Thursday April 8, 2010: A Hornets’ Nest

I seem to have stirred up a small hornets’ nest (that’s a small nest, not a nest for small hornets) with yesterday’s post.  If you read this blog here at biddlesworld.wordpress.com, you didn’t see them.  But when I publish this, it also shows up on my Facebook page, and that’s where the contretemps took place.

I just want to point out that when I post something here, not responding to every comment does not necessarily mean I don’t care to engage in a discussion.  It just means that I don’t have the time to respond to all comments, particularly when those comments veer off the original point and make arguments against points I have not made.

I have said this before, and I’ll say it again:  I have a great many liberal (or if you prefer, “progressive”) friends.  For many years, while I was toiling in the fields of Public Broadcasting, I pretty much kept my mouth shut in the interests of office harmony.  Most folks I worked with were well aware of  my political views, and I was, not surprisingly, the only one of a conservative bent at either of the stations for which I worked (WPSU in State College, and WMFE in Orlando.)  I also was enjoined from any political activism at all because of the fact that I worked as a news anchor and had to remain objective.  That was as it should be, and I had no problem with it.

But after five or so years of not writing editorials, becoming politically active, or otherwise speaking my mind, I found myself increasingly frustrated… particularly in these polarizing times.

I would like to reiterate that I still love my liberal friends.  I do not agree with them, but I do not consider them to be intellectually flawed, morally bankrupt, stupid, or evil.  Just wrong.  From some of the responses I have received privately, though, I get the feeling that this willingness to accept their ideas as their ideas, and not as a character flaw, is not returned.  One Facebook friend said something to the effect that she would try to continue to like me, but it might not be easy anymore.  Okay, well, I’m truly sorry to have heard that, but her ideas, although I disagree strongly with them, has no effect whatsoever on how I feel about her as a person.

Also the fact that I have not heard from some of my very closest friends (liberals) since I’ve returned to State College makes me fear that they may have written me off as a friend because of my views.  And my views are not radical, inflammatory, or extreme in any way, unless one lives in a left-wing echo chamber.  To be fair, though, I haven’t gone out of my way yet to contact most of my friends here because I’m up to my eyeballs in writing this,  doing prep for my show, and trying to make the place in which I now live, well, liveable.  And it’ll only get worse, because next week I’ll add driving a taxi to that list, and my hours will be brutal.

I have been surprised to observe that (and this is, admittedly, anecdotal) by and large, conservatives find it easier to accept a person for who or what she is as a person despite a disagreement with their political beliefs than liberals do.  I think we tend to accept the idea that while we may disagree, our friends have come to their conclusions through their own examinations of the issues, and we respect that.  In other words, we take it for granted that they have examined the same information we have and come, honestly and through analysis and introspection, to the conclusions they have reached, as we have.   We cannot understand, perhaps, how or why, but we take it for granted.

On the other hand, liberals generally tend to view conservatism as a character flaw, as evil, as stupid or intellectually indefensible.  And that is closed-minded and insulting.

Today’s Curiosities

  • Musicovery.  A website that helps you find music you like by genre, mood, and a range of other criteria.
  • Forget Sham-Wow!  Here’s a fabulous new product:  Paper Towels!

and, of course, have a wondrous, adventure-filled day!  –Steve

Advertisements

17 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Russ Sodergren on April 8, 2010 at 8:29 AM

    Steve, I know EXACTLY what you are saying. It seems as though as long as we conservatives keep our mouths shut that our liberal friends will like us. Unfortunately, when pressed into a discussion about something, many of them resort to personal attacks, insults, etc. I too have a number of Progressive friends. I do not agree with them and I certainly don’t understand their viewpoints and I’m sure they don’t get mine. One thing I find them doing, however, is using the ‘talking points’. And perhaps I do that somewhat too. I have some liberal views as well, even as a conservative, but to many liberals unless all your views match theirs you are wrong. And we a labeled as bigoted, racist pigs. It is not fair. I am far from bigoted or racist. I accept people for who they are. My biggest issue is that 48% of our citizens no longer pay federal income tax, yet many of those 48% are collecting some sort of benefit at our expense. And we are not RICH people. And the govt. just keeps growing and growing until the point of near bankruptcy. Everyone, liberal and conservative, damn well be worried about this. Worrying about going bankrupt should not be apartisan issue. Yet, when we conservatives worry about the size of the Economic Spendulus or what the HealthCare revolution means to our wallets, everyone should be concerned. There will be no entitlements if the government collapses economically. It is really scared. Oh wait, I’m sorry, we are just hate mongers and fear mongers…libs, please fill in the rest of the blanks please ______________, but we still love you.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Gretchen on April 8, 2010 at 8:48 AM

    Steve, I agree with you except that I think that many liberals do not do the research necessary to back up their claims. If they did, they would see that they are, most times, wrong. I’m not asking them to simply accept what I say. I am challenging them to do their own research to get the facts, and not accept something at face value because someone says it is so. They hear something in the mainstream news, and accept it as fact or as the whole story, when it simply isn’t so. I try to not accept everything I see or read without delving into the issue further. I’m far from perfect, but I try to get both sides of an issue before I “spout” off about it.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Beverly Molnar on April 8, 2010 at 9:18 AM

    Russ, you’re absolutely right ….. and now I’m just waiting to be called homophobic because I shared Steve’s link to principled arguments against gay marriage with some liberal friends of mine!

    Reply

  4. Posted by Theresa A. Nelson on April 8, 2010 at 12:11 PM

    Bev, I’m going to try and still like you because we don’t agree on gay marriage. In fact, I’ve never even seen your opinion on gay marriage, only the line you wrote to Russ in your comment.

    And THAT ladies and gentlemen is how most way left liberals come attcha: with a comment and nothing to back it up.

    —–

    Theresa~ independent (with a lower-case “i”) BEFORE it was chic!

    Reply

    • Posted by Beverly Molnar on April 8, 2010 at 12:56 PM

      Theresa, I’ve never expressed my opinion on gay marriage, only that I shared a link with some folks. So I’m not sure how you know whether we agree or not?

      Reply

  5. I think you should watch this: http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind.html

    I don’t have a problem with your beliefs, though they tend to differ from mine. But it does make me a little hot under the collar to read things like, “I have been surprised to observe that (and this is, admittedly, anecdotal) by and large, conservatives find it easier to accept a person for who or what she is as a person despite a disagreement with their political beliefs than liberals do.”

    Those statements don’t get you very far and, for me, really take away from what I *do* want to know, which is what you believe and how you feel about things. My $.02 is to stay away from making (admittedly, anecdotal) blanket statements.

    I also think you should watch this: http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind.html

    Reply

  6. I will watch the ted.com talk, thanks. And I’m sorry if you’re annoyed with my comment. But this has been my experience, and the experience of other conservatives with whom I have discussed the matter. We are often portrayed as being stupid, narrow-minded, intellectually bereft, and bigoted.

    Periodically, a “study” comes out saying, to the effect, that conservatives tend to be less intelligent than liberals, that conservatism is mental disorder, and that conservatives believe what we do because we are incapable of analytical thinking. Sorry, but that is insulting and infuriating.

    And when we have friends (and I think we all do) who predicate their friendship on whether or not we agree with their political beliefs, well, that says a great deal more about them than it does about us. So, I’m sorry, TT, if that annoys you, but, well, it is what it is.

    Hope all is going well!

    Reply

    • Posted by david maser on April 9, 2010 at 4:51 PM

      And don’t forget, people of the conservative “orientation” are also–in the opinion of some people–racist, homophobic, and fanatical religious zealots. Just like liberal thinkers are stereotyped, this is usually FAR from the truth. As I’ve aged, I found myself way on the left and through the years have migrated the other way. Experience had a lot to do with it. I don’t consider myself a curmudgeon, only as someone who has learned from my own personal experience and a somewhat fair knowledge of history.

      Reply

  7. Steve:

    I know it’s frustrating and I think we all experience it to some degree. I’m guilty of it myself and am grateful that I’ve become a better person by falling in love with someone whose ideals and values differ from mine a bit. So I know where you’re coming from. I just felt like you needed a little nudging. 🙂

    I wrote a blog post a while back about that TED video. http://fraughtwithshampoo.blogspot.com/2010/01/love-moral-roots-of-liberals-and.html It really helped me to understand how two very distinct beliefs could both be *right*. Imagine that.

    Reply

  8. Thanks so much, Tara. I still haven’t yet had the chance to watch the TED video, but I did read your blog post. In the past week, I have started dating someone who holds deep liberal convictions, and at first I was a bit nervous: not because I thought I’d reject her, but because I thought she might reject me. But, so far, so good. I think our new relationship and respect for each other will very likely overcome any differences — just like yours.

    I’m getting the germ of an idea… just a germ… but it’s one that may become… uh… a big germ (?)

    When I was much younger, for example, in my 20’s, it seemed possible to have civil discussions between those of opposite beliefs (unless, of course, those others were parents.) Anger sometimes? Sure! But I remember long, wonderful, late-night sessions spent in passioned but (mostly) respectful discussion. And if anger existed, it would evaporate by the next morning.

    I am very dismayed about exactly the sort of differences we have been discussing here: the vilification, the aspersions on one’s character, the lack of respect and civil discourse. I wonder if, here, we might be able to begin to remedy that and to urge people on either side to really listen and consider what their opposites are saying.

    Now there would, of course, be an initial problem: On both sides of the political divide, there are those who harbor passionately-held beliefs based on emotion or bumper sticker slogans. My ex girlfriend is just one of those. She’s very intelligent, but as she said to me not long ago, she has not a political bone in her body. That, however, doesn’t prevent her from holding passionate beliefs.

    The point is this: you and I, who both seriously pay attention to issues, still have come to opposite conclusions based on our study, analysis, thought and introspection. You and I could have a principled debate. But I could crush my ex girlfriend in a debate. You know people on my side who are equally uninformed yet passionate in their beliefs.

    Having said that, though, wouldn’t it be great if we could somehow spark a movement for civility, informed discussion, and a genuine attempt at understanding?

    Just a thought. We both have blogs… and those are pretty wonderful tools.

    Now, without further procrastination, I’m off to watch the Ted vid…. oh look! A squirrel!

    Just kiddin’ I’m looking forward to it.

    Reply

  9. Posted by Jerry Kramer on April 8, 2010 at 9:48 PM

    Let me say that I don’t believe my conservative or liberal friends to be intellectually flawed, morally bankrupt, stupid, or evil either. Choosing friends can be tricky, but I find that a real friend is someone who walks in when others walk out. Perhaps that’s the definition of “friend” you may be seeking.

    As to the current political climate, I must confess that I am a self-professed “moderate” who has never voted a straight ticket in any election – ever.

    I believe that what has caused the most ire among my left-leaning friends is the vitriol that some conservative pundits have spewed.

    Calling a part of health care reform “death panels” comes to mind, for one.

    But when you get Rush Limbaugh calling the President “halfrican American” and repeatedly playing a song called “Barack the Magic Negro;” or Glenn Beck declaring that the nation is headed toward a “fascist state” and that the White House is infested with “radical, revolutionary and in some cases Marxist” advisers; or when Ann Coulter writes that “Liberals hate religion because politics is a religion substitute for liberals and they can’t stand the competition;” it really tends to divide.

    Now I realize that these pundits are in “show” business more than they are in the “news” business. But because that have the “bully pulpit” of national airwaves, their pontifications get amplified much more then they probably deserve.

    I know that the other side of the asile has also offered up it’s own share of ill-conceived verbiage, but from my in-between view, the conservatives have raised the stakes very high.

    It seems that rational conservative discourse is a lost art. I think it died with William F. Buckley Jr. whose writings, which I always enjoyed, were always rational. It’s too bad that when he was still with us, he was marginalized by the far-left for not being a “true” conservative. Guess he didn’t shout and pound his fist enough.

    Reply

    • Posted by david maser on April 9, 2010 at 5:02 PM

      God Bless William F. Buckley Jr! I grew up with listening him discoursing with a variety of thinkers of different opinions, and absorbed all points of views and appreciated –agree or not– all educated opines. I’ll never forget (on the Tonight Show, of all venues!) He and Gore Vidal having a debate for about 40-60 minutes. Imagine something like that today!

      Reply

  10. Okay Jerry, point taken. But rational discourse? How about when leftist pundits like talkshow host Mike Malloy say this about Limbaugh, et al:

    “You rat bastards are going to cause another Murrah federal building explosion. [M]aybe at that point Beck will do the honorable thing and blow his brains out. Maybe at that point, Limbaugh will do the honorable thing and just gobble up enough – enough Viagra that he becomes absolutely rigid and keels over dead. Maybe then O’Reilly will just drink a vat of that poison he spews out on America every night and choke to death.”

    You don’t think that causes division?

    I do listen to Rush Limbaugh’s show, and although I did not hear him call Obama a “halfrican American,” think about it for a second. Why should that be a derogatory term? I think it’s sort of clever, and not at all insulting. If I were half white/half black, I might well call myself that. In fact, if you really want to go there, I think the term “African-American” is divisive. I don’t think that too many of my Black friends have ever been to Africa, or even have any knowledge of where on that continent their forebears originated. Yes, yes, I know that’s because they descended from slaves. But that’s not my point. My point is that my family originated in England. I have been there. I have visited my ancestral home. I have met my relatives who still reside there.

    But it never once occurred to me to call myself a “British-American.” Okay, I’m off on a tangent, but really, what on earth is insulting about the term “Halfrican American?” Could it be such political sensitivity as we endure in this country has developed in you a knee-jerk reaction to anything that might, in any remote way, possibly be considered ‘racist?’

    And as for “The Magic Negro,” it is not an invention of Limbaugh. Yes, the term was used by Paul Shanklin when he wrote his parody song, but its origin is here, in a Los Angeles Times column by David Ehrenstein: http://articles.latimes.com/2007/mar/19/opinion/oe-ehrenstein19

    As for Beck, well, he’s over the top. But when he refers to ‘Marxist,’ vis a vis Obama, he’s not using that phrase as incitement… he’s saying that because he really believes it.

    And as for ‘death panels,’ please. Call it what you want, and perhaps ‘death panels’ is hyperbolic… but no matter how you slice it, the current health care law will involve rationing of care well beyond anything we have now. Mark my words. So ‘death panels,’ while it may be an inflammatory term, may also not be completely an incorrect assertion.

    I too mourn the passing of William F. Buckley. But others live on in his tradition, and in his publication, The National Review. Rational conservative discourse is a lost art? Have you never heard of Charles Krauthammer? Virgil Davis Hanson? Thomas Sowell? Star Parker? Jonah Goldberg? Hugh Hewitt? Dennis Prager? Kathryn Lopez? Diana West? George Will? Michael Barone? Tony Blankley?

    Paul Greenberg? Peggy Noonan? Rich Lowry? Andrew McCarthy? Byron York? Veronique De Rugy?

    Shall I continue?

    If you believe conservative talkers/pundits have a monopoly on uncivil discourse, I will invite you to enjoy this montage of “progressive” talkshow host Ed Schultz: http://www.eyeblast.tv/public/checker.aspx?v=XdkUkU2G2G

    And, Jerry, sincerely, thanks for contributing! I look forward to hearing from you again…

    Reply

  11. Posted by Ann on April 9, 2010 at 8:32 AM

    As I play, work, and live side-by-side with the patriotic, hard-working, honest, convicted, loyal, deeply-caring people whom I have met in the last year, working to influence our government and to express our beliefs in free enterprise, freedom, and liberty as understood in the founding of this county, I have found true friends. You will find that, too, Steve. I am very very certain of this. / Your friend, Ann

    Reply

  12. Posted by david maser on April 9, 2010 at 4:39 PM

    Your last statement said it all in a nutshell: “…liberals generally tend to view conservatism as a character flaw, as evil, as stupid or intellectually indefensible. And that is closed-minded and insulting.”
    I have experienced this, despite myself being respectful and non-threatening. And I always can explain why I feel–or should I say THINK–the way I do. I wish everyone could have an intellectual discussion and cordially agree that we disagree, while understanding each point of view.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: