January 23rd, 2006

The “changer” path: looking at political life from both sides now

Having studied the stories of so many political “changers” (most recently, Kanan Makiya), it strikes me how similar the paths to such change often seem to be.

Oh, the details vary, of course–different countries of birth, different turning points. But otherwise there is a marked resemblance.

It seems to go like this: an idealistic and intelligent person, who reads a lot and thinks a lot, falls in with leftist beliefs, usually as a university student. But this person never abandons his/her ability to think critically. At some later point the evidence starts challenging his/her worldview.

Because that worldview is so deeply held, the first challenges are successfully resisted. Then, growing experiences add to the doubt, and the pressure builds to the point where it just can’t be denied. The person then makes tentative statements to that effect: initially, perhaps, just among friends; ultimately, in public.

The angry and dismissive reaction on the part of former colleagues and friends is always–always–a surprise; one might even say, a shock. And this experience takes on a life of its own by underlining all the previous doubts. If those colleagues can’t even listen to the questions and doubts of a former friend and fellow-traveler, how open-minded can they be? The essentially closed nature of such a belief system–the heretofore discussed “circle dance”–becomes clear to the changer-in-the-making. And, once that line has been crossed, there does not appear to be any turning back.

As Makiya states, in a tale typical of the genre:

A tension was building up between the way the Middle Eastern world was, to my eyes, and the way our categories described it. The two didn’t match.

I’m very familiar with that disturbing and unsettling sensation of something not matching. That’s the beginning. Usually, it sparks a drive towards further reading, especially of texts from a different (or even opposite) point of view, texts that had been previously untouched and considered unworthy of perusal. Reading such texts–and seeing value in them–are usually crucial to the further development of the change.

Sometimes I think that we changers are a little bit like Tiresias (metaphorically, that is!) He was the character in Greek mythology who had been both a man and a woman, and was therefore able to understand what it was like to be on either side:

Tiresias was the son of Everes and the nymph Chariclo; he was a blind prophet, the most famous soothsayer of ancient Greece.

The most famous account of the origin of his blindness and his prophetic talent is as follows. When Tiresias was walking in the woods one day, he came upon two great serpents copulating; he struck them with his staff, and was thereupon transformed into a woman. Seven years later, she/he passed by the same place and came upon the same two serpents copulating; she/he struck them again with the staff and was turned back into a man. Some time later, Zeus and Hera were arguing over who had more pleasure in sex, the man or the woman: Zeus said it was the woman, while Hera claimed men got more pleasure from the act. To settle the argument, they consulted Tiresias, since he had experienced life as both sexes, and Tiresias sided with Zeus. In her anger, Hera struck Tiresias blind. Since Zeus could not undo the act of another deity, he gave Tiresias the gift of prophecy in compensation.

Well, maybe it’s a bit of a stretch to make that analogy. But I’ve always liked the story of Tiresias, and this seemed as good a time as any to work it in.

35 Responses to “The “changer” path: looking at political life from both sides now”

  1. britney Says:

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  2. Ymarsakar Says:

    It’s real in the sense that people once believed in them and created myths and legends about them. From the Athenian Democracy, down to the Roman Empire.

    And I like Anon’s very storylike description and telling of Tiresias.

  3. larry Says:

    Um, y’all do know that Zeus, Hera and Tiresias were mythological entities, right? If the story was real, though, I’d sure like to be reincarnated as a woman! Oh, and what if they both know what they’re doing? Peels the paint right off the walls, that’s what.

  4. LetMeSpellItOutForYou Says:

    A woman getting angry upon being told that women have more fun in bed? How crazy is that?

  5. Anonymous Says:

    “That’s probably due to the fact that the God’s ask trick questions, and mortals never figure out the right answers to avoid the tricks.”

    The only way to avoid the tricks was to not play the game. Sadly, Tiresias was not given that option; the two most powerful gods had an argument, and Tiresias was the only being, mortal or immortal, that could settle it. At that point Tiresias’s fate was pretty much sealed; it’s not like there was even anywhere he could run to escape gods who were known for being mighty and petty in equal measure, not to mention impatient and downright cruel toward anyone who gave the slightest offense.

    Of course, the gods also had well-known reputations, and no doubt this was the reason Tiresias gave the answer he did. Generally, Zeus was the sort of simple guy who would strike dead any mortal that offended him. The only variance there was how many of the offender’s family and friends would also meet the same fate. On the other hand, Zeus would also shower mortals with downright irresponsible amounts of divine blessings when satisfied, or even mollified. Unless you were female, that is… then you got to get laid by some animal, give birth to a hero, and watch him be smacked down by Hera’s curses sooner or later.

    As for Hera, she was far more subtle than Zeus, and any boon she would grant would be a double-edged sword at best. Maybe a quick kiss on the cheek, before being burned to ash by a raging Zeus. On the other hand, Hera was far more likely to maim or cripple people when angered, and would often even throw in the blessing of a long life, so her victim would have plenty of time to suffer their curse.

    So Tiresias really did make the wise choice: he sided with Zeus, and probably would have no matter what the argument had been about. He got his curse from Hera and his blessing from Zeus, and by all accounts managed to use his gift of prophecy with the same wisdom he displayed in earning it.

  6. triticale Says:

    As I pointed out this morning in a generally lighthearted post, the melting point of steel is irrelevant. Anyone who does not understand this must not, as I have, spent 22 years designing and fabricating loadbearing items fabricated from hotformed steel. Again, if you start with presumption of guilt, this sort of knowledge will not be sought.

  7. Jerry Says:

    OT to Gcotharn:

    Reality is irrelevant to an academic armed with a conspiracy theory. Or to people who are convinced that there WAS a conspiracy.

    “Reality-based” indeed. Reality just doesn’t matter – theory and supposition is everything. The sad thing is, the more you feed into their theories, the more proof you show that their theories have no basis in fact, the more CERTAIN they seem to become that there WAS a conspiracy!

    You perhaps recall the Bush ANG training time flap. I was an AF Reserve Personnel Specialist, who handled my unit’s time and attendance recording for about 8 years. Show me a record sheet, and I can pretty much tell you whether the guy was there on annual tour, a normal Reserve weekend, makeup or what, from the points recorded for that date. (That’s how they keep track of how much you’ll get paid at retirement in the ANG and Reserves – by your points.) I looked Bush’s time over, saw it was good – and then I tried to explain to other folks who were SURE they knew better than I how to interpret the records, despite them not even knowing the difference between annual tour time and regular drill time. (Annual tour is 1 point per day, weekend drill is 2 points per day.)

    I entered into an interesting exchange with one guy, and the gist of it follows. (Sorry to be taking so much space, but it illustrates a point…)

    **********

    Jerry,

    I think this is fascinating. I really appreciate your providing your perspective on this, but I think you would have to admit you’re looking at it with a presumption of innocence on Bush’s part.

    But there’s so little information available, I wonder if you would consider, just as a thought experiment, looking at it with your expertise, and a presumption of guilt. People do each other favors all the time, especially when somebody’s Dad is Ambassador to the UN, and I’m just wondering if there might be some of that at work here.

    *********

    Notice the presumtion of guilt. I explain from a recordkeeping standpoint why I don’t see a problem, and he wants me to presume guilt. But I don’t bite.

    **********

    Frank:

    Question for you – why should I look on it with the presumption he’s guilty?

    BTW, I did when I first looked at the points. Holes? Yeah, a couple. Then I looked closer, spotted UTA weekends that were out of place and obviously makeup.

    We had people who were out six to eight months in the unit. You fill out their 40As in advance, get the commander to sign them, and it’s no biggie. They’re accounted for in the paperwork, and that’s all that matters. They make up their time later. It’s not a big thing, it’s not an unusual thing. It’s certainly not a career-killer, and it’s nothing to get bent out of shape over.

    **********

    I’m trying to explain and get him to realize that the issue’s a bit more complex than he might think, and that there’s aspects he’s not knowledgeable of. But he’s not buying that… not yet.

    ***********

    Why should you look at it from more than one angle? Because perspective begets wisdom. You’re not likely to notice any inconsistencies in the White House release if you can’t look at it objectively.

    ***********

    Perspective begets wisdom. Yeah. Notice the leading assumption there – that an objective viewpoint would find inconsistencies. I tried to set him straight.

    ***********

    Are you familiar with the saying “There’s a right way, a wrong way, and an Army way?” I’m going with the military interpretation of these things, not with a political slant one way or another. You start slapping in slants, and you end up with a free-for-all of battling interpretations.

    In the end, there’s only the military interpretation.

    *************

    We ended on cordial terms. I’m not sure I convinced him, but I did what I could.

    (And you’ll find it interesting that with as many people that have served over the decades in military recordkeeping that you never found ANYONE who’d been in Personnel in the military who stepped up and said there were holes in the record.)

    But the theory (that Bush was AWOL) existed – therefore reality was at fault and would be altered until it fit the theory.

    I don’t think I ever had an ‘ah-ha!’ moment as such when it came to the DNC – just a severe disappointment first with Carter then with Clinton, but I was always thinking that reality was what was important. But the ANG records flap really did me in when it came to the Democratic party. I’ll look at the candidate’s record, and judge accordingly, but the (D) next to the name’s going to be putting me off for years to come.

    If you’re interested in looking at the whole flap, you can look at my posts here …http://tinyurl.com/7edfa and here… http://tinyurl.com/a8dl7

    Reality is something that the DNC leadership would like to ignore, apparently.

  8. Ymarsakar Says:

    No mortal ever had dealings with the Greek gods and emerged unscathed. Tiresas came out far better than most that were not themselves divine progeny.

    That’s probably due to the fact that the God’s ask trick questions, and mortals never figure out the right answers to avoid the tricks. Therefore you have the famous Aphrodite Apple Arathon. Who do you think is the most beautiful goddess? Talk about a does this make me look fat, question.

    If mortals back then had a clue, they wouldn’t have fared so bad against the capricious Gods. Heck, Hind’s blood could kill them, their fault if they didn’t want to stage a Revolution.

    I think that Titan dude, Prometheus, should have given mortals telepathy instead of fire.

  9. Sissy Willis Says:

    Natan Sharansky puts it in terms of fear societies vs. free societies. You, my darling, put it all under the umbrella of “A Mind Is a Difficult Thing to Change.” It’s a good thing:

    “I thought that the Democrats would be a whole lot nicer”

  10. Tom Grey Says:

    I wanted the US to “win” in Vietnam. Or to get out. So I thought us leaving after a “Peace agreement”, and Nobel Peace prizes (to Henry K and the N. Viet future murderers).

    I am ashamed of the US leaving, and letting genocide occur there — and enraged that the Left claims this anti-war (pro-genocide) policy as Morally Superior.

    I joined the purest freedom lovers — Libertarians. But never was comfy with the Purity Police, when it came to politics.

    Neo, just great stuff here! You should look at Grim’s stuff, too.

  11. gcotharn Says:

    Off topic, but:
    Those WTC cutter charges must have been at the top of each tower – b/c both towers came down with the higher floors crashing onto the floors below them: one rapidly smushed floor by one rapidly smushed floor by one rapidly smushed floor – as we all saw on television. So, whoever placed cutter would’ve had to coordinate charge height with those piloting the airplanes.

    Secondly – I can’t stand it! I’m going to respond to Troutsky:

    Trout, don’t you wonder what it is you don’t know you don’t know? I did. And still do.

  12. Tom Myers Says:

    If you’re collecting sample changer-stories — for me it was the boat people. It took a million or two people fleeing the peace that people like me had wished on their small country, before I realized that my country wasn’t the villain here. (Described at
    my
    blog
    a while ago.)

  13. Jerry Says:

    Troutsky said… “Now, like gcotharn, I know liberals do not know what they do not know, and I understand what they do know better than they do.”

    I recently put my two cents in over on a Metafilter.com thread about how the twin towers must have been dynamited, because there wouldn’t have been enough heat from the jet fuel of the planes to melt the steel. I put in links to various engineering analyses, and even to a Popular Mechanics summary/debunking of the 9/11 myths and conspiracy theories.

    It didn’t help. You see, a professor with a PhD thought that prepositioned cutter charges brought down the towers.

    There would seem to be damn near a cottage industry in academia that’s eager to prove that it was the government that did it all – which seems to me to just be a vicious circling spiral designed to keep the true believers inside and pesky facts outside. They’re willing to take academic assumptions and pronouncements as gospel, and ignore anything to the contrary.

    I’m not sure why this would be so, since one of the prime tenents of leftist academic thought used to be ‘Question Authority’. Guess that’s okay so long as you’re not the authority, but by heaven when you’re in the position of ‘Authority’ you’d better not question it!

  14. JohnJ Says:

    I linked to this post, but I can’t find the trackback url.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    I always wondered whether the Left’s passion and anger made up for their lack of success in solving any of their pet problems; a) racism…the more they control a city or state, the more “racism” they keep finding to justify more expenses. b) education. The more billions spent, the less return for their efforts in test scores. c) crime…the more control over Police forces and Judges, the more guns they confiscate, the more fear mongering… they never seem to reduce crime (or poverty) in the places they run or nearly control.

    Given such real world failures in virtually every polity that they control would be enough to make anyone angry and bitter and envious of other cities, towns, places – and desperate to find scape-goats like the ‘rich’ (evil because they’re rich, unlike the poor who are saints because poor), White males, Conservatives…anyone.

    Now their unprincipled politics- as in getting really mad about one small war the US is somehow involved with but then completely ignoring untold millions slaughtered elsewhere…. that I think is unconscionable. If you are a “pacifist” then you ought to be against any war, not just those the US is fighting. If you are an enviromentalist, you ought to be outraged over whomever pollutes THE WORST, not who is an easy target…in this case, Blame China and Indonesia, Eastern Europe and Russia for vast swaths of polluted land not niggle with some small time logger who may or may not have harmed the habitat of a couple flocks of owl.

  16. ozyripus Says:

    What a beautifully succinct description of the steps in changing!

    Passes the Occam’s Razon test nicely.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    “If old blind eyed prophet had this gift for prophecy before he gave the answer, he could have came up with the Truth, and it would have satisfied both Hera and Zeus.”

    How little you know of Greek gods. Had Tiresas tried to achieve such a synthesis, or even waffled the slightest bit, he would not have developed an answer that satisfied both, but rather brought the anger of both down on his head.

    No mortal ever had dealings with the Greek gods and emerged unscathed. Tiresas came out far better than most that were not themselves divine progeny.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    One thing I always envied about the left was their seeming solidarity & sociability with each other and sense of direction. How I wished I was truly liberal, so I could jump on to a demonstration or left wing group and meet like-minded people, make friends, get involved, drink beer at the Union club. Man was I lonely! And I was (and am) happily married, not looking for love so much as for political camaraderie. Must be the Sixties’ effect on me.

    After years in the wilderness I stumbled upon the local Republicans and found what I was looking for. Conservatives are usually the driving force in any Republican central committee. We’re not all on the same page for every issue but I’m realistic enough not to expect that. Now I’m fully engaged in the *Right* kind of activism, and I don’t have to check my brain at the door. And we party a lot too.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    I believe that Winston Churchill summed it up best. He said:
    “If you are not a liberal by 20 you have no heart. If you are not a conservative by 40, you have no brain.

    Jim B

  20. troutsky Says:

    Interesting take pettyfog,that the left champions “self interest free of hindrance”, never quite heard it put that way.And the US Libs foist off corrupt politics on the Republicans.Wow. But if power corrupts, is it a good idea voting your party into power?
    I do like the orgasm thesis for human development.

    From reading this blog today i just changed my entire world view and philosophy,i can’t thank you all enough.Now, like gcotharn, I know liberals do not know what they do not know, and I understand what they do know better than they do.This blog never dissapoints.
    signed, confused member of regimented masses who checked mind at door.

  21. pettyfog Says:

    Dogma is the Enemy of Reason and a blight on the soul

    And it doesnt matter from which side it comes!
    The curious attitude of the Evangelical regarding evolution and ‘how old is our planet’ only matches the quixotic Leftist belief that somehow, somewhere, sometime, the regimentation of the masses by Marxist philosophy will actually succeed in building a paradise for the people.

    The assignation of ‘blame’ for any group on the grounds of ‘politics’ is the red herring.
    In Canada, we have just seen a party thrown out for the type of corrupt politics the US Libs foist off on Republicans and, by association, Conservatives.
    While ignoring their own track record.
    And while, in fact, the only thing proved is that ‘Power Corrupts..’

    The bottom line is that there are, in the US about 20% who will defend to their death.. and probably ours, as well.. the notion that each individual should be free to follow their own self-interest free of hindrance from anyone.
    That these self-interests might result in large scale removal of themselves and the rights they champion by edict and dogma doesnt seem to matter to them.. they look at the world through nose-glasses.

  22. Ymarsakar Says:

    There is a certain invariable dichotomy between the beneficiaries of America and those who uphold American pillars of virtues so that America exists for future generations.

    Everyone owes a debt to the nation and to all those who have gone before. This virtue, of duty and honor, is what has sustained this nation, in blood and in vigilance. Rich billionares, UN Diplomats, businesses that don’t like competition and therefore side with Democrat regulations. All those people have benefited much from America and American power and security, but what do they give back so that future Americans would have the same opportunity? Regulations that stifle competition? Higher taxes, reducing the incentive to become work harder? Reliance on the UN to ensure the safety of Americans when the UN can’t ensure that their Peacekeepers don’t abuse children?

    Unlike social security, this isn’t a pyramid scheme. The first generation does not get “scott free” access to American benefits, no they had to lay down a downpayment, not once but twice. In the Revolutionary War, this allowed all future generations to start off debt free. Our generation has been paid by the previous generation, and so we pay off the debt to the nation so that the future generations do not have to.

    In a pyramid scheme, like Social Security, the current generation pays for the past generation, because somewhere down the line, there was one generation that didn’t make any payment at all.

    What happens then, is this. 5 people don’t pay anything, 20 years later 4 people have to pay for the five, then 20 years later, 3 people have to pay for the 4 and the 5, then 20 years later, 1 person has to pay for al lthe previous generations that is alive.

    The American virtues that is fundamentally for the purpose of continual prosperity and liberty, is based upon the exact opposite scheme.

    And I don’t think a lot of Democrats understand that, but even if they did, I don’t think they would stop caring about themselves long enough to help out.

    As for the Zeus and Hera dichotomy, it is a risk-rewards balance. Women have a less chance at having an orgasm, based upon random luck and a scare supply of knowledge, but they can have multiple orgasms more often and it lasts longer. Men, therefore get the less quality, higher quantity. A guarantee of an orgasm, but a shortness to the quality.

    If old blind eyed prophet had this gift for prophecy before he gave the answer, he could have came up with the Truth, and it would have satisfied both Hera and Zeus.

    Because the truth is often times a synthesis of two opposite viewpoints, creating a synthetic produce that is greater than the sum of its parts.

  23. gcotharn Says:

    I was never very politically aware. The awareness I had came from newspapers and major media, and therefore I was pretty far left, though I had no particular concept of that. It’s an odd coincidence that I too began to see light in the writings of Camille Paglia. Then I stumbled across Rush Limbaugh – a fountain of views I had never considered. Then the internet, and Thomas Sowell, and it was off to the races from there.

    I’ve definitely had the experience of having some of my family, and some of my extended family, react as though I had became a person they no longer know. These are very accomplished and capable and decent people. Their reactions continue to baffle me. I remain amazed.

    I’ve always been a bit in awe of some of my extended family. They are heart surgeons and U.N. diplomats and lawyers and semi- wealthy business owners. But, in the family get togethers of the last two years, as I’ve quietly monitored their political conversations from the edges of the group, it has been completely obvious that I have political and issue understanding which they do not have. That might sound braggy – but truth is truth. They do not know what they do not know, and I understand what they do know better than they do. An interesting thing. And a concrete example of how the major media is misleading our nation – as that is invariably where my relatives misinformation comes from – except for my cousins from Memphis – who read Daily Kos.

  24. jj mollo Says:

    My grandfather, a Republican politician, threw me out of his house for growing a beard. My brother teaches his children that erosion of river valleys is an illusion placed there by the Devil to catch the unwary. He knows and greatly admires Tom Delay.

    The absense of thinking is not the exclusive preserve of “liberals”. Open mindedness is not a common characteristic among those on either end of the political spectrum.

  25. Anonymous Says:

    The modern meme dictates that Zeus was correct if a man knows what he’s doing. Hera is correct if he doesn’t. I think Neo is saying that liberals don’t “know” they “feel”. Mark

  26. Vanderleun Says:

    Struck blind? Yes, but because he forgot, as the tools and fools of the gods often do, that it is best to:

    “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—
    Success in Cirrcuit lies
    Too bright for our infirm Delight
    The Truth’s superb surprise
    As Lightening to the Children eased
    With explanation kind
    The Truth must dazzle gradually
    Or every man be blind—”

  27. Ymarsakar Says:

    I think sudden change occurs because the person is at a young age, and therefore does not have as far to go before changing his world view. For a person with 20 years in Leftist politics, it might take years to change. But for someone with 1 year, then it would be easier. And thus it might appear very sudden indeed.

    there’s always a base template for human nature and desires. And one of them is a sense of belong, a sense of discipline, and a desire for love, acceptance, and purpose.

    The Democrats provide all of the above. And we provide more than the above in Iraq, for the Iraqis. Which is why most people tend to side with Americans, not anti-Americans.

    It’s like a bid, whoever can offer the most, gets the most adherents.

  28. flenser Says:

    The angry and dismissive reaction on the part of former colleagues and friends is always–always–a surprise; one might even say, a shock.

    Is this really true? I have seen a lot of former leftists who knew quite well what the reaction of their former friends would be on learning of their apostasy. Many of them post to this blog to that effect.

    That suggests to me that many if not most liberals understand quite well that they are not really part of an openminded belief system. In fact, speaking as one looking in from the outside, the whole thing sounds very much like some sort of Borg collective, where everyone checks their mind at the door upon entering and accepts the approved point of view on all subjects.

    Presumably they gain something in return, perhaps a sense of belonging and identity. (And superiority?) That is a subject I’d like to see neo speak more on at some point.

  29. neo-neocon Says:

    gatorbait: Just to clarify–my interpretation of anonymous’s comment, “my son was to be on the first plane that hit” was that her son somehow canceled or changed his travel plans at the last minute, and did not actually get on the plane.

    If in fact I’m incorrect about that, I want to offer her my heartfelt condolences for her loss.

  30. b.sikes Says:

    N-NC, there is another category of ‘change’ yet, and it is a rather large one (and still somewhat invisible) even if well-recognised: good, loyal, grassroots Democrats whose party abandoned them.

    True, most of us are Scots-Irish and/or Southerners, but we are permanently beyond reach of any permutation of blandishments offered by the irrevocably Leftist Democrat party. The anomie, alienation, realisation and acceptance of your well-described ‘changers’ are still there, but perhaps ordered differently.

  31. gatorbait Says:

    Madam Anon of 23 Jan 06, 6:32 PM

    Thank you for your post. Rest assured 5 of my family so far and a sixth soon are busily ensuring your son’s sacrifice will not go unnoticed or regarded.

    It took an unbounded amount of courage to post your thought and you picked a wonderful place to do it.

    My regards and condolences to you, Ma’am. Your surviving children will soon grow to understand as well.

  32. Brad Says:

    Great post Neo.
    And sometimes it can be a ‘tweener, and can be caused not by an event but by some other stimulus. Although I was a returned Peace Corps volunteer (Latin America; Che T-shirt and all) and the president of a campus anti-Reagan group, I came to really dislike PC stuff (especially stuff with a “victim status” or Marxist overtone) in the late 80’s and early 90’s, but I kept it to myself. I kept reading the Nation and the other 10 or 12 journals I had been receiving for years, but was put off by the arrogance. As you pointed out, I began reading many other things; one day I picked up Sexual Personae by Camile Paglia, and about half way through I realized I as no longer “on the left,” and hadn’t been for a while.

  33. neo-neocon Says:

    Both comments are very interesting. I hadn’t thought so much about the prospects for sudden change. But it sounds as though it’s definitely a phenomenon, too.

    I’ll have to think about that one.

  34. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you for putting into words so clearly just what has happened to me, something my children can’t understand: a mother who moved from way-out liberal/pacifist to a solid conservative in the blink of a 9/11 day. You see, one of my sons was to be on the first plane that hit, and that changed me forever. Thanks for such good writing…

  35. Anonymous Says:

    It does not always happen slowly.

    I came into college with the typical attitude of a well-informed, idealistic young man. As much as a teenager could, I had opposed the Vietnam War. I was glad when Nixon got his come-uppance and resigned. So I naturally attended the rallies protesting things like the US involvement in El Salvador, Chile, and so on. At one of them, in 1980, during a particularly vehement speech, some guy kept standing up in the crowd and shouting at the speaker. Finally, the speaker basically said “If you have something to say, come up here and say it, so we can have a rational, public, back-and-forth debate, rather just you heckling me” (paraphrased). The man accepted. He stood up to the microphone and asked how they could, in good conscience, focus exclusively on America’s questionable involvement in helping a few hundred Nicaraguans fight for freedom against a Communist regime they saw as odious – while giving no sympathy or support whatsoever to millions of “brave Afghans fighting to defend their homeland” (his exact words) against the massive 1979 ground invasion by the Soviet Union. How could they claim to be on the side of the poor and oppressed, when they completely ignored the huge and horrible war in Afghanistan? Or did they just blindly condemn the USA, and blindly condone the USSR? The crowd roared its anger and disapproval. Some speakers flew into such fury that they physically tried to attack him on stage, in full view of everyone, and were just barely physically restrained by their colleagues by public pushing and shoving.

    He was right. They were wrong. And they were willing to use violence to silence him. The truth, and all that it implied, hit me like a lightening bolt, and I suddenly felt completely alone in the crowd.

    You all know the rest …

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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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