Friday, November 05, 2004

And the attack begins
Well, I've been taken to task on the YDN letters page. Though I got many, many emails of congratulations from current students, alumns, professors, and administration officials, the YDN apparently only received negative responses. Jessamyn Blau, who writes a regular column, called my comments arrogant and self-righteous in their own right, and alleged that Republicans don't understand that, as US citizens, we are also citizens of a global community. She also claims that, because we support "a president who is actually driving fellow Americans to consider the most drastic course of action -- leaving home," we are ignorant as well.

Well, Jessamyn, I'm sorry you feel that way. I truly am sorry that you feel like you have to leave this country -- but I really don't care if you do. But what you have to consider, even for just an instant, is that you might be wrong. Bear with me here, and you might learn something. Just let that thought creep into your head. Now, if you are wrong -- that is, if the international community abandoned us, and not the other way around, and if homosexual marriage really doesn't count as a civil right -- if that's the case, is it still the president's fault that you want to leave the country? No, of course not. In that case, it's your own wacky idea. Now, I'd hazard that, if the W can't be blamed in that circumstance, then even if you're right, it's not his fault that your reaction is to leave the country. Maybe, you just forgot to grow up and deal with things like an adult.

Then there's the formery YDN production editor, Zachary Corbin. He doesn't seem to understand at all, and it seems to me that my column wasn't even addressing him. He wants me to practice what I preach, and stop insulting what I do not understand. The problem is, I'm surrounded by people like you, Zachary, I couldn't possibly fail to understand liberalism even if I wanted to. And you'll notice, I didn't insult you in the column, either. So, go away and bother me no more.

(Author's note: sorry for the lack of posts today, been very busy. I'll try to get a few more up before the day is over.)


laura ellen said...

I will tell you, I have spent a great deal of my academic life learning to (or trying to, at the very least) understand conservatives, both their ideologies and the sources thereof. While I (like everyone) occasionally slump to pure, angry defamation, it is the exception, rather than the norm. And I would say that there are as many careful, thoughtful liberals as there are careful, thoughtful conservatives.

The problem is -- we, in the end, have certain differing beliefs that we cannot "reach across the aisle" to solve. I do believe that gay marriage (or at least civil unions, whether they be homo- or heterosexual) are a civil right. I believe this because of a) the things I believe about America, b) the things I think about religion, c) the things I think about the way humans should treat one another, and d) the things I think about homosexuality. I believe that banning of such unions is a) in violation of America's legal system, which is based on the idea of making an act illegal only after it has been proven harmful to other Americans; b) in violation of our most important mitzvot/commandments: to treat one another as we would want to be treated, to love our neighbors, to refrain from taking drastic action to protect others from commiting their own "sins" unless there is great harm to be done if we do nothing, and to honor God's greatest gift to humanity, the power to love and be loved; c) an affront to the idea that we should be understanding long before we are critical; and d) completely unwilling to acknowledge that when people say they are gay by birth, they are not lying, they are telling the truth. And you are as unlikely to change my thoughts about these things as I am to change yours.

Many conservatives struggle day in and day out to protect what they call their rights: to pray in public schools (thereby forcing me to take part in a religious ritual even as I am legally bound to attend the institution), to post the Ten Commandments on public property (the Ten Commandments being only the tiniest slice of the TaNaKH and certainly a limited and unfair rendering of the many and varied laws of what some call the "Old Testament"), to harass women asserting a right guaranteed by the Constitution as asserted by the Supreme Court (protesting FACE laws and insisting that they should be able to be as close to an abortion clinic as they would like, even though the women are doing nothing illegal), and so on. All of these strive to protect Christian rights while stifling my non-Christian rights. Religious freedom isn't Christian freedom. It's freedom of all religions.

Liberals aren't just kneejerking to complain about everybody who disagrees with them. They're as concerned about their rights as conservatives are about theirs.

Perhaps the amount of time I spent on this was pointless. But I'm as tired of being labelled a thoughtless, unGodly liberal as you certainly are of being labelled an ignorant, bigoted conservative.

RFTR said...

But Laura, that's just it. You didn't post about leaving the country, or losing faith in the American people. And so the column wasn't directed at you. I think you have a strong enough love of this country that you rise above such ad hominem statements, and therefore, you're the kind of liberal that I like.

Alyssa said...

I guess I think it's kind of diappointing that you don't care if people feel so alienated and denied things so critical to them that they have to look elsewhere for basic respect and recognition of their rights. Also, to tell someone that they should grow up and act like an adult because they're angry and upset that they can't marry the person that they love, and that relationship will always be strained by a lack of rights that you can take for granted strikes me as pretty mean and small.

You've got a gift, Brian, the people who you agree with ideologically and on policy are in power, and with something approaching a mandate; a lot of things that you wish for are going to come true in the next few years, and some of those things will hurt people I love. If Kerry had won on Tuesday, I imagine you would feel the same thing. It saddens me that your immediate response to that is, rather than to reach out and try to talk honestly about issues and what this means to you, and how you think it can be good for all of us, is to tell people who are feeling a lot of pain about their powerlessness (and let me tell you, it is terrifying and sad for me that my boyfriend is going to lose his health insurance as soon as he's not a student, and it feels terrible that I probably can't do much to make a meaningful difference for someone I care for so deeply, among other things) that they should get over it.

I normally respect you a lot; I think you're a really smart analyst and observer, probably smarter than I am. But honestly, there is something not particularly nice and not paticularly gracious about telling people you don't care if they leave and never come back.

RFTR said...

If all you got out of all that I said is that I don't care if people leave and never come back, then I pity you.
As far as I should reach out to people who feel powerless, how often have they reached out to me on this campus? How often did my wearing a Bush-Cheney button result in an exchange of ideas? Let me tell you: absolutely none. I would be cursed, or glared at. Now that the people who worked so hard to keep me out of this so-called "power" I have are depressed because their man got wallopped, I'm supposed to reach out to them and look for an exchange of ideas? Nice try, Alyssa.
The simple fact of the matter is, liberals on this campus oppress the hell out of me when an election isn't near (on either side), so it takes an awful lot for me to pity them. Failing to take the White House is certainly not enough, and the resulting implication that the people who voted against them are somehow less-qualified to vote, and therefore created a travesty of American democracy is too much for me to take. If you honestly believe that a majority of voters deciding for one candidate over another is reason enough to leave this country, then I mean it: get out. We don't need people who are that sure that their views are the only way of looking at things in this country. We need peopl who, as you said, will approach the opposition for an exchange of ideas -- something I have experienced remarkably little of in my time at this liberal institution.