The state of current political discourse unfortunately can be summed up as such:
Express a conservative view? You are now (choose one, at least):
This is, of course, a generalization. There are still many civilized people who can have an intellectual debate about topics without resorting to Ad Hominem attacks. I know several people who do not debate in this way at all. Also, in no way am I trying to claim this is 100% exclusive to one side or the other. However, if you read around, you’ll find this to be overwhelmingly true with much of rhetoric from Left-wing radio such as Air America, and overwhelmingly dominating online discussion as well as what is known as ‘The Far Left’ (DailyKos, HuffPo, MoveOn.org, Media Matters, Olbermann, etc – the list goes on and on…).
I think that the reason for this phenomenon has to do with the fact that conservative values and viewpoints are highly marginalized by modern culture, and in general, completely misunderstood. The reason for this misunderstanding is because our culture is overwhelmingly left of center. You don’t have to dig around to learn what the Liberal viewpoint is, as we are bombarded with it every day (this acts as subtle brainwashing, by the way). Movies, TV, and our education system (especially college) all lean significantly to the left. Think I’m crazy? Consider this: If you are a Christian, when was the last time our culture (which is predominantly secular) accurately or fairly portrayed your belief system? This same thing happens with conservative values.
Sadly, the only knowledge most people have of conservative viewpoints are handed to them by left leaning sources. These sources do not, I repeat, do not try to understand. They only exist to make points. But making points does nothing more than divide and lead to misunderstanding. If you truly wish to understand conservatives – you cannot rely on Hollywood, TV shows, and your average college professor to give conservative positions a fair shot. You must get down to the source.
If you truly seek to understand someone – you must learn their point of view FROM THEM, not from people who disagree with them.
I think that this flooding of one sided opinion has led to a crucial difference: Conservatives believe that the Left, are wrong. The Left believe that conservatives, are bad.
Heck – before I understood conservative values, I thought ‘they’ were bad. I remember the fetching Mrs. Wtc would ask me what my stance was on various issues (big government or small, taxes, gun control, national defense, American sovereignty, welfare, etc. etc.). It turned out, I actually held fairly conservative views – but for some reason I didn’t want to be ‘a conservative’. Though I held traditional conservative ideals, I resisted calling myself conservative for at least a couple of years. Why? Because I had this bogus notion that they were bad and evil – that if I was conservative, then I would suddenly have to 100% agree with Pat Robertson, or that I would be a pawn of ‘Evil Corporations’, or that I would have to support burning the rain forest, or some horse-crap like that.
The question was – how did I get these ridiculous ideas? Why did I have such a fear of being ‘one of those conservatives?’ The reason was because the only thing I knew about conservatives had been fed to me through movies, TV and school. You know, where the CIA, Oil companies, and Big Business owners are always the real bad guys. Or where people who questioned environmentalism were portrayed as evil ‘deniers’. Or maybe it was all the children’s cartoons where the evil characters were hunters, “the white-men”, or simply just: Pollution:
This is why I am now so much more passionate about conservative ideas. I don’t believe that Liberal ideas should be squelched or drowned out – I simply want conservative ideas to be understood and given a fair chance.
As it is, the current portrayal of traditional and conservative values, is based on nothing more than labeling and marginalization. It does no-one any good, and it doesn’t help promote honest debate – something this divided country desperately needs. Good discourse relies on debate over the grounds upon which decisions are made – not just calling a group names based on preconceived stereotypes because you happen to disagree.
So the moral to the story is: Make an attempt to understand what people who you disagree with think. But get that information from them. Then, and only then, will you be able to have an intelligent and sophisticated discussion. And remember, clarity is of far more value than agreement.
- Homophobic: prejudiced against homosexual people
- Xenophobic: having abnormal fear or hatred of the strange or foreign
- Islamophobic: a controversial neologism defined by some as a prejudice against or demonization of Muslims.
- Sexist: discriminatory on the basis of sex (usually said of men’s attitude toward women)
- Racist: a person with a prejudiced belief that one race is superior to others
- Intolerant: unwilling to tolerate difference of opinion (That’s the real definition – not what common usage has come to mean: A person who has a difference of opinion.)
- Bigoted: blindly and obstinately attached to some creed or opinion and intolerant toward others