Me culture, (1) rudeness is rewarded, and (2) right and wrong are not based upon WHAT you do, but instead upon WHO you are.

  24. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    I was a church-basement coffeehouse liberal in the 60′s and 70′s; earnest young folksinger and all that. At my best I was well-meaning and naive. But I certainly made sneering and vicious comments. And some of the lyrics I wrote are humiliating to recall, now.

    We tried to start an SDS chapter in my highschool. There were three of us, and none of us had enough discipline or ambition to actually try and contact anyone who could really get us started. We mostly liked being suburban hippies. Pathetic, really.

  25. fred Says:

    From today’s radioblogger.com transcript of Hugh Hewitt’s interview of Mark Steyn:

    HH. …I will be devoting most of today’s show to, a guide to Thanksgiving Day festivities with cranks. That is, how to engage, or not to engage, the crank at the dinner table who wants to debate Bush lied/people died.”
    ****
    Nothing further on this — maybe tomorrow? — except the next Q/A.
    HH. … Now we’ve got one question with thirty seconds. If you’re confronted by a crank, and cornered tomorrow on Bush lied/people died, what’s the one fact you’ve got to get across to them, Mark Steyn?
    MS: The one fact you’ve got to get across to them is that 50 million Muslims now live in freedom, because of the bravery of the men and women of the U.S. and other armed forces. And that’s what we should be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

  26. Foobarista Says:

    I can’t recall any honest-to-God Commies in my family, although there were a few lefties. For me, growing up in San Jose, CA in the late 70s and early 80s with hundreds of Vietnamese kids, “fresh off the boat” from refugee camps in SE Asia, basically zorched any chance that I’d have sympathy for Communists or fellow travelers.

    I dabbled in leftism while at UC Berkeley, mostly as a social thing, but it never “took” – particularly after I figured out the way to get an “A” in my “peace studies” class was to come up with a bunch of anti-American cliches and string them together into an “essay”. It was intellectually dishonest, but I needed to concentrate on my math and CS classes where good grades were much harder to get…

  27. Anonymous Says:

    Me, I’ve always been a jerk. What a surprise, eh? Never got along with anybody, and still don’t, sadly. Blessed with a tongue that could burn through steel, and trained in the art of snide comments by my unashamedly Maoist parents.

    The only way I get along with anyone is by keeping my mouth shut, and then I seem cold and aloof. It’s an improvement on “world’s biggest asshole,” but not by much.

    I wish I could go around to all the conservatives I used to spew bile at, and tell them, “You were right, I was wrong, and I’m sorry for all the things I said.” But the second they saw me open my mouth, they’d probably put their fists in it, and I really couldn’t blame them.

    So I hide on the internet, behind an “Anonymous” tag, and get my mostly parasitic socialization that way. Keeps me sane enough to hold a job, at least.

  28. jack Says:

    Sometimes I don’t know what the hell you are talking about … but you always seems to make it sound good.

    And I bet you would have died to go to Woodstock!

  29. Brad Says:

    In graduate school, just out of the Peace Corps, I started a Reagan-hating, campus organization dedicated to the “truth” about Central America. It included speakers, films, rallies, etc. I had not had any real contact with political conservatives before that, but what I found was that the college repubs that confronted me after an event were much more polite than the fellow lefties that objected to some deficiency in the program (one wanted more about gay rignts, another wanted a feminist perspective, and another wanted more Guatemala and less El Salvador). It struck me as odd and initiated my anti-PC conversion.

  30. neo-neocon Says:

    Funny you should ask about SDS, Goesh. Maybe I’ll do a whole post on it someday, but I went to one meeting and it absolutely repulsed me. No, I was put off of fanaticism quite early–although it doesn’t seem to have kept me from holding firm views and annoying people with them :-).

  31. Goesh Says:

    - no SDS/Weatherman skeletons in your closet? Back then, I simply didn’t realize how much I needed the folks from the MIC, military industrial complex, to define my views and attitudes, my very radical identity. Talk about codependence. I found a sort of savage joy in the nihilism of the times, when anything perceived to be wrong could be easily projected outward and away from myself. Freedom can be a real bitch from that perspective, but to your point, I could find nothing in common with ‘them’, which enabled confrontation on a regular basis. My only saving grace in those days was my respect for the elderly, and I was always good to kids.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>



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.
Read More >>








Blogroll

Ace (bold)
AmericanDigest (writer’s digest)
AmericanThinker (thought full)
Anchoress (first things first)
AnnAlthouse (more than law)
AtlasShrugs (fearless)
AugeanStables (historian’s task)
Baldilocks (outspoken)
Barcepundit (theBrainInSpain)
Beldar (Texas lawman)
BelmontClub (deep thoughts)
Betsy’sPage (teach)
Bookworm (writingReader)
Breitbart (big)
ChicagoBoyz (boyz will be)
Contentions (CommentaryBlog)
DanielInVenezuela (against tyranny)
DeanEsmay (conservative liberal)
Donklephant (political chimera)
Dr.Helen (rights of man)
Dr.Sanity (thinking shrink)
DreamsToLightening (Asher)
EdDriscoll (market liberal)
Fausta’sBlog (opinionated)
GayPatriot (self-explanatory)
HadEnoughTherapy? (yep)
HotAir (a roomful)
InFromTheCold (once a spook)
InstaPundit (the hub)
JawaReport (the doctor is Rusty)
LegalInsurrection (law prof)
RedState (conservative)
Maggie’sFarm (centrist commune)
MelaniePhillips (formidable)
MerylYourish (centrist)
MichaelTotten (globetrotter)
MichaelYon (War Zones)
Michelle Malkin (clarion pen)
Michelle Obama's Mirror (reflections)
MudvilleGazette (milblog central)
NoPasaran! (behind French facade)
NormanGeras (principled leftist)
OneCosmos (Gagdad Bob’s blog)
PJMedia (comprehensive)
PointOfNoReturn (Jewish refugees)
Powerline (foursight)
ProteinWisdom (wiseguy)
QandO (neolibertarian)
RachelLucas (in Italy)
RogerL.Simon (PJ guy)
SecondDraft (be the judge)
SeekerBlog (inquiring minds)
SisterToldjah (she said)
Sisu (commentary plus cats)
Spengler (Goldman)
TheDoctorIsIn (indeed)
Tigerhawk (eclectic talk)
VictorDavisHanson (prof)
Vodkapundit (drinker-thinker)
Volokh (lawblog)
Zombie (alive)

Regent Badge